Monday, June 5, 2017

Beginning the "Lasts"

Hey everybody!

This last week had some definite interesting things! For starters, I went to what might be my last zone conference! It was also President
Snow's last zone conference! I'm so grateful to President Snow for everything that he's done for me over the last two years! He is one of the best, most hardworking, most spiritual men that I know, and has taught me so much! He deserves a chance to finally go back to Idaho and be a cattle rancher like he's wanted to for so long! It was really strange to be at my last zone conference, and they even had me give a departing testimony! You spend your whole mission watching others do it, but it never feels like you're going to be the one up there! A lot of the things I shared in my testimony came from the other strange thing that started this week. I started doing "my plan". It's a program the church has come out with recently that helps missionaries getting ready to go home to set goals and plan for the future. The first section, which I had to complete this last week, was centered around remembering the things you've learned during your mission, and pondering how you can apply them to life after the mission. In the program, it had me read through a few talks and scriptures, and one of them by Henry B Eyring really touched me. He shared this story:

“When our children were very small, I started to write down a few things about what happened every day. Let me tell you how that got started. I came home late from a Church assignment. It was after dark. My father-in-law, who lived near us, surprised me as I walked toward the front door of my house. He was carrying a load of pipes over his shoulder, walking very fast and dressed in his work clothes. I knew that he had been building a system to pump water from a stream below us up to our property.  He smiled, spoke softly, and then rushed past me into the darkness to go on with his work. I took a few steps toward the house, thinking of what he was doing for us, and just as I got to the door, I heard in my mind--not in my own voice--these words: “I’m not giving you these experiences for yourself. Write them down.” I went inside. I didn’t go to bed. Although I was tired, I took out some paper and began to write. And as I did, I understood the message I had heard in my mind. I was supposed to record for my children to read, someday in the future, how I had seen the hand of God blessing our family. Grandpa didn’t have to do what he was doing for us. He could have had someone else do it or not have done it at all. But he was serving us, his family, in the way covenant disciples of Jesus Christ always do. I knew that was true. And so I wrote it down, so that my children could have the memory someday when they would need it.

I wrote down a few lines every day for years. I never missed a day no matter how tired I was or how early I would have to start the next day. Before I would write, I would ponder this question: “Have I seen the hand of God reaching out to touch us or our children or our family today?” As I kept at it, something began to happen. As I would cast my mind over the day, I would see evidence of what God had done for one of us that I had not recognized in the busy moments of the day. As that happened, and it happened often, I realized that trying to remember had allowed God to show me what He had done. More than gratitude began to grow in my heart. Testimony grew. I became ever more certain that our Heavenly Father hears and answers prayers. I felt more gratitude for the softening and refining that come because of the Atonement of the Savior Jesus Christ. And I grew more confident that the Holy Ghost can bring all things to our remembrance--even things we did not notice or pay attention to when they happened.

It made me ponder a lot about the ways that I've been blessed on the mission, and I can't even begin to count them! I think it's funny that
when I decided to serve a mission, part of my reason was because I wanted to do my best to pay back some small part of what the Lord had blessed me with. But as I spend more time on the mission, I’ve realized that the many ways He’s blessed me while serving a mission has just put me further into the red! I will always be in His debt.

I'm so grateful for this mission, and the love and support  I receive from each of you.  I love you all!
Elder Excell

Q&A -- 6/5/2017
1.) Have you had, or are you scheduled to have an exit interview with President Snow? I'm anxious to hear about it!  --  I'll still have to have my final departing interview with President Youngblood, but President Snow is doing some small group departing interviews for some of the old missionaries. Hopefully we'll be able to get one scheduled soon!

2.) When do the Snow's leave?  --  They'll leave on June 30.

3.) Did you by chance get a visit from Elder Branning this week? I understand he is back in Las Vegas visiting the mission with his parents.  --  I did get a chance to see him for a bit! He's still in town right now, so we're hoping that he might have some time to come out teaching with us!

4.) What was your most memorable moment of last week?  --  Probably zone conference!

5.) What are you most looking forward to in the week ahead?  --  I'm still excited to continue spending lots of time studying the scriptures!

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