Monday, January 27, 2014

Monday, January 27, 2014 - "The Best Two Years!"

Dearest Family and Friends, I hesitate while writing this with a ton of mixed feelings and emotions going through my head. I am amazed at how fast our time has flown by, and really flown by! I have always said that the mission is like a dream…you are at home, then you leave and have amazing experiences enjoying and learning a new culture in a far off land and then all of a sudden BOOM! You wake up and you are at home again and the whole experience turns into a blur of memories. I have come to realize, however, that the mission is like one of those dreams where you never want to wake up…you never want it to end, but as always the alarm goes off and dream land fades into a memory. Two years ago I never thought that the mission would impact me and change me as it has. I want to share with you a few of my thoughts on the last 2 years and how it has impacted me. For those of you who don´t yet belong to our church, I will try and explain in simple terms. As young men of 18 years and young women of 19 years old, we are given the opportunity to serve a full time two year proselyting mission for our church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Our purpose as missionaries is to invite all to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. We help families receive this Gospel and enter into the waters of baptism to be cleansed from sin and to prepare to be an eternal family one day. We don´t believe in ¨until death do us part¨ but we believe that if we strive and keep the commandments that we can be an eternal family even after this life and that death is just a moment in our eternal existence. There is a saying that goes like this ¨A missionary leaves his family for two years so that others can be with their families forever!¨ I have truly loved teaching the families of Sonora, Mexico and helping them strive towards this goal! About two years ago when I was preparing to come on the mission, I thought I had an idea of what it was going to be like, but I was a little off. In my life before the mission, I thought I was happy. I was loving going to school, hanging with friends and enjoying what life had to offer. Soon after beginning my mission and entering the Missionary Training Center, I realized I wasn´t happy as I was before. I wasn´t with my family, I didn´t have as much contact with my friends and I couldn´t just go out to wherever and do whatever. I seriously thought I wasn´t happy. As time went on, I studied and gained a more in depth testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I began to focus more on what is having faith, repenting, being baptized, having the companionship of the Holy Ghost, and enduring till the end of life being obedient. I began to apply them more in my own life. I began to feel different; more at peace always. I felt happier, but a different kind of happy. Something more fuller, something grander that I had never really capped before. I realized that the happiness that I felt before the mission was just the pleasures that the world had to offer. I began to realized that I didn´t know what happy was, but now I was beginning to experience and live true and complete happiness that the fullness of the Gospel brings. I would have to say that the mission has definitely been the hardest thing that I have had to do and go through up till this point in my life. It hasn´t been anything near easy, but the knowledge, maturing and experience that I have gained are all priceless! I have always heard that those who serve missions come home a lot more mature and wise than everyone else their age, and now I understand why! A few months ago, Emily a friend serving her mission in Georgia, in her letter to her family wrote of a conference the mission had had with Elder Dallin H. Oaks. In this conference, Elder Oaks stated 10 things that no missionary should leave the mission field without gaining. They are the following... 1. A testimony of the Father and the Son 2. A greatly enlarged testimony of the gospel 3. Love for the people among whom you labor. 4. Greater love and appreciation for your parents 5. Understanding the meaning of hard work 6. Understanding the meaning and importance of personal virtue 7. Increased polish and poise 8. Courage to act 9. Faith to try 10. Humility to pray While reading these, I truly feel that I have achieved each one. The mission teaches you the value of hardwork, personal comportment, and over all gives you a testimony that cannot be shattered. I have a firm testimony that God LIVES! He is our Loving Heavenly Father who is like us who has a body of flesh and blood. He LOVES us. His love in infinite and unmeasureable. He only wants the best for us and even though in this life we pass through many challenges and hardships, they are not given to us to punish us, but to help us learn and grow. I know that Jesus is the Christ. He is our Savior and Redeemer and I am so thankful for Him! There is no way to repay what He has done for us. He has atoned for our sins. He has suffered for our imperfections and he suffered for each and everyone of us individually. He knows how we feel at each and every moment of our lives. We are all far from perfect but He still loves us and wants to help us. I can say firmly that I have felt the power of His Atonement in my life. There have been countless times where I have felt alone, scared, unworthy, unable. I have asked why me, why now, what this, how do I get through. I say that the Savior has not just walked beside me in my life, but there have been many times when He has carried me through it all. I know I can never full repay Him, but I want to do the best I can to live every single day following Him and repenting and having faith, keeping the commandments, ect. I know that the power of the Atonement is REAL and is ready and waiting for all of us to take advantage of it. I have a strong strong testimony of the Plan of Salvation, the plan that our Father in Heaven has for us. In the mission, I have passed through many many experiences that have confirmed the truthfulness of this plan. I know