Six months ago I remember being in the conference center listening to the leaders of our church giving their powerful testimonies of the gospel. I remember sitting there loving what I was hearing, but still undecided if I was going to serve a full-time mission. During this conference session it was announced that there are over 83,000 missionaries currently serving around the world. A shiver shot through my body when I heard those word- 83,000 missionaries-was I to be one of them? 6 months ago I had the privilege of listening to conference I had no idea where I would be now, but I know now that I could not have made a better decision than the one I made shortly after that conference, to serve a mission.
This week has been my favorite week of my mission thus far. Nothing too spectacular happened. We didn't baptize anyone, we didn't find a million new investigators, but I think I fully came to realize and comprehend that I am really out here serving a mission. At first it felt so surreal. I didn't know what I was doing. It felt almost like a vacation with a lot of hard work. Now I realize that I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. I have been set apart to represent Him. What a great gift that is! I went to bed with the biggest smile on my face. I told my companion, "I think this was my favorite day so far." I told her I didn't even know why, but I just couldn’t stop smiling. It finally just felts right and it felt like I belonged. My companion looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, "I am so grateful you decided to serve a mission. You have helped me."
Now I don't want to be here to toot my own horn. I am nothing too exciting, but I know that one of the best decisions you can make in life is to serve a mission. That is something you will never regret. You never hear of people coming home from their missions saying, "Man, I wish I didn't do that." No matter what the circumstances a mission is worth it.
There's no words that can describe when you kneel down with a person who has never prayed before. There's no words to describe the changes you can see in a person. There's no words that can describe the joy that comes from serving your brothers and sisters. I am grateful for this year and a half I have to serve. It doesn't seem like enough time, which is crazy because when I first got out here I thought to myself man of man...a year and a half!? That's so long!
We have met people from all over the word, from Ghana, India, Sierra Leon, Iraq, Mexico, and Syria, and we all unite together to worship the same God.
I hope many of you had the chance to watch General Conference and to find methods and ways to increase your faith and become better. I know I did. I loved President Uchtdorf's talk on gratitude and how we must remain grateful no matter what the circumstances. We should not wait for something good to happen to give thanks, but must give thanks in all things. I also loved Gary Stevenson's talk and where he mentioned. "This life is our four minutes." We have prepared before we came to this earth for our four minutes of fame. Our life here on earth is our big Olympic performance. After we pass on we will have an eternity to think about the decisions we made here on this earth and the performance we gave. If that isn't motivation I don't know what is!
Please read preach my gospel like Elder Balland invited everyone to do. Email me what you have learned and we can learn together! We are all missionaries!
So I thought I'd end this email with my confessions for the week
#1 The fried chicken here is probably the best thing in the whole entire world so if I come back obese, you now know why
#2 I accidentally tried to donate money to the church (which is against missionary rules) when I wanted to buy a pair of earrings at a ward auction activity. Don't worry a member of the bishopric saved me and bought them for me for 3 dollars.
#3 Last night I had a dream I was swimming with sharks. The night before I had a dream I was skydiving. I guess I haven't had as much adventure as I have wanted to yet...
For those of you who are having a hard time, hold strong to the rod! The future is as bright as your faith! Be grateful everyday no matter what the circumstances, and remember "the gospel is not weight. It is the wings. It carries us."
Love you all so much!
Love Sister Mathis