Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Goodbye President Clark!
So, President Clark is going home, and President Mains will be coming to take his place. President Clark asked us to write him a meaningful email ("things of the heart") that he could collect and save to look back on in the future. This is most of what I wrote:
Dear President Clark,
Probably the thing I am most sure about is that we have a Heavenly Father who loves us, and hears and answers our prayers. I have had many sacred experiences (recent ones also) when I have prayed in my heart to God, asking a question about something very important. It has been things such as whether to carry out a decision I have made, how He would have me act, questions regarding the truthfulness of a Gospel Principle, or a question regarding His love for me. All of those have been major themes for my prayers in the mission field. What I have found is that Heavenly Father is infinitely patient with me, and generous with answering my prayers. I have found that He wants me to feel His love--whether it is His love for someone else, or His love for me.
Just like real life, my mission has been challenging and has targeted many of my weaknesses. I have stumbled a lot but I have found, again, that God is infinitely patient with me and isn't bothered by the fact that I am not yet perfect. Learning that He feels this about me has helped me understand those around me; to be patient with and love them--especially my companions and those that I teach. As I've learned more about how God feels about me, I've come to understand more about love. I am learning how to love others. How to love others, in a small way, the way that He loves them.
I have come to believe that love is the underlying principle of Christ's Gospel. Everything that He did for us, everything he taught us and showed us and sacrificed for us, was done purely out of love. The closer we get to God, the more love we receive from Him and feel for Him and for those around us. Love is more than mere affection. Love is deep and undying and cannot be lessened by outside factors. True love endures. It takes strength of heart, strength of character, patience, faith... many things. Willing action is a fruit of love, and love is strengthened by service and sacrifice. Love is an endowment. I am learning this by experience. I didn't realize how little I really knew about love before my mission, but I'm grateful for an infinitely loving Heavenly Father who knows me perfectly and has me in His mighty hands. He cares enough to teach me and allows me to go through heartbreak and hardships to refine me, even when I don't understand what is going on. I know He has great things in store for me if I will only be faithful. I know these things are true for each and every one of His children, my brothers and sisters, as well.
We are not perfect, and will not be in this lifetime. I do not yet love God or His Son perfectly. But I know that through Jesus Christ, though walking the path that He paved for us, we can be refined and cleansed from sin and strengthened and made worthy to inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. I know that the Savior lives and loves each of us in a very personal, "hands-on" way. I have also learned that from experience. I know that He is real and alive and perfectly understands us because he has literally been there as well. I know that His Gospel has been restored in its fullness. I know that the Book of Mormon is His word. I am not ashamed of that, no matter who listens to me declare it. I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ. I know that it is real and that it works. I know that by walking this path, our families can live together eternally, and that that is the greatest and most glorious purpose of the Gospel.