In the beautiful Central Park

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Final Email!

Can you even believe it's here? This is the last email of the mission.... WE DID IT! Haha! Today I was able to go to the temple and it was wonderful of course! I loved being there and it was a bit strange walking out of there for the last time. It seems not so long ago that I was in there for my first cycle. I don't have too much to update on. I am adding my mission experience paper on here because that sums up my feelings for the mission. I love you all! Thank you for all the love and support I have gotten these past 18 months. I'll see and talk to you soon!

Taking time to reflect over the last 18 months plus, I can’t help but be filled with gratitude for the chance I have had to serve the Lord here in the New York, New York North mission. My life would have never been the same without it. Recently, I was studying in the Book of Mormon and came upon a chapter that has brought a totally different meaning to me as a missionary. In the 26th chapter of Alma we read of the joy that Ammon has because of his missionary work. Verse 12 states, “Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever.”
When I started the journey of my mission in the MTC, I marked that scripture, using it as a motivation and guideline of how I wanted to feel when my time here in New York ended. It has been a tender mercy for me to re-read this chapter and find that I have so many of the same feelings as Ammon, especially as he speaks of miracles. Miracles have been the focus point of my mission and seeing them everyday has given me the motivation to keep going, even and especially when times were tough. As I have thought about the different miracles I have seen, I have realized the main miracles have been within my companions, the investigators, missionary work as a whole and within myself.
Being able to be with a companion for twenty four hours a day, seven days a week is something that takes some getting used to. In the MTC I was a “solo” sister and was with at least two elders all the time, so I was a little nervous coming into the field and having a big change. I quickly came to realize that the Lord directs who our companions are in every circumstance. I saw miracles with each one of them and in each one of them. I found that the Lord truly can direct your companion through the spirit to know how they can help you and that He also does the same for you in helping them, if you are willing to act on that. I have seen the miracle of the atonement in their lives as they strive to overcome illnesses, doubt and lack of self confidence and put their whole heart into the work. I have seen the miracle of a companion struggling with me through the hard times, always having a positive attitude about any hardship that comes. I have seen the miracle of becoming instant best friends with a person I have only know for a few minutes and knowing that we were meant to work in this work together. I have seen the miracle of having the spirit testify to both of us, the same exact thing, knowing what needs to be done and how to do it so that we can help others. The miracles within each companionship are innumerable. I am so grateful for all the valiant, virtuous women I have gotten to work with and become best friends with.
The miracles I witnessed within investigators was the most exciting part of my mission. Being able to be with someone, see the spirit touch their hearts and see the change that begins in them amazed me every day. As a contrast to that, it was hard to see those ones who did not accept the gospel. At times, the Lord would give us a little glimpse on what their life would be like if they would accept the gospel and it was so hard to not see that happen. To see the miracle of the spirit within others is something I will always hold close to me. I was able to see the miracle of finding those people who were truly searching for the gospel in their lives, once they found it, they were on fire, ready and excited to do all the Lord asks of them. I have seen the miracle of the atonement work in each of their lives as they struggled to overcome personal weaknesses such as addictions or self doubt. Being able to see each person put total trust in the Lord is a wonderful example to me of how I should continue to be throughout my life. I have seen the miracle of the gospel strengthen families and bringing them together so that they can live together forever after this life. Each one of these people who I have been able to meet and teach have taken part in a miracle, the miracle of the gospel being testified through the spirit. I am forever indebted to my Father in heaven for giving me the chance to witness so many miracles in others lives.
To me, missionary work as a whole is one giant miracle. I realized this at first while I was in the MTC. Being together with all these people, trying to do their best and serve the Lord brings a special spirit that can’t be found anywhere else. I felt this every time I got together as a group of missionaries; I will miss that feeling so much. I know that the Lord loves his missionaries. Together as districts and zones I was able to witness so many different miracles. In every ward I served in, I had the chance to work closely with other missionary companionships and see the progress and joy that we all felt when success was found. Being able to work together, as a whole, brought miracles every day, not only within the work, but within ourselves. I have formed the closest relationships of my life because of the chance I have had to serve with such dedicated Elders and Sisters. Truly, as a group of missionaries work together in one purpose, the Lord pours out his blessings and miracles every day! It is true when it is said that goals CAN be reached as long as the effort is put forth by all!
Being able to see the miracles within in myself has probably been the hardest but most enlightening part of my mission. It is easy to see how the Lord changes others but sometimes it is a lot easier to point out all the faults within yourself. Looking back, I have seen miracle upon miracle of the Lord working within me, to help me become the person he wants me to be. I learned that through the atonement of Christ, I can overcome any weakness that I have. I learned what it means to truly rely on the Savior, in times where you feel that no one understands. I was lucky to learn this lesson very early on in my mission and that has shaped how I have faced every hardship that has come on the mission. It’s interesting to see how the hardships that I have gone through have lead me to help others with the same problems. Seeing that has made me grateful for everything that I have gone through, as hard as it was. I am forever grateful for the guidance of the spirit in my life and learning even more how I recognize the spirit in my life and challenging that to help others. The ways and things I have learned are innumerable but the everlasting testimony I have is that we truly are children of God. He knows us, He loves us, and He is aware of everything we need. He is there, no matter what!
I know that this is the gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that he restored the truth through the Prophet Joseph Smith. I testify of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, it is the word of God. I know that as we do our best here and follow the Savior, we can live with our families forever. I know that God is our Heavenly Father, that Jesus is the Christ, our Savior and Redeemer. I feel as Ammon does in the last verse of Alma Chapter 26, “Now my brethren, we see that God is mindful of every people, yea, he numbereth his people, and his bowels of mercy are over all the earth. Now this is my joy, and my great thanksgiving; yea, and I will give thanks unto my God forever. Amen.” I know that God is mindful of each one of us. We can see His loving hand in every part of our lives, which to me, is a miracle. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
- Hermana Melissa Passantino

