its a surreal time as you finish your mission. i dont even really know what to say. this sunday i was asked by the bishop to open the fast and testimony meeting and go first, i had no words. its just impossible to capture what these two years have held in any words, the best i can think of is "you should have been there" because its futile to explain in words. working is a gift of God, that is a final lesson i have learned, that really the ability to do ANYTHING is from God. there really is nothing that i do or posses that God hasnt given me, or that i dont owe to God. there really is no "I" or "me". thats my summary haha i dont know what else to write. two years is a long time to be here without you all to share the moments with, but i know that it has been worth every moment and that the life ahead is really just the start. now i get to think about bills and school and alll that other stuff in between. which isnt a whole lot to be honest haha. i speak to president for my final interview at 8 amtomorrow. life is changing. said goodbye to an investigator and some memebrs who have started coming back out since ive been here. things have been good here for the 3 months i was here. ive called some members in billingham becuase thats a place ill never forget. england is a hard place to leave, its like moving from jersey all over again.
ill see you all in a few days, its gonna be a weird but exciting moment haha and make sure mom is in front, i cant hug anyone before her!
November 18,2013...after Stake Conference a sister came up to us and gave us a referral for her neighbor. Then she left. Then Elder D and I were planning to go to where she lives the next day and see exactly what this was all about and see if this sister would be able to give us more info. Sunday comes and we get out to Hedon, a tiny little village that is what I thought my mission was going to look like outside of Leeds and York. Well we knocked on her door and she welcomed us in. As we start discussing what we are hoping to happen we start talking about less active members, then something and next thing I know she is pointing to about six other houses that she felt is ready and willing and some of them are even inactives. Well seriously, she blew us out of the water with referrals but she completely 100% understands of how missionaries and members are suppose to work together so well that missionaries are teaching all the time...its the Gold Mine and we have transfers in a week...
What potentials look like with member help.
What potentials look like without member help.
A Missionaries job is to polish the gold not mine it.
There is always a turning point for a missionary when he realizes he has to go home to the real world. This is one missionary's description of that honest metamorphosis...
"It's a sense of breaking on the inside as you think that the last two years are just over...done...gone...but NO! They aren't because I have a full month and a few days...Then I realize I just want to cry because I don't feel it should be coming to the end. I don't want to...Then I think about the fact I will have to. Then I get a rush of adrenaline because I get to come back to the normal world, just with a stronger testimony and conviction of the gospel, so then I want to cry because I wish that new adventure could start, and it's so close yet far...I just don't understand. LIFE. I'm crazy! Thanks for that mum."
Your welcome son. Now. A transfer (because missionaries have transfers every 6 weeks) happened around this letters time and he didn't get transferred...June 29, 2015...so the ward he is in is happy to be able to send a missionary home.
"They always ask what I'm excited about, and just always ask what the plans are for when I'm home? How has my mission helped me?"
These are the tempting questions everyone wants to ask! including mom!
But here is what he is really thinking:
"Right now I feel so tempted to just listen to the music I would back home because I am close to finishing, yet I know that is the wrong thing and if I've done it all this time why start now? Why are we so fragile as mortals? Isn't this the grand step towards feeling eternal joy? I understand opposition in all things, but this isn't fair...I understand that its necessary, and the more I think about it the more I am grateful that Christ came and made it all possible for us to return ...The more I have even just sat here writing about it the more I feel appreciation to the Savior."
His favorite moments...
"I can only imagine these are the same feelings or thoughts that we would have been experiencing just before our journey from our Heavenly Father's presence to this earth. They are conflicting, confusing, yet make you really discern the light from the dark. The good from the bad, The eternal to the temporal. That contrast is so vivid and clear in those moments that the spirit teaches an individual. Those moments have been my favorite."
These missionaries are truly angels going about the Lords work. They forgo all worldly temptation and live so close to the Savior in order to bring people closer to Christ. Take note, if you thought you knew Christ, try reading the funny little book (that does not take the place of the Bible) called the Book of Mormon. It will take you as close to understanding Christ as is worldly possible.
Elder Ivins will be leaving England August 6th. He will arrive home August 7, 2015. He has been released as district leader and will enjoy his free nights. His latest transfer was to Scunthorpe,
He may have one more transfer before coming home. What has been his favorite part of the mission so far? Studying the Scriptures.
There is no other time that such a young person will take more serious and to heart the words in the Bible and the Book of Mormon. He has truly enjoyed getting to know his Savior through his studies. He got to go back to an area lately and visit recent converts and really loves the people. He also has met lots of companions and friends from around the world: China and Australia.
"A lady that we actually y contacted the first week. She gave us a bear that was made during 9-11 to support the families she thought it was appropriate since we were American We struck up a good conversation (she can talk for all of England) just about life. Haha, anyways she said to come by another time and she'd love to hear our message.
So Elder C and I finally got in contact with her this past week and set up an appointment. We talked a lot about struggles seen in the world and how family is so important to get through it. She said that she has always looked for the truth in religious groups and she just couldn't get over how they never could answer that one question, Why is there suffering in the world?
We told her it is all about opposition in all things. She said that although the reality of that answer is a bit hard, it makes sense and she told us about her struggle with depression. We had to leave but told her a bit about how God still speaks to us today and that a prophet is on the earth again. We left her President Holland's talk. We got bakc later that week and she loved the talk and asked more about prophets and told us some experiences with other religious leader and how they are cold. For that some reason she never felt like there was a family community in those churches. She recently found out her father was not her biological father. She will be doing family history and looks forward to that."
Like many others, I have often been inspired by beautiful works of art and music. One such occasion was when I stood before a masterful painting created by the Danish artist Frans Schwartz titled The Agony in the Garden.1
This achingly beautiful painting depicts the Savior kneeling in the Garden of Gethsemane. As He prays, an angel stands next to Him, enfolding Him in gentle arms, offering comfort, heavenly succor, and support.
The longer I contemplate this painting, the more my heart and mind swell with inexpressible feelings of tenderness and gratitude. I can sense, in small part, what it must have been like to be present as the Savior began His great culminating work of mortality by taking upon Himself the sins of the world. I marvel at the infinite love and compassion the Father has for His children. I am overwhelmed with profound gratitude for what the sinless Son did for all mankind and for me.
"I just want to share my testimony about the gospel, the light, and the truth that it holds, emanates and burns into our consciousness. No matter the trials, the oppositions, the small imprint on us are what help us hold it together. I recently listened to a talk by President Hinkley, the theme was "Don't Drop the Ball" at the end of it he states that we can't afford it. I really liked that. The fact is we are in the last days, we cannot afford to drop the ball. And if you do, the Savior's atonement is the ultimate make-up. Christ is real, he lives, and he loves us. All of us. I wish that I could bear my testimony at the reunion in person, because I can not even imagine the wonderful plan our God has set for us. The beautiful theme of family and love and eternal rounds without the spirit choking my heart in its enveloping warmth, burning another sealing stitch to our consciousness. Being out here has showed the true happiness that we have from the gospel. I cannot wait to see it in my own family one day and the lives of people we set an example for, each one of us. In the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen."
June 2014 "We have an investigator who has no problem believing Joseph Smith is a prophet and the Book of Mormon is the work of God. She doesn't believe we are the only (true) church with authority of God."
"I believe all you say but you are not the only true church....we discussed the temples and the sacredness of them (we are the only Christian denomination with temples). Maybe you are telling me the truth."
The only way to now truth is to pray about it. Joseph Smith did and received an answer. You can do the same, the Bible tells us so.