Hey! I'm in California right now! Coming home has been wonderful! I'm going to write a bit about my last day in Osorno, traveling home, homecoming, and a final testimony.
It was pretty bizarre walking away from having a companion. There were 9 other missionaries ending their mission with me. It felt like being in the spirit world: you can't go back and no one else knows what it's like till they get there. We were kinda surprised with a 2 1/2 hour self-sufficiency class, which was nice, but it felt way out of context. I guess they're making sure that missionaries get right to work or studies when they get back.
I was given a packet with a final letter from Presidente Obeso and his wife, my travel itinerary, anti-parasite pills (still haven't started on those..... not too excited about those), some great talks by apostles, a list of all my previous companions, a new name tag that has the name of the mission engraved below my name and the mission logo engraved on the back side, and a sealed envelope for my Stake President.
We went to the Mission President's house, watched a slideshow with photos that we sent, ate a nice dinner, and had a short but very spiritual devotional (we watched Elder Holland's address to the MTC where he talks about Peter's conversion, "Do you love me?" etc.) PERFECT for a returned missionary. When Christ asked us to leave our nets, it was to be forever, when He asked us to leave our boats, it was to be forever.
At the end of the night, before getting to the hotel, we went to the chapel where there were a lot of members to greet us and say their last goodbyes. I'm so glad my last area was in Osorno, so I knew a lot of the people there :)
The hotel was nice, but I didn't sleep much at all. We got up at 3:30am, were served a nice breakfast, went to the chapel, and headed off in a bus to the Puerto Montt airport. In the airport, Elder Crotzer (an AP) pulled out his violin and we sang "Para Siempre Dios Este con Vos" ("God be with you till we meet again"). We got on the plane and departed for Santiago. From the window, we could see Puerto Montt, Puerto Varas, and Llanquihue :)
May 21st is a national holiday in Chile, so even the temple was closed, but our Mission President talked with the Temple President and he agreed to come at 4:00 to open the doors for us. It was so awesome! It's a rather small temple too. I don't think it's bigger than our chapel in California. We did baptisms and confirmations (because we didn't have much time). There weren't any temple workers there, so we kinda had to do everything (recorder, witnessing, etc.). The temple president made it a point to show us the blue tiles in the stone floor and desk. The blue stone was a mix of lapis lazuli, pyrite, and something else.... I don't remember. Apparently it's something you find in Chile. After doing baptisms, we got to go into the Celestial Room :D It's so peaceful there. Then the temple president showed us a sealing room. He made it a point that we remember that our goal is to be part of an eternal family. We all touched the altar :) I will always remember that visit to the Santiago temple.
The flight was LONG! I did manage to sleep a few hours, but it sure is weird sleeping in a plane.
It was wonderful seeing my family and friends waiting at the airport. I was pretty beat up and sleepy. We ate lunch, talked a lot, and I got released that night by the Stake President. I got a nice surprise while waiting for my release interview: the Spanish-speaking institute meeting was getting ready to start. I definitely plan to attend in the future. I'll also attend the local Spanish sacrament meeting on Sundays, followed by the Young Single Adult Ward.
My wonderful family -- sisters Maia and Kelsi (in the chair), my dad, mom, and brother Max.
A day and a half later, I was speaking in sacrament meeting. It went fantastically! My close friend, Elder Tommy Webber, and I both got to speak, and Kayla Haws (a friend from BYU who served her mission in my hometown) sang a beautiful musical number with her former mission companion, Sister Gillins, at the piano. There were a lot of surprise visitors. I was so glad to see high school friends, friends from EFY, from college, and I loved seeing all the ward members I haven't seen in so long :D
It's nice being an RM.
Our Heavenly Father's purpose is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. As we consecrate ourselves, that purpose becomes ours. We follow Christ and become more like our Heavenly Father. I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is Christ's restored church today. It was restored by a divinely appointed prophet, Joseph Smith, who was foreordained since before the foundation of the world. The Book of Mormon is true, and one can know by reading it, pondering it's teachings, applying them, and praying to ask God if they are true. I will not be a retired missionary. I am a full-time member missionary who is preparing to be a worthy husband and father of an eternal family. I now go to institute, read the scriptures every day, pray frequently, go to church, and I will not let myself leave this rock because it's upon the rock of Christ that we must build our foundation.
Thank you for reading my blog. I hope the spirit has strengthened you as you've read my testimony.