Oct. 24, 2016
Hey friends and family!
So the time has come....my final week on the mission. This will be my last weekly email because next Monday I will be finishing up packing and then having my departing stuff with president Wright. I can't believe it! Your whole life you hear about missions. We sing about them in primary, we prepare for them in young men's and young women's, you have the missionaries over for dinner, and then one day, you're finally on your very own mission. Where you can't help but stop and think, "Dang. I'm a missionary. I'm on a mission!" And then you hit the hard reality that one day, you won't be on a mission anymore. And let me tell you, that's a hard reality to get hit with. It doesn't seem real, but I knew when I signed up for this that it would end one day. I was a lot more excited for the ending at the start of my mission then I am now. I wish I could wear my name tag forever! I also wish I could magically give you all my memories from the past 18 months of my life so you could know and feel everything that I've been through, but since I can't, I'll just share with you some important truths and principles that I've learned on my mission.
If I had to describe my mission in three words or less it would be TRUE JOY. There is nothing that brings greater joy in this life than sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. "15 And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!" (D&C 18:15). True joy comes from sharing the gospel. But the only way that I could come to know and feel this true joy is because I have felt true sorrow on my mission. There is opposition in all things, can't have good without the bad. I have seen people reject this gospel, not live the gospel, and I have seen people turn away from Christ. Let me tell you, watching these things happen first hand is true sorrow. Before my mission I thought I knew what it meant to have sorrow, or to be sad. But there have been many occasions in the past 18 months where I have fallen down to my knees because the sorrow was too much for me. My heart truly hurt for these people. But because of the sorrow I've seen and felt, I can know true joy. "We may not feel deeply enough to know joy unless our hearts have been hollowed out by sorrow." We can choose to have joy despite the sorrows that we know. In the book of Alma we learn that Ammon and his brethren had hard times on their missions, but they also felt joy. "8 And this is the account of Ammon and his brethren, their journeyings in the land of Nephi, their sufferings in the land, their sorrows, and their afflictions, and their incomprehensible joy." (Alma 28:8)
True joy comes from serving others. When you are called to be a missionary, it says you are called to serve. Joy and happiness flood into our lives when we forget about ourselves and help others. "39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it."(Matt. 10:39). "Forget yourself, and go to work." The times when I forgot about my problems and thought less about myself, those were the times that I found myself having the most joy. "Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less."-C.S. Lewis
True joy comes from overcoming. I've learned that Heavenly Father places mountains in front of you and sometimes, you have no idea how you are going to ever make it to the summit. But with each step of faith, even the smallest step forward brings encouragement and joy. Even the smallest improvement in our lives brings us joy. There is joy in progressing forward and feeling like we have a purpose. There is joy in true repentance because repentance brings change. Repentance brings us closer to our Heavenly Father. Joy comes from overcoming obstacles and trials in our lives.
True joy is not found in the things of the world. Yeah it might be cool and fun to have lots of things, to get lots of likes on Facebook or Instagram, or receive recognition for your talents and skills, but those things only give us temporary happiness. You won't be able to take Instagram to heaven with you, so don't rely on the likes or shares for joy. Find joy in the gospel. Find joy in your families. Because true joy comes from learning and obtaining those things that we can take with us to the eternities.
Ultimately, true joy is in Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ has told us "In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world”(John 16:33). Joy comes from understanding and using the Atonement daily. He performed the most sacred act for each of us that we might have joy. There is joy in learning of Christ and trying to be like Him. We can know and have the surety that everything we do in His name is an investment in joy.
These past 18 months have taught me so much. I have seen this gospel change lives, I have seen miracles, and I have felt joy. Thank you so much for all the support and love from home. I'm excited to see each of you and give you a hug and thank you personally for all the prayers you've offered on my behalf. I know that Heavenly Father loves each of us so much. He hears our prayers and He answers them. I am grateful for this gospel and for the opportunity I have had to share it with the people of Northern California for the last 18 months. I will always cherish my mission and the memories I have made. I know that this gospel is true and that it brings true joy in to our lives!
Love always, Sister Thompson🍍
My 21st birthday!