But the Lord works in mysterious ways my dear readers. I have learned so much by coming home and spending the last four months here with my family. Not only that but I have had an excess amount of time to study and I like to think I have used it to the best of my ability. Two weeks ago I finished reading Preach My Gospel from cover to cover and I have formed a basic foundation of Spanish grammar and vocabulary through the program called Duolingo.com. My advice to all that are preparing to serve missions is to use the time they've been given before they go into the MTC. I was lucky enough to not have to go back to school. I used a lot of that time to do family history work. While I spend the next 18 months focusing on the salvation of the living. I spent the last month or so, focusing on the salvation of the dead. In addition to the 60 or so people I performed ordinances for during the Fall Semester (with the help of my dear friend Elder Favero now serving in Spain) I have found more than 120 more people to do work for. I know that my efforts will be blessed and I am excited to do all their work when I come home from Panama.
Beyond all the time I have had to study and do family history work I did my best to get in shape and make a little money. I babysat the cutest four little kids about three days a week. The youngest, Ethan, is about 11 months now and when I first met him he cried every time he looked at me for the sole reason that he did not like unfamiliar faces. When I left though, even when he was cranky I could get him to smile. I said goodbye to them a few nights ago and the three girls (ages 3, 6, and 9) hugged me a million times. I am so grateful for the change I ha to babysit them. I learned a lot from them that I know will help me both on my mission and in the future as a wife and mother.
Finally, my calling at church. I taught the 9-11 primary aged girls. I loved teaching them every week. I feel like my ability to teach concepts of the Gospel has been improved and magnified after spending time sharing with them the Gospel that is so dear to my heart. They wrote all over the chalkboard yesterday, messages of love and good luck. It was one of the sweetest things I have ever seen and while I did not have a camera to capture it in a photo, it will be carried in my heart for a long time to come.
Yet I feel the greatest lesson I have learned, the one that I will always be remind of on my mission is how much God loves all of His children. I can't tell you how many times I felt inadequate as I thought of the faith God had in me to call me to serve His children in Panama. It is a mantle of great responsibility that will be laid upon me today, the same mantle that was given to Christ's disciples when He ordained them to be apostles. I am to stand for Him, even in the face of persecution and disapproval. I am to walk with Him, even when all the world turns their backs and slams their doors. I am to speak for Him, even when the words fall on ears that do not want to hear. Most of all I am to live like Him. In a world where morality is a fickle thing and personal choice and freedom is used for the gratification of the moment and the now.
I am a missionary. I am set apart from the world. Made holy and sanctified through the atonement of Jesus Christ and the work that He has called me to do. I stand with the least of His children that I might lift them up to Heaven and their Father. My call is not simply to baptize. It is to warn, to teach, to uplift and to testify of my Savior and my King. I leave armed with the truths of the Gospel and protected by the endowment of His Holy Spirit. I go forward with faith, nothing wavering, knowing that no matter what successes or failures I face, God will be with me. I go ready to return with honor. I go to change lives and hope that the life I change the most is my own.
I have such a testimony of this Gospel. I love my Savior so much. I am ready to stand with Him no matter where that is. I am ready to proclaim in the midst of mobs and and armies, assembled against the work that Jesus is the Christ, the living Son of the living God. That His work is once again upon the earth. Restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith. That through Him came the Book of Mormon, the living word of God. That if we read it we will come closer to Christ and have more peace and happiness in this life than we have yet known. I am will raise my voice for God's prophet, President Thomas S. Monson that lives upon the earth today and the revelation from God that He receives. I raise my voice that all may know God's truths, the Gospel truths, of eternal families, of temples, and of Him. I am ready and now I bid you all farewell. May God bless you till you read again and more than that may our Lord be with you... until we meet again.