I really am in awe of what the Lord has done for me this past 18 months. I have come to have a deep love for the people here in Northern Virginia. This place is truly holy ground. I know that my Savior lives and that he loves me. He has healed my heart in SO many ways. I have loved sharing the gospel with EVERYONE that I come in contact with. One of my favorite parts about missionary work is seeing people change. I have had countless experiences of seeing the countenance change on peoples faces. There really is nothing like it.
I want you all to know that I know that God LIVES. He has answered my prayers and the prayers of people that I have had the opportunity to teach. He has helped me when I felt like I had no one to turn to. He knows the big picture and has opened my eyes to my potential. I know that Joseph Smith was truly a prophet of God. One of my favorite parts about being a missionary is reciting the first vision. Every time I recite it I feel the spirit letting me know again and again that the things that I am telling people are TRUE! Joseph Smith was able to translate The Book of Mormon by the power of God. I have passed out hundreds of copies of the Book of Mormon testifying that this book is a witness of Christ. This Book heals hearts and answers questions of the soul. I know that it is true. I really do!
I am so grateful to have been able to do Gods work for the past 18 months. I also want you all to know that this is not the end of my missionary work, it's only the beginning!
There is a story that I want you to read that has touched my heart since I have been out here.
Marks Of A Man
As I jumped on board my flight from Miami to Salt Lake City, I paused
for a moment to catch my breath. Seated near the front of the plane
was an excited young man, probably 19, sitting with his parents. His
hair was short and his clothes new and sharp. His suit was fitted
perfectly and his black shoes still retained that store bought shine.
His body was in good shape, his face clear, and his hands clean. In
his eyes I could see a nervous look, and his movements were that of an
actor on opening night.
He was obviously flying to Utah to become a missionary for the Mormon
Church. I smiled as I walked by and took pride in belonging to this
same Church where these young men and women voluntarily serve the
Savior for two years. With this special feeling, I continued to the
back where my seat was located.
As I sat in my seat, I looked to the right and to my surprise, saw
another missionary sleeping in the window seat. His hair was also
short, but that was the only similarity between the two. This one was
obviously returning home, and I could tell at a glance what type of
missionary he had been.
The fact that he was already asleep told me a lot. His entire body
seemed to let out a big sigh. It looked as if this was the first time
in two years he had even slept, and I wouldn't be surprised if it was.
As I looked at his face, I could see the heavy bags under his eyes,
the chapped lips, and the scarred and sunburned face caused by the
fierce Florida sun.
His suit was tattered and worn. A few of the seams were coming apart,
and I noticed that there were a couple of tears that had been
hand-sewn with a very sloppy stitch.
I saw the nametag, crooked, scratched and bearing the name of the
Church he represented, the engraving of which was almost all worn
away. I saw the knee of his pants, worn and white, the result of many
hours of humble prayer.
A tear came to my eye as I saw the things that really told me what
kind of missionary he had been. I saw the marks that made this boy, a
man. His feet - the two that had carried him from house to house, now
lay there swollen and tired. They were covered by a pair of worn-out
shoes. Many of the large scrapes and gouges had been filled in by the
countless number of polishings.
His books - laying across his lap were his scriptures, the word of
God. Once new, these books which testify of Jesus Christ and His
mission, were now torn, bent, and ragged from use.
His hands - those big, strong hands, which had been used to bless and
teach, were now scarred and cut from knocking at doors.
Those were indeed the marks of that man. And as I looked at him, I saw
the marks of another man, the Savior, as he was hanging on the cross
for the sins of the world.
His feet - those that had once carried him throughout the land during
his ministry, were now nailed to the cross.
His side - now pierced with a spear. Sealing his gospel, his testimony
with his life.
His hands - the hands that had been used to ordain his servants and
bless the sick were also scarred with the nails that were pounded to
hang him on the cross.
Those were the marks of that great man.
As my mind returned to the missionary, my whole body seemed to swell
with pride and joy, because I knew, by looking at him, that he had
served his Master well.
My joy was so great, I felt like running to the front of the plane,
grabbing that new, young missionary, and bringing him back to see what
he can become, what he can do.
But would he see the things that I saw, could anyone see the things I
saw? Or would he just see the outward appearance of that mighty elder,
tired and worn out, almost dead.
As we landed, I reached over and tapped him to wake him up. As he
awoke, it seemed like new life was entering his body. His whole frame
just seemed to fill as he stood up, tall and proud. As he turned his
face towards mine, I saw a light about his face that I had never seen
before. I looked into his eyes. Those eyes, I will never forget those
eyes. They were the eyes of a prophet, a leader, a follower, and a
servant. They were the eyes of the Savior. No words were spoken. No
words were needed.
As we unloaded, I stepped aside to let him go first. I watched as he
walked, slow but steady, tired but strong. I followed him and found
myself walking the way that he did. When I came through the doors, I
saw this young man in the arms of his parents, and I couldn't hold it
With tears streaming down my face, I watched these loving parents
greet their son who had been away for a short time. And I wondered if
our parents in Heaven would greet us the same way. Will they wrap
their arms around us and welcome us home from our journey on earth? I
believe they will. I just hope that I can be worthy enough to receive
such praise, as I'm sure this missionary will.
I said a silent prayer, thanking the Lord for missionaries like this
young man. I don't think I will ever forget the joy and happiness he
brought me that day.
I love you all and am so grateful for the encouragement you have given me while I have been out here!
Love... Sister Smith