My, how fast this year has gone. We are in the final stretch, heading back to Utah the end of this month. For our new senior friends who headed out from the MTC, with us, most are 2/3 through their missions and wondering where the last 12 months went.
Since this is a year in review, I will select a few highlights. We have taught almost 200 lessons from the Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price, and Old Testament over the last 12 months. In the process of that, Elder Heath and I have become a pretty good "tag team," as I have mentioned before. We have used our decades of study and dependence on the Lord to buttress and sustain our teaching and felt the Lord many times in our teaching. When you have the Lord's word to teach and the Holy Ghost bearing witness, it doesn't get much better than that.
|Our now dear friends from Institute|
Bro and Sis Hansen
Our association with 2 YSA wards and additional students at college and Tuesday night Institute each week has been amazing and so rewarding. We thought we would be parent or grandparent figures, and at times took that role, but more, we were students of the scriptures along with those we taught. This is a valiant group and it was an honor to assist in "putting the puzzle pieces" of God, church, love, and life together with them. We didn't "match
make" anyone but encouraged them off their comfort seats of status quo in boy-girl relationships. After all, what is YSA all about anyway? Our favorite times with them was church, BBQs, talent nights, temple nights and gospel discussions. We read the Book of Mormon in 90 days with one ward, an unexpected goal completed. While here Elder Heath reread the 7 volumes of the History of the Church, some of which supported his already "meaty" lessons. Driving by the Seattle Temple almost every day was its own sweet perk. We happily attended the temple nights of both wards.
|Beautiful Rachel Bellevue YSA|
There are some things we missed out on--getting with friends and family who live somewhat nearby, going to the lake house in Bremerton, getting to Mount Rainier (though we saw her many times in our travels and she still takes my breath away), births and baptisms of grandchildren, for example. But our time was well-spent and I am so filled with happiness and gratitude for this special experience. I know I have said it before, but a senior mission is the best kept secret ever and the fulfillment of a dream I never knew I had. Have had a couple of those in the last few years. And though we look back at the "more" things we could have done, we believe the Lord is pleased with our efforts here.
|Bro and Sis Manwaring. He was our first|
"File leader" Bellevue Institute
Many, many thanks to daughters and their families who took Steven under their wing, making this mission possible, Steven is currently with Heather 15 minutes away from us, for his "last leg." He is a "new and improved" version under their care and keeping, Our heartfelt thanks for your sacrifice and for loving our special boy.
Next for us is to move back to Utah, this time to Salt Lake. We have a home about half way in between Becky and Crishelle. We are so looking forward to this reunion. It has been Heather's "turn" living near us these last 12 months and we have so enjoyed their family in the many varied opportunities that occurred, including singing with Heather at ward and stake events, kids' concerts and plays and sports, holidays, and a 4 mile run in September. Thank you, Heather and Rafe, for adding so much to our joyful experiences here. Steven will get back to work with Northeastern Services (adult day program) and to a YSA ward in our new stake. He is excited for this new chapter in our lives and has already scoped out his territory in the new house.
It is, of course, bittersweet to be at this point. We have loved every minute of this mission. Elder Heath and I have grown closer and more appreciative of each other's talents and qualities. We have felt valued and so very grateful to have done our small part in building God's kingdom in the land of my birth, It is with heavy hearts that we say good-bye to all that has brought us joy here. We have felt your prayers and support in our behalf. Because of the great joy one feels when serving God, we look forward to future opportunities to take what the Lord has given us and serve out our days.
Our "homecoming" has been scheduled for December 27th at the church on 4th North and 4th East in Springville at 1 p.m. All are invited, of course.
With all the chaos of the world today, how very important it is to "hold onto the rod," the word of God. It is our guide back to God. It is our hope in dark days. It gives us purpose in every day as we strive to lift God's children and serve and build. We anxiously await His coming.
Yours forever in the Gospel and with gratitude and love, Elder and Sister Heath