It's hard to keep from crying as I begin to write this letter. Yesterday I turned two years old as a missionary, truly the best two years of my life.
To all those who are currently serving as a missionary or who soon will be serving . . . I would say this: always remember that your time is incredibly short. Your time is one of the most precious resources that your Heavenly Father has given you. Don't waste a single second. Do what you should do every hour of the day. When its time to study, study hard. When its time to work, work hard.
Pay attention to the Spirit, as his guidance should be one of your greatest desires, and without him you can't do anything in the Lord's work. Remember who you are and who you represent, when you take off your name tag at night, and when you put it on in the morning. And always act accordingly, for you represent him 24 hours a day, even when you don't have the name tag on. Learn of Him, love Him, follow Him, and teach about Him with respect.
Obey the rules. Look for ways to be more obedient instead of ways to get around the rules. Follow your leaders, especially your mission president. Remember that part of the reason that you are called to where you are called is because of the things that you will learn from the people there, especially your mission president.
Remember also that you are called to where you are called to find people who are waiting for your testimony and teaching style. But always remember that it isn't you, its the Spirit.
I have learned and changed so much. And yet, I'm still the same. Maybe a half an inch taller, maybe a pound or two heavier, but still the same. Yet I will never be the same. The experiences I have had, good and bad, have molded me into more of the person the Lord wants me to be. I still have a long ways to go, but I am a bit further along the path than I was two years ago, and I know which path to follow and how to follow it. My knowledge, experience, and testimony have grown as a missionary. They will be the pillars of my life.
I love Mexico. I love the food, the mangos, the salsa, the tortillas. I love the cactus, the burning sun, the pouring rain. I love the crazy streets without lanes and without signs. I love the people even when they don't accept the message I share. I love Spanish. I love my companions, the members of the wards in which I have served. I love the people I have taught, especially those who have become converted to the gospel.
Thursday I had the opportunity to go to Reynosa to bring some Zone Leaders there after the ZLC last Wednesday. President gave me permission to visit some of my converts. It was a very special experience. Perla and her mom are doing well. Perla has a calling, is attending institute, has gone to do baptisms in the temple, and reads her Book of Mormon every day. Lalo is working on his papers to serve a mission, hoping to leave as soon as he completes a year in July. Tere has had a hard time, but is atteding church, and her son is beginning to open up to the gospel as well.
Tomorrow I will be attending church in Victoria, where Ranulfo has asked me to ordain him an Elder. I will also be able to see Adriana and the Anguiano family there. Tomorrow afternoon President Mendoza and I are going to visit the Ranchito and visit all the members there, especially the recently sealed Montoya Leal family. Like Alma, I feel that the Lord doth give me "exceedingly great joy in the fruit of my labors."
Thank you so much for having written me so faithfully. You may not know how much letters mean to a missionary. They have helped and inspired me more than I can say. . . .
I have high hopes and big plans for whats to come in the immediate and long term future. I have goals, plans, and standards. I am going to miss my mission, a lot, but I feel ready for what's to come.