Monday, June 17, 2013

Elder Facer: Signing Off

Who would've thought we'd make it this far this fast.  Two years has seemed like nothing, while at the same time it's seemed like forever.  I've forgotten what a life outside of missionary service is, but I'm about to be thrown right back into it.  I've tried not to think about it too much, but now it's right here and I have to think about it to be prepared for it.  I suppose this is what you call being between a rock and a hard place, or as the Spanish say (and I think it's better) entre la espada y la pared (between the sword and the wall). 

I've been joking with some other Elders that mom was going to have a harder time with me coming home than I was because she'd have nothing to do on Monday mornings, and I just realized how true that is.  Writing weekly letters has become a big part of my life and my connection with all of you.  It sounds like everyone had a busy week.  So many things have changed.  I haven't written to Brett yet, but I'm going to every week when I get home.  That's weird to me that mom's seen my friends so much and I haven't for so long.  I'm glad to hear they're doing well, though. 

Happy Father's Day to all you dads out there.  Being a father is an incredible gift, and I'd be just a shell of who I am were it not for the example of my righteous father.  I love you Dad. 

By the way, I had a thought that if we can, I'd like for Dad to release me outside the Salt Lake Temple.  I don't know how far it is from the airport or if that would be a huge hassle, but if we can work it out, I'd really want that.  If not, we can just do it once we get to Betsy's house. 

I started preparing my homecoming talk yesterday and realized I have so much I want to say that I won't be able to because of time, so I think it would be an appropriate time now to share some of the biggest lessons I've learned on my mission. 

Lesson 1: We can be happy at any time, in any place, and in any situation.  Happiness and peace are not dependent on circumstance.  We have been given the power to act and to change our circumstance.  God made us in His image so that we could act, and not be acted upon.  Some of the hardest times in my mission have helped me learn that as long as I'm doing what I know is right, I can be happy (see Phillipians 4:11). 

Lesson 2: The gospel can solve our problems if we will just apply it.  There is a law irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundation of this earth upon which all blessings are predicated, and when we receive any blessing from God, it is by obedience to the law upon which it is predicated.  If we lack blessings in our lives, it is because we aren't following the law upon which that blessing is predicated.  If we obey with faith that God will fulfill His promises, He will do so and we will receive the blessings we need.  There is no substitute, for God Himself is bound by that law. 

Lesson 3: Eternal life is worth any sacrifice we have to make or sin we have to give up.  What will a man give in exchange for his soul? I can't suppose there's anything that would be more valuable to us than having eternal progress, continuation of seed, all power, all things being subject to us, living in eternal families for the rest of eternity, and being gods.  Can you? 

Lesson 4: Understanding who we are is absolutely essential.  The last three or four times that an apostle/70 has spoken to our mission, they have told us "you need to know who you are".  They don't worry about the methods we're using or our teaching or finding efforts.  They are concerned that we know who we are.  I've begun to understand what they mean.  When a person knows that He is a child of God, there comes with that knowledge great power.  Understanding what it means to be a child of God allows us to overcome even as Christ overcame.  It gives us understanding of our personal place in God's plan.  Although His plan is for all of His children, we each have a special part in it that our Heavenly Father wants us to fulfill. 

Lesson 5: No matter who we are, what we've done, what we're suffering, or how far off the path we are, the Atonement of Jesus Christ can heal us.  I've made the effort throughout my mission to have a real relationship with Christ and understand more fully His Atonement.  I've achieved a very special, personal understanding of it, but I still understand very little of what the Savior of the world did for us almost 2000 years ago.  I love the talk given by Sister Burton in the October General Relief Society Meeting.  We need to have the doctrine of the Atonement written in our hearts; it needs to be part of who we are.  We need to know that everyone, righteous or sinner, needs the Atonement, and all can apply it at any time in their lives, especially when we suffer.  I have come to love the Savior more than life itself.  I am nothing without Him. 

I bear you my witness that Jesus is the Christ.  I testify that God is our Father.  Both of them love us in a way that we can only begin to comprehend in this life.  I know that we, as children of the covenant, are children of both God and Christ.  There is no greater work for us to do than to declare these truths to all nations and invite them to come unto Christ and be saved.  I don't know how anyone who has a testimony of God's plan for us could withhold that precious knowledge from anyone who doesn't have that in their lives.  I'm so grateful that the Lord sent me, the weakest and most simple of all men, to share His gospel.  I am a living proof that this is not the work of any man, but of the Almighty God of Heaven.  I could not do this without Him, nor could any other 18-25 year old young man, or any other human for that matter.  This is a divine work, inviting God's children to come unto Christ and helping them receive the witness of the Holy Ghost that the gospel has been restored.  I know that these things are true.  I witness them before you with all the energy of my soul.  In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen. 

Elder Facer

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