I'm not really sure what to say or how to say it...and I could easily take a whole life time to talk about what my mission means to me but I don't have a lot of time to write this email...so I think I'll just start typing and see where I get.
The tears have seemed to just consistently flow over the past few days as I reflect on this amazing journey known as the mission. The past 2 years have been more amazing than words could ever describe. I thought that the goodbyes before my mission were hard...but the goodbyes that I have been through over the last few days have been infinitely harder. My 4 months in Nice, 4 months on Corsica, 6 months in Geneva, and the last 9 months here in Lyon have been some of the most amazing moments of my life. Never could I have imagined to love my French and Swiss family as much as I do. Never could I have imagined to make such amazing life long friendships with people that have changed me and taught me more about myself than I ever knew.
I want to share an experience that happened yesterday when I got up to give my final testimony in the Ecully Ward because I hope it shows you to what extent I love these people. They called me up to give my testimony and I got up and just started to cry and then I said a few words and told them how much I loved them. As I was leaving the pulpit, Bishop Pommier got up and gave me a big hug and then brought me back to the podium with his arm around me and said some nice things about me and then thanked me for all the work, service, and love I have done for the Ecully Ward over the last 9 months. It was a very emotional moment for me and the members. I love them so much and it is so hard to leave them.
I am so grateful for President and Sister Roney & President and Sister Brown. 4 people that have changed my life forever. I am grateful for the first moments of my mission I had with the Roneys and for all that they taught me and continue to teach me and for all their love and support they have showed me since they left. I am also grateful for the next 22 months with the Browns and especially grateful for the last 9 months I was able to spend around President and Sister Brown as their assistant and all that I learned from them. I can't tell you how many times President and Sister Brown have been there for me and guided and counseled me in my life. Between all of the long road trips, to all of the conferences, to all of the shakes, to the advice and council, to all of the laughs, and to just about everything else in between...they have become like second parents to me and I love them so dearly.
I will be eternally grateful for my companions and for everything that they have taught me. I am the luckiest missionary in the world because I had the best companions a missionary could ever ask for: Elder Boynton, Elder Davis, Elder Anderson, Elder Richmond, Elder Johnson, Elder Hall, Elder Barnes, Elder Battezzato, Elder Keller, Elder Lutu, Elder Sumter, Elder Landry, Elder Menzel, Elder Underwood. They have changed my life so much and I am beyond grateful for them all.
I kind of built my mission around the scripture in Matthew 16: 24-26 (Merci pour ce moment Frère Price)
24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.
26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
I can testify that the words of the Savior in these verses are true. Over the past 2 years the Savior has allowed me to do things that I never could have done without Him, He has allowed me to become someone that I never could have become without Him, and feel things that I could have never felt without Him...in essence, He has allowed me to find myself. There is nothing in this world for which I would change these last 2 years.
Thank you for all of the prayers, support, and love! À bientôt!!