Welp, I guess this is it. I won't write much because I will fill you in in person! For this week, I'll just attach my final letter to President Wilkey. It does a pretty good job summing things up. Enjoy! See you in three days!! LOVE YA!!
Man....here it is. The letter I hoped would never come. My last LTP. It's really weird, the reality of me going home still hasn't set it yet. It's so hard for me to comprehend any life outside of this work. It has become my life. It's my every thought, action, desire....everything I am is now in this work, and this work is now deeply in me. I can truly say as I'm finishing my mission that I feel I've served Him with all of my heart, might, mind and strength. I have nothing more to give that I feel I could have. It's been quite a journey to finally get to that point, and I've made ample mistakes along the way, but I can say with all sincerity, that as I've strived daily to focus on my purpose and to give my heart to the Lord, and by choosing to put my heart into His hands, He's been able to shape and mold it into something I'd never fathomed possible. I have a different heart now than I did when I first entered the mission field. I have a love for the gospel. I didn't have that before my mission. I enjoyed it and the activities and social aspect of things and I studied it as a feel-good philosophy, but now I've realized just how great it all is. I've seen it change so many people's lives, and the biggest one it's changed is myself. I've learned so much about family and it's importance. My mission has allowed me to interact with hundreds of families and I've been able to learn and observe what works and what doesn't. I've taken notes of both, and I plan on implementing what I've learned into how I will be a husband and father. I've learned how to be a good companion, about how to be charitable, patient, and honest, and how to look at others before myself. I know these will all help me as I look for my future eternal companion. I've learned how to work hard and to find motivation within myself to do so. I've learned that the best way to work is to find joy in it. I heard the quote, "If you enjoy what you do, you won't work a day of your life." Well, I've learned that if you enjoy EVERYTHING you do, no matter what it is, then you won't ever work! It all becomes joy. I could go on and on about what this mission has let me do and what it's led me to become. It has led me to change in ways I never knew possible, and I'll be ETERNALLY grateful that I made the decision to serve a mission. And I know as I look back on it for the rest of my life, it will be a joyful memory, for I know I left it all on the altar.
Thank you so much for all you've done for me over the last two years President, not only as a missionary in the NHMM, but in the personal lessons you've given. You and Sister Wilkey set the perfect example of what I'd hope to have in my future marriage. Commitment to each other and to the Lord, seeking to have fun, patience and love between each other, and so on. You've taught me principles of the gospel that will affect who I am forever, such a repentance and consecration. I indeed hope also that we will continue to be friends on into the eternities. I sure love ya!
On a finishing note, the baptism this last week went so well. The Spirit was strong, and most of the ward came to participate. Seeing a man with real-growth potential has increased the relationship with the ward SO much. Elder J. Esplin is inheriting a very fertile field to continue to labor in. But seeing this family change and seeing the ward i love gain more enthusiasm for sharing the gospel has been the sweetest way to finish my mission. I think I got a glimpse of how the pure white fruit on the tree of life really tastes. I sat during the baptism feeling full from head to toe with just pure JOY. It was one of the most joyful moments of my entire life.
This work has filled me with joy. It's SO hard for me to even think about leaving it behind....but I know faith is always directed to the future, and I know the Lord always has good things to come.
Again, know of my love and appreciation for all you do and have done for me. The NHMM will always be sacred soil for me- for it is here that I have given my heart.
Elder KC Esplin