Dear Mom, Dad, Eric, and Belle,
Elder Eyring is a very wise man. In the April, 2012 session of General Conference, he gave an inspired message about a former President of the church who would often ask the Lord to "give [him] mountains to climb," because he knew that when he overcame them, he would be strengthened in faith and ability. Elder Eyring proceeded to share an experience from his youth when he followed that prophet's example to ask for mountains and was forthright humbled to the dust. He also shared a touching moment regarding his mother who in the twilight moments of her life struggled with cancer; it being said that she "needed a little polishing" before meeting her Maker and that such trials have the aforementioned effect. Needless to say, his talk ended with a warning with regards to asking for trials and challenges. Feeling as though I had the faith, power, and ability of someone who could handle such a trial and inspired by the words of President Eyring, I asked Heavenly Father frequently to send me mountains to climb, contingent upon my faith to overcome them. Having not recognized an answer to this prayer, I assumed my faith wasn't prepared yet. As I knelt in prayer (having not asked for some time), I received a confirmation from the Lord that the last five weeks have been my mountain. Mom, Dad, and Eric, this period of time has been, admittedly, very difficult for me. I have fasted and prayed more than I have ever fasted and prayed in my entire life. Later that night, during my prayer, I received that confirmation and I felt peace. I felt things were going to be better and that I had received a confirmation to my earlier prayer. In times of difficulty, the Lord came through for me. Mom, Dad, and Eric, I hope you all realize that the Lord answers prayers. He loves you. He knows you. He watches over you. I'm reminded of the poem about an individual who sees two sets of foot-prints in the sands of his lifetime (recognizing that one set belonged to him and one set to the Lord), but during his difficulties, he only sees one set. As he asks the Lord why, the Lord replies, "that was when I carried you." That's what I realized last night.
Thank you all for constantly being so support of me. Thank you for understanding that this gospel is so important and that at the end of the day, an eternal family is the end goal. You all are so great and I love you all so very much. Thank you, Dad, for driving all the way to work, just to send me an email. I hope you realize how important these emails are to a missionary. I rarely receive mail. I can't wait to see you all at Christmas. I'm incredibly excited. I cannot believe, however, that you sent five packages! Do you understand how much that costs?! That's ridiculous! I don't need all of those things! I don't know what it all is, but I know I don't need it all!
I'm so happy for Elder Jensen. I imagine that he is tearing it up in Russia. I have a lot of confidence in his ability. He has always been an example to me in his diligence, purity, and leadership. He is an incredible member of this church and when he left on his mission, he was more than prepared. We began teaching two new families and we're hoping to get them in the waters of baptism soon. Success is coming soon!
I'm happy that you fed the missionaries! I can't wait to go home and help them out in any way I can. It's funny that there are only one set of missionaries for the whole stake. That's Utah for you though. Here, it's at least one set of missionaries per ward or branch. Obviously the church is much, much, smaller, but regardless, it's funny to me now.
I know that coming home will be a crazy experience. I want to come home and start school immediately, no down time, but I also want to serve two full years, not 18 days shy of two years. I'm seeking an extension. I asked Elder Wilson for one, and haven't had the opportunity to ask President Bishop yet (our interview was a blur), but I'm avidly seeking one. Apparently those in this mission have one naturally, so getting another extension will be even more difficult. I just love being here.
I can't believe that it's almost Christmas again. I'm almost to the point where a year ago, I wasn't even at BYU. A month and a week from now, I can say that a year ago, I was doing the same thing that I'm doing now. It's strange. It has gone so fast! I don't want it to end. I wonder how I will feel after another challenging, but eternally rewarding year of missionary service.
I want you all to know that I love this work. I know that Heavenly Father is there, he is nearer than we think. The veil is thin. He answers prayers. He wants us to know that we are His children. He sent His son to die for us so that we could be happy forever. This is His work and His glory, to help us.
I apologize that this email is so short, but I love you all.