Friday, April 29, 2011

Hello Humidity!

Well, I can tell that spring time is here as my hair has decided to poof every day now, it's just so humid. I forgot what it is like till just now. Ha ha! But the last couple of days have been so nice and I have been LOVING it! I love seeing all the blossoms and having the sun out! Yesterday we walked around South Norwalk and talked to people on the street. It made me miss the city a lot but it was just so enjoyable. I am glad that the blossoms are out and that there is some color in the world again! The rain just starts to get depressing after a while.

This week was a good one. All three of us have been really sick so on Saturday we were inside ALL day which was just awful! At least we all got hit at the same time and we are doing better now. That night the assistants asked us to sing at mission conference that coming Monday. HAHAHAHA! We just laughed when we found out and then agreed. You can imagine how fun it was to practice for that as we all were blowing our noses and trying to sing with congestion filling us up... not the best of times. But the song turned out ok and we made it through. Thank goodness Hna. Vander Does has such an amazing voice, she carried us through!

Easter was great. It is always so nice to be able to reflect a little more on the Savior and what he did for us. We also got to sing in Sacrament Meeting which was, again, very interesting. The elders sang with us so I think it turned out pretty good. We ate dinner at a couple different houses and enjoyed our time with some members. I think next Easter will be weird without eating some sort of Spanish food for dinner!

So I had my final mission conference on Monday. It was a little weird, just feeling like I was one of "the old ones". We talked about the doctrine of finding people. It was really interesting and reminded me once again of how much people are searching for the gospel in their lives. President Smith reminded us that everyone knew the plan, everyone that is here accepted that, we need to go out and help them remember. It has put a different spirit into the way I look at people throughout my whole mission, it was great to be reminded of it again! I was also given the chance to bear my testimony at mission conference (along with all the other missionaries going home) It was interesting to reflect and bear testimony. I realize that my testimony hasn't changed at all, it has just grown stronger. My goals have become more specific and I have learned even more how the Lord guides me in all I do! What a great time!

