The Best Gift I Have Ever Received (Half Way Mark)
Subject: 6 September 2010 One year ago, I was in my first few days at the Missionary Training Center in Provo. I was terrified. If somebody could think of a word about 20 times stronger than inadequate, that would describe a small fraction of how I felt. I missed my family and the people that love me and that I love more than I thought was possible. Don´t get me wrong, I loved being a missionary. I still love being a missionary today. But I was lost, confused, and a whole onslaught of other emotions all at once. I think somebody had slipped Pandora´s Box in my juice or something. But above all, I knew what I was doing and why I was doing it. Or, at least I believed that anyway. In Paraguay, the emotions were amplified tenfold. This was the real deal, this wasn´t the "training center". The word was hard, the heat was brutal, and I had a lot of issues to deal with. This was the basic pattern that continued for the 10 months that followed up until today. The work is still hard, the heat is still dreadful, and there are still more issues to deal with than I can express. But I kept fighting, kept pushing through the unequivocally hardest trials of my young life, and here I am a year later still going strong and still fighting the good fight. Salvation is not a cheap experience. It wasn´t easy for Christ, it won´t be easy for me. But the blessings are indescribable and irreplaceable. I am so blessed to be a missionary.
My zone leaders went to Asunción last week for a training meeting. They came back carrying a package that contained the best gift I have ever received in my entire life - and no it wasn´t my shoes (though they were a close second). Being away from my family and loved ones for a year is the hardest thing I´ve ever done. If you don´t believe me, try it. You won´t be able to do it alone. I looked through all the goodies and candy and food that I got, read the letters from Cindy and Elder Pierce (who looks like a stud in shirt, tie, and plack), and put the Dr. Scholls in my much-needed new shoes. But when I opened the package that said "Open this last - no cheating!", after hearing my mom talk about this for 2 months, my heart just about flew out of my chest. I pressed play on that recorder, and the first voice I heard was that of my sweet mother. I don´t think I have ever cried happier tears in my life. Listening to all of your recordings one by one, hearing your voices and remembering your faces, I just cried non-stop the happiest tears of my life. I have never felt more pure peaceful joy than I did listening to all of your messages. Thank you so much. Hearing my brother, my family (including those who are not directly blood relatives, Great Grandpa, and of course my parents, I cannot tell you what it meant to me. Ben is talking, Spencer has the holy Aaronic Priesthood of God, Madisen - oh my goodness she is not the little girl I remember - and all of you who left me your messages. My family is the biggest joy and blessing in my life, and I cannot tell you what sheer happiness and joy it brought to me to hear your familiar voices. I miss you all incredibly, and cannot wait to see you in 1 year from now. You made me cry, you big jerks. For the past 10 weeks (with the exception of last week), I have been writing about the Articles of Faith of the Church of Jesus Christ. They have been short statements about what we believe as a church and as a people. This week, I´m going to change it just a little bit. Let me tell you about my own little article of faith. Let me tell you something about I believe. It starts with a story. Before this world was, millennia before this earth was created or even imagined, you and I lived with God. We knew Him. He knew us. We walked and talked together with Him. He taught us, listened to us, helped us, and most of all, He loved us. He loved us back then because we are part of His family. He is our Father. We are His sons and daughters. Just as you who have children love them with an intensity that cannot be explained, duplicated, replicated, nor surpassed, He loved us entirely and perfectly. Might I even say that we were His greatest blessing. His family - you and me - were the most important part of His life in the eternities before this world. God loves us so perfectly that He wants us to have everything that He has. All the good things that He has, He wants for us without reservation. If you think that He would withhold blessings or abilities from us just to assure that He is "better than us" because He is God, you are terribly mistaken. A father who truly loves His children wants them to be even better than he is and is willing to do everything in his power to give his children the best opportunities and best blessings that exist. And that is what our Father in Heaven did and does for us. That being established, is it any wonder that everyone who enters into this mortal existance on earth enters being born into a family? Heavenly Father´s greatest blessing is given to his children from the very moment they enter this world. They might not play an active part in everyone´s life because of varying circumstances, but everyone without exception is born with a mother and a father. It is interesting to think that the greatest blessing we will ever receive in all of eternity, we already obtain at the moment of our birth - and what´s better is that we have the chance to amplify that when we have our own children. Thanks to a loving Heavenly Father, there is a way for me to be together with my greatest blessing for all of time and all of eternity. I know that I can be with my mother, my father, my brothers, my relatives, and my future wife and kids for an infinite, endless amount of time. I have the opportunity to live in endless happiness. For that reason, when I heard all of your voices, it hit me that much harder. Knowing that I can be together and enjoy your relationships and associations for the duration of all time, how could I not cry out of joy? The last voices I heard were that of my mother and my father. Let me tell you a little bit about my earthly parents, who are without a single exception or doubt the two greatest people I know in my life. My dad is my hero. I have never in my life seen a man of more courage, intelligence, strength, faith, and love than I have seen in my dad. Watching him and observing his example throughout the years has been my biggest help and guide in my teenage years. It has helped me to form who I am. I have seen my dad overcome problems and difficulties while showing his emotions, but never showing weakness. He feels, he desires, he strives, he loves. I have seen special strength in him as a father and a husband. I am so thankful that Heavenly Father has sent somebody so caring and selfless to be the eternal companion of my sweet mother. My dad is a man who honors, cherishes, loves, respects, and sacrifices for his wife. I thank him from the bottom of my heart for treating my dear mother with such dignity and kindness, for taking care of her so well and always putting her before anybody and anything else. He is a gentleman and a hero in my eyes, in every aspect of those words. My respect and absolute love for my dad cannot be expressed adequately in words alone. How blessed I have really been to have a man of such spiritual strength and such great love and charity. My dream in life is to become like my dad. My mom - oh, I don´t know where to even begin speaking about my mom. There is no story, dream, book, or experience that I can think of that has the capacity to describe a person so absolutely pleasant, loving, and wonderful as my mom. The love of a mother is something special that cannot be replaced, and in my case, I got very lucky to have a mother who loves me more than life itself and everything in it. There is nobody in the world that I love more than my mom. To hear her voice first thing on that tape recorder reduced me to tears. I wept at the sound of my mom´s voice. To hear her express her love for me, her pride of me, and her faith in me has filled me with some kind of joy unlike any other thing I have ever experienced in this world. I have never seen a single human being sacrifice so much for her children and her family - knowing that most of it goes unnoticed, unseen, and unrecognized. When I think of my mother, I think of the love Jesus Christ has for me. I think of the most holy, pure, unselfish love that exists. If God could create the attribute of love and put it into human form, it would come out as my mother. There are simply not words in any human language to tell you how much I admire and love my mom. And even so, it does not compare with the love that I know she has for me. She has written me without fail or falter every single week of my mission, and in all honesty, it has made my mission the success that it has been so far. She shares her testimony with me, she tells me she´s proud of me, she talks to me about what is going on in her life and with the family, and at the end of every single letter without exception she tells me how much she loves me. If my mother isn´t evidence that God lives and loves me, there isn´t evidence in all the world. God loves me because he sent me to my mother. 1 year down, 1 year to go. I´ll see you all in no time at all. Love and miss you all, and thank you again for all your support and your messages. It meant so much to me. You´ll all get warm hugs of greeting when I see you again - including you Master Chief :) -Élder Moore