Monday, February 23, 2015

This is it (23/2 email)

Wow. I don't really know what to say. It hasn't really sunk in that this is the last time I will sit here in a library in England emailing as a missionary haha! I wish that I had something deep and profound to share with you all, but my mind is all jumbled!

I was blessed with the opportunity to go to the Preston temple one last time before I leave. Oh how I love the temple! The peace that I felt when I walked in through those doors was so needed. The last few weeks have been difficult for me, I don't know why I expected it to be easy, and I can see how Heavenly Father had a few more things He wanted to teach me that I wasn't going to learn through having it easy. I came to the temple with a lot on my mind and seeking guidance and direction from the Lord. I'm the kind of person that finds it difficult to make decisions and if I had it my way, I would want God to just tell me specifically everything I should do... that might sound a bit silly but honestly I would love for it to be that way haha! But that's not the way He works. God gave us our agency and with it our opportunities are endless! There are so many choices we can make! Good ones, bad ones, and some more important than others. I find myself at a point in my life where I have a lot of choices to make, and it's a bit overwhelming! I came away from the temple finally realising that I need to stop asking Heavenly Father to tell me what to do and to embrace the gift of agency He has given me. The truth is there is not one specific set out path of destiny for me but rather I can choose from many paths that will lead to happiness. I still haven't figured everything out, but I'm a lot calmer and confident about my future now. I know that as I choose to do something, and go forward with it, continually praying to Heavenly Father, that He will guide me. They key is to move forward in faith. We can't just sit at the starting line and expect Heavenly Father to move us forward. We need to take the first step... and then the next one and the next, and pretty soon we will be running and the guidance will come because we exercised our faith. It can be scary but I now know that this is the way Heavenly Father works and I am excited to start the next chapter of the rest of my life :D

This Wednesday I'll be giving my departing testimony. I've been trying to think of some pearls of wisdom to share, but the more I try and plan it out the more I feel like I should just go with the spirit and say what comes into my mind and heart when I'm in that moment. The truth is, there just aren't adequate words to describe my mission. Anything that I come up with doesn't do it justice. It is the hardest thing and the best thing I've ever done. I feel like Heavenly Father has been right there by my side the whole time, even when I was at my lowest point, He was right there... waiting for me to turn to Him so he could lift me up and teach me an important lesson. And I'm not going to lie, there have been a lot trials, a lot of tears and a lot of difficult things to overcome, but I am more than grateful for each and everyone of them. It is because of those trials that I have truly come to know my Heavenly Father and my brother Jesus Christ. I want to echo the words of Jeffery R Holland: 
"I am convinced that missionary work is not easy because salvation is not a cheap experience. Salvation never was easy. We are The Church of Jesus Christ, this is the truth, and He is our Great Eternal Head. How could we believe it would be easy for us when it was never, ever easy for Him?"

My mission wasn't easy, but it was so, so worth it. I have been blessed beyond that which I deserve. My heart has been filled with more love than I thought it was possible to hold and my eyes have truly been opened to see things more clearly. I feel like a mission is like a mini "life" when you get to the end, it won't be about the amount of things you did, it will be about who you have become. And if my mission has helped me to become even a little bit more like our Saviour, then it was definitely worth it.

I just want to thank you all for your love and support, and I'll be seeing you soon!
All my love, Sister Riley.

My departing group at the temple

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