Hello friends and family! This is Joshlin (a.k.a. Sister Manning) here. I hope this email finds you all safe and well! I am praying that you missionaries especially feel hope and peace at this time. Because I neglected to send a proper group email the last week my mission, I am sending this as a way of wrapping things up nicely 🙂 I’ve been home for a few days now since my family came and picked me up, so the letter below is somewhat of a time machine letter – I wrote it on the plane coming home! Don’t feel obligated to read, it is rather long and corny! 🙂 Also this is my new email (email@example.com), if any of you would like to stay in touch, shoot an email to this account!
Right now I am sitting in the Detroit airport waiting with my family for our flight back to Kansas. My parents and younger sister Kiki picked me up last week and we have been on an adventure of monumental proportions traveling around Europe! But now it’s time to go home and tomorrow I will officially be released from full-time missionary service.
Updates from this week: Well, my sister is still the funniest person in the world 😀 Her new catch phrase “so what, that makes me a bad person??” gets me every time. I had just a corny and glorious reunion with my family at the mission office. I LOVE these people. We were able to attend church both in Leeuwarden and Breda. It was amazing to not only be on vacation but to visit people that mean so much to me. We took the one and only Ton de Groot to the temple for baptisms! So sweet. Other fun times were also had such as visiting Northern Ireland, seeing some West End shows, and that one time when I ran into a glass door. I guess some things will never change…. 🙂
Life is good, folks. This crazy adventure has heartbreaks, trials, and awkward moments, but how lucky are we for every single day that we have on this earth? Thankful and blessed do not even begin to describe the feelings of my heart when I reflect our Heavenly Father’s kindness and mercy. Especially for allowing me to serve in a special part of His vineyard for a year and a half.
As I close this chapter, I would like to testify of a couple of things that I have learned here
-I testify of the reality of God’s love. We are His children. He cares about us and is aware of us. Any missionary will be familiar with this scenario: an investigator has promised to come to church for he first time but when the meeting starts they are no where to be seen. Then, they walk in during the opening song and you want to leap out of your seat or fist pump or something like “Yes, they made it!” You are happy for them and after the meeting, you want to take them further to the other classes, gospel principles and relief society so that they can learn and experience more. I think Heavenly Father feels the same way about us, we are all his investigators! He rejoices at our successes and is always guiding us to the next step in our progression.
-I testify of the power of one. I was promised in a blessing on my mission during a rough period, that I would be able to look back and see the ripple effects of my service here. I have been blessed to see that. God has a plan for us and His children. I am also so thankful for the people who have made the world of difference in my mission through their example, service, support, and words of kindness. Family members, friends, mission leaders, all of my beloved companions, and fellow missionaries. Whether these people knew it or not, they helped me tremendously. Love makes a difference.
-I testify that true conversion is a process and journey. Everyone has their own time to develop. I’ve been fortunate enough to pass through some refiner’s fires that have taught me patience, charity, humility, agency. Our trials can be for our good.
-I testify that when we are in the Lord’s service, we have angels bearing us up. I know it.
-I testify that with the Lord, we can do challenging, even impossible things. There is power in obedience and hard work. We are so often required, as Peter, to jump out of the boat and walk on water. Keep trusting, take His hand.
-I testify that Christ is a victor. He has he strength to conquer all weaknesses, regret, sickness, and pain. He is my Savior and friend. His hands are always outstretched and His love is never failing.
-I testify of the truthfulness of the gospel and all things associated! Of its restoration through the prophet Joseph Smith, the power in prayer, the reality of the Book of Mormon, the healing through the atonement. I am a witness.
Ah, I apologize for the length of this email. Perhaps it will make up for how short my group emails usually were 🙂 I’m looking forward to this next step in my life. The name tag is just a training wheel for the rest of what is ahead! Remember to keep your chin up and smile! I wish you all the best.
All my love,
Sister Joshlin Manning