This will be Bryndee's last letter as a missionary. Can you believe 18 months have already passed? It really has gone by fast! FYI she will be speaking in our ward this Sunday the 21st at 2:00 pm. Our building has changed since Porter's farewell...we are meeting in the Stake Center located in Power Ranch: 4170 South Ranch House Parkway Gilbert, AZ 85297. After the meeting we will be having an open house at our house so you can visit with her. Enjoy...
Family & Friends-
I've been doing quite a bit of reflecting as of late, as the end of my mission creeps closer and closer. I've been wanting to take some time & record some of the things that I've learned, the things that have become the most important to me.
First, I KNOW that Joseph Smith is a prophet. I thought I knew that before my mission...but coming to the Southern Bible belt challenged that a little bit. The words of Nephi ring true here where "it shall come to pass in that day that the churches which are built up, and not unto the Lord when the one shall say unto the other; Behold, I, I am the Lord's; and the others shall say; I, I am the Lord's, and thus shall everyone say that hath built up churches, and not unto the Lord. And they shall contend one with another, and they shall teach with their learning and deny the holy ghost which giveth utterance. (2 Nephi 28:3-4) In South Carolina, you literally have a church on every street corner (sometimes 2) and the only thing that they all see to agree on is that Joseph Smith was a fake. I've heard some serious religious slander over the course of my mission, but the worst of it always seemed to revolve around the validity of Joseph Smith as the Lord's authorized representative. For some reason, all the accusations and insults hurled from behind screen doors, seemed to stick in my mind. It seemed Satan was determined to toy with me, and it bothered me. So, I finally did what I constantly invited others to do. I read the book of Mormon. I prayed and I waited...and waited...and waited.
Answers from God don't always come when we want them to, but I testify that they come. It was almost a month later, sitting in a small, dark living room that my answer did come. My companion and I were finishing up a lesson on the restoration, when all of a sudden as I went out on a limb and began to testify that what we had taught was true...I began to feel it. All of a sudden, all the things I'd heard didn't really matter anymore. It was then that the Lord told me that Joseph Smith really was his servant. He was a prophet called to pull the world out of the dark fog of apostasy. It was by his hands that God restored the church that Jesus Christ had originally established here on the earth, with all of the authority to properly perform the ordinances necessary for salvation. I now KNOW that the be true.
Second, I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. I've felt the power of his word as I've taught & testified of it. I can remember one experience in particular that helped me to get there. I was in Spartanburg, sitting in the living room of one of our ward mission leaders. He'd forgotten to assign a scripture thought & had asked me last minute to do one. I flipped open to 3 Nephi 17:19-22 (my go to for spur of the moment spiritual thoughts) and began to share the story. As I explained the background & began to read, a distinctive spirit filled the room. It was almost like Nephi was sitting there next to me, saying "It is true. I was there...and I wrote that, so you could know the Savior. Come to know him like I do." Man, it was cool. To this day, it's stuck with me. I know that the people who wrote the Book of Mormon (Nephi, Jarom, Enos, King Benjamin...) were real people. They knew the Savior, and they labored with great diligence so that thousands of years later we could know him too. I can almost hear their voices as I read and I love those men for what they did.
Third, I have a testimony of repentance. I know the the Lord wants to forgive us again and again, because he wants nothing more than for all of his children to return to this presence and live with him again. What loving parent wouldn't? Lots of times, we make mistakes. Sometimes, they're big mistakes. These mistakes create within us feelings of guilt, shame, and isolation. Satan wants us to feel like we're stuck there, like it's all over for us. God doesn't feel like that. He's provided a plan of action, and promises peace if we follow though. I can testify that there is nothing in the world more wonderful, or more worth wile than feeling completely clean. Take a look at Alma Chapter 36...he'll tell you.
The final thing I wanted to write about was my testimony of the Savior. I know that he loves us. This morning, as I was doing my studies, I read Mosiah chapter fourteen, and it struck me. "Surely he has borne our grief's, and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed." After all that he suffered, he has it within him to love me. It amazes me. I know that because of the savior I can change. I never have to feel stuck. He suffered, so that I can become. I know that he knows you. My mission has given me the opportunity to know him, at least a little. It's been the coolest thing coming to know him and not just know about him. If I had not baptized a single soul, re-activated one member, or even touched a single person's life, my mission would have been worth it...just for that.
I know he lives. I know he loves us. I know he's just waiting for us to exercise a little faith. So he can show us the amazing potential we have. I know that I want to live my life in such a way that he can say to me, as he did to Nephites of old "Sister Derrick, blessed are ye because of your faith and now behold my joy is full." (3 Nephi 17) I hope y'all do too.
Y'all have a blessed day. (See ya soon!)