I can honestly say it kills me to write this final letter as a full-time missionary. When I think back over the last eighteen months, I am amazed by the people I met and the experiences I had. I have grown so much as a person; and through the gospel and atonement of Jesus Christ, I know what true joy and happiness feels like. I met the most amazing people in the three most beautiful states in the world- Minnesota, North Dakota, and Montana.
The people I met on my mission have made a permanent footprint on my heart and have given me a glimpse of how our Heavenly Father loves each of us. The more the people I served struggled or fell off the path, the more I cared for them. I think it is the same way with Heavenly Father. When we make mistakes or when things get difficult, He doesn't turn away from us; He reaches out to us and his love never waivers. As missionaries we are blessed with the ability to love the people we serve no matter what they have done or where they have been; and that is nothing compared to how much our Father in heaven loves each of His children. I truly do "stand all amazed" at the love He has for us. I know He does because I have witnessed miracles He worked on behalf of the wonderful people I served. I can testify to you that no one is ever forgotten. Three things that I will take away from this experience are:
1. There are no coincidences.
On my mission I learned that Heavenly Father does everything with purpose. Our family, friends, talents, weaknesses, and disappointments are not by accident. They are our own personal recipe for growth. His ways are higher than our ways. If we put our trust in Him and align our will with His, He will continue to guide us on this earth.
2. We find true happiness when we stop worrying about our own happiness.
I can't even describe how amazing it was to lose myself by serving others, especially the Savior, for 18 consecutive months. With holes in my shoes, frozen hands, pain in my feet, walking long distances in the cold because we ran out of miles for the month, starving some days because there wasn't time to eat, and doors being slammed in my face, I was the happiest I have ever been. No one ever says at the end of life life that they wish they would have worried about serving others less and taking care of themselves more. No amount of pedicures, musical instruments, and fashionable clothes could have made me as happy as the sacrifices I made to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with the people of Minnesota, Montana, and North Dakota.
3. There is no such thing as standing still in the gospel.
I understand now what it means to endure to the end. It doesn't mean to just wait it out and stay out of trouble. To endure to the end means to continually progress. This life is the time to prepare to meet God and there is no such thing as standing still when it comes to our relationship with Him. We are either progressing or going backwards.
Through sincere prayer and scripture study, we can come to know Jesus Christ as our loving Savior and as the Son of God. I know that God lives and that He is our loving Heavenly Father who wants us to do His will. I know that His way is higher than my way and I am better off when I keep the commandments. I know that though we cannot be perfect in this life, Christ suffered for us and His grace will make up the difference after all that we can do. I know that this church is truly the church of Jesus Christ that has been restored to the earth through Joseph Smith; an imperfect man who humbly aligned his will with Heavenly Father's will and suffered hardships no one would ever be willing to endure unless they knew that what they were doing was right. I love this gospel. I love being a missionary and even though I will not be a full time missionary anymore at the end of this week, I will always share the gospel.
The northern states will always be my home away from home. This is where I lost myself, found myself, and most importantly found a lasting relationship with my Savior. I am forever changed because of this experience.
I love you all and I can't wait to see you this week.
love, Sister Park