Monday, November 14, 2016

11/14/16 The Last Stretch

Well... what does one say? I really don't know how to start this letter. Two years of my life is coming to an end. It's bizarre. It honestly hasn't really hit me though, I'm not sure when it will, maybe on the airplane. 

A mission is the best two years for your eternity. A mission is kinda just like a boot camp that makes sure you are worthy enough for the big prize after this life. It kicks your butt, but at the same time you are content because you can see the progress you are making and how much you can really handle in life. You see how much potential you have when you really put your shoulder to the wheel, and you see how much you can help other people. I remember writing an email earlier this year, talking about how the mission isn't all sunshine and rainbows, it still isn't haha I've had the stomach flu for the last two weeks of my mission! There ain't nothing sunny or rainbowy about that haha. But, just because the sun isn't shining doesn't mean you can't be happy. A lot of life is about perspective, and the gospel puts everything into perspective for you, so let's just say the gospel makes life a lot easier. Sure you could be sad, you get rejected or something like that, or you could be happy that you tried and now you know that that person has had some sort of contact with the church and Christ... Planting seeds, I've done a lot of that. Might as well call me Johnny Appleseed. Believe me I wasn't great with the whole perspective thing all the time out here... a lot of the time I was just frustrated that I was in a predominantly catholic country full of old stubborn people and  rambunctious young teenagers. And there I was, somewhere in between. But I loved them. And I learned that a negative attitude gets you nowhere... if anything, you go backwards. So I tried my best to be positive and be the funny guy out here, to help myself mainly, but I hope along the way I was able to help some of my companions as well. If you ask the missionaries who know me well what my most used Spanish word is they probably would tell you, "Tranquiloooo" which you could translate to calm, relaxed or along those lines. I just used it to say "calm down" pretty much. That was me, and if you ask my parents they would say one of my signature catch phrases from before the mission is "Everyone just needs to calm down". I would say it if there were some rowdy arguments happening or something that just escalated emotions. I've tried to use that personality trait out here to help others and I honestly think I have, whether they actually relaxed because I told them to or they relaxed because they would laugh because it's typical Elder Rex telling everyone to calm down. Haha I'm not sure how I got to this topic but let's jump topics. 

The gospel, well, what can I say.. live the gospel and your life will be better. Easier said than done, I know. We aren't perfect. We mess up daily, and that's life. Try not to obsess over perfection... you'll never achieve it in this life. Sorry but it's true! I have so many faults I probably couldn't name them all. I haven't been a perfect missionary, I make mistakes. But what I think matters most is trying. Just keep on trying. Every day is a new day, so if yesterday you were a screw up and you did things you shouldn't have or made mistakes, you have tomorrow to try again and to be the best you can be that day. Hopefully you'll be better, and if you mess up again, which happens, that's okay. God knows we aren't perfect, but as long as we are REALLY trying our best he will continue to forgive us. Every time we sincerely repent we will be forgiven. The key is being sincere though, I don't wanna make it sound like I'm promoting sin and then just repenting or something along those lines. Sincerely repenting and sincerely trying. 

God loves you and me. He loves everyone, that is still something I'm trying to comprehend. The love God has for us. Imagine whatever thing or whoever in the world you love the most and pretty much multiply by the highest number you can create and that's Gods love for you. Hard for me to understand still... but I have begun to feel and get glimpses of that love on my mission. Two ways specifically; the first being attempting to see people as God sees them. Opening my heart to loving people I don't really know, you would be surprised how easy it is to care deeply about someone. Try it. The second was feeling his love for me during hardships. Feeling that he was there for me and knowing his hand was in my life everyday. That everyday he did something special just for Elder Rex. I truly believe he did. 

Prayer... madre mía. This is something so small but I have come to realize it is so crucial. Prayer opens the doors of heaven, it unlocks the powers of heaven. Prayer saves the day pretty much. At least it saved a lot of mine. Yet, it can be something so easy to push aside or take for granted. What a blessing it is, we literally have the chance to talk to the most powerful loving being and the creator of worlds and ask for help, tell him our concerns, thank him. That's crazy! And he listens! God wants to hear you, he is just waiting for you to "call" him... just do it. It will bless your life, your year, your month, your week and your day. This is a good quote I like about prayer from Richard G. Scott: 

“He is our perfect Father. He loves us beyond our capacity to understand. He knows what is best for us. He sees the end from the beginning. He wants us to act to gain needed experience:
When He answers yes, it is to give us confidence.
When He answers no, it is to prevent error.
When He withholds an answer, it is to have us grow through faith in Him, obedience to His commandments, and a willingness to act on truth” 

Well, again I'm struggling to find words or know what to say. A mission is something you just have to experience to get a full understanding of it. I'm extremely grateful for these last two years of my life. I wouldn't trade them away for anything. I have made memories and friends that will last a lifetime. For that I am grateful. I have grown in my testimony of Jesus Christ and his mission which was to save us from a fallen state. He suffered every single pain and ache that we feel in this life, every single one. He knows how to succor us and all we have to do is open the door. He is there waiting. I was far from perfect before I came out here, I am far from perfect now, and I will be far from perfect 30 years from now when I look back and read this. But, I know I have a savior who has paid a price for me and if I do all that I can, and I never give up, one day I will be perfect alongside him. I testify of him and his love. I testify of this church and it's teachings, this is how you find happiness. Or at least that's how I did...

Elder Rex out ✌🏼

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