Yes, this is my last email home. How crazy is that?
So last week we started off the week with an intercambio with the sisters in San Felipe! I was in San Felipe after 5 1/2 months here. It was weird to walk those streets again and be with Hermana Kelly instead of Hermana Wood or Hermana Waite. We went to some of their current investigators and then I took her to some of my old ones. They accepted another appointment with Hermana Kelly and her companion which is super cool! We ended the day going to Jayde and Guillermo. When I walked into their home, I felt the spirit. They have pictures of the temple and it is slowly becoming a very Christ-centered home. The spirit can dwell there and I was so happy to see that they are doing well. They told me all about when they went to the temple. They shared some scriptures they've read recently. The whole thing was so nice. I felt good. I don't want to say goodbye to anyone.
Then Hermana Wood and I were together for about 24 hours and we did another intercambio with the Sisters in Union. I stayed in my area with Hermana Barboza, from Lima. She is from Hermana Avila's group. It was really fun to be with her and get to know her a little better and teach and learn together. Then when I got back together with Hermana Wood, we went straight to the mission Christmas party! We watched a little movie Santa Clause is Coming To Town, each country did a little presentation on the traditions of their country and sang a song. Every zone had a skit prepared and they were hilarious! Then all the latino missionaries from each zone sang a Christmas carol in english and were judged for how good it was, that was entertaining too. Then we got spiritual. President and Sister Williams shared a message, we watched some videos, and they gave us our gifts. It was such a spiritual moment and I am so grateful for the true meaning of Christmas. I love President and Hermana Williams and their powerful testimonies. I have learned so much from them both.
One more teaching experience we had. We taught Jessica, the recent convert, and her friend Ana Rubì was there. We brought her own copy of the Book of Mormon and read the introduction together. Her face showed her unbelief and so I testified with all my heart. After when we had established that I wouldn't see her again, I said, "I know it may all sound weird and seem like it is made up. And I can say without even hesitating that this book is true. But, that means nothing to you if you don't kneel and ask yourself. I have been sacrificing so much for 18 months and I have testified of the Book of Mormon so many times but I haven't done all of this for nothing. I really truly know that this book is true and I will defend its truthfulness until the day I die." It was sweet. I love being a missionary.
So one thing I learned during an intercambio was to count your blessings but to also make your blessings count. I am about to leave a really poor country and I will shortly be in a developed country with a heated home and cars and cell phones and just so much... so what I do have, the blessings I have received, I should make them count.
Now, lesson of a lifetime: the power of the atonement.
Although I do not fully understand the atonement, I have felt its power in my life and I have seen it working miracles in the lives of others. I can never comprehend what it is that the Lord had to sacrifice to bring to pass the atonement but I will never doubt that he did so. I am so grateful for my Heavenly Father for allowing his only begotten son to suffer so much because of their love for me. He knows what it is like to feel totally and hopelessly alone. He understands every sickness and temptation, every trial and every sorrow. His atonement does not simply cleanse us from sin, it gives us divine strength and heals wounds. With his stripes we are healed. He has perfect empathy. I have felt that empathy many times in diverse situations. He understands perfectly. And like I said, I will never know how but I will never doubt that He truly does know. I have seen the power of the atonement clean and forgive people, including myself. I have seen people find "hope through the atonement of Jesus Christ and his resurrection to be raised up unto life eternal" as taught in Moroni 7:41.
The saviour has walked beside me the whole way. He has been there to experience it all and to lend me a helping hand. There have been times were I haven't seen him at my side and I have felt utterly alone and weak but I know now that those are the moments when he carried me and I couldn't see him at my side simply because I was in his arms. I love my Saviour and I testify of the power of the atonement, not only to forgive us but also to make up for what we cannot do.
These 18 months have flown on by and the time is near to return to the real world. There are no words to describe the mission and I definitely can't describe mine. It was been truly incredible. Everything that I gave up, everything that I have lost, all of my sacrifices were worth it. The mission is priceless. I couldn't have grown as I have doing anything else. I love Peru. I love the Gospel. I love my brother Jesus Christ and my Heavenly Father. As a representative of Jesus Christ I testify that His church has been restored. He lives and loves each of you. I know this Gospel is true. I know it, I Live it, I love it.
Thank you all for your love, support, letters and prayers over these 18 months. I love you all .
See you soon!
Thursday I will be in the office like all day doing my legal papers, my last interview, and lunch with President and Sister Williams and a testimony meeting and then I leave. I am really really scared to say goodbye to these great people. Excited to see you all. Scared to not be a missionary. Excited for Christmas. Scared for real life.