Well, this is the last big email home before I get there. It's so weird! We've had loads of miracles the last week, partially due to our systematically inserting members into our map so we can find them so much easier. We've taught two families that hardly recognized us as missionaries, but they've been on the records for years. And we've got ahold of some promising new investigators (three in one lesson! Isn't that amazing?).
President says that as a mission, we struggle finding new investigators, but once we've got them, we're like 50% more likely to baptise them than any other European mission. I tell you what, that's no surprise considering the incredible missionaries I've been able to work with. I'll be able to brag about the Elder Hollands of the future (since most of the heroic ones are 18 already) and that I served alongside them. Amazing teachers--even in those horrible practice sessions where we can't keep a straight face for too long, everyone can feel the Spirit.
It's sad to think that I only saw eight people enter the waters of baptism on my mission, ones that I helped to get there. But the number 8, in Hebrew, is a symbol of rebirth, resurrection, and of course, baptism. In the temple (down in the baptistry) there are 8-pointed stars and often the font itself is octagon-shaped. These 8 will never meet altogether in this life, but I pray that they will in the next, all together in the celestial kingdom. Isn't it marvelous how the Lord works? I will always see a sacred 8-pointed star and think of Noreen (Shekinah), Steve, Linda and Holly, Lina, Carla and Bruna, and Shalen. I pray that they stay strong. If not, I know that I have done for them everything I could--been the best teacher I could, followed the Spirit as best I could, and tied them to the ward the best way I knew how. I will do my utmost to live worthy of their trust after this is over and I seek for new baptisms.
The biggest convert, of course, is me. Heavenly Father does not require the young women of the church to serve in what are priesthood obligations, but He made it clear to me that I needed to go. He could have raised up missionaries of the stones on the beach to teach those eight. But He sent me so that I could reap the blessings of service and growth that invariably come to every missionary who tries even just a little bit. I will forever be grateful for these things I've learned and witnessed.
I bear record and testify of the reality of Heavenly Father. He has answered so many of our stupid little prayers with such speed. He has granted me the peace that comes through the grace of His Son, who understands exactly what I need. This is the only true church on the face of the earth, and Jesus Christ is captain of it. He will never lead us astray or let us crash. The Book of Mormon is the other witness prophesied by Ezekiel and John and Isaiah. How marvelous that we have come to a knowledge of God's actual character and of His eternal laws! We can return to live with Him, and more importantly, we can return to be like Him. I am so grateful for this knowledge, which I had before, but to see it in action and to feel it burn in every fiber. This is real because I am changed. This is the power of God.
Thank you so much for everyone who has shown me support and has prayed for our success here in the British Isles. What a blessing to finish in the place where the first apostles came, and where the first ever sister missionaries served in 1898. If any of you are considering serving a mission, this is the best thing I have ever done. Pray. Ask God if you should go, and He will never direct you wrong. If you feel that desire grow within you, it is the Spirit helping you to do the impossible.
Seven days left! Let's plant some seeds!