Before I truly begin, I would like to invite all of you to get on Google or YouTube or something and look up the song "Homeward Bound" by Vocal Point. I got sent an MP3 of it a while back and it is SO GOOD!
I cannot believe that I am sitting here right now writing this email...How could 18 months go by so fast?! But at the same time, it feels like I somehow fit a whole lifetime into these 18 short months.
In all honesty, I never wanted to serve a mission growing up. It was one of those, "I'll go if I must, but otherwise, not for me." I was fully expecting to be the first in the Griffes clan to not serve and I was totally okay with it. Don't get me wrong, I always looked up to my siblings and all the missionaries (past and present), but I didn't think I could do it. I was scared! 18 months is a long time! And what if I went to a foreign country and had to learn a new language? Did I really want to put everything else on hold for the time I was gone? There were lots of questions and lots of fears before. It is funny because if I look back two years from today, I was not planning on serving. But, all along, the Lord had been preparing me to serve a mission for Him. He was placing the right people in my path and putting me in the right place at the right time. I prayed lots about whether serving a mission was right or not, but decided that it was. By the time I made that decision, I actually wanted to go. I got to the point where I knew that I would be devastated if I didn't go. So, I acted in faith and turned in my papers.
Moment of honesty: I didn't know much about Sweden when I got my call. I kid you not, I spent hohen I got my call to SWEDENurs researching it the day after I got my call. But the cool thing was that the moment I read that I was called to serve as a missionary and assigned to the Sweden Stockholm Mission, I knew it was right. All fears aside, I knew that I needed to be there. And oh, how I have learned that is true since that time.
I have loved my mission. I do not think that words can completely explain just how much my mission has been a blessing in my life already and I know that it will continue to bless me daily. I learned things out here in the field that I couldn't have learned anywhere else. I don't think that I could ever really explain my mission to anyone else. The longer I am here, the more that I can see that my mission really is between me and the Lord. I could never help anyone else understand how it felt and everything that it means to me. I could never explain how I have grown and the love that I have for the people here.
Out of all of the many things that I have learned, the most important are these:
Heavenly Father loves me. He loves you. Literally everything that we have here is a witness of that love. He knows you by name; He knows your thoughts and the desires of your heart. And He loves you, nonetheless. I know this! I have felt just a portion of His love for those around me in the time that I have been here. The more I know about the world, the more I know that He is there. He is our Father. I know that He listens to us when we pray to Him. I know that He is always there and that He answers our prayers. But I also know that He knows best, so the next time a prayer isn't answered in the way you think it should be, remember that He is in charge, you just have to give Him the reins.
Jesus Christ is my Savior. He is your Savior. He is our Savior. He is truly the Son of God. And thanks to that Divine Identity, He was able to perform the Atonement. The Atonement is about more than just bad to good, it is good to better. He suffered for our sins, transgressions, sorrows, pains, all of it. He is always there and He truly understands us and everything that we go through because He has been there before. We can rely on Jesus Christ through every step in life. He is our Hope! Without Him, there is no purpose in life, there is no way to move forward and become better. But Because of Him, we have endless potential and opportunities. He loves you and is always there. This is His Work, this is His Gospel, this is His Church. I am so grateful for the time that I have had serving side-by-side with Him in His Garden.
Love you all dearly. See you on the other side :)