Thursday, July 18, 2019

Week 101 - July 1, 2019

Dear Family,

Well, I guess this is it... My last letter home... I can't even believe it, I don't even know what to think.  I still feel like I'm going to be here another month and that it's just going to be transfers again.  But, wow!  What a wonderful experience it has been here in Ecuador.  I love this place so much!  It truly has turned into a second home for me, and I really hope that I will be able to come back and see all of the beautiful mountains, volcanoes, waterfalls, beaches, etc.  I'm going to miss the people even more... They truly have changed my life, not in the way I thought they would.  Even though it required a lot of patience with them, I loved them.  They have shown me how simple the Gospel truly is.  I feel like before the mission, I would always try and complicate the Gospel... But it's so simple, and when we live it, we are happier people. We just have to do the simple and small things.  The people here always cared for me and I truly have loved them so much.  I have gained relationships that I will treasure for the rest of my life.  

As well, I'm going to miss all the types of cultures that they have here and how I got to be a little part of it.  I love this place!  But more than anything, I'm going to miss putting my missionary name tag on every morning and going to serve my Savior.  Such a bittersweet feeling it is to be an "instrument in his hands" and to have brought so many of his children to his light.  I love my calling to be a missionary because it is one of the only callings that lasts for a lifetime. It's now time to put into practice the things I've learned and to bring even more people to Christ.  Wow!  Words can't describe how I feel and how much love I have for this place.  I love the words of Alma when he finished his mission in Alma 26 "...But behold, my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God." and "I cannot say the smallest part which I feel."

But as you can see, Jairo was baptized this week, which was such a special experience.  He was so excited and happy to have made a promise with God.  

He lives right on the beach so whenever we see his family fishing on the beach, we go out and pull the net in with them.  So, we got some good pictures for that.  But other than that, not too much happened this week.  All of our investigators are progressing well and will be baptized soon.

1. As for the most important thing that I've learned in the mission... Is the testimony that I have gained of my Savior, Jesus Christ.  Honestly, I didn't understand the importance of his life before, now I know.  He is my Savior and thanks to his Infinite Atonement, I have become a better person.  I remember at the beginning of my mission, I was kind of going through a rough time, but later on I decided to learn more about the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  And for my challenges, I truly was able to know who my Savior was and that he loved me.  I know that he showed himself to Joseph Smith in the Spring of 1820 and that this is his restored church.  The Book of Mormon is the Word of God without a doubt in my mind.  How could you not believe in the teachings that it gives us?  It truly does testify of our Savior and testifies of the love that he has for us.  If any of you do not have a testimony of these things, I ask you to seek with true intent because I know that it will bless you like it has blessed me.  I hope that these letters were able to bless someone in some type of way or that in the future it will bless mine again.  I love the fact that I can say the same words that Mormon said in 3 Nephi 5 13: "Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life."

I'll just be sending pictures next week, not a letter. But until then...

Elder Copeland

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