December 26, 2016 {Week 80}: The Last Letter

Wow you guys…I think I’m dreaming. I feel like I’m dreaming. I don’t know if I should jump up and down out of excitement or cry my eyes out for tristeza. Tomorrow…I go home. Today I have my last interview and a Noche de Hogar and dinner with the Marbles, and tomorrow I have meetings. Yesterday was my last day of proselyting! This doesn’t feel real!

I am so grateful I got to end my mission the week of Christmas. This Christmas season I have been thinking a lot about the Three Wise Men…how they came from afar bringing gifts to Jesus. I have been thinking a lot about the hymn ‘Oh Come, Let Us Adore Him’…let us serve Him…let us give good gifts unto Him…and I have thought about what I will give to Christ this Christmas season. My Christmas present to Him this year has been 18 months in the making. My full-time mission!

But just as it aways is with Heavenly Father, no matter how much we want to serve Him and give HIM something…we ALWAYS get more than we give! I have given my time, my life, my heart, my mind, my focus and all my attention and love to this work! To these people! And in return Heavenly Father has given me…an unbreakable testimony, a huge new Peruvian family, a changed heart! A once-in-a-lifetime experience, a lifetime full of memories. I will always always always be grateful for this time I have had here in Perú. Coming on the mission was the best decision I’ve ever made in my whole life!!!

I really do feel like I’ve been blessed with the perfect mission…I’ve experienced a little bit of everything! Beach, mountains, city, pueblitos, branches, wards, districts, stakes, baptisms, rescues, temple experiences, American, Mexican, Ecuadorian, Bolivian, and Peruvian companions. Once again the Lord has been way too good to me!!! I don’t know how I got so lucky!

I want to say a few little things about each area and each companion to wrap it all up!

Pacasmayo: MY DREAM VACATION HOME, I gave my whole heart to that little town, I was convinced I was going to stay there my whole mission, leaving Pacasmayo broke my heart. That little beach town is one special place.

Fave people: Roberto, Nora, Liliana y Lorena, Carmen y Wendy, Fiorella y David, Emilsa y Luis, Amelia, Kayla y Wilson, Celeste, Milagros, Nadia, y Eduardo

Pueblo Libre: More than any of my other areas, I really feel like Pueblo Libre was MINE, that it was my area and those were my people and my members, people that I had met before and promised I would go and serve. Since the very first moment I heard of a place called Pueblo Libre, Cajamarca…my heart jumped, it knew I was needed there! I always say that if I were Peruvian, I would be Cajamarquina!!! Cajamarca is the MOST BEAUTIFUL CITY, the most beautiful place on earth I’ve ever been. It is seriously breathtaking you guys!!! And I served there!!!! How did I get so lucky!!!!

Fave people: Price y Carlos, Gaby, Ivan, e Ivancito, Elvin, Nora, Alexa, y Gianella, Deisy, Noelia, Nancy, Mauro, Franck, Paula, Blana y Teofilo, Germán, Evelyn y Nimfa y Teresa

Chiclín: I was there just one transfer, it was a bit hard but I learned there more than I had learned in any other area! Not to mention I met the most escogidisimo family ever, and they got baptized. I love Chiclín for the people!

Fave people: Antonella, Mia, Govanna, y Carlos, Juanita y Beto, Lydia, Nancy, Dona y Anna

Granados: This ward is awesome!! I have loved being in the middle of the city! Granados is SUCH a special place, so much good happening here. I am so grateful I got to come here, open up this place to missionary work, and be with Hermana Malo as the first sisters here! We made history and Granados will always be ours. Trujillo is such a special city, the Lord truly has His hand over this land. I am so grateful I got to spend my last 3 transfers in Trujillo!

Fave people: Alcida y Erick, Gianmarcos, Román, Jaime, Claudia, Emily, y Ayleen, Liliana y Natalia, Carla, Ada, Abdias, Alexandra, y Hassel, Yomer, Luciana, Anita, Sandra, y Juanito Tello, Ingrid y Angel, Beatriz y Margorie

Now for companion time!

Hermana Peel was my trainer, she taught my how to love Pacasmayo! We met Liliana and Lorena juntas, some of my favorite people in Pacasmayo. She helped me get a great start to a great mission. I’ll forever be grateful for my ‘mission mom’ heehee!

Hermana Garcia CHANGED MY LIFE, changed my mission, I know Heavenly Father put us together! It was a wonderfully crazy time for us two newbies to be together right out of our training, we bascially had to figure everything out together and teach each other and learn together! But we had the best time together!!! Hermana Garcia is pure joy in human form, she is practically the light of my life! Haha! I love her to pieces and you bet I’ll be down in Mexico sometime soon!!!

