Two years ago this time I was getting ready for the holidays, working like crazy and just trying to hold on until my best friend Brandon came home from his mission, until I could get a single day off, until all the pieces of my crazy life could fall into place. Things were difficult, but looking up. I had been spiritually distant from the gospel for a while, but was in the middle of a faith experiment. I’d read my scriptures, pray every day, and do my best to follow the commandments and see how I felt. I had been searching for happiness and not finding it. But I remembered the hundreds of testimonies I had heard throughout my life and thought perhaps there might be something to it. By December my experiment was in full swing and I was happier than ever before. I had learned for myself that the gospel worked and I was trying to incorporate more and more of it into my life.
Brandon came home and so did my cousin Nathan. I heard two homecoming talks within a short time of each other. I had wanted to go on a mission since I was a little kid, but so much had gotten in the way that I wasn’t sure anymore. But throughout that week I kept hearing the same thought “Go home and pray about a mission.”
When I finally did pray, the answer was the clearest and strongest I’ve ever received. The next Sunday I went to my bishop and started the process that brought me to Mongolia 9 months later.
I can’t quite comprehend that I’m writing to you from the other side of that incredible journey. The things I’ve seen and learned here are more than I can adequately type in the remaining minutes, but I can summarize it best by saying that the Atonement is real. I’ve seen it change the lives of my investigators, but mainly I’ve seen it change my own. There is power in diligently continuing to live in the light you’ve experienced. The gospel is found in the miraculous life-changing conversion stories, but it’s also found in putting one foot in front of the other every hour of every day. In trying a little harder to be a little better.
In that aspect, my life ahead won’t be much different than the one I’ve known. Every day I’ll just keep trying to do the best I can with what I have and hope Christ makes up the difference and I can be a thread in the tapestry of Heavenly Father’s plan for us.
I know the gospel is true. If you don’t know, you can. It’s simple. As you try to do the basic things like prayer, scripture study, and going to church, you will experience the confirmation you need. It may not come in a big rush, but it will come, line upon line. As you turn your life over to Heavenly Father—the most loving, caring, and personally attentive being in the universe—your life will go places you never expected and you will feel a happiness and peace you never imagined. I testify that cheerfully pressing forward is the best choice we can ever make in this life. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Sister Shanti de Ruyter