Unbelievable. Probably the best word I can think of at the moment to describe the last eighteen months of my life. I can honestly say that I have had more joy in the last year and a half than I've had in my entire life. I've seen more blessings, more heartaches, more frustrations, more sorrows, and more excitement.
As I've expressed before, it almost feels like I've cheated somehow. I went into this, knowing that I would be teaching others. I always knew that a change would come into their lives, but I never thought that it would change mine that much. (Thanks, Elder Vaki, for that sentence.) I have grown closer to my family, to my friends (new and old), but most importantly, I know that I have a deeper understanding and love for my Father in Heaven and for my Savior Jesus Christ. I've been allowed the tiniest glimpse at Their emotions, and it has overwhelmed me. They have SO much in store for us!
Truly, the gospel of Jesus Christ is the way to real and lasting joy. It's pure and simple, and "sweet above all that is sweet" (Alma 32:42). Faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, endure to the end. That's it. The simplest formula for eternal happiness. We can learn of the gospel in its fulness by reading the scriptures, the Bible and the Book of Mormon. We can know of the truth that each contain by comparing the teachings found within, and then taking our thoughts and feelings to our Father in sincere prayer (Moroni 10:3-5). As we do this, the Holy Ghost speaks sweet comfort and peace to our souls, and we can know of a surety that these things are the way, the path back to our heavenly home.
I testify, as a servant of Jesus Christ, that these things are true. The Book of Mormon is the word of God; it is as it claims, Another Testament of Jesus Christ. I echo the promise of modern day prophets that as you sincerely study the Book of Mormon, you will call down the powers of heaven into your very lives, and you will reap the rewards that your Father in Heaven has in store for you as you learn and abide by the precepts taught therein. I testify that God has not left us in darkness---He has called a living prophet to guide us through the chaos of our world today. He is the same, yesterday, today, and forever, and therefore loves us just as much as He loved His children anciently. That is why He has called Thomas S. Monson to be His prophet---it's because He loves us, and wants us to make it back into His loving arms. I also testify that Joseph Smith is indeed a prophet of the Lord, and that the Lord, through Joseph, restored all of His truth to the earth, to bless the lives of all of us here. The principles and ordinances of the gospel have been restored in their purest forms, and they allow us to tap into the powers of heaven to bless not only our lives, but the lives of all those around us.
I know God lives. I know He loves us. I know He listens, and answers when we pray. I know our Savior Jesus Christ stands at the head of this, His church. His arms of mercy are outstretched towards all of us, if we will only keep His commandments and follow Him.
I cannot express my gratitude to my Father and my Savior for this chance I've had to serve Them here in Louisiana. I am leaving a big chunk of my heart here. Someone I met on the street once asked where I was from, and finding out that I lived across the country, she asked in shock, "Well, why are you here in Louisiana then?" I replied, "Because God has some really special children here, who He loves so much, and He's sent me to tell them how to make it back to Him." I know that is true. I love the people here so much, despite their imperfections; most of that love is inspired by the fact that they have loved me, despite all my imperfections.
Now I'm off on yet another grand adventure----LIFE, post-mission style! Everything I've learned here will help me get through the trials that lay ahead of me. The mission really IS the MTC for life! :)
Well, I love y'all! Thank you for all the support and the prayers you've given me.
2 Timothy 4:6-7
"For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith..."
Your Friend in the Faith,
Sister Morgan Pedersen
2 Corinthians 4:5
For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake.