This is my final post for Nate’s mission archive!
Sunday was Nate’s homecoming. This means that he gave a talk in church sharing some of the experiences from his mission.
And can you believe I didn’t take a single photo on this day?
As always, there was some humor. I enjoyed his opening: “Howard W. Hunter, 14th President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, once gave a talk called, ‘The God that Doest Wonders.’ He spoke of the many miracles that Jesus performed and the evidence they give of His divine nature. It’s a powerful talk, and you can feel the Spirit of the Lord testify of Christ as you listen to it. But it’s better remembered as the talk where he randomly fell backwards while speaking. I’m getting pretty good with crutches, but I’m still pretty scared of repeating history. You might need to catch me, Beth Ann [a friend of his who was also giving her homecoming talk that day].”
Nate shared briefly about the geography, weather, languages, and traditions of his mission and then said that he wasn’t going to say that his mission was the best mission in the world or the best two years of his life. “That doesn’t mean that my mission wasn’t wonderful, that I didn’t love it, that it wasn’t important. It was hard, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t good. I don’t want kids going out on their mission thinking that it’s easy, that it’s all fun and baptisms and Mexican food every day. Serving a mission is hard.”
He continued that his motto during the mission was, “The right isn’t always easy, but it’s always right.” Then he shared some experiences illustrating that the blessings of the gospel come from doing what’s right, whether or not the outcome you are looking for is realised.
He shared about some of the people he taught who were baptized, one who didn’t stay active, one who did, and one who he got to hear bear her testimony over a year later when he returned with his mission president to her town and attended church there. I especially appreciated this story about hot chocolate. One very long, cold, rainy day when they were working in Cerro de Pasco, they were welcomed into a home. They were cold and hungry. The mother went into the kitchen and came back with two cups of hot chocolate. “We knew how good that hot chocolate would be at the end of the day” and how kind and generous the family was in offering it to them. But they had a mission rule that they were not allowed to eat anything that wasn’t prepared by their pensionista or that came from a package because of health safety reasons. Nate said, “I knew what was right. Though my companion protested a little, I explained to the family that as missionaries our success depended on our obedience, and that we had rules. Long story short, we did not drink the hot chocolate. We did teach a lesson that day, but I left the area [was transferred] the next day and didnt’ see them again.” He talked about how he never knew how that experience affected the family, but he knew how it affected him, and how he learned “that the most important thing I learned on my mission [was to]…recognize the right and then do it. And I think that’s the most important thing in life. It doesn’t matter how much we know, it doesn’t matter how much we do. If we don’t know what’s right and we don’t do it, it doesn’t help us at all. The Gospel is true, and I know it. I want everyone to find out for themselves the same truth. It has blessed my life, and will bless yours. The right wasn’t always easy, but it’s always right.”
He ended his talk with his testimony in Quechua, which he didn’t learn to speak very much of, but he tried to study the Book of Mormon in Quechua (and in French, I learned from another missionary that was at our home Sunday) and heard it quite a bit in some of the areas where he worked, so he tried to see what he could learn.’
That is the end of the full-time mission experience! Of course, Nate will always be a missionary, just like me and his dad and everyone else who loves the gospel and hopes to share it with those who are looking for it. I am so thankful that he had this experience. I wish more mothers knew how awesome it is to get to have a child have this experience. I know it is unique in what you learn as it is an individually-tailored experience, straight from heaven with challenges that bless us and prepare us for the challenges and blessings that wait for us. I love how he grew to know and love the Book of Mormon and the Lord more. I feel so thankful that Nate was able and willing to go, and that I had the privilege of helping him prepare and fulfill his mission.