I Love my Mission!
Hello Family and Friends!
This is my last email from Brazil! It has been such a joy to serve among such a wonderful and a receptive people. Without a doubt, serving a mission is a really hard thing to do but it is also so rewarding in many ways. Through all of the rejection, sweat, tears, prayers, fasts, hard work, sickness, tough companions, and difficult areas, I have been able to experience the power of the atonement and the deep love of God for me and because of this I have drawn closer to Heavenly Father and his Son. God puts his missionaries through a process of refinement. We come into the mission field like rough stones, and if we have faith in God, then we allow ourselves to be refined by the experiences he gives us. We need these challenging experiences for our growth and our eternal progress. I strongly feel that we need to stop complaining about the challenges that we are given. I think of the brothers of Nephi who never stopped complaining and saying, “Thou has declared unto us hard things, more than we are able to bear”. I never want to say those words. I want to be able to accept my trials and have the faith to believe that I will become stronger and more like my Savior because of them.
We can never give up. We need to endure to the end no matter what happens. The very powers of hell may rage against us. Every door may be shut. We may feel alone. We may feel abandoned. We may feel that nothing is getting better in our lives. On my mission I have felt many of these things. But I testify that in these moments I have felt the hand of God reaching down to pull me up and encouraging me to move forward. He gave me comfort and helped me to feel that I was not alone and that I will never be alone and that everything will be alright in the end. I love these words from Christ to the Prophet Joseph Smith: “Know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good. The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?”
The mission field also gives us some of the most powerful experiences of love and joy. I have been given the wonderful opportunity to spend 2 years just helping people. I have been blessed to help people with their marriages, with addictions of every sort, with problems in the family or problems with friends, with service projects in the homes of people or in the community and in so many other ways. It has been a special joy of mine to watch people change their lives and decide to be baptized so that they can be cleansed from their sins and follow the example of Jesus Christ. I have created a bond and friendship with so many people who I will never forget and who I will stay in contact with for many years to come.
I have been able to gain a knowledge and love of the scriptures and of the organization of the church. This knowledge will prove vital to me throughout my life. I am so grateful for my mission. I am grateful for the testimony that I have because I chose to serve a mission.
Well these are a few of my thoughts and what I treasure in my heart as I come to the end of this experience. This time in the mission field has passed so quickly. I feel like Jacob in the Book of Mormon who said, “Wherefore I conclude this record declaring that I have written according to the best of my knowledge, by saying the time passed away with us, and also our lives passed away like as it were unto us a dream.” (Jacob 7:26)
I love you all and am extremely grateful for all of your love and support.
Elder Matthew Edward Nielsen