Hey, remember me?
It's me, Sister Franklin.
So this is it. Today is your last day here in New York as a missionary.
I wrote you this letter to offer a few words of advice and remind you of a few very important things.
First of all.
YOU DID IT.
You completed an honorable full time mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints!
And what a wonderful Journey it has been.
Now remember, that's exactly what your mission was. A JOURNEY.
In your own words:
"Missions are kind of like microcosms of life.
You're "born" into a new area. You're thrown into a new culture that you don't really understand. You've got a "mom" (trainer) who, in the beginning, does pretty much everything for you. Communicates for you, sets up all your appointments, helps you figure out how to get around, etc. Slowly but surely, you begin to figure it out... You baby step your way to saying a few words, making a few unsuccessful phone calls once in a while. You finally memorize the route from your apartment to the church building. Things are starting to be doable.
You're just beginning to make progress and become less dependent on others when you're yanked away from the arms of your trainer and you find end up with a trainee of your own.
And well, like any parent would say. You have NO idea what the heck you're doing. You just kind of make it all up as you go.
Your kid arrives with a fiery desire to teach 12 lessons a day and talk to EVERYONE they see. You kind of laugh to yourself at first... and you wonder if you looked as ridiculous as they do. But somehow there ridiculousness is inspiring. Their desire to work really hard and do all they possibly can is a good reminder of your purpose. And yes, they think they know everything. You watch them make their way in the world. They master word after word, and eventually begin speaking full sentences of the mission language. They begin to rely on you less and less.
Then, they go. They go on to train their own brand new missionary.
You continue you on your journey, meeting more and more people, going from place to place. Growing and changing as you go.
You learn how to care about others more than yourself. You learn to work with people you wouldn't necessarily choose to be around. You learn how to plan ahead. You learn to think fast and be flexible. You learn to rely on your faith.
You learn to be a Disciple of Christ.
Then one day, in what seemed to be the blink of an eye, it's all over. You've served your time, and you've completed your mission. Your shoes have worn through soles. Your feet ache from all the walking. You look a little older, and you've aged a bit from caring and worrying so much about others.
Then you wonder:
"Am I ready? Did I really do all I could? "
You look back on the places you've been, people you've served, the people who have served you, the days of pure joy, the nights you cried yourself to sleep, the weaknesses you've overcome, the prayers you've said, the revelation you've recieved and the immense love you've felt.
And you smile. And you think, "Yes. Yes I am ready now."
You know you weren't perfect. You know you messed up on countless occasions.
But you sure TRIED. And you sure put your heart and soul into it.
Because of the things you've experienced in the past 18 months you have become a disciple of Christ, ready to experience what comes next. Ready for new scenes. Ready for new people to fall in love with and serve with all your heart, might, mind and strength.
You will take these experiences with you to the next stage of your life, and you'll never forget them. These experiences and memories are part of who you are. Each moment helped you become what you are now. Isn't that why you came in the first place?...
You came so that you could return....Return home as a Disciple of Christ.
We kind of do the same thing in our lives, don't we?"
I sit here with a heart full of so much gratitude. I am so grateful for the last 18 months... So grateful for the areas I've served in. So grateful for the people I've met, the lessons I've taught, the Spirit I've felt, for the times I've been humbled, for the people who have been patient with me, for my leaders who have taught me and for each of the companions I've served with.
And I'm especially grateful that I have had my Savior Jesus Christ there by my side every difficult step of the way."
Remember the way you felt RIGHT NOW. Never forget about the "bigger picture". With all you've been through out here... Remember the purpose of it all.
When life becomes difficult, when trials become seemingly unbearable, when you fear the weight of the world might crush you... REMEMBER what you learned.Remember THE DOCTRINE OF CHRIST. It is the clear path and the sure way Jesus Christ has provided. Through it, you will overcome all!
Stand up for what you believe, even in.... No, ESPECIALLY in situations when it is difficult. You will always regret it when you don't. You know this. Do NOT be afraid.
DON'T BE A HOARDER. Keep what you need, and throw out what you don't. This includes habits, emotional baggage, fears, harsh judgements, useless relationships and STUFF. You never need clutter.
Your soul is made of music. And it's your way of speaking to the hearts of others. Never set this gift you've been given on the shelf to get dusty. USE IT OFTEN. Share your light!
Seek for the guidance of the spirit through prayer. Discover the mysteries of God through the scriptures. GO TO THE TEMPLE as often as you can. Be diligent in your church callings.
Find a husband. He's out there somewhere. And when you have found him... stick with him and have his back. PATIENCE, Tara. Patience. Teach your children the principles of the gospel and lead by the example. Yeah, I know they don't want to listen, and I know they'd rather do their own thing. But keep going. Don't give up. They will thank you one day.
Never forget through all challenges of mortality and regardless of all your imperfections there is MUCH joy to be had. Look for the little miracles. They are all around you, just open your eyes.
YES. You CAN do this. Life is tough, but you are tougher. And you've already proven it once.
Get out there. There's still plenty of good to do in the world... So get to work.
Love your ol' friend,