June 19, 2017
Endings are just the beginning of something else
Well, I guess this is it. My last group email as a full-time missionary. I can't even put into words all the emotions that I'm feeling right now. Anyone who served a mission understands the combination of heartbreak/anxiety/anticipation/confusion that go along with going home. We had our departing temple trip on Friday and one of the elders who is going home said "it is the best and also the worst". A member of one of my wards explained it like leaving home again, which I think is the best way to describe how I feel right now. Almost 19 months ago, I was so excited to get on the plane but also sad to leave my family. Now I am looking forward to the next stages of my life, but also very much feel like I am leaving my home and family all over again. NC and all of the incredible people I have met here have become part of my family. I am so grateful for the people I got to teach and see become a part of Christ's church. Everyone I taught has a piece of my heart, permanently. Although NC is humid and hot and full of bugs, it feels like home and I never want to leave. This week, especially the last few days, have been an emotional roller coaster and I am honestly surprised I didn't cry more than I did.
Because I am starting to run out of time, the summary of this week will be very brief.
Monday: Adventure in downtown Raleigh with the Briggs girls. Found 3 new investigators in the evening.
Tuesday: 3 new investigators, got sushi with a member.
Wednesday: Final district meeting, last day of service with Ernie, found an awesome new investigator by contacting a potential.
Thursday: Last weekly planning, pointless trip to Sanford (there was a mix-up about when my exit interview would be), last day of service at the Food Cupboard.
Friday: departing temple trip, lesson with Jenn (we might be passing her off to YSA if she wants), thunderstorm with a flash flood warning.
Saturday: Transfer news. Sister Ruske is training!! I am so excited for her, and also to get to take a picture with both of them on Tuesday. I wasn't able to take a picture with Sister Ruske and my trainer, so I am excited that I get to take this 'three-generation' picture. Thunderstorm. I absolutely love rainstorms, especially the NC ones, so the fact that there have been so many recently is a huge tender mercy. What a wonderful way for NC to send me off, accompanied by lots of rain and thunder. I couldn't have asked for anything better.
Sunday: Father's Day. Plus Bishop announced it was 'Sister Pyper Day' because I was leaving. So all things combined, I spent most of sacrament meeting holding back tears. The talks made me remember how much my Dad has done for me, which of course made me teary. Then the person who said the closing prayer asked that I be safe as I travel and thanked me for all my work here. Then a very sweet youth came up and said that every time he sees us he gets more excited to go on his mission. In case you missed the theme of Sunday, there were more tears. I love this ward so much, it honestly feels like home.
I had my exit interview with President and Sister James yesterday and Sister James asked me what I had learned on my mission. There isn't enough time to talk about all of the things I have learned from serving a mission, but I will share the ones that stand out most.
1) Heavenly Father loves His children and is involved in their lives. I have lost track of how many times I was led to be in the right place at the right time, how often my companion said exactly what I needed to hear at the exact moment I needed to hear it, how many small miracles I witnessed, how many times everything lined up perfectly and I had nothing to do with it, and how many times I felt Heavenly Father's love for me or for another person. Every day I see evidence of how much Heavenly Father loves me. Everything from thunderstorms that make me happy to someone who smiled at me on the street helps me see that I am known and loved by the Creator of the universe.
2) The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is Christ's only and true church. It was restored through a modern day prophet and continues to be led by Jesus Christ directing a living prophet. I testify that Joseph Smith truly did see Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ in answer to his humble prayer in 1820. I know that Joseph Smith was called by God to be a prophet, that God's priesthood authority was restored after centuries of being gone from the Earth. "By their fruits ye shall know them" and nothing but good has come through the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. If I am somehow wrong and this is not the true gospel, it has made me a better person. I have learned more about my Savior and how to be like Him. I have found more joy and peace through this gospel than anything else. But I am not wrong. I believe with complete confidence that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ, that it is the only completely true church on the Earth.
3) Nothing is more important or brings more blessings than missionary work. I have never been closer to my Savior than when I am in His service, teaching His gospel to those whose sins He paid for. Christ promised that "whosoever shall lose his life for my sake, and the gospel's, the same shall save it" and sharing the gospel is the best way to 'lose your life'. Christ spent His entire life serving others and teaching the gospel. In all things, He is our prefect example. His life was the most successful and joyful because He did what Heavenly Father asked of Him. Yes, His life was not easy and perfect. Yes, He had trials and heartaches. But He had eternal joy in the work He accomplished. Living a life dedicated to serving others by sharing Christ's gospel with them has made me so happy. I am eternally grateful that Heavenly Father blessed me with this opportunity to serve His children in NC, that He loved me (and the people I would meet) enough to direct me to change my plans. I never thought about serving a mission and now I can't imagine not having served. I have grown and changed more than I can express and I am so grateful for that blessing.