As a final email out, here's a recap of the final week as a full-time missionary.
Our final P-day activity of the usual basketball at a church building.
Two family home evenings with some amazing members in the wards.
Finally finished our task of delivering neighborhood directories and met two fantastic people because of it!
Had my departing interview with President Spendlove. Some key points from there:
-Always live the standards of For the Strength of Youth
-Because of my time in this mission, I have come to know and understand our Savior, Jesus Christ, even more.
-CTR now means current temple recommend
-Serve WITH the Savior, not just for Him.
-Always live your life for others. Think about the effects your decisions will have on your family, children, Relief Society, etc.
Sister Spendlove joined us for a lesson with the Myer's. Her testimony was perfect for the questions that Sister Myer asked. I love seeing how the Lord brings specific people together for specific reasons!
The Lord is good to me: we had several inches of snow that day which is just gorgeous on the mountains of Bountiful.
Departing temple day! We went to the Bountiful Temple in the swirling snow with the 19 of us heading home. Crazy.
I love the peace the temple brings. It truly is the house of the Lord. Before going in, Sister Spendlove shared some thoughts with us that really struck me. She told us to spend time in our true home after we returned home. If the temple is our Heavenly Father's home, and we are His children, then it must be our home, too.
Lunch downtown with everyone, rides to some Sisters, and then back just in time for dinner and evening appointments with my sweet companion.
Final zone lunch and district meeting. Mo'bettah's one last time. District meeting was all about the attribute of patience, which has been extremely helpful the past several days.
Contacted several people with entertaining stories from it all. Had one last lesson with the Vita family. Love them to pieces.
Things got real that day. I finished up basically all of my packing. Crazy stuff.
Had a short, powerful training on the importance of testimony.
Won candy while playing bingo with the people in the care center that our stake covers.
We had one of the most spiritually powerful experiences of my mission later that night. We had dinner with the former stake president and his wife. Shortly after he was released, he was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer and given between 6 and 15 months to live. He's into month eight, and seems to be doing pretty well. We talked about Food network, family, health struggles, and how the gospel brings it all together. As we were preparing to leave, they asked about our appointments that night. We had a lesson with the Myer's set for right after. He looked at us and simply told us to tell the Myer's, "Russ and Pauline know it's true." Tears came to his wife's eyes, and I nearly started, too as the power of that testimony hit each one of us.
I know this gospel is true. I know our families can be together forever because of the ordinances of the temple. I know that no matter the challenge we face, the gospel of Jesus Christ can and will bring us the peace we are so desperately seeking.
Phone calls, laundry, packing, early morning meeting with some people in one of our wards, and a final apartment inspection before a final trip to Nielsen's for some custard. Paperwork, more laundry, more visits, and final packing. An accidental door contact with the wrong address led to a fantastic conversation about heart and health stuff. Our final appointment of the evening also had some heart problems. The Lord gives us the exact trials we need to help both us become more like Him and to help His other children.
The final day. We were in church meetings from 8am til 3:30pm. Final correlation meeting, taught a youth group the Restoration and practiced teaching with them, joined the Myer's at church for a few hours, helped with a youth sunday school class, visited Relief Society, and raced home to finish packing before a final dinner appointment. Crazy day.
The drive down to Salt Lake was surreal, sitting in the Whittier chapel for the departing testimony meeting was even moreso. We each bore our final testimonies as full-time missionaries, took pictures and visited with all the people who came to visit, and then we were off. Crazy. Fun fact: I got to drive the luggage minvan down to the mission office haha.
We received a final training from President Spendlove, saw the transfer board, had a little performance and visited with everyone. The Elders spent the night at the mission home and the Sisters packed up down to the Bishop's home in the Spendlove's ward. Approximate bedtime: 1:00am
Due to early morning flights, we were up at 4:40am to head off to the airport by 6:30.
It's been surreal. It's still weird to be home. But I am forever grateful for these eighteen months that have changed who I am. I am so grateful for the relationship I now have with my Heavenly Father and with my Savior. I am so grateful for the firm testimony I have that these things are true! I know the gospel of Jesus Christ is the way for us to experience true joy in our lives. I love His work. I love His plan. And I know it is true.
I love you all so much. One of the greatest blessings has been to meet each of you. Your faith and examples have changed my life. Thank you for your goodness and love for the Lord. Keep smiling. Keep living the gospel. Keep loving every moment.
I know our Heavenly Father is there. He lives! He answers every prayer. Our Savior is Jesus Christ. He lives and He loves us. He will never leave us alone. Turn to Him and He will always answer.
Remember to smile :)
Please keep in touch on email or Facebook!
On the plane with Sister Fluegel!
Our departing group!