Monday, March 7, 2016

My heart is full.‏

March 7, 2016

"Well, I have a year and 2 months left to be in high school. I will just like to say i have meant some really great people at the school and at my church. I just hope that the Class of 2017 is ready to start a new life after High School. I wish it had never came to this but we have our future ahead of us. I would like to thank Fred for introducing the Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to me. If I hadn't gotten baptised or even met everyone at the church then my life would still be screwed up. My past was amazing. But it was also the worst that I lived in, and i hope it won't come back and haunt me. When I graduate from high school i am hoping to serve a mission for the church and i hope Fred gets to join me. I hope my senior year will be the best." -Alberto

My heart is full of gratitude for what has transpired the past few days. My mission has nearly come to an end, but I could not have ended it any better. Alberto was baptized on March 5th at 7 pm. It was an amazing experience and perhaps the most rewarding baptism of my mission. As you can see from Alberto's Facebook post, he was ready and understood the sacred nature of baptism. Some people judged him harshly from the get go, but we never stopped working with him. I've seen him grow so much! He's waaaaaayyyyy happier than he was when I met him and now he has a secure, bright future ahead of him. I am grateful to the Lord for blessing me with this wonderful opportunity. I'm grateful for the friendships I've made with Fred and Alberto, and I hope to cherish them for the rest of my life. Through this experience, I've been able to witness firsthand how the Gospel of Jesus Christ works in people's lives. It changes them from the inside-out and fills the void they never knew was there. I look forward to the day when I'll be able to write Alberto on his mission and see him get married in the temple one day. And I have full confidence that many will follow after him.

This week was just amazing. It was my last full week in the mission and we KILLED it. We taught many great lessons and I was able to leave a lot of great final words before heading out. I may not fully realize the impact that I've had here in Dunn, but I know that by me just being here, lives have been blessed, including my own. I hope to be able to return to this area soon after my departure to visit these people again. I've made more friends on my mission than I have my whole life, which I find incredible. And these aren't just acquaintances either. I mean, I really have loved the people of North Carolina in each one of my areas. It will be overwhelming to come back here after my mission and attempt to visit each one of them. And thank goodness for Facebook, right?

In other news, we also ate with our friend Pedro again. He's a convert from Durham and he likes to come eat lunch with all his missionaries. It was good seeing him again. He's another one of those "life-long" friends I've made out here. Like I said, there are many.

Well I guess this is it people. My mission has officially come to an end. There have been times when I never even thought I would have made it this far, but here I am! I look forward to seeing and speaking with you all when I return to Georgia. Now allow me to conclude by summarizing my experiences out here and the things that I've learned.

First off, missions are not easy. I came out here with a lot of pride, thinking that because of my talents and abilities, I would be successful. I used to be competitive with other missionaries and seek the recognition of others in order to validate my efforts, but things changed very quickly. Toward the end of my first area (Pinehurst), I started to humble myself and learn how to love people. I learned that serving others was a much happier way of living than what I had previously been living. I also began to understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the importance of it not only in my life, but in the lives of those I served. As I got to Clinton, I was tested with having to work hard every day and making sure to continue to strengthen my testimony. Things were not easy there. I had a lot to live up to. The members really counted on us and at times, I didn't even feel worthy to be in their service. But even with that self-inflicted trial, I kept working hard. I gave it my all. And when the days were so hard that I just wanted to give up, Heavenly Father would send me something to make it all better and all worthwhile. Then I got a baptism. It rocked my world. I began to see that I COULD be a successful missionary and that there WERE people out there that were ready to receive the Gospel. The next year, I worked harder than I ever have. In Durham and Chapel Hill we would bike over twenty miles a day sometimes just for one appointment. Although I did not baptize there, I learned a lot about myself and I believe it prepared me for what was to come. I got transferred to Raeford and was called to be a district leader over six companionship. Being a leader and having to take care of so many missionaries really allowed me to grow and to see my true potential. I was not perfect by any means, but my efforts helped a lot of missionaries get through some unique struggles. That's some rewarding stuff. Months later, we got another baptism. Through her, I was able to see that the Lord truly does know us and that He places us exactly where we need to be. I can see that this woman was prepared to receive the Gospel from me and that because of my talents and abilities, she chose to follow Jesus Christ into the waters of baptism. After training for the last three months, I was called to train again, except this time I would be coming into an area all by myself. Once again, the Lord blessed me with more experiences to stretch and refine me. Although I've struggled here, sometimes with obedience, sometimes emotionally, I've been able to learn the value of hard work and dusting ourselves off and moving forward when we fall down. And just this last week, I was able to confirm Alberto a member of the church. I could probably go on, but I just want to reiterate how grateful I am for having served a mission. It's been the hardest two years of my life, but it's also been the best two years of my life (thus far).

I pray that when I get home, I will be able to continue to be a servant in the Lord's hands. There is a life-long calling of service ahead of me and I can't wait to get started. I will miss the mission field, my mission president and his wife, my missionary friends, members, and investigators, but I know that there is more to life ahead of me. Although I'm leaving this stage of my life behind, I know that there is so much more ahead of me. The MTC was training for my mission and the mission has been training for the rest of my life.

I love all of you and can't wait to see your faces and hear your voices again. Please pray that I can have a safe journey home and that I can leave here satisfied with what I've been able to accomplish.

Con mucho amor y sinceridad,

Y por la ultima vez,

-Elder Landon Carroll

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