I can't believe this is actually happening. Honestly, when I left 18 months ago I never really believed that the mission would end. But here it is... ending. I don't think it has truly hit me yet.
This week was truly filled with tender mercies. We had a miracle baptism on Sunday. There is a little boy who lives in our ward and comes almost every week. His name is A and his mom is a less active member. However, his father is a non member and never was willing to sign to let his son be baptized. Looking for a last minute miracle, Hermana M and I visited them on Wednesday. We don't really know what happened, but the father experienced the "mighty change of heart." He signed, and A was baptized on Sunday. The best part is that his dad also came to church on Sunday to support the family. His dad gave him one of those giant, wet, YOU JUST GOT BAPTIZED hugs that I love so much and we heard him say "I have never felt so proud." Hermano R (the dad) is now taking the lessons and wants to continue going to church with his family. We anticipate that he will be baptized in September. One of the greatest miracles of my mission is seeing how The Lord works to soften hearts and change lives... Including mine.
At this point in my mission I really feel like I understand Ammon who, when speaking of his mission, said...
"I desire to dwell among this people for a time, yeah and perhaps until the day I die."
I feel ya, Ammon. Guatemala just seems like a part of who I am at this point. I love this people and I love the privilege that I have been given to serve and love the Lamanites for 18 months. 18 months ago, you guys sent a scared, scrawny white girl to Guatemala. I am not the same I was before. Yes, I am still Sierra. But I feel like I am a better version of myself. I am closer to the Lord. I am braver. I am happier. And I am clean from the blood and sins of this generation. I have fought a good fight and done what I can. I haven't been the perfect missionary, but I have done the best that I can and thanks to the atonement of Jesus Christ, that is enough. I have learned the importance of obedience, and that includes being obedient to the hardest part of the entire process... Coming home.
But President Markham told me "you have a great life ahead of you. Trust in God and move forward."
I guess that is true. It would be wrong of me to spend 18 months telling people to trust in God and do hard things if I myself were unwilling to do it. I trust that my Heavenly Father trusts me enough to allow me to continue progressing in the real world. I know that He is preparing me to move on to other things and I know that the work that I have done here will continue forward. This is a great and marvelous work. It is an eternal work, with eternal blessings. I am so grateful that I came and I look forward to the opportunity to continue seeking Christ throughout my entire life.
Elder Uchtdorf, speaking about discipleship, said..,
"Being a disciple of Jesus Christ is not an effort of once a week or once a day. It is an effort of once and for all."
My discipleship will not end when I take off my nametag. My conversion runs deep. I know that I am a true representative of Jesus Christ. I know that He lives. I feel His love and His influence in my life. I know that this is His work, to bring to pass the eternal life of man. God didn't need me to be here in Guatemala. But I needed Him. He taught me how to look for His hand, access His mercy and rejoice in the cleansing and strengthening power of the atonement. I have rejoiced in Christ. I rejoice in Christ. And I will forever rejoice in Him. Discipleship is not a journey of 18 months, it is a journey of a lifetime.
I am grateful for my Heavenly Father who sent me, not only here to earth, but here to Guatemala. I am grateful for my Savior, Jesus Christ who paid for my sins. I owe everything I am to Him, and He is everything to me. I know who He is and I know where to find Him. I am grateful for my parents to have loved and supported me through the entire process. I am grateful for President and Hermana Markham who serve as our parents and guides as we love and serve the people here. I am grateful for Thomas S Monson and the apostles. I am grateful that the windows of heaven are continually opened. I am grateful for the age change. I am grateful for my temple covenants. I am grateful for my companions. I am grateful for my friends, los chapines, here in Guatemala. I am grateful for my converts... They have changed me more than I have changed them. I think that one of the most important converts I have in my whole mission is myself. I know that this really is the kingdom of God here on the earth. I am grateful for every second that I have spent here in Guatemala, but more than anything I am grateful that God has been mindful of me a "wanderer in a strange land."
Thank you for loving and supporting me while I have been here. I love the mission, but more than anything I love God and I know that He wants me to come home.
It has been a great adventure. I look forward to many more to come.
I apologize in advance for being a weirdo... White people make me anxious.
See you.... Saturday.