Once & For All

I cannot believe that this will be my last email as a missionary! The
first nine months felt like and eternity and the last nine months felt
like a month. This whole mission experience has been quite different
than I was expecting, but I would not change it for the world. This
last week will be jam packed with things to do, including a baptism
for Angel. After much tribulation he has finally been prepared to be
baptized this weekend!

My mission has been one of the most challenging things I have ever
done. Going from living a carefree life to one with many rules and
expectations was a difficult adjustment for me. To be honest, I am
kind of shocked that I am still here today and that I have made it to
the end. I know that I am a weak person and that I could not have made
it here by my own strength. I know that that strength -without a
doubt- came from the Savior.

My first transfer in the mission field I clearly remember sitting at
my desk just right before studies were about to start and wondering
what exactly I could say to my mission president to get him to send me
back home. I thought that the mission life just wasn’t for me, that I
would never be able to do it. It was at that point that I slowly
started to realize just what Jesus Christ did for me and all of my
problems seemed so small compared to such a sacrifice. I wish I could
say that that was the only time I ever felt incompetent as a
missionary, but those moments came and went throughout my entire
mission – and each time I learned something new from it.

Last Monday we were heading back from a lesson when I saw a truck that
broke down right in the middle of the road. We quickly pulled into a
nearby parking lot and jumped out of the car to help him push it. We
run across the street and Hermana Escobar hops in the front to steer
while I helped this guy push his truck. All of the sudden this other
man comes into the middle between us and said, “Sister?! What are you
doing??” Then helped us push. I just laughed as we tirelessly tried to
push this truck out of the middle of the road. But when he said that I
began to wonder… What WAS I doing? I think I must’ve looked pretty
funny: this young, blonde girl in a skirt trying to push a truck off
of one of the busiest streets in Mesa. I probably would have never
done that before the mission! Once we got his car into a safe place we
talked with him a bit and asked if he wanted to meet with missionaries
in his town. He told us that he wasn’t sure if God existed, but
because we stopped and helped him out he said, “I can see that good
people still exist in the world, and maybe it’s time for me to be
quiet for once and actually listen to His word.” We got his
information.

As we walked back to our car I kept thinking about him. Here was this
guy, obviously struggling, he had tattoos up and down his arms and
neck and just looked like a tough guy. He clearly had a rough past
behind him, but his Father in Heaven was reaching out His hand once
more to help him so that he could change and find out what true
happiness really is. It just proves to me that truly everyone is a son
or daughter of God and none of us are ever forgotten.

There were many things before the mission that I just didn’t
understand that I have now come to understand. There are still many
things that I know I will learn. I have loved being a missionary! I
love the people I got to see baptized. I love the investigators who
actually taught me quite a lot. I love the members. I love the
anti-Mormons who made me question myself at times. I love all of the
priests and pastors I ran into who yelled at me. I love Heavenly
Father. He never took away any struggle I had, He only let me know
what I needed to do in order to get through it. I know for a fact that
if I would have not come on a mission (or given up in the beginning of
it) that my life would be terribly different.

It is so hard to say goodbye to the place that I have come to love so
much, but I know that my time has come. To all of those missionaries
still serving: enjoy the good times and appreciate the bad. Be
obedient and never be discouraged. Know that you really are doing the
work of the Lord, I have a firm testimony of that!

I know that this church is true! I have said it a million times and I
will say it until the end. I know that God is real and that He loves
us and cares. I know Jesus Christ suffered for all of our sins and
weaknesses and that it really is through him that we can have burdens
of guilt and shame lifted from our shoulders. I know that Joseph Smith
restored the keys of the priesthood and the gospel to the earth. I
know all of these things because I have prayed and studied and read
the scriptures. And I also know, that if you don’t know these things,
that you can – but only if you desire. God will not take your agency
and force you to have faith in anything. But just as we can see in the
case of the man that’s truck was broken down, He will always give you
another chance.

I would never be able to express all that I have learned, all that
I’ve experienced in one email. But just know that I love the Lord.
They can take my name tag away but I will never stop serving Him. I
know that I still have a responsibility to share with everyone the
only thing that truly saved my life: the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

Les amo a todos. La mayoría de ustedes les veré el próximo martes.
Sigue haciendo fuerte!

Hermana Hershey

Here’s a few random pictures:

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