A very long overdue expression of gratitude.

Lately I’ve been stuck on the concept of teams, and even more so, who’s on mine. With all the kindness & understanding I’ve been shown, I thought it was due time to offer up a thank you. So, to my dearest friends & greatest support; to those who’ve shown they’re on my team.

Most of you know I was forced to return home from my mission much earlier than anticipated because of my health. It’s funny how your can life can change so quickly.

I’m overwhelmed again & again by your kindness. By people in that come to visit me, send me words of encouragement, leave me sweet voice mails when I don’t pick up the phone & share their stories of strength. Going through something hard tends to open our eyes to the hardships of others. I know you all have terribly difficult trials, & many of you have your own physical limitations. So I feel rather silly. Who am I that some of the best people in the world would willingly pray & fast for me? I don’t know. But I thank you for your kindness & concern, & for being on my team. For helping me up when I fall & for reminding me it’s enough just to keep trying.

I was so scared to come home. Obviously, I was against the idea because it meant pausing my mission, leaving Chile, & saying goodbye to people who had become family. When I got here I didn’t want anyone to know I’d come home. I was prepared to be invisible until I could figure out what was happening to me & go back. I worried what people would say. What people would think of me & circumstances that are really out of my control.

But my eyes have been opened to something I didn’t see before. Something that resonated & now means a whole lot more to me… I’ve learned that people who love Jesus Christ are usually a lot like Him, so I ought not fear. I know that doctrine & so do you. We become like those we admire, & that’s Jesus Christ.

So while I didn’t necessary expect it, I’ve been treated with so much kindness, grace, & understanding. Even those that don’t know the details of my situation, instead of passing judgement, treat me like He would. You cry with me when days are hard & you rejoice when I see even the smallest improvement & remind me that it will all work out because God is always, always good.

I’m learning a lot from this experience. I’m very aware that no matter how perfect my plan looks, it is God’s plan that I’m to follow & He’ll remind me of that. I know He works in such mysterious ways, providing us opportunities for growth & improvement every day. I notice tender mercies pop up in my life like wild flowers. There are always more than I expect or first focus on. It seems like the harder life gets, the more I see His hand. The more experiences I have that leave me feeling all alone, the more He shows me that I’m not. When I have a bad morning or can’t make it to the family party, I get a text. When I have an incident or an especially painful few days, I receive words of love & encouragement via email, voice mail, or letter. Each time I’m gifted with a day where it feels especially hard to be me, someone comes forward to tell me they’re on my team, & soon I feel ready to keep climbing. Maybe that’s what I love most about the Gospel, that in those times we should feel most abandoned & alone we can feel so much peace & assurance. That the Lord proves to us over & over again that He will not leave us alone in our afflictions or  without His love.

I have such a testimony of the little things. I often cannot do much, but I keep reminding myself that when you cannot do what you’ve always done, you only do what matters most, & that’s the little things like prayer & scripture study. It’s such a victory for me to attend church each Sunday & partake of the Sacrament; & although I don’t always make it through all three meetings before needing to return home, it does so much for me. I need to attend church each Sunday like I need air to breathe; it’s safety for the soul.

I’m confident in the power of the Atonement to both redeem & enable us. It’s what gives me strength each day, especially now. I’m a believer of the gospel of Christ & the power those truths have to alter lives. That’s why missions are so effective. Missionaries share & embrace the gospel of Christ, becoming converted, & then, as servants of the Lord, are often witnesses to the miracle of others embracing that same doctrine.

So, to end my rambling, I know that peace & joy is found only in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that nothing could be more true or fulfilling. That above all, we need Jesus Christ & His Atonement that is more real & readily available that we realize.

Thanks for being on my team & please know that I’m on yours. Know that I pray for you too, that you’ll receive every ounce of help merited through your goodness & great efforts. Know that I really do appreciate every gesture of kindness even if that appreciation isn’t sent to you in a thank you note. I owe you a debt I cannot repay for your support, & I honestly doubt that this is even written in a way that you could truly understand the depth of my gratitude, but know that your good souls & kindness are noticed. & what I can’t say to you I’ve said through tears in prayer.

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