We had quite the visit Monday morning. Apparently when the Gillettes were over the Boston Mission, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland’s son served there and Elder Holland would visit, speak to the missionaries, etc. So the Gillettes gave a standing invitation for Elder Holland to us when our schedules lined up. (Elder Holland is one of the 12 Apostles) He would have come sooner, but that darn schedule hasn’t allowed it. But Monday worked. In my mind, the reason is this: Sister Pei (and all the class that’s leaving) was in the MTC when Elder Holland came and gave the talk that we have watched several times during my mission. So her class got a talk from him right at the beginning and at the very end. I love symmetry.
I did get some decent notes, quotes, spiritual impressions, so here goes. Don’t waste the time you have, cause you never get another time like this. It’s not going to be easy, so enjoy the laughs AND the tears and more. Live and teach after the manner of the Spirit (Moroni 6:9). As we try to be as Heavenly Father is, we follow His lead and we adopt His attributes and we become like Him. I can’t say that right, but maybe that’s the point. We see becoming like Heavenly Father as something huge, something that happens when we die. But it's gathering little bits of His likeness one attribute at a time.
And the cool thing about Elder Holland’s talk? He got up there with nothing. Not until he started a Q&A session did he grab his scriptures (oh yeah, I’m getting Q&A with all the best on my mission!). He just has so much Spirit and smarts he doesn’t need anything. And we’re an easy audience to please – any topic coming from him would make us happy.
At the end we filed out row by row because he wanted to shake all our hands. Yep. But don’t worry, I’m still going to wash it....I should have saved the water! (love Br Bytheway) But when it’s over, it just feels like a dream, like it didn’t really happen.
I love how Elder Holland talks about the relationship between Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ as regards the Atonement especially. When he was speaking yesterday, despite the spiritual powerhouse that he is, I was praying really hard throughout because for some reason I wasn't feeling it. Not in the overwhelming sense you would expect. So I was praying to be in tune, to feel the Spirit, to be touched. I didn't really cry at all, but the tears came, in an overwhelming rush of feeling, when he was closing and telling us how proud he was of us. And the phrase that got my tear ducts working? "I think I can say I represent your mothers and fathers and ... the Lord, Himself, when I say we're proud of you." I darn nearly lost it. I've gotten good at controlling my crying though I guess. I just don't do it in public anymore. But when he said that...it always gets me when people talk about my parents. Cause I know it's true. When Elder Zwick came and spoke in our Mother's Day sacrament meeting, he said much the same thing. I hadn't been emotional until he started saying things on behalf of our mothers. (Yep, the Elder Zwick that I believe spoke at your last official stake conference came with his wife to be our special speakers for Mother's Day. Woot!) It's a feeling I think I described to my Mom about President Holmes while I was outbound. When I finally understood all the times he would say, "You know Sister Holmes and I love you, right?" and repeat it until he knew I knew. All the times he said "we're proud of you; you do good work; we're so grateful you're here; we feel lucky to serve with you". It just hit me that no matter how inadequate I feel, no matter how much I think I need to improve (and feel I never can) - he loves me. It's the same for my parents and President and Heavenly Father. Doesn't matter where I'm at, you know where I've come from. And regardless of all of it you're going to love me more than I can comprehend.
Hey Dad, I know you’re speaking in Sacrament Meeting soon, so I’m looking at my notes now for quotes to give you.
"He's gonna ask for your heart; lock, stock, and barrel. And that's not always a pleasant experience." Something Elder Holland said about missions/being a disciple not being easy. A lot like parenthood, I think. It takes everything you've got whether you want it to or not. You can choose not to give it, but you'll get the best experience (on both sides) when you forget about the pain and give it all.
Reminds me of something in one of Laura's letters that I've been reading over and over. It was after a stake conference or something. Someone made an analogy between Heavenly Father and a construction worker. While he's doing the building and remodeling to make your perfect mansion, it hurts! Sometimes it's little things like a leaky pipe or whatever, but other times he's taking down walls and doing the major stuff. But at the end you have an everlasting, beautiful mansion that is just for you and uniquely your own. Something else Elder Holland told us about missions being hard? "And if it's isn't hard, if you don't feel like this is hard, ask yourself if you're doing it right." It's supposed to be. Missions, parenthood, life - it's meant to be hard. Like Elder Holland emphasized - "Why should it be easy for you....when it was never, ever easy for the living Son of God?" and put the tear-jerking Elder Holland emotion into that. Yeah.
From a talk he gave in the MTC that we get to watch sometimes, "When I said leave your nets, it was forever! When I said follow me, it was forever! When I said be a missionary, it was forever! ... Peter, you can't go home. ... You (missionaries) need to stay the course, you need to see it through. You can't go back. ... Do you love [Him]? Well then feed [His] sheep. And do it forever." Yeah, basically every missionary should be able to hear that talk.
But I gotta get going. Things are all worked out and I'm on exchange for a little while before Sister Pei and I go to the park one last time. Then she has her dinner at 5 and I get up at the opposite 5 tomorrow to take Sister de Montigny (going home) and Sister Lui (going outbound) to the airport. Depressing, but by next pday I'll be over it. And by next pday it'll be 5 weeks till I do it.
It’s really weirding me out that all this departing nonsense will be happening again TO ME in another 6 weeks. Trunky or no, I have to say I’m excited. Not to leave, but to do the next 6 weeks and then leave. I’m probably going to sound trunky to other sisters, but that’s what it is. I don’t want to go, I’m terrified of it actually. But I’m ready. I’m going to rock this last 6 weeks and then I’m outta here. I’ll go just like I came – terrified, with a few restless nights and tears, but ultimately ready and trusting that it will all be ok.
It’s been a busy day. Spent the last hour or so with friends who aren’t leaving, but who I won’t see as often now. And now I’m ready to start fresh and plunge into a new era. Last chapters are always the best, right?.....Well, really the climax chapter-this is the chapter that counts. The stuff that happens my last few days, that’s the final chapter. But for now, there’s going to be some spiritual butt-kicking. I plan to go out like I did that year in the soccer play-off semi-finals: scoring the Golden Goal and winning the game. THAT’S the high I want to feel in 5-6 weeks. Time to kick it up a notch – BAM!
(PS: New Compy is SisterB from Indiana!)
(PS: New Compy is SisterB from Indiana!)