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

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