Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Departing Letter of our Service in the Arizona Phoenix Mission
It is hard to summarize the experiences we have had over the past three years in a short letter. I would have liked to share with you play by play the tender mercies of the Lord during this time, but I had to choose from the good, better and best way to spend my time. There is urgency in the work of sharing the restored gospel of Jesus Christ to all of Heavenly Fathers children. Each day is important as we invite others to come unto Christ be baptized as he was, by someone holding that same priesthood authority that was on the earth so many years ago.
We have had only a brief window of time to serve here in the Arizona Phoenix mission, but it has been a life changing experience. Just like the scriptures say, “When ye are in the service of your fellow men, ye are only in the service of your God. “ As we have served, we have felt joy in our hearts as we have seen lives change. We have been very humbled by the overwhelming responsibility of watching over the Lord’s young servants. We have had over 640 missionaries pass through our doors, and it has been our deepest desire to touch each one of them so that when they leave the mission they will have a deeper personal relationship with their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and know of our love for them. It is an amazing experience to see young men, nineteen years old, and young women, twenty one years old, come into the mission as the weak things of the world, and watch them grow into the spiritual giants.
There are stories that have made us laugh, others that have made us cry. Some of our missionaries have lost parents while serving, but have had the faith to endure to the end of their mission. We have seen those whom have entered the waters of baptism and come up with hands over head, saying “I am finally baptized”. We have seen miraculous healing of missionaries, investigators and within our own family. We witnessed those who have only been members for a short time dedicate two years to serving the Lord only to find great blessings come to their families at home. We have seen difficult trials in the lives of our missionaries where they have overcome great adversity only to have their weaknesses turn into strengths.
The number one thing we learned while serving here was that God is in charge of his work and nothing will stop it from progressing. When we are in tune with the spirit, then we know those things we must do to further the work. As our prophet, President Thomas S. Monson said, “We are participating in a great rescue of our brothers and sisters so that they may have the opportunity to return to his presence.” After all, that is why we are here on earth; to receive a body and learn and apply the gospel which will help us return back to Him. We also learned that the success of the mission was because of M&M’s. Not the candy M&M’s, but I’m referring to Members and Missionaries. They cannot be separated and have it mean the same. They go hand in hand. When our members share their friends and family with the missionaries and invite them into their home, the miracle of conversion occurs.
We have grown to love the people in Arizona, this is truly Zion! We have made many friends that have helped us along this journey and we are grateful for each one of them . One of the greatest blessings has been serving side by side with my eternal mate, and my best friend, as we have lifted each other and share sacred experiences together in the Arizona Phoenix Mission. There is nothing better than to feast upon the words of Christ together and strive to apply those principles to our lives.
We knew our mission was going to come to an end sooner or later, but we have been sprinting to the end. It will be hard to leave our 192 mission sons and daughters that we have grown to love as we have served together. Our hearts have been woven in purpose and meaning. I won’t lie, we are tired and have truly worn out our lives these past three years. We have given our all. Now, are days are numbered as we turn the baton to another chosen man and woman of God to build on what we have tried so diligently to do.
As we turn the page to a new chapter in our lives, we are anxious to see our children and almost 14 grandchildren once again. They have been an enormous strength to us and have made us proud as they truly carried on in our absence.
I would like to close with my testimony of this work. I know that we are all spirit children of a Heavenly Father who loves us and that He is anxious to have us return back to his presence. I know Jesus Christ is his Son and he atoned for our sins. I know that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God and he was instrumental in the restoration of the same church that was on the earth at the time of Christ. I have grown to love the sacred records of the ancient people of the Americas that are found in the Book of Mormon. It is another testament of Christ and as we abide by its precepts it will change our lives. I know that God has called a prophet today, President Thomas S. Monson to lead this church, just as he called ancient prophets to lead his people. I am grateful for the experience we have of “sharing the living water to a thirsty land.
So we say good-bye to Arizona for this season of our lives and hello to our family and friends awaiting our return.