Unexpectedly this is my last day in Southampton and the Hamble River ward. It's a shame that I didn't get to spend more time here but the Lord knows exactly where he wants me to be! I've gotten to know the members and other friends that we teach very well and it will be sad to say goodbye for awhile. I will be moving to an area just outside of London called "Croydon". It will have a lot more people than any of my other areas so it should be a fun experience!
Usually I have an idea of what will probably happen when transfer time comes but this time I truly had no idea which was a good thing to help me focus on working hard the entire time rather than thinking about moving or getting a new companion. Over the last few weeks Elder Senkans and I have been able to teach a lot more lessons and picked up at least one new investigator each week. It feels good to leave an area "better than I found it" in the sense that there are many new faces and the others that were here before me have made a lot of progress in the gospel. There are many wonderful people in Hamble River ward and hopefully the ward will continue to grow! This morning we were able to teach an investigator named Chris, that I've mentioned before, and it was really uplifting to teach her. It's hard leaving investigators in the middle of teaching them but I'm confident that other missionaries will keep the work moving.
This week I have felt more motivation than ever to give everything I have to the Lord and work harder than I have been. To be completely honest I haven't worked as hard as I should have my whole mission and that is something I want to change. It is the only 2 years of your life that you can dedicate completely to the Lord and spreading the gospel. Especially now that I have less than 18 months left I realize how short 2 years is, so it shouldn't be wasted in any way.
Last Wednesday the entire England London South Mission got together to receive training on using iPads as missionaries. The first half of the meeting was really spiritual and helped us feel the love the Lord has for us and the trust that the First Presidency has in us. The second half was specific training on how to stay safe when using the internet and what we are allowed to use iPads for. It's hard to even start explaining the things we will be able to use them for to help in the work, but they don't replace the work and diligence that is required to be a missionary. We still don't know exactly when we will be getting them but it will be very soon.
Seeing all of the missionaries in the mission all at the same time was a unique experience as well. It isn't something that happens often and will probably be the only time it will happen during my mission. It was pretty amazing having all of us in one chapel and made my week to see so many of my friends that I hadn't seen in months! Many times I've felt the Spirit confirming to me that this is exactly where I am to be and I felt it again at that meeting. I know that I will cherish this time and the memories of it for the rest of my life.
The lesson that I have learned from my mission that comes to mind at the moment is the necessity and power of overcoming trials. Most of my life I have looked at trials as a punishment because of mistakes that we've made. A lot of times that can be the start of trials but the main purpose of particularly hard or lasting trials is to shape us and broaden our potential. Many men far wiser than me have spoken about this so I encourage you to find strength and council in their words. I will suggest though that you watch the Mormon Message called "The Refiner's Fire" it has changed my perspective permanently. Only after intense heat and repeated grinding, stretching, twisting, and pounding do we reach our full potential and see what our Father has had in store for us all along. We can truly recognize His love for us when He trusts us and loves us enough to cut us down. Never lose faith in Him.
Southampton has been very good to me, it's hard in many ways to leave but it is exciting to have new experiences, new friends, and new trials ahead. I've heard good things about Croydon and already know that I will love the time I spend there, how ever long it may be. I can already feel the part of my heart that will love England forever. Some parts will not be missed at all but on the whole this country and people will always have a special place in my heart.
I love you all. I really do. I know you are Heavenly Father's choice spirits and He loves you far more than you can understand.