The best year and a half of my life has come to a bitter-sweet close, but good things are ahead. President Thomas S. Monson said, “The future is as bright as your faith.” My faith is stronger than it ever has been, and my future is looking bright. I am looking forward to studying at Utah State University, working, being with family and friends, and applying the things I learned from my mission in my every-day life.
I returned home from the Philippines one month ago. A piece of that beautiful country and people will forever hold a place in my heart, and a part of me will always remain there with them. I will always remember my time in the Philippines as one of the happiest of my life. Missions end, but missionaries don’t. Even though I am no longer a full-time missionary - even though I took off that name tag a month ago - I am still a missionary in my heart.
Writing this blog each week during my mission was an unexpected blessing. I didn’t know that I could influence and inspire people at home with the simple things I wrote each week. I have loved sharing my experiences with all of you, and I am thankful for all of those who read my blog each week. I wanted to write this final blog post, a sort of closure piece to finish it off.
The past eighteen months changed me. They changed me as a person, as a daughter, as a sister, as a student, and as a friend. I became more aware of my potential, my divine nature, and I became more like Christ. I learned so much about the world and about the gospel of Jesus Christ, and in turn, learned so much about myself. I discovered my strengths, my weaknesses, my fears, my hopes, and my dreams. Heavenly Father shaped me and molded me into a better person, and although that was uncomfortable and difficult at times, I am forever grateful. I am the person I am today because of my mission.
It sounds cliché, but missions really are the best eighteen months (or two years). There’s nothing in the world that can compare to the experience of a mission. There is no better place to learn and grow than in the vineyard of the Lord. Serving a mission was the best choice I ever made. I learned to find joy and light in myself, in each moment, and in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and I learned to let that joy and light shine. When I discovered that I was surrounded by so much good and so much light, it became almost impossible to fear or doubt; it was natural for me to be joyful and happy.
Nelson Mandela quoted “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
I know that everyone has a light inside of them. Each of us are children of God and we have every reason to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous. I know that Heavenly Father lives, that He loves me, and that I am His daughter. I know Jesus Christ is the Savior. He is the Light of the world. I believe in miracles. I believe in angels. I trust that Heavenly Father has a perfect plan for us. I know that the only source of peace and joy in this life is the gospel of Jesus Christ. I know Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ know and love each of us. I know it with all my heart.
MAHAL KO KAYONG LAHAT.
Always remember to find the joy in everything.
xo Anna Ray Allen