Today is my last normal P-day. Next week we are going to the temple (all the missionaries going home) so today we are going to the beach to play some volleyball. I am very excited! I hope all is well in your part of the world! I love you all!

Con Amor- Hermana Passantino

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

18 months!

Yes, it's true, tomorrow I will hit my 18 month mark! Does that mean I am done being a missionary? Haha, NO WAY! Us Spanish sisters here in New York go for almost 19 months... does that mean we are more hard core? I think so! Just kidding... :)

This last week has been an adventure as always. We are still continuing to work hard and find those people who are searching for the gospel. We are having a lot of success as we follow the spirit in our finding efforts. The work always goes forward. I have really been enjoying seeing little miracles every day. Last Sunday we were for sure that one of our investigators was going to come to church. We saw her the day before and we were so excited about it. Turns out, she didn't show up... BUT another one of our investigators did! It was so exciting! Getting people to church in this area has been rough so I just jumped for joy last Sunday. Just a little tender mercy.

I don't have a lot to update on just because the work keeps going forward and nothing new has changed. I got to have an interview with President yesterday which was wonderful as always. I love that man. He is just so ready and willing to help with everything. This cycle has probably been one of the most challenging on my mission but I have also learned the most so I am happy about that.

I hope all is well! I heard that the weather has been a bit crazy lately. It sure has here as well! I just want it to be warm again! It seems the rain doesn't want to stop. Hopefully the saying is true about April showers bringing May flowers! I also hope that everyone has a wonderful Easter. I love this time of year! It make me think even more in our Savior and all that he went through for us. I know He lives!!!

Con Amor- Hermana Passantino

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

I Love Conference!

Hello to all! How is everyone doing? Things here in good ol' CT are going well. It has been a great week, a different week, but a great week. The week after transfers is always something to get adjusted to.. just because there is so much change involved. But we are doing well. The adjustment from two people to three people has been an interesting one for all of us but we are working together and bonding well. We are kind of working on phasing me out of being the one in charge, just so that when I leave, they will realize that they don't need me at all. It will be interesting.

My birthday was wonderful. It started out with my companions decorating my apartment while I was in the shower, that was fun. Then we went to an english members house to watch the first session of conference. The whole district was there and it was really cool. Then the family brought out this huge chocolate cake and sang to me. I felt so special, I had never even met these people before. It always amazes me how christlike people are! We ran over to a members house before the second session of conference and ate there and then enjoyed the second session. It was a great day. On sunday a member brought me a homemade cheesecake and on Monday we had FHE with a member family and they bought me this HUGE tres leches cake (my favorite). I am stuffed full of cake! But it was wonderful. I felt so much love. Thanks to all of you for my birthday wishes. I feel like an old fart but that's ok!

So, wasn't conference amazing? I feel bad for all of you because I am pretty sure the conference was directed toward Melissa Passantino. Ha ha, just kidding, but really! I loved how many of my concerns and questions were answered during conference. What a blessing it is to hear from the Lords servents and recieve personal revelation. Just to comment on a couple of my favorites: Richard G. Scott was of course amazing. All of us sister missionaries just had huge smiles on our faces the whole time and just loved it. I think it was for sure my favorite. I also loved Lynn G. Robbins talk on being and doing. It was so great! Then of course Elder Bednar, a lot of what he talked about reminded me of what he talked about when we came to speak to us as a mission. Every talk was just so amazing. I was able to set some good goals while I was watching, especially about my future. I think the main thing on my mind is how I want more than ever to have a strong family, in a home where the gospel is taught and lived and where the spirit can be. It seems sometimes that this world is getting scarier to live in which makes it even more important for us to carry the light of Christ with us always.

I hope all are doing well. Have an amazing week. I know I will!

Con Amor- Hermana Passantino