Thursday, December 24, 2015

I'M GOING HOME!!!

It's my last week ever as a missionary! It's really bittersweet. When I could finally count all the days I had left on two hands is when it got real. From that point on, I haven't felt as trunky as I previously had been. I'm enjoying my time and finishing strong, like I have for the past year. 

It's so typical for missionaries to bear their testimony in their last email ever, but Preach My Gospel says, "Bear testimony several times in each lesson, not just at the end." Over the course of my mission, I've shared experiences and my testimony often so the need to do it all at the end isn't necessary. 

I've always felt like the true value of one's mission shows in the life that follows it. If my mission is the pinnacle of my spiritual growth or the most joyful time of my life then I did something wrong! There is a talk by Elder Bednar where he expresses his frustrations with people who always say, "my pioneer ancestors this" or "on my mission that". He says he asks the question, "that's great your ancestors crossed the plains and that's great you baptized hundreds on you mission, BUT, what are you doing now?" It's not enough to have done; you have to be doing. The whole purpose of life is for us to become more than we now are. Where you're at is important but not nearly as important as where you're heading. It's better to be on the bottom looking up than on the top looking down. 

Hopefully I haven't sounded too preachy over the course of my mission. I try to be real with people we teach and just tell them how it is. This has helped me in my life and I'm sure it'll help you! I don't think my transition home will be as hard as others because I've been myself for two years. That's the best way to be a missionary is to be yourself. 

One thing that frustrates me SO much when people say it is, "that's just the way I am." Yeah, some things we can't change like physical abnormalities, mental disorders, things that happened in the past or how others treat us. But, because of Jesus Christ we can change our perspective on how we view things we can't change AND change the things we can change. I've heard this excuse (or a variation of it) a billion times on my mission and every single time I want to very firmly tell the person they can do better. I catch myself doing it sometimes and then I reevaluate where I'm at. The whole point of Christ's sacrifice is so we don't have to be the way we are.

I'm as ready as I'll ever be to go home. It will take some time to adjust but I'm used to that. There will be a bunch of new stuff but that's cool too. I've learned that it's good to care but bad to worry. Worrying doesn't get you anywhere. Faith and fear can't exist in the same mind! Every time I catch myself fearing about the future I put my mental foot down and think about my faith. That's the thing I'm going to rely on as I journey back into the real world. I know God has my back when I put him first. 

I guess this email did sort of turn into my testimony! Whatever!

I'M GOING HOME!!!
-Elder Bill Sell


Finishing strong!

Hey people,



I'm in Cheyenne, the biggest city in Wyoming! Population 62,500! Wow! It's a modern day metropolis here!



We've stayed busy for my first week here. Go, go, go! We've visited 30 different people so I'm trying to learn names and situations. I think I'll have this area down in two more weeks. 



We had some good experiences this week but I don't remember them all. They are in my journal though. 



So yeah, uhhh I have a few days left and I've been finishing strong for like 8 transfers now so if one more person tells me to finish strong I'm going to tell them I'm already doing it. I'm ready to go home!!! 



-Elder Sell

I'm ready for life! Let's go!!!

Another week down and another transfer over! That's the 16th completed transfer of my mission! I have 1/2 a transfer left (3 weeks) and I'll be spending it in the Buffalo Ridge Ward in Cheyenne, Wyoming! My new companion has been out 3 months, all in that area. I'm still the District Leader for some reason haha. I'll have to find my purpose and my role in the new area and adjust quickly. I don't want to be dead weight to Elder Agurirre. I hope he still has his greenie fire burning brightly! I'll never regret working hard these last 20 days. 



My companion now, Elder Callahan, is being transferred to Longmont! We are getting "swept out" or "whitewashed" as it's called. Usually that happens with terrible missionaries but in this case it is out of a need for senior leadership out here in the wilderness of the mission. Our current zone leader is coming in with a new elder to train. I feel like the work we did here was satisfactory in the Lord's sight. 



This morning was hard. We went to the gym like usual and had to tell our fellow gym rats goodbye. The first two or three weeks we went (5 days a week) all the guys at the gym barely recognized our existence. Once they saw we were legit and committed to working out they started to say hi and give us tips. Heck, I think it was week 5 of last transfer and this big dude named Bobby came up to me and asked, "do you guys always skip leg day?" I got completely called out! He committed me to doing leg day with him that next Monday and it was brutal. Walking down stairs was ridiculous for that whole week. Anyways, it's been fun talking to people there and them starting to ask questions little by little. How many missionaries do you know that are proselyting "errday" before 7:00 AM? (I mean, get swole and do missionary work? Bingo!) Who knows, maybe all those guys' hearts were softened by getting to know the "Mormon boys" at the gym. 



We had a few cool service opportunities this week. The guy who is in charge of building maintenance needed some lights replaced. No biggie, right? They were under the church! There is a 3 foot tall (or small) crawl space that has pipes, wires, and lights along the way. We went down and felt like spec ops. We had headlamps, backpacks, and our iPads to record some dramatized videos. We also helped set up and take down the Nativity Celebration. Over the course of two days, the church hosted a multi-faith event where 100's of nativities, Christmas trees, pictures of Christ, and other nice things were on display for the public. There was music and the Spirit was strong. As missionaries, we were asked not to attend so that others didn't feel like we were doing it as a way to meet the Mormons. That's why Bill and Tallon ended up going! All the members were like, "where are your clothes elders?" And we'd just tell them, "SHHHHH! We are in disguise!" It was fun :)



What else? I wonder if any of the people I send this to even read it!? Haha they used to be more creative and funny but that part of my brain is in slight hibernation. So much of missionary work is just using the disciplined, structured, habitual part of my brain! The times when missionary work becomes really fun is when you add creativity to the monotony! Life is good when you can be comfortable in your own skin, physically/emotionally/spiritually. Elder Martino told us when he came to our mission this simple life motto, "Always happy. Never content."



To end, I want to share an analogy that Elder Empey came up with. Ending your mission AKA "dying" is VERY similar to the twilight years of your life AKA dying! Okay hopefully you'll keep reading so I can explain this and you're not thinking that Elder Empey is a weirdo! At this point, I am happy with what I've done as a missionary. I feel like I've learned what I needed to learn and helped who I needed to help. Life is good and I find joy in the work, but it feels like something is missing, like there is even more (because there is! haha). I think when I'm old and wrinkly and completed what I was sent to Earth to do I will feel like I do now; it's time to move on. The plan God has for me is so I can experience a fullness of joy, even eternal joy! My mission was/is part of the plan but it's just that, a part! Not the whole, but a springboard for what's in store. I'm sure there will be times I miss being a missionary but if this is the happiest or most spiritual or most rewarding time of my life, then I did something wrong. To sum it up, I'm ready for life! Let's go!!! 



-E.Sell