March 18, 2013

The last full week of my mission

Familia y amigos,

Today I start the last week of my mission. What?! Like Alma said in the Book of Mormon, "I cannot say the smallest part which I feel." My mission has been an experience that has changed me. It has changed me for good. I left on my mission with a strong testimony, and now I finish with an even stronger testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The principles of the Gospel are engraven upon my soul. I have experienced such great joy that causes me to not even be able to “say the smallest part which I feel.” I've gone through good times and hard times, but I'm grateful for all of it, because I got to know my Savior. I know Him! And I can honestly say that He is my best friend. He has been at my side every day and at every single moment. He has never left me, and I know He will never leave. He patiently waits for us when we struggle, and He cheers us on until we have the success that we desire. I'm grateful for His love. I'm grateful for the Atonement that He endured so that we can live with Him again.

This week I had a really neat experience that I want to share with you. To do so, I'll have to back-track a couple of months. One morning back in December I was studying in Preach My Gospel. I read a part that talked about the importance of sharing why you decided to serve a mission. I remember at the end of my study, I prayed to the Lord that he would bless me with an opportunity to share why I decided to serve a mission. That same day, Hermana Gallegos and I stopped at the church in between appointments to use the bathroom. As we were leaving, a young lady was coming in. She looked at me in the eye and asked, ¿Can I ask you why you decided to serve a mission? I couldn't believe it. The Lord answered my prayer that very day!

I began to tell her how I sadly never really planned to go on a mission. I wanted to serve a mission in the future with my spouse, but I wanted to graduate college, get married and start a family. In November 2011, I was going through a tough time and I asked my dad for a father's blessing. He told me to not forget about the option of serving a mission. I remember being frustrated because that was not the answer I wanted at that time. However that blessing planted the seed. I kept the thought of serving a mission at the back of my mind for several months. By the time General Conference came around, I decided to pray about it for good to see if that was what the Lord wanted me to do. It was interesting because during the entire conference, there was never a talk specifically on missionary work. Yet the entire time I felt a burning desire in my heart to serve a mission. I realized how much I love my Heavenly Father and my Savior. And what do you do when you love the Lord? You serve Him by serving your fellow men!

I remember how anxious I was waiting for the perfect moment to announce my decision to my family. And my brother Brian's arms opened wide as if I had just scored the most phenomenal touchdown for the Lord. To this day I have never regretted that decision. I love being a representative of Jesus Christ. I love that I get to dedicate all of my time to help my brothers and sisters learn more about the Restoration and the Plan of Salvation.

As I shared my experience with this young woman, tears started to stream down her face. All she could say was thank you! ¡Gracias! ¡Gracias! She told us that she was thinking about serving a mission and she was at the church to have an interview with the Bishop to get his opinion of whether or not she should go.

On Tuesday I happened to run into this young woman again at the church. She ran up to me, hugged me, and thanked me again for sharing my experience. She then told me that she was at the church to have her final interview with the stake president so that she could finish her mission papers. I'm humbled to know that I was able to be an instrument in the Lord's hands to help another one of his daughters prepare to serve a mission.

Testimony in Spanish
No sé si tendré tiempo en la semana que viene para escribir, así que quiero compartir mi testimonio de que sé que la Iglesia de Jesucristo de los Santos de los Últimos Dias es la iglesia verdadera. Yo he llegado a conocer la verdad de muchas cosas durante mi misión mediante el Espíritu Santo, porque Él realmente es la manera que Dios ha preparado para conocer su Evangelio. Sé que el Libro de Mormón es verdadero. Contiene la plenitud del evangelio y el "hombre se acercaría más a Dios al seguir sus preceptos que los de cualquier otro libro." (La introduccion del LdM) El Libro de Mormón habla a mi alma cada vez que lo leo, y yo siempre deleito mucho en leerlo. Tengo testimonio de que José Smith era profeta. Mediante de Él, El Señor restauró el Evangelio y hoy día tenemos la misma autoridad y la plenitud de la iglesia que Jesucristo estableció. Estoy re contenta para decir que soy miembro de la iglesia y sé que aunque no soy perfecta, algún día, mediante la expiación de Jesucristo puedo volver y vivir con mi hermano Jesucristo y mi Padre Celestial. Así que "por lo tanto, gloriémonos, sí, me gloriaré en el Señor; sí, me regocijaré porque es completo mi gozo mío; sí, alabaré a mi Dios para siempre. He aquí, ¿quién puede gloriarse demasiado en el Señor? Sí, ¿y quién podrá decir demasiado de su gran poder, y de su misericordia y de su longanimidad para con los hijos de los hombres? He aquí, les digo que no puedo expresar ni la más mínima parte de lo que siento." (Alma 26:27)

English Translation
I don't know if I will have time next week to write, so I want to share my testimony now that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the true church. I have come to know the truth of many things during my mission through the Holy Ghost, because he really is the way that God helps us understand His Gospel. I know that the Book of Mormon is true. It contains the fullness of the Gospel, and 'man would come closer to God by following its precepts than any other book' (the introduction of the Book of Mormon). The Book of Mormon speaks to my soul each time I read it, and I greatly delight in reading it. I am a witness to the fact that Joseph Smith was a prophet. Through him The Lord restored the Gospel and today we have the same authority and the fullness of the church that Jesus Christ established. I am so happy to say that I am a member of the Church, and although I am not perfect, some day, through the Atonement of Jesus Christ I can go back and live with my brother Jesus Christ and my Heavenly Father. So 'yes, I will glory in the Lord; yes, I rejoice because my joy is full; yes, I will praise my God forever. Behold, who can boast too much in the Lord? Yes, but who can say too much of his great power, and of his mercy and kindness to the children of men? Behold, I tell you that I cannot express the slightest part of what I feel." (Alma 26:27)

I love you all! Hope you're well! Have a good week. :)
-Hermana Vawdrey

The little brother of one of my Mar del Plata converts

He was baptized shortly after I was transferred out of Mar del Plata

This cute boy was baptized last Saturday.
He attended his uncle's baptism a few weeks ago and felt the
Holy Ghost. He wanted to feel this spirit all the time and
chose to follow his uncle's example and be baptized as well. :)

One of our sweet investigators from the Dominican Republic

I love this little family! The cute little boy wants to get baptized.

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