Yes you heard from me not too long ago and no I am not just randomly writing you on a Saturday afternoon because I feel like it. Our pday switched to today because Christmas will be on pday and we'll be skyping family, doing things as a mission, and we get out and do missionary work because Christmas.
I'll try to keep it brief because travels, family, and the joys of the season need your attention.
I just wanted to share what I shared with the mission in Sacrament meeting when I gave my talk weeks ago. I wrote it because I kept finding synonymous ideas and comparisons between missions and mountains.
I am hiking on an 18 month mountain.
It begins steep.
It is a challenge to adjust, only because I didn't train before the journey, I had given no preparation, and had neglected a simple stretch.
I grow tired quickly because my heart cannot not keep up with my feet. It feels as though I have left it at the bottom of the mountain.
I slowly adjust to the incline of the mountain.
From the beginning I have been given guides to help.
One is a whisper. One is louder, Brazilian and walking next to me.
She shares with me her weaknesses. I am very aware of mine. I am often sore and tired.
I am grateful to walk up this mountain Side by side with a few others. We go Two by Two.
Me and my hiking companion's muscles get stronger, especially as we find and help others on the trail.
When I am weak she shares her water.
When she is unsure and unsteady I give her an arm to balance on.
We keep each other from falling off the edge.
Eventually, My heart catches up as I realize where it needs to be.
Right above my feet.
I put it In the hands of someone who knows me better than myself.
The pace of the climb becomes natural and even begins to feel routine. Like I had been going up this mountain for ages. I try not to complain. Because I see the blisters on others heels are much bigger than mine as they go up the mountain.
I watch as those I had once walked side by side with, reach the top of the mountain and go back down.
My mind drifts and wonders what is waiting at the top, or even the bottom of my own mountain.
But as I do so I begin to trip.
My focus returns to what is in front of me. One foot in front of the other..
As time continues and so does the hike, I find that with my experience, I need to be a guide for others. To strengthen them when they are weak. To teach them the things I have learned, to lift as I had been lifted.
I find my endurance to be greater than I had imagined or realized, and I am able to carry a pack or two that another can't carry on their own. And when there are times I can't even carry my own, I find that someone who has climbed this mountain before, and perfectly is there waiting for me to hand him my bags, my water, my sore muscles, my fear.
As I grow closer to the top, I look at how far I have come. But today I realize, it isn't just a climb up an 18 month mountain, it is the beginning of a foundation that must last much longer than 18 months.
I will forever love hiking, the Lord, & Christmas. I'm grateful to be serving Him again on a mission during this season, even when it is hard to be away from my own family. Because one of the greatest gifts we have been given from our loving Heavenly Father is the promise that if we do our best to follow the Savior, we can be with family forever. Here on my mission I get to allow others to see the blessings of that gift as well as the gift of the Atonement, given to us freely out of love. We can find a way to be happy even when we have days, or weeks or years filled with trials or the deep blues. That's not something you can just find under any old Christmas tree.
Joseph Smith's birthday is today, and because he faithfully acted in response to the knowledge and revelation he received from God we are able to receive these blessings of eternal life with our families through the priesthood and in sacred Temples all over the world.
Our beloved prophet said,
I know that is true because I have felt it. And I know this church is the true Church of Jesus Christ. What a blessing to be part of this marvelous work and a wonder.
I love you all so much. Feel my hugs.
Have a MERRY CHRISTMAS!