June 18, 2018
I guess we have come to the end of this journey and the beginning of a new one. This has been a great week to end my mission on, so here are a few highlights.
Jessica was baptized shortly before I came to Southington about 10 weeks ago. This past Wednesday, we were able to go with her to the Hartford Temple to perform baptisms for those who have passed beyond this life. I felt so at peace while we were there. Jessica thoroughly enjoyed her visit and will be going again more frequently. I love the temple.
Exchanges with Elder Ruhr were filled with miracles. Appointments were far and few between, so we knocked houses of potential investigators near us. At one point, we got in the car to leave. There was a feeling in my chest that there was more to do here. We prayed and felt that we should stay. After walking to another potential investigator, a feeling came not to go to his house. I looked across the street, and a man was weeding. I almost passed by him, but asked if he knew the people in the house we were looking for. We got in a good conversation and eventually asked where he was from. Originally he was from Ohio. Caught off guard a little bit, I asked where, and he replied that he had taught school in the city of Dayton….. Kettering, to be more specific. When I was 5, our family moved to that exact same city so that my dad could work at the local hospital. That was a very clear testimony to me that God directs our path and puts others in our way. I have such a strong testimony of this principle. It has happened time and time again and it has become my favorite part of missionary work. That man didn’t end up wanting to hear too much about the gospel that we had to share, but we did discuss math, teaching, planning, and family history work: all things that he loved and that I also love. I hope that one day I can meet this man again. God works in mysterious ways, and I am thankful that He always knows best and will put others in our path.
Sergio’s story has always been an interesting one. We always had a great time teaching him, and his baptism came very quickly after I arrived in New Haven. One Tuesday morning, we sat down with him, and he shared with us that he wanted to be baptized and knew the church was true. There was a big backstory behind all of this, but we’ll leave that story for another day. Sergio was baptized that Saturday on June 17, 2017, confirmed on Sunday, June 18, 2018 and I was transferred out on the following Wednesday. It was very quick and it worked out just right with the transfer, but that wasn’t the end of Heavenly Father’s handiwork. Sergio’s year mark of being confirmed is today! Hooray! According to the transfer calendar, I was supposed to fly out from Boston on July 6th to go back home. Sergio had an amazing opportunity to participate in a Mormon Scholar’s conference in Italy during this same week, but declined just to be sure that we could go to the temple together, even though it looked like Sergio would return home before July 6th. With President Miller leaving, transfers were pushed up to this week and we were left with a two day window for Sergio to be endowed before I left. There are no endowment sessions at the Hartford Temple on Tuesday mornings, so we were left with the option of the Wednesday morning that I go into the mission home. I came to New Haven to work with Sergio and left New Haven for Lynnfield, MA just as our work was done. To make it even better, I finish off my mission by escorting him through the temple for the first time. Heavenly Father must make the best movies, because this couldn’t have been scripted any better. Sergio is a special man and I feel so grateful that one of my last acts as a missionary will be bringing my friend to the temple.
We were able to say our last goodbyes to President and Sister Miller, as they are leaving this next week. They have made such an amazing impact on this mission and have changed my life. President Miller is an amazing man and showed us what a good man is. His counsel and example will extend much past his time here. We are equally excited to have President and Sister Mavromatis next week to come in as our new mission president and companion.
My mission has been amazing, but it hasn’t really been MY mission. It has been, like an article I saw this week said, “a front row seat to see the Atonement of Jesus Christ work in people’s lives”. I wouldn’t give up any of the experiences I’ve had. One of the most rewarding practices I have taken up over time has been a daily habit of prayer. Real, true communication with Heavenly Father. I’ve come to learn that the more you put in, the more you get out. Kneeling down adds more, taking my elbows off of the bed helps, reading the scriptures prior to praying helps, thinking about the day and being grateful, speaking out loud, being in a quiet place by yourself, and having no distractions all add a further closeness to God. It is in these times when we can truly ‘commune’ with Him and seek out His will for us. Clear communication leads to being led by God and to more happiness. I know that the scriptures are true and they provide distance and protection from temptation. Daily study of them will provide us with power to follow the promptings we receive. I know that if we want a blessing, if we find the principle that leads to it and live that principle, we will have that blessing in our life. I know God lives and lives us and wants us to return to Him.
A mission is only two years. Many people never have the opportunity to serve a mission. If you have the opportunity and it feels right, serve and go where the Lord calls you. He has special people, like Sergio, for you to bless and take care of. Everyone has their own Sergio in a way, someone they can connect with and upon which they can create a lasting impact….we just need to be willing to serve and act on it. I loved my mission and am excited to be coming home.
Serve a missionary.
Love a missionary.
Be a missionary.
Love, for one more time,
Elder Matthew Davis