that before this life we lived with our Heavenly Father and He sent us here to the earth for a specific purpose, to learn and grow and become more like Him. I know that death is not the end. It is just a small moment in our eternal existance. I know that we will one day be reunited with our loved ones who have died and more importantly we will have the opportunity to return to our Heavenly Father´s presence. But we have to strive so much in this life to reach that! We have to have faith, repent, be baptized, and keep striving and fighting each and everyday. This knowledge I have obtained has been so comforting and valuable to me. I have obtained a much deeper appreciation for my family and for my parents especially. I am so thankful for them and for their countless sacrifices and love that they never cease to show me. I can never repay them for all that they have done and give to me. I am so thankful for the opportunity that we have to be sealed as a family and that we will be together forever! I love you family! I have come to know and be a witness that God really DOES hear and answer each and every single one of our prayers! Being a representative of Jesus Christ, I have seen countless miracles and blessings and have been a witness to many answered prays. I have come to learn that God answers prayers in His time and in the way He sees fit for us. He knows us better than we know. Like I said, the mission has probably been the hardest thing I have ever done up to this point in my life, but I feel like leaving this beautiful place and magnificent adventure will be even harder than it was coming. I have come to love Mexico and the Mexican people so much! I even forget that I am not a Mexican myself sometimes! These people have so much faith and love for God and they really want to follow Him. It has been a grand privildge for me to have been able to help them come unto Christ and to see lives change! I have seen countless lives change for the better. Many think that they are happy and good in life, but when they come to know the Restored Gospel, they realize they were missing so much more. I would like to leave you all with the lyrics of a song that is very sentimental for me. This song is called ¨The Hardest Thing I´ve Ever Loved To Do¨. I feel that there are few better words that I could write than these, to describe my mission experience. The hardest thing I ever loved to do was letting go of everything I ever knew nineteen years of dreams left in my room as I buttoned up the jacket of my suit The hardest word I’ve ever loved to say was goodbye to my mom and walk away choking on my tie and on my tears as I walked down the hall into those years the sweetest song I’ve ever loved to sing filled the MTC on angel’s wings the chorus filled my soul 5000 strong and I wished it would just go on and on the firmest hand I’ve ever loved to shake was my trainer’s with that big grin on his face he grabbed my bag and put his arm ‘round me and whispered "I’m gonna work those Mr. Macs right off your feet" The hardest words I’ve ever anguished for came just before some lady slammed her door my trainer left me hanging out to dry ans a minute of painful silence rolled right by but the hardest tears I ever loved to cry fell as I opened up my mouth and testified between the tiny walls of a stranger’s living room the Spirit told their hearts my words were true the most wonderful sound I’ve ever heard is the sound of water running in the church as someone I’d come to love got dressed in white my eyes saw their first glimpse of Heaven’s light the hardest thing I’ve ever come to see is a man down on his knees in agony a drop of blood falls down on olive leaves and for a moment he suffers there for me the hardest thing I’ve ever loved to do was getting on this plane and coming home to you in a million ways completely torn apart as a land so far away still owns my heart in the most sincere prayer I’ve ever prayed I thank my God for each and every day for the blessing of the man I’ve come to be as I walk up and kiss my mama’s cheek. We always have heard that the mission is ¨The Best Two Years¨ of our life for all the experiences and testimonies that we gain, but I would like to change this statement a little. I would have to say that the mission has not only been ¨The Best Two Years¨of my life, but ¨The Best Two Years¨ FOR MY LIFE! I would not have traded these past two years for ANYTHING! I would like to say a special thank you to each and everyone of you! You have all helped and supported me and have shown much love these past 104 weeks! Your emails, jokes, and words of encouragement have gotten me through a lot of hard times and have given me desires to keep going and keep moving forward! I´m sorry if I haven´t been the best at replying your letters, but your letter mean more to me than replies could have for you. I would like to close as Moroni... ¨ And now, I would commend you to seek this Jesus of whom the prophets and apostles have written, that the grace of God the Father, and also the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, which beareth brecord of them, may be and abide in you forever. ¨ I invite you all to seek our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To feel of the power of His infinite and eternal Atonement. I invite you to never stop going to church every week, reading your scriptures and praying every single day. These three things are key to staying strong in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to keeping ourselves close to our Father in Heaven. Life is too short to be messing around in the things of the world. I invite you all to come unto Christ and healed by His saving grace, for ¨His Grace is sufficient to heal us....¨ I love each and everyone of you very much and cannot wait till we have the opportunity to talk face to face and to tell you more about my amazing experiences. Until then, God be with you! I Know That My Redeemer Lives! ¡Yo sé que vive mi Señor! Con Mucho Amor, Elder Dayne Joyner Hermosillo Mexico Mission Feb. 2012 - Feb. 2014 P.S. For future contact, please use

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