Dad’s Note: This is sadly the last letter from Lauren on her mission. We leave tomorrow morning to pick her up and will return Friday night. She will be speaking about her mission in our church meeting this Sunday, 12:30 p.m. If you are receiving this letter, I am sure she would love to see you then. The address is 655 Old Orchard Drive Danville, CA. All are welcome. I received a call yesterday from a woman who had just had a tour of the Winter Quarter Trail Center from Lauren. The way Lauren gave the tour and what she shared touched this woman (and her husband) so much that they asked Lauren if she would give them her parents phone number so they could call us. In that call, this dear woman just wept and her voice was hoarse from crying previously. She said, “It was a privilege to be taught by an angel. My husband and I both commented, that should either of us die, we would want a sweet assuring voice like hers to usher us from this world to the next. We imagined she was a nurse.... She's simply has the hands and the heart and healers art.” After the tour, and their thanking Lauren, Lauren asked if she could share a secret with them. She then told them that “you were the last tour of my mission.” I think that touched them. They were in the parking lot when Lauren walked out for the last time and went to their car. They told me they could tell it was weighing heavy on her. They thanked me many times for Lauren and I thanked them for sharing that precious last moment of her mission with us.
Letter written 8/4/14:
My heart is full of gratitude today, as i have thought about the many blessings the Lord has poured out upon me. The tears of joy have been flowing for the past 3 days ha, and i couldn't be happier. God is good, He is oh so good. I am so indebted to Him, and pray that i will always do His will.
I feel a bit like the pioneers did as they were here at Winter Quarters. They had just crossed the plains of Iowa for 4 longs months, and by the time they arrived here, they were exhausted. They experienced much hardship during this time - many of the Saints buried loved ones; many were terribly sick; all of them had very little food; they were ridiculed and beguiled because of their faith; they had to learn how to make the best of the situation they were in; they experienced harsh weather. But even amid all of their trials and hurt, they were the most faithful people that have ever walked this earth. They saw miracles every day. They praised their God every moment that they lived. They walked with angels. They were healed, and ALWAYS had enough to get by. The Lord loved His people, and looked after them every single moment of their journey. They sang; they danced; the served each other. They lived "after the manner of happiness".
The words to what is now my favorite hymn keep echoing through my mind, as now i too, like the pioneers have to leave all behind, once again, and go west. I pray that my faith can continue to be like theirs as they sang:
We'll find the place, which God for us prepared.
Far away, in the West
Where none shall come, to hurt or make afraid
With the just, we shall dwell.
We'll make the air with music ring,
Shout praises to our Lord and King
Above the rest, these words we'll tell
All is well, All is well.
My mission has healed me. I have seen miracles every day. i have walked beside angels, both on this earth and on the other side of the veil. I have laughed, sung, danced, and rejoiced in my King every single day. I have cried many tears, and even asked God, as Amy Porter did, "oh, how shall i ever go on?". But like Priscilla Evans, i "thought it was a beautiful way to go to Zion" and i wouldn't change one thing. I can testify with every thing that i am, that God lives. He lives! His beloved Son, Jesus Christ, IS our Savior and Redeemer! I owe everything to Him and know that He will continue to strengthen me through out the rest of my life. I know that this is HIS church, and ONLY true church on the face of the earth today. I know that Joseph Smith truly was a prophet of God and that he in fact restored Christ's church, along with bringing forth the Book of Mormon as another testament of our Savior. I know that the Book of Mormon is more than just the word of God; it is our life line. It is the road map to returning back to live with God again. I know that God has a plan for each of us - and that He loves us unconditionally. I pray that my life will be a gift to Him.
I have learned to love being obedient. I know that sacrifice truly does "bring forth the blessings of heaven". Charity NEVER faileth, and faith truly does bring about miracles.
Today i was reading the talk "Grateful in Any Circumstance" by Dieter F. Uchtdorf. I truly feel that my mission has taught me to be grateful ALWAYS. I hope that you all know how grateful i am for YOU, for blessing my life with prayers, thoughts, testimonies, and love. I can't thank you enough. But all my gratitude goes to my Heavenly Father, who has lifted me higher than i have ever been. I have felt His love more deeply and real then ever before in my life these past 18 months, and for that i am so thankful.
As i read President Uchtdorf's talk this morning, i was touched as well by his testimony about how we are eternal beings:
This week has been miraculous, and exactly what i needed. It truly has been one of the best weeks of my mission. We saw so many miracles, including our investigator Bruce coming to church and bearing his testimony, teaching Chris and Girly about the temple and eternal families, have over 200 people come watch 17 miracles at the Trail Center for the Summer Fireside Series, being able to sing for the Joseph Smith Family Reunion, seeing so many people that i have grown to love on my mission. It has been glorious.
I love you all! I love Nebraska: it truly is the Heartland of America, and i am leaving my whole heart here. I know that i have served to the very best of my ability, and that i can hold my head high as i have represented the Lord Jesus Christ every single day for 18 months. I wouldn't trade this time for anything.
All is well,