We want to share with you the sweet details of the final mission activity in which we were privileged to participate on Tuesday night, June 26, 2012 in the Lynch North Chapel.
Our Assistants, Office Missionaries, and other sweet missionaries planned most of the activity as a surprise to us, and they made it very beautiful and so very memorable. It was such a bittersweet feeling as we met together with our angel missionaries for the very last time as their Mission President and Companion.
We started out with a greeting, opening song and opening prayer. Then we took the time to greet each missionary individually and express our love and take a picture with them.
After we greeted them, we went to the cultural hall and ate Chilean completos, prepared by Bishop and Sister Arraya whom we have grown to love very much. We enjoyed every single minute of the entire evening. We had a huge Book of Mormon map (that we had made out of fabric) for each missionary to sign so that we can present it to President and Sister Wright when they arrive on Friday, June 29 and welcome them warmly to the best mission in the world. With each signature, each missionary committed to do his or her very best to flood our mission with the Book of Mormon, and to really seek to find himself or herself in the Book of Mormon.
Next, we all went back into the chapel where our Missionaries took all of President Laycock's favorite "sayings" and gave beautiful talks about these sayings and what they mean to them...for example, President Laycock always says "al proximo nivel," meaning always climb to your next spiritual level in life. Don't be satisfied to sit still. He always says, "The mission is the Lord's University of Life" meaning, you learn all the important, eternal life lessons during your mission service. Be sure to study hard and then maintain forever the good habits you develop in the mission. He often says, "Out of small things, proceedeth that which is great" meaning, don't ever overlook the small things. Do the small things, and the big things will take care of themselves. He says, "con amor" all the time, meaning every single thing we do in this life should be done with absolute, true Christ-like love. He likes to say, "una puerta mas." It means, go one more door...even if you are tired, even if you are discouraged, and especially if you don't really feel like it. If you will go one more door, literally and figuratively, you will experience miracles. He says, "Do the Lord's work in the Lord's way" meaning, be obedient in all things and follow the guidelines you have been given. The spirit is the oil that you can only purchase in the market place of obedience…and on and on. It was very special for us to sit and listen to what they have learned and how they feel about what they have learned. They even talked about one of my favorite sayings..."Are you writing in your journal...every single day?" It was sooo sweet and sooo beautiful that we did not want it to ever end.
They had prepared two incredibly beautiful musical numbers of our favorite hymns, and our musically gifted Elders and Sisters performed them for us.
They had also made a video of amazing mission activities and baptisms. It had the music, "God Be With You 'til We Meet Again" playing on it as it showed so many happy and uplifting mission events. Our tears just would not stop. Then they showed a slide/picture of a mission quilt that Elder Firth’s mother is making for us out of our missionaries’ ties. What a blessing it will be to have that momento of our missionaries! They had also prepared a moleskin notebook with a page written by each missionary to us about what they have learned in the mission, and how their missions have touched and blessed them and helped them and strengthened them. We stayed up all night and read every page as we shed still more tears.
They gave us each a white hankie with our name, the Santiago Temple, and our mission logo embroidered on it. They gave us two aprons with our mission logo, signed by every missionary. And they gave us some gorgeous flowers.
Finally, they gave us a huge picture of Christ, which is made out of small pictures of missionaries and baptisms. It is absolutely UNBELIEVABLE. It was framed and behind glass. We, of course, cried some more when we saw what a treasure it is. When we saw how big it was, we worried that we would not be able to get it home. Then our smart missionaries took it out, rolled it up, and put it in a tube for us to take on the plane with us. They thought of everything!
Next, Sister Laycock spoke and shared with them 5 things I have learned from my Great, Great Grandfather, the Prophet John Taylor that will help them to be more faithful missionaries and more faithful members of the Church. I expressed my belief in them as true representatives of Jesus Christ. I told them of the many reasons why I believe in them, and I reminded them to always believe in themselves because they are sons and daughters of God and have inherited divine qualities.
Then President Laycock spoke about the true love of God. He reminded them that if we love God, we will keep his commandments. And if we love God, we will feed his sheep. He reminded them that God is love, and that if we want to become like God is, we must develop our capacity to love and be loved. Needless to say...by the end of the evening, we were all in tears.
We allowed ourselves to cry for a just a few minutes together. But then we reminded everyone that the tears had to stop, and that true joy would come as they welcome their new President and wife to their mission. We promised them that we will always keep a very special place in our hearts for them, and we asked them to keep a place in their hearts for us. Then we invited them to grow their hearts bigger and make a special place for President and Sister Wright. All in all, it was an overwhelming and sweet experience... one that we will always treasure.
As we prepare for our departure from this beautiful place, we continue to be surrounded with the love and the outpouring of the Spirit that we felt Tuesday night. Our eyes are red from all the crying, but we can honestly testify that when you get to the end of your mission experience, you completely forget any pains or heartaches or struggles. Honestly, all we can remember now are the beauties of the mission. We are so thankful for this experience. Our lives will never be the same because of all that has happened over the past three years. Our family has been so blessed. We don't know if we are deserving of all of the blessings we have received, but we are very, very grateful for each one of them. We know and testify that the Lord always keeps his promises!
Our capacity to enjoy every single day of our mission has increased in miraculous ways with every passing day. Looking back on our three years in Santiago, it seems like a very short time. We will miss the wonderful people of Chile, and we will always treasure the opportunity we have had to serve with our remarkable young angel missionaries.