Well it's the end of the journey here, I've been out 18 months, and I'm coming home soon. I can't believe it. How time flies. There are so many things I wish I would have done, so many things I wish I wouldn't have done, so many things I wish I would have become. But regardless, I'm glad I'm not who I used to be. Serving a mission is one of the most refining times of anyone's lives. I am so grateful, and will be forever, for this experience of a mission. You can read back on my other posts and see, yeah it's been so hard and so trying for me, but the hardest workouts, give you the strongest muscles. I can't believe my journey of being a missionary for the Lord full time for 18 months is now coming to a close. Though time has flown, it has gone slow, but there has been so many things happening this past year and a half that I would have never imagined to happen in my life. I have grown so much, I have changed, but I am still myself. That's probably going to be the weirdest thing going home, I'm a new better me, but I'm still me, my family and friends are new and changed, but they are still themselves.
Coming home is going to be hard, because you've lived such a strict and exact lifestyle for so long. I know I will struggle, but I will be grateful to be normal again. A cool experience I want to share. So about 2 weeks ago, I was praying one night "Heavenly Father, it would be really nice if I had sister missionaries to come back home to." But I knew that probably wouldn't happen, we've had elders in our branch for a long time. So 2 days later we had a member in my ward send a picture to my parents. My mom replied to him and told him "Will you let Courtney know we just got sisters put back in our branch?" I started crying, I was so happy! We haven't had sister missionaries for at least like 6 years, maybe more. And the sisters were taken out of our branch just before I started to grow up and want to go on a mission, so I never was really able to go out with the missionaries, since they were elders. God knew exactly what I needed and wanted to show me his love for him, by giving my branch Sister Missionaries!! I gave the greatest prayer of thanks that night possibly more than I ever have to my Heavenly Father, I just prayed for that! And God came through, he blessed me with my needs. And I know so many other people at home need these sisters too. I am so grateful to know God is always aware of us, and really does love us!!
Serving a mission tests your love, faith, hope, and endurance. And through testing these things, if you let it, helps those things become stronger. I have learned to have so much hope and faith, faith that my Savior is here for his missionaries, hope that we can follow what he is telling us, hope that those that we teach and talk to every day might one day listen to what we have to say. I've grown lots of endurance. I've been really tested to see if I will endure the trials of my life. Though I don't always respond maybe as I should, I know as I have grown with my faith to know that these are the things my Heavenly Father wants me to be doing, so having the faith that I can endure these things, even when they hurt. You don't stop in the middle of a mile long race because you're burnt out, you can't stop, you have to at least get to wear you can cross that finish line, and at the end, you're stronger because you kept going, stronger than those who stopped along the way because it was too hard. I'm so grateful I never fully gave up. I'm grateful I never gave into the adversary telling me it's too hard, and I can't do it. I'm grateful I learned to thank God for my challenges. Because there's no comfort in the growth zone, and no growth in the comfort zone. I've grown so much love. I never knew I could love so many strangers. So many people who were recently strangers to me, or who still may be, I have been blessed to be able to see them through the Saviors eyes. When you see people how our Savior sees them, it is the coolest experience ever. You see them as a child of God, who has as great of a relationship to our Father as you do, though they may not be strengthened in theirs right now. They have a life, a family, a God, a purpose. When you love others, you forget about the bad around you.
I have made so many new friends, missionaries, members in the wards I've served, investigators, or just people in my areas in general, sometimes complete strangers, and my companions. I've made so many lifelong memories and had so many life changing experiences. I've grown to love California and come to know as it in some part as home. As I end my mission, it's going to be like leaving home to go home. I am so excited to go home and be with my family again. I am grateful for my family and all the love and support they have given me throughout my mission. I couldn't have done it without them. I'm excited to share my experiences with friends and family. Leaving is a strange experience, but at least this time, I get actually keep in touch with people a little better.
I know God sent me on a mission to be the instrument in his hands to help people to find the gospel and to bless and change their lives forever. But I know God sent me on a mission to help me fully find the gospel, and to bless and change my life forever. The biggest thing I have learned on my mission is that our Savior lives, and he loves us, and he did suffer for our sins. We can be forgiven, we just have to let him heal us. I have learned how to let him heal, and how to let him accomplish his will in our lives. I am so grateful for my Savior and all the love he has shown me. I am so grateful for his mercy, because I have not always been the greatest or most diligent or most caring loving missionary, sister, daughter, or friend.