It's insane that this is the last email I'll be writing from my mission...I've learned so much the past 18 months, and a piece of my heart will be left in Minnesota when I leave on Wednesday. Serving a mission was the best decision I could have ever made for my life, and I'll forever be blessed to know the people I now love with all of my heart! I'll write about the past week and then share some more gushy spiritual stuff you can skip over if you want :)
BIG SHOUT OUT to the Hmong branch for surprising me with lunch at my favorite Hmong restaurant and for all the souvenirs: kuv hlub koj thiab kuv zoo siab kuv muaj lub cim fim paub nej! Also shoutout to the inventor of Whirlyball for renting out the entire complex for us and letting us play! (Bumper cars + lacrosse + basketball = best sport ever)
President Russell M. Nelson came which was INCREDIBLE. The entire mission was there and everyone got to shake his hand. Elder Craig C. Christensen came too and gave us a training as well. It was SO GOOD, I've got about 5 pages jam-packed with notes from it all. Later that evening they did a special devotional for all the YSA in the Twin Cities. I got to see four of my recent converts there- I'm especially grateful I got to see Taylor!! Taylor got baptized right after I got transferred to the YSA and I was totally devastated I wouldn't be at her baptism. But she came to the devotional and when we saw each other we booked it over and started crying...she is so amazing!!! She said, "Whenever people talk to me about my conversion I always tell them Sister Brett was the one who changed my life. You were the only one who stuck it out with me even when I wouldn't listen and was always wasted when you came over. But my life is completely different now." I know I had nothing to do with it and Jesus Christ was the one who softened her heart and helped her change. Missionaries are just His tools, and lemme tell you, it's the BEST job you could ever have. I'm going to miss it more than anything. BUT I get to live it all again through Victor because HE DECIDED TO SERVE A MISSION!!!! Woohoo!!! Vinh took family names to the temple and got his Patriarchal Blessing- he's all prepared to go back to Vietnam and help build the branch there. He said he's going to serve a mission too!!! We weren't able to arrange Emilee's baptism on Saturday because of all the craziness with President Nelson, so I'm sad I won't be able to see her get baptized! But the important thing is just that she does :)
The gospel of Jesus Christ truly changes lives. I've seen it, and I've lived it. The Atonement of Jesus Christ helped me get through the hardest moments of the past year and a half, and I would have never made it without the help of my Savior. I've also felt the most joy I've ever experienced in my life, and I know that joy came from the pure love of Christ. He paid the price so we don't have to suffer alone- His hand is always outstretched towards us. There are so many ways that He has witnessed His love for all of us. I know that one of those ways was establishing a Church where we could learn truth and correct doctrine that blesses our families and brings us peace and happiness. I also know He called a prophet, Joseph Smith, to restore that very same Church that He established while He was on the earth. The heavens are open, and I know with all of my heart that God still speaks to His children. He loves us so much and wants us to return to Him someday. This Church is guided by a prophet and apostles called of God, and when I follow their counsel I see miracles in my life. The Book of Mormon has helped me know and love the Savior even more, and it acts as an additional witness to the Bible that Jesus IS the Christ, the Only Begotten of the Father, and the only way to gain peace in this life and eternal happiness in the life to come. And I LOVE that no one has to take my word for it or believe me based off of my experiences. Everyone can gain a personal witness for themselves that these things are true- straight from God. The Holy Ghost bears witness of truth, and when we ask Heavenly Father to know what He wants us to do, we're given peace and comfort that goes straight to our heart and seeps into our life. I've seen people from all different religious backgrounds find truth in this Church. Whether they were agnostic, Shaman, devout Catholic, Lutheran, etc. or didn't believe in God at all, they all found out for themselves that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ and was exactly where He wanted them to be. I'm so grateful I got to meet and be a part of their lives and conversion, and they will always be in my heart, just like the knowledge I've received that everything I've been teaching the past 18 months is all true. I wanna wrap up this email with a scripture that's come to mean so much to me. It basically describes every aspect of missionary work and sums up my feelings about my missionary service.
27 Now when our hearts were depressed, and we were about to turn back, behold, the Lord comforted us, and said: Go amongst thy brethren, the Lamanites, and bear with patience thine afflictions, and I will give unto you success.
28 And now behold, we have come, and been forth amongst them; and we have been patient in our sufferings, and we have suffered every privation; yea, we have traveled from house to house, relying upon the mercies of the world—not upon the mercies of the world alone but upon the mercies of God.
29 And we have entered into their houses and taught them, and we have taught them in their streets; yea, and we have taught them upon their hills; and we have also entered into their temples and their synagogues and taught them; and we have been cast out, and mocked, and spit upon, and smote upon our cheeks; and we have been stoned, and taken and bound with strong cords, and cast into prison; and through the power and wisdom of God we have been delivered again.
30 And we have suffered all manner of afflictions, and all this, that perhaps we might be the means of saving some soul; and we supposed that our joy would be full if perhaps we could be the means of saving some.
31 Now behold, we can look forth and see the fruits of our labors; and are they few? I say unto you, Nay, they are many; yea, and we can witness of their sincerity, because of their love towards their brethren and also towards us.
-The Book of Mormon// Alma 26:27-31
Thanks for all of your support throughout my mission- y'all da real MVP! See you soon! Love, Sister Brett