Monday, January 18, 2016

My Last Post

Dear Family and Friends - 

I have always wanted to serve a mission.

I remember growing up, looking at the full-time missionaries at church and getting so excited because that was going to be me someday. When the time came for me to put in my mission papers, I clearly remember filling out the application with no hesitation. I had wanted this since I was a little girl and my turn was finally here. Even the night before entering the MTC, I remember getting a great sleep. No nerves, no worries, no problem! I was born to do this!

Then I entered the MTC...

For some reason, the MTC was really hard for me. A lot of things were thrown at me and I felt so overwhelmed and so underprepared. Did I really even believe in everything I was supposed to be teaching the people of the Washington DC South Mission? Was I ever going to be able to effectively learn "Preach My Gospel?" Was I ever going to get used to getting up at 6:30am? EVER?!?!?!?!?!

I learned quickly that sometimes when you're overwhelmed, it can become a great blessing because that is when you truly learn to get down on your knees and pray. I felt so alone sometimes. I rapidly understood that it's okay if it's just YOU and the LORD in times of trial.

I am so glad that Heavenly Father gave me that opportunity to humble myself and to grow. I am pleased to announce that: (1) I know that what I teach people is true, (2) I have studied "Preach My Gospel" from cover-t0-cover, and (3) 6:30am hasn't been so bad;)

My mission has been a whirlwind. I have been through the greatest sorrows and joys of my life thus far. I have never: cried, laughed, texted, emailed, driven, studied, prayed, eaten, and felt more awkward in my entire life, than while being on a mission!

I am incredibly grateful for all the people I have met. It is so good to be in the company of others. I have made eternal friends out here. Oakton, Franconia, Potomac MSA, and Braddock YSA will forever be in my heart. 

I cried for 2 hours when I had to leave my first area in Oakton, VA. I never thought I could love working in another area like I did in Oakton. My companions and I were so close to the Ward members that it felt like home. We were loved and we loved right back. I thought I had peaked in my first area and that the next place would be a disappointment. 

I'm so grateful that Franconia proved me wrong. The success we had in Franconia will always be a highlight in my life. We worked hard and taught so much. We baptized and we re-activated members. We found a couple who later got sealed in the temple. We felt like successful missionaries and when I had to leave Franconia, I thought I couldn't possibly love another area as much as Oakton and Franconia...I had met so many great, influential people. I already enjoyed and endured enough joy and tribulation for me to go to a third area! 

But alas, God sent me to the Potomac Mid-Singles Ward. This is a Ward that no one really knows about, yet it covers 4 missions (Baltimore, DC North, DC South, and a sliver of Richmond). I was kind of intimidated and bummed that I wasn't in a family ward. But I would still be living in the Arlington/Alexandria area, so I couldn't complain. Wow! Potomac stole my heart. The work we did there was amazing. I made so many memories with the members! The people there are remarkable....I'm still numb that I had to leave the mid-singles of the Potomac Ward but the Braddock Singles Ward healed that wound. 

I love the Braddock Singles Ward. I have seen so many miracles. We have 3 new investigators and 2 of them came to church yesterday. Sister Moore and I spoke in church yesterday and a less-active that we have been teaching came to church to hear our talks. It was the first time in 8 years! Seeing myself in so many of the members, I was able to discover a lot about myself. I just wish I could say goodbye to everyone I love here, but I can't. Leaving Braddock this week will probably be the hardest because that means I won't have a next area--my next "area" is Milwaukee, my home. I am excited to see my family and friends, but being finished is going to be hard to accept.

They say your mission is a gift to God but I feel like your mission is a gift from God. My mission was hard. Despite that giant ode to all my areas and how much I loved them, I still struggled to some degree in all of them. But through those struggles, I was able to see the joy that life and especially my mission gave me. It's a powerful thing--feeling God influencing your life. It's humbling to feel the Lord fix you AND the people you teach.

I have such a testimony of this gospel. Some of my favorite moments that I wish I could capture are:  hearing people read the Book of Mormon for the first time, seeing the look on someone's face when I told them that they will see their deceased loved ones again, and most importantly, teaching people how to pray. I'll miss those moments. I hope to have those moments again.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints IS the gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that if we follow the example Christ gave us, we WILL be matter what happens.

I love you all so much! Thank you for all your touching emails, letters, cookies, and prayers. They helped more than you know.

For the last time...


Sister Elizabeth Kelly

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