So, this is it. I can´t believe it came. They all say that, but it´s true. I don´t even know where to begin. There is no way I could sum up these past 2 years - and my unbelieveable appreciation and love for this experience - in just this email. There have been so many little, seemingly insignificant moments that have made this such an amazing experience. Looking back, I am surprised that I even made it on a mission. But I did, thanks to my Heavenly Father, my incredibly loving and supportive parents who allowed me to make my own mistakes while never - ever - giving up on me, and to a humble servant of the Lord bishop Tim Hunt who really is responsible for getting me out here. Not to even start to mention all of the priceless positive influences I´ve been so fortunate to have growing up, both within the Church and without. I honestly have no way to ever thank or repay you for all you´ve done for me. For the rest of my life, I´ll do my absolute best to make you proud and see you all in the Celestial Kingdom.
I was thinking about what I could possibly write in this my last email as a full-time missionary. So many experiences, so many lessons learned, so many doctrines and principles to be shared. After a bit of thought and some inspiration, I´ve decided to keep it simple and end with a story. Now, this story has very little to do with any of my actions or experiences. In fact, the majority of the events from this story didn´t even take place on this earth. But it´s effects and implications have affected me in such a profoundly and deeply personal way that it becomes mine. It goes like this.
Every single solitary one of you who is reading this email right now - and even those who aren´t - is a child of the all-powerful and all-knowing God of this universe. Your physical pedigree chart goes back for countless generations, from your parents to your grandparents to your great-great-great-great-great-grandparents and beyond. It would take many years and much research to be able to possibly trace it all back to square one, and even that is an impossible feat to accomplish alone. But your spiritual pedigree chart has only one generation: you and your Heavenly Father. He created you. He loves every one of you. Everything He does is centered around, motivated by, and achieved through that single truth. That is where this story begins.
In the life before this one (because there WAS an existence before the current one on this earth which you are now participating in), because of your Heavenly Father´s inconceivable love for you, He created a way for you to become exactly like Him. He would always be your Father, and you would always be His child, but He has given you the option to posess, enjoy, and obtain every power, happiness, and knowledge that He has. As any good and loving father, He has held nothing back from you that is His. He is willing to share it all. That´s why you´re here. That´s what you´re doing here on this planet. Trying to achieve that goal.
In order to qualify for such a wonderful prize - a prize that is called "eternal life" - you would be required to come here to earth, separated from the presence of God, in order to be tested and to gain experience on your own. It is as a child who has come of age who must finally leave the house and the dependence upon his parents to be able to learn and progress on his own, becoming self-independent as his parents are. The experiences of this mortal life - both the good and the bad - serve as a refiner´s fire in shaping you and giving you the chance to advance to a quality greater than that of your own original nature. You would be required to make decisions both unseeminly important and unbelieveably difficult, for you would learn from the process and the outcome each time. Only through this process of independent decision making and overcoming obstacles would you be able to become more like your celestial Parents. This process of developing god-like attributes is called "mortality".
Knowing the difficulty of the journey you were about to make, God decided not to leave you alone in this world (there´s that motivation of "love" again). He would cause you to be born into a family, with a father and a mother and sometimes brothers and sisters. These would be given the responsability to take care of you, to be your teachers, to love you, and to help you out in all things that you should need. He would give you friends. He would give you the Holy Ghost. He would give you His word and guidance through prophets and their teachings recorded in sacred books called scriptures. He would give you the ability to pray. He would give you a set of commandments by which you could guide your life to make good decisions and accomplish your whole purpose of coming to this life and become more like Him. He would provide you with so many things to help you in your journey so that you would not be left alone, making the feat difficult but very possible.
However, there is a catch (there always is). In this process of self-purification, you would mess up. You would make wrong decisions, do things wrong. God knew that. He knows that still. These little mess-ups are called "sins", and happen when you break God´s commandments - that is to say, whenever you decide not to follow God´s guidelines about how to become more like Him and do your own thing. These sins not only would bring you unhappiness or only temporary pleasure that does not last in this life, but ultimately in the end these sins would keep you from returning to your Heavenly Father´s presence. Seems kind of ironic that the experiences of mortality and the mistakes would be essential for your eternal progression, but they would also be the thing that prevents you from reaching your ultimate goal. So, what happens? What are we supposed to do?
This is where the story reaches its best. There needed to be a way for you to gain these critical experiences without being shut out of your heavenly home. There needed to be some truth in this plan to make it all worth it. This is the lifeblood that gives this whole elaborate scheme life. This is the key that makes it all possible. There is One who can - and did - make it happen. His name is Jesus Christ.
When God presented this plan to you in a great Council before this world existed, as I have just done in this email, the need was determined that a Savior was needed in order for you to be able to reach your final destination. Somebody would have to be chosen, foreordained, and anointed to be the Redeemer of mankind. Somebody had to come down to earth and live a literally perfect life. They would be required to be subject to temptations as everybody else, but would not be allowed to give in even once. They would be required to be completely and unforgivingly spotless from sin. For if they had debts to justice, they could not pay our debts either. A poor man cannot pay another´s debts. This person would be required to take upon himself the penalties deserved and accumulated by ALL men in their mortal journies. Not only would a redemption of sin be required, but also it would be asked of him to experience every single pain, sickness, sorrow, sadness, and affliction that would ever happen to any of God´s children that would come to earth. This would be their greatest source of divine help in their life. And the person had to be willing and able to perform such a feat.
I testify to the world, both seen and unseen, that Jesus of Nazareth is that Savior. He, with a love for us matched only by that of the Father Himself, offered to be the one to take upon Him the sins of the world. He willingly accepted the responsability to feel every single heartache, heartbreak, and life-shattering sadness that you or I would ever feel, so that we could ALWAYS have somebody to count on in this lonely life during our darkest moments. Jesus Christ is the greatest manifestation of love that the Father has and could ever give us. He conquered all sin, He conquered death, and He literally paved the way back to heaven for you and for me. He in a very real and literal sense is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. There is no other way, there is no happier way.
I want everybody to know that Jesus Christ lives. He is as real as you and me. He is not some fairy tale, some made-up character to give hope to the weak and downtrodden. He lives, He loves you, and He can bless your life for now and forever. This Jesus Christ has restored His Gospel on the earth today. His teachings are known to us in their purest form. They continue to be revealed to us frequently through a living prophet. That prophet is Thomas Spencer Monson. We have His authority to act in His sacred name. He has once again shined a light on eternal truths, obedience to the which is the ONLY way to return to God´s presence and become like He is. Many of these truths are found in the Book of Mormon, a volume of sacred and holy scripture translated by the power and authority of God by a modern-day boy prophet named Joseph Smith. Through that saintly man Joseph Smith, Jesus Christ has restored His church on the earth today. I have no shame in inviting everybody that I know - for you are my literal brothers and sisters - to come unto Jesus Christ, be baptized in His church, and find the happiness and peace that awaits you. Because I´ve found it. And I´ll never leave. Jesus Christ lives. He is the Savior of the world, and He is the Master. Heavenly Father lives and loves you, and answers your prayers. The Book of Mormon is the word of God unto salvation. The priesthood is upon the earth. It was given to Joseph Smith, the first prophet of God in modern times. Thomas S. Monson is God´s prophet on the earth today. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true and living church that exists on the entire face of the earth. I so testify in the name of Jesus Christ, my King and my Lord, amen.
-Élder Timothy J. Moore