Well, here we are. Another week has come and gone, and I´m here writing you guys once again. I do not know if I will be writing next week. If I do, it will probably be something somewhat short. Thanks for all the letters and pictures, you guys are awesome.
I want to take this opportunity to share with you guys some of my thoughts, feelings, and most of all, my testimony. The mission has been awesome. It has been far from easy, but I´m so grateful for everything that I have learned. I will never forget the beginning of my mission. That time was easily the hardest time of my life where I felt so alone. I knew I could always rely on Heavenly Father, but with the health problems, culture shock, and language problems, it was tough on me. I missed everyone so much, and missed the close support I've always had all my life with you guys around, especially Mom and Dad. I knew everything would get better, and didn't want to disappoint everyone, including the people I would meet here in Chile. I prayed and prayed and prayed, and things got better. The mission is tiring. I've never been so tired or worn out in my life, but even feeling like that, you will never feel better or be happier. Giving everything to the Lord makes you happy. Day after day you don´t realize how much people you really are able to help. But as you look back on time, you realize the impact you had on people, and you notice the hand of the Lord in those things. As a missionary, things that happen just seem normal. As you sit down and think more about it, you realize it´s not so normal, and it was like I said, the Lord´s hands in all things. He´s always preparing people, whether or not you think He is. You leave everyday at 3:30 not exactly knowing whether or not you´ll enter in a house, or if you´ll be walking for the next 6 and a half hours under the hot son or freezing rain. What you do know though is that you´re a representative of Jesus Christ, and that´s what you need to be doing. You´ll get rejected by an incredible amount of people, you´ll find people to teach that won´t end up progressing, you´ll teach people that will progress but then decide not to get baptized, and you will teach people that want to progress and follow Jesus Christ. You will teach less actives that are just a little confused, you will teach members to help them strengthen their testimonies, and you will teach recent converts that have the desires to progress, but just need a little help. You will deal with many types of missionaries, which will lift you up, help you out, and also test your patience at the same time. You will learn leadership skills, how to teach a class or give a talk on the spur of the moment, and how to be a good teacher. You will learn how to ask good questions, listen intently, and respond how God would have you do. Many people think missionaries have all the answers and are perfect, but that´s definitely not the case. Missionaries are imperfect just like everybody else, and are in the process of learning how to be better people. These past 2 years have tested me mentally, physically, and emotionally, and I've learned a lot. I've met so many people that I've grown to love that I will surely miss, and I've grown to love and be more grateful for my own family. I have come to know that Christ lives, and He is our Redeemer. He suffered and died for us. He was completely obedient to His father, and we need to follow that example of obedience. I know that families can be together forever. I've said it sooooo many times, and written it in my journal a ton, but I´m so grateful for you guys. Mom, like you know I´m a little nervous and sad to be leaving. I love Chile, and I love being a missionary even though it´s hard sometimes. However, it´s awesome to think about all you guys and how bad I want to see everyone. Our family is so awesome, and never forget that. One of the things I am 100% and absolutely sure of, is that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, and that the Book of Mormon is true. I knew it before the mission, but my testimony of those 2 things has grown so much. I love testifying of the Book of Mormon. There is a power in that book unlike any other. It is the keystone of our religion, and I honestly love that book. It has the ability to change lives. If someone will just put to test Moroni 10:3-5, they for themselves can come to know of the truthfulness of the Gospel. If they know the Book of Mormon is true, they will also know the church was restored, and the authority to performing saving ordinances exists on the earth today. I have also come to love the temple. I haven´t had the chance to go to the Santiago temple, nor will I be able to right now, but the temple is so very important. I've been able to learn more about Family History, and the importance it has in hastening the work. We are so incredibly lucky to live in Utah and have so many temples nearby. So many people have a hard time traveling 8 hours to Santiago, and would do ANYTHING to go to the Salt Lake temple. They talk about it a ton here, and we´re so privileged to live right by it, and also plenty of other temples we can easily go to. I know a living prophet guides us in these Latter-Days. I know he receives revelation for us and is called of God. I know that God is our loving Heavenly Father. He has a body just like us, and loves each and every one of us. I know Satan is real, and will do anything to get us to sin, in hopes we will fall and not return to live with our Father in Heaven again. I know sometimes we will have doubts or questions, but that´s when we need to ask in sincere prayer, and it will be given unto us if it´s God´s will. We will have a lot of struggles in life. God does that to test our faith and our patience. We just need to learn to put our trust in God, and our confidence, and He will help us. It´s all part of the plan, and we´re here to progress to become more like Him. The mission has helped me to understand these things even more, even though I don´t know everything and still have a long ways to go. I've put a lot of goals to keep studying, progressing, and strengthening my testimony no matter what. I've learned what really is important in life, and what really isn't. One thing that is important is obviously... THE FAMILY. I've grown to love the country of Chile, the language, and the people I've met. I've realized people are all the same no matter where they live. Before coming here, I always thought of people from different countries as just weird. But they´re not. They´re just regular people just like us, who like to do what we like to do, eat what we eat, wear the clothes that we wear, but perhaps just speak a different language. I´m grateful for all the experience I have gained and for all that I have learned. I've also learned to be grateful for all the little things. For example, Mom, thanks for writing me every single week, without fail. Dad, thanks for all your letters and advice. Thanks everyone else for all the pictures, videos, and letters as well. They kept me going. I´m going to give it my all this last week, and help as many people as I can.
I think next week I have P-Day until 3:30 or so, so I should be able to get a letter off. We had 3 people in church with a baptismal date. Church was awesome this week.. there was 235 people that attended. It´s usually like 180, but like 30 people came from other wards for baby blessings. Either way, we had more than normal. Next week, the ward mission leader asked me to give a talk. I was happy to because I´ll be able to have a little more time to prepare it, and also share my experiences on the mission. Tomorrow we have to go to Concepción for mission council, and we will be teaching zone class on Friday. Hopefully all goes well. I think we will be doing a zone fast on Friday to help all the people that came to church with a baptism date this week to keep progressing. Last week for a zone activity we went and played soccer, and this week a few of us went to have a barbecue with a few others from the other zone as a goodbye party for me and Elder H. I was looking forward to traveling back with Elder H, but his parents are coming to pick him up. Anyways that´s about it for this week. I´ll see if I can get a letter sent off next week. I love you all so much... and can´t wait to see everyone! ELDER NEILSON