HOWDY FAMBAM. Welll this is it! Like...what? Probably the fastest 18 months of my entire life. It still really hasn't clicked in. I have to keep pinching myself to make sure this is all real...but I know that "in His plan there are no true endings, only everlasting beginnings." https://www.lds.
I love Nebraska. I love the beautiful sunrises and sunsets. I love the husker pride. I love the random sayings. I love corn. I love this place...and I really love my ward. Cold Spring has been oh so lovely and I never want to leave these gems! Another one of our less actives that we've been working with is now active and he even bore his testimony yesterday :) I have seen so many miracles in this ward and I have truly seen the atonement of Jesus Christ change them. I have had a front row seat to God's greatest show.
I don't have them all with me....but here are some of the random quotes of this ward...i heart YSA.
-It was a really tender experience. Not TINDER. It was TENDER.
-S. Case, when are we going to get married?
-I'm really going to miss Sister Case and all of her bright colors that never match (this was yesterday while bearing his testimony....)
-Quoting Rolling Stones to tie into a lesson on prayer...oh and saying they are the 3 Nephites
-Oh and Sunday School often turns into pokemon or some other old school game topic....
-awkward 3 am texts saying that they are thinking of us and hoping we're having sweet dreams
-A guy kinda tried to ask me on a date for when I got home....ya...freaked out...
-S Case, when the guys in this ward start talking to you after your mission please let them down gently
-You make me feel like a peach
-Having to talk to ward council about guys flirting with sister missionaries
-Someone pointing at us like a "I'm coming for you" when bishop announced speed dating for fhe
So when I'm home all have to show you them all...they are hilarious. I just love my life.
I have loved every minute of being a full time missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I've slept with my name tag on almost my whole mission...and I sleep with a Book of Mormon under my pillow....I just want it by me at all times. I love holding a Book of Mormon in my head everywhere that I go. These past 18 months have been SO hard but truly wonderful. When I left, I really didn't have a testimony....I thought I did...but it was SO not there. I truly believe that it would have taken me a lifetime to learn and grow and be the person I am today--if I hadn't had the opportunity to learn here on my mission.
My MTC teacher looked me straight in the eyes and said, "Sister Case, you know OF Jesus Christ but you don't know KNOW him." 4 days out and a dagger to the heart. We're still not at a besties for the resties status...but I know my Savior so much better and I love him with everything inside of me. I KNOW that the atonement is real. I have felt the redeeming power and the enabling power out here in the place I now call home. I know that Christ died for each one of us. The atonement isn't for everyone--it's for each one.
For the longest time I always thought, "through being Sister Case, who has Carly become?" but it's more of "who am I BECOMING?" This life is all about progression and I am going to strive to continue to grow so that I can return and live with my Heavenly Father again some day. I've learned that a baby step is still a step...which means success. You can't fail when you attempt.
I've learned how to LOVE. I'm no where near close...but that is one of the biggest things I have gained from my mission. CHARITY. Loving unconditionally. Loving people as they are and helping them to see for themselves what they can become. To step out of my comfort zone and love people the way they want to be loved and not the way that is easiest for me. Listen with love. Put away my struggles and help someone else with theirs. WWJD. Mom, you always said "if you want a friend, you have to be a friend." And to be honest, I wasn't Christ's friend before the mission...and while out here, I realized that if I wanted to get to know him, then I needed to get to know his friends. His brothers and sisters. Each person I've come in contact with. Love is truly the answer.
I love the priesthood. It is incredible and I am so grateful for it. And I want/will strive to be a covenant keeper all my life. I love the temple and the eternal perspective there. I know that I am a worthy daughter of a loving Heavenly Father.
I've learned lots about myself. I like tomatoes. I'm not the biggest fan of whistling. I'm a really good dumpster diver. I love the smell of manure. I love leggings and despise tights. I'm a fan of the world and it's beauties. I think art is really neat and I love admiring others talents and gifts. Clouds are neat. I love it when people say 'bless you' when I sneeze and when they ask me questions. I actually want to get married now! I want to have an eternal family and make more covenants with God. I want to marry a worthy and active priesthood holder. (all I ask for is a tea cup kitty for a wedding present...)
I know that the Book of Mormon is true and I know that Joesph Smith is a prophet of God...there was a point on my mission when I first came out that I didn't believe that....crazy I know. But I am hear to testify that I know that God hears and answers our prayers. If we put in the effort, He will bless us. He is bound when we obey. I know with all my heart that it is another testament of Jesus Christ. The power and strength that I receive from it each day is beautiful to me.
I don't have time to go into details for the rest...so here is a summary of my love for my Savior and Heavenly Father and for the experiences I've had out here.
I know that trials are blessings in disguise and that as we are humble and submit to God's will we can be strengthened. I love the pioneers and their sacrifice. It is inspiring and I have learned so much from them. God knew what He was doing when He sent me here to serve at the Trail Center because I've learned of enduring to the end, happiness, eternal perspective, covenants, and turning to the Savior. It's not our job to judge--only to love. Speaking only language that uplifts and that never puts down is the only way to speak. Happiness is a choice! The more positive you are, the more your faith increases and your ability to trust God--it's an ongoing circle of joy. Life is wonderful--but it's all about which way you face. We need to enjoy the moment and not live our lives as checkpoints. Gratitude is key. Miracles happen every day. We must look and listen with our hearts, not our eyes and ears. Open communication is needed to succeed. A relationship must be worked on every single day and I am so grateful for each of my companions. Love languages are real and need to be identified. Exact obedience can look and seem lame...but I have a testimony in the miracles that come from it. Just as the atonement is needed to be used in us, we need to allow it work through others and see them as the NEW them and not the old one because everyone deserves a 2nd chance. We must always give people the benefit of the doubt. A smile can go a long way.
This week Heavenly Father gave me a lot of tender mercies where He showed me that my mission was a success to Him...and that He is proud of me. I've prayed to know that almost every day since day one by the time my mission was up....and He has answered it. I saw some people from Sioux City and they still remember me and love me. Sister Gbogbo is getting ready for the temple and would like me to come :) Less actives that I worked with in Hastings are now active and having family home evening every night and reading their scriptures! Random acts of kindness that were done were actually answers to prayers. God is so good!
I am just so happy. Like I honestly can't stop smiling. I love my Heavenly Father and my Savior and I know that they love each and every one of us. I have loved being a missionary and I have been forever changed. My life will never be the same because my heart has grown and it is just so happy. This church is true and the gospel of Jesus Christ has saved me because it changed me. I now know how I need to live my life to return home with honor to Him.
I love y'all so much. Thank you for everything. I am forever grateful.
I'll see you soon :)
forever and always,