I'm sitting in sacrament meeting right now as I'm writing this email home. I have a lot of thoughts from today that I want to share!
I can't believe I am in my last sacrament meeting as a missionary for the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It feels weird! The thought that I will be home for the next church meeting scares me!
As they were passing the sacrament I thought intently on the Savior and the way that He has been able to effect my life these past two years. I am very glad to say that His suffering for me has not been in vain! I really feel like I've been able to let His Atonement be a continual enabling power in my life as I've had this once in a lifetime privilege to serve for two years. There is something special about the supporting power The Atonement can have on a person. I can remember week after week, coming in for church on Sunday's during my mission. Some of those Sunday's were filled with disappointment, some filled with ecstatic joy, and some filled with feelings of inadequacy, doubt, hope, success, and bewilderment. No matter how I've felt at the time of attending sacrament meeting, the sacrament has been the one thing that has helped me keep going, to keep trying. There is a unique feeling of strength that I've received from making the sabbath day and the ordinance of the sacrament an important milestone every 7 days of my life. Christ spoke the truth when he said "12 And I give unto you a commandment that ye shall do these things. And if ye shall always do these things blessed are ye, for ye are built upon my rock." (3 Nephi 18:12). And "And if ye do always remember me ye shall have my Spirit to be with you." (3 Nephi 18:7)
The Atonement is a power that can continue to strengthen us as we serve the Lord throughout our days. We can receive that strength and power through the sacrament as we attend church every week. There were some weeks that were SO HARD for me and the only thing that relieved me of the frustration and doubt I felt was from the sacrament. The power of The Atonement has truly helped me change my feelings, will, and thoughts and line them up with what God wants me to feel and want and think. We truly can be built upon the rock of Christ as we continually take the sacrament and use this ordinance to be a stepping stone for advancement in our lives. Isn't that great? That when we may have a week where we feel like we've failed, where we feel like we have no hope, we can come and partake of an ordinance that renews our souls and bodies as we remember the one who is the source of our renewal. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel that can and should be applied at all times in our lives. The sacrament helps us follow that continual process of faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. What a great way to start a new week and to end an old one! And what a great way to end my mission! To take the sacrament as a missionary one more time, to remember all of the memories I've made here, to remember all the things the Lord has taught me, and to remember the One who I have been talking about to other people for many months of my life.
I am infinitely grateful for my opportunity to serve Christ and to remember Him when I come to church on Sunday's. There is ALWAYS a good reason to be at church and there is NEVER a reason why we shouldn't be in the chapel taking the sacrament on the Sabbath!
Anyway, I have so many thoughts going through my mind right now. I don't even know where to start... This week turned out well for us. We ended up having A few Less Actives at church this Sunday. One of them which hasn't come in a long time. It was a really great thing to see them there and know that this ward is progressing forward as I leave here! I feel like I've been able to make this place better than when I found it. We found out that they will be white washing our area, and closing the sister's area in Ridgeway. So they will have only two Elders here, and they'll both be coming in on Wednesday. I'm making sure I leave them a big long report to read so that they're not completely in the dark on everything like I was when I first got here!
Elder Neves will be getting transferred and so will Elder Robinson in Blythewood. Elder Robinson is white wash training and Elder Snelson will be staying in Blythewood training until he goes home in March! This transfer definitely has been a crazy one. Luckily I haven't had to worry about where I'm going after this transfer haha. I will miss this place a lot.
Well, I guess that's it. I will be ending my tremendous journey that I started on just two years ago. I can't believe it! I have learned so much. I'll share some things I've learned.
Before my mission, I wasn't as sure as I am now on the reality and divinity of the Savior. The only thing I was sure of was that I had received an answer and call from God in my prayers to head out on a mission. Now I can say that I know Jesus Is the Christ, the LIVING son of God. He was called by God our loving Heavenly Father at the time where we had not experienced the life we experience now. He was foreordained to be the One who would die for us all. He and Heavenly Father love us so very much, watching over us, and cheering us on as we make the decisions we are supposed to make in this life. I know that the doctrine of Christ is true. The process of having faith, repenting, being baptized, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end are principles infinite in wisdom but also simple enough for us all to follow and understand. I know that this true gospel was taught by the Savior when he was on the earth, and that his church made these teachings the core of it's purpose. After ancient times, Heavenly Father reached out in love to all of us and called Joseph Smith to restore that pure doctrine in its fullness to us. Joseph Smith was really called to be a prophet of God, and he restored Christ's church as it should be. Joseph was simply a disciple of Jesus Christ, and he was able to be a great miracle worker for our Savior in bringing this great gospel back to the earth today. Today we have living prophets and apostles and they are men who love God with all of their heart, might, mind, and strength. I've met an apostle and other general authorities of the church on my mission and those leaders ABSOLUTELY have a conviction of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Restoration of it, and they are men who have love and compassion for the whole world. They are great examples to me on what a follower of Christ should be like. I now know with a surety that exceeds any other confidence I have that these things are true. They are facts. They are special truths that God has shown me through prayer, thought, and experience. I would not trade these precious convictions for anything in the world. They are of great value to me! I will treasure them forever. I hope that all who read this know where I stand in my convictions and that I fully intend to honor them by living my life the way that God would have me live it.
Hopefully this wasn't too long haha! I can't wait to see y'all in just a few short days. It will be a long awaited day that I know I finally deserve to get! I am so grateful for my opportunity to serve these past two years! I hope that the years to come will only get better.
Love y'all and see you soon!
Elder Sean Bills