Words cannot describe how grateful I am to have served in JC. I have grown so much physically, spiritually, and mentally here than any of my other areas combined. I have had my favorite companions I have probably ever had...the members here are people that I will also love and cherish. There is so much that I can say about these people. I have made so many great relationships and I have truly come to feel like I am friends with those whom I serve with.
The recent coverts here such as Edna, Brandyn, and Alberto are people that I had the wonderful opportunity to teach are legitamately my best friends. I love them so much and it is going to be hard to say goodbye. The good news about Hendersonville is that it is on the way to the Columbia SC temple and so when they go to the temple for the first time (Brandyn and Alberto) I can go with them!!!! Seriously could not have worked out any better. The next couple days will be filled with goodbyes to so many people that I love. I suck at goodbyes!
My birthday was awesome. I do not feel 21 at all! Alberto is a professional car detailer and so we detailed our Toyota RAV 4 with him for like 3 hours and then ate Jimmy Johns. Later than night I went to a Mexican restaurant with a member and also with Brandyn! We bought matching rosaries and I bought a Mexican belt to represent my Spanish calling haha. Elder Vellinga has the same belt which is a symbolism of our broship!
Saturday I went to an Alpaca farm at the Mushet's home! Remidned me of Peru back in the day! And no mom I didn't get spit on this time.
I would like to use the remaining time to talk about what happened on Sunday. That was the most spiritual day of my mission so far. It was fast and testimony meeting so we went to Church in a spirit of prayer and fasting! One of the first people to stand up to give a testimony was Alberto. I was so excited. I have had the opportunity ton see very one of my recent converts bear their testimonies in Sacrament meeting which has really been one of the greatest blessings. He stood there and with purity and sincerity bore his testimony of the Savior. He bore his testimony of how grateful he was to have learned about the message of the Restoration of the Church through the Prophet Joseph Smith and how he knows that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. He said that if it were not for the Gospel or a belief in the Savior he would have perished into a very very dark place. For those of you who do not know about his past, he served two tours in Iraq and Afghanistan 8-10 years ago. He is only 28 and he suffered majorly from PTSD and physical burdens. He has struggled with addiction and with depression. He is a living miracle of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. While he was bearing his testimony I was bawling my eyes out in the back sitting next to Brandyn on my right and Edna was on my left. One of the purest moments of love I have ever felt. I soon got up to bear my testimony after my good friend Elder Stockinger. I could barely get words out of my mouth as my suit and face were stained in tears and I felt so much love and gratitude for the people here. I testified of that. People were dropping tears like no tomorrow. Wow. So really life changing day for Alberto it was his 1st: testimony, he got married, and baptized and confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints! We did not go to his wedding because it was very small and private for family but his baptismal service was the most beautiful I have ever been apart of. Alberto asked me to give a talk, baptize, and confirm him a member of the Church. The talk I gave was on baptism and how it relates to the Atonement. I will send my outline on that. Then we went and performed the baptism. It was so beautiful and I felt the Spirit so strongly. Alberto hugged me for like 3 minutes after the font doors had been closed, absolutely bawling his eyes out. I asked him afterwards how he truly felt and he told me "I felt as if I had never set foot on battleground in my life". I testify that the Lord washed away his guilt and sorrow that day. And as I confirmed him a members and gave him the gift of the Holy Ghost, I felt the power of God come upon me as I bestowed a blessing upon him from the Celestial Kingdom of Heaven through the priesthood power. He has such a good life ahead of him with his new membership and family. I am so thankful I got to be apart of that experience before I left. I know that God's hand was in every step of the way for him and for me. What a beautiful day April 8!
I am excited for a new start band to finish strong!! I love all of you! I love Johnson City!!!! I will miss it but I am excited to start new!