Monday, June 13, 2016

The Best Two Years

The time is almost out for me here. I will forever be grateful for this beautiful place and the many things it has taught me. Ever since I was a kid I always knew I would go on a mission. I was always so excited to go on a mission. Everyone who got home always said the phrase that it was "The Best Two Years" That phrase got me so excited cuz my life was pretty good before the mission. I have an awesome family, high school was sweet, my friends were the best. I had my doubts that it would really be "The Best Two Years". When I got in the MTC I realized that saying goodbye would be harder than i ever thought. But I really enjoyed the unique Spirit that can really only be found in the MTC so it was good. But I remember I just wanted to get out so I could really start to help people.
       After about two weeks in the field I quickly missed the MTC. Life as a missionary came out of no where and slapped me in the face. It was so much harder than I ever imagined and I really started to doubt those four words. The first couple months just sitting in lessons not being able to understand or say anything with value. I had a huge desire to help people but at the time didn't really feel like I was helping anyone. But those four words "The Best Two Years" gave me hope that if I kept pushing that eventually I would find that mysterious joy everyone always talked about. Got to my 2nd area and relearned the language they taught me in the MTC. It was good. I had great companions and started to really feel that joy. We met awesome families who saw real change in their lives which was awesome! It was so cool to see the power that the Restored message of Jesus Christ had to actually change the lives of people. It was excited and contagious. I wanted to see it happen again, again, and again. My hope that I could have a happy and successful mission became real. I then honestly believe that if I just keep learning and keep working that I would find that joy that everyone always talked about.
       Then came my 3rd area....O ya. Thats when things EXPLODED!!!! Worked harder than ever before and felt happier than ever before. We not only see the lives of investigators change but also the lives of other missionaries who felt the same way as I did when I first arrived. Our whole mission literally caught on fire and everyone was working harder and smarter than ever before! We learned the joy of progressing. Of waking up and trying to improve your work, yourself, and the lives of other. We realized the Plan of Happiness is really about the constant progression and nothing makes you happier than seeing improvement all around. God wants us to get better. No matter who we are right now the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is we can improve. By my 3rd area I finally found what I was looking for. I could honestly say that the mission was "The Best Two Years" Finally being able to say that was HUGE for me. My high expections were finally met.
      Just when I thought that things couldn't get any better or that I hit the peak of my mission. I was given an opportunity to do something really special. Febuary 1, 2016 Elder Palzario and I arrived here in Caticlan with orders to start a group. Everything I ever learned in from Primary to the MTC was all applied. And you have heard all of this but it was so cool. We had a phone number of one known member and after 3 weeks we met over 60 members and established a strong group. Miracles were literally raining on us. Every day we would just get home an awe and amazement with how many miracles we saw that day. The cool thing about this place is all the members kinda fell back to their bad habits because there was no church here. So thought the next few months saw lives of the people here make huge changes and that gave us a huge thrill. It was the most fulfilling thing I have ever done. It was super successful and is still growing and progressing. I was super happy in my 3rd area. I found that pure joy of serving the Lord. I found those four words were true in my 3rd area. Then my last 6 months BOOM! Everything just shot through the roof and exploded!!! Those high expectations I had before my mission were destroyed. I knew a mission would be good. But I didn't know it would be this good. I love love love my mission. I will forever be grateful for what I have learned here and the knowledge I have obtained of the Savior. Just like those four simple words "The Best Two Years" gave me hope. Jesus Christ our Savior gives me that same hope that even when life gets rough (I know it will come) things will get better. Because of the hope that He gives me. I will continue to serve Him forever. My service to Him did not start and it will not end with this mission.  But I will forever be a representative of Him and His divine church.
One thing I love about the stories in the Bible was that Jesus taught a lot. He taught, taught, and taught. At the end of His life he was put in a situation where he applied all the lessons he taught. He taught to love your neighbor and turn the other cheek. Things that are pretty hard to do. When he got betrayed and tortured. He applied all that he taught. He walked the talk. Here in the Philippines you get to teach a lot. I have taught THOUSANDS of lessons and now that this mission in the Philippines is coming to a close its time to really apply those things and serve God with all my heart, might, and strength. 

I love you all thanks for you support. I will see all of you real soon:)

Elder Jackson Erik Craythorne