Hermana Rodriguez taught me what true success in a missionary is! I am so grateful to her for that. She also taught me how to end a mission strong! I’ve been thinking about her so much this last transfer of mine, and now that I’m ending I feel like I understand her more nowadays than I did when we were together. She also came to visit me when I was in Chiclín and she was visiting Trujillo! So fun!!

Hermana Sellan, seriously one of my best friends, hilarious, she makes me laugh even to this day. The best and most Christlike person and LEADER I know, she truly is a special and elect spirit. She taught me how to be HAPPY, how not to get disanimated even when the work is hard. I love her and am so grateful I got to be her companion!!

Hermana Holmes, my soul sister, my long-lost best friend. Heavenly Father knew we were meant to be together, He knew we were meant to be friends, and He knew our friendship could only start in PUEBLO LIBRE, CAJAMARCA, PERÚ. So grateful I got to train her!!!! From the first moment we met via email I knew I would train her, I knew we were meant to be companions! We had so much fun and so much success together! Hermana Holmes will be one of my best friends for life, of this I am sure! I can’t wait to hug her in August 2017! (as you can tell I’m already counting down!!!)

Hermana Sánchez is so humble, so patient, so Christlike. She is a convert but such an example to me of a pure and simple testimony. She has so much faith and I admire her so much. It was a tender mercy to serve with Hermana Sánchez because she is from Santa Cruz, Bolivia! I love that I got to spend one transfer with someone from Santa Cruz and Erin spent one transfer from Trujillo. Sometimes the Lord is too funny!! But most of all He’s kind! And of course I can’t wait to visit her in Santa Cruz in May!!!!

Hermana Malo, my little limeña, I love her with my whole heart. We have been together 3 transfers so of course we’ve learned to love each other! Sometimes it has been a little hard with her but we have both learned SO MUCH about ourselves together. We have grown together and really done so much good together! She has a huge heart, is so obedient and willing to learn, and I am so grateful I’ve gotten to spend 3 whole transfers with her. Longer time with her than with anyone else! Before she and I were companions, I had actually thought to myself ‘ojala me toque una peruana sometime before I end cause I’m in Perú of all places and I’ve never even been with a Peruvian!’ and then she and I were put together! Haha! The Lord is so aware of even our smallest, most insignificant thoughts and desires!

And you all…that’s a wrap. The mission is a dream. THIS MISSION is a dream. The Lord is too merciful. Too kind! He always gives His children more than we deserve, more than we can even imagine! I know He loves us, that is why He calls us to His service. To bless us, to help us, to GIVE TO US more than we can give to Him. I will always be in debt to my Heavenly Father and to His Son Jesus Christ. Without Them…this life would be impossible. This life wouldn’t exist! Jesus Christ is my Savior…of this I am sure. The Book of Mormon testifies of Him, helps me become like Him and understand who He is. This work that He calls us to is DIVINE, mission calls are INSPIRED. Coming home…isn’t the end of my service as a missionary. Really my service in the Lord’s Kingdom is just beginning! Without my plaque…I’ll be a full-time missionary in disguise! 😉 I love being a missionary. That will never change. I love helping others come unto Christ, here in Perú I have found PURE JOY in His service.

My joy and my feelings about ending my mission can pretty much be described used the words of Ammon in Alma 36:

30 And we have suffered all manner of afflictions, and all this, that perhaps we might be the means of saving some soul; and we supposed that our joy would be full if perhaps we could be the means of saving some.

31 Now behold, we can look forth and see the fruits of ourlabors; and are they few? I say unto you, Nay, they are many; yea, and we can witness of their sincerity, because of their love towards their brethren and also towards us.

33 And now behold I say unto you, has there been so great love in all the land? Behold, I say unto you, Nay,there has not, even among the Nephites.

Now have we not reason to rejoice? Yea, I say unto you, there never were men that had so great reason torejoice as we, since the world began; yea, and my joy is carried away, even unto boasting in my God; for he has all power, all wisdom, and all understanding; he comprehendeth all things, and he is a merciful Being, even unto salvation, to those who will repent and believe on his name.

36 Now if this is boasting, even so will I boast; for this is my life and my light, my joy and my salvation, and my redemption from everlasting wo. Yea, blessed is the name of my God, who has been mindful of this people, who area branch of the tree of Israel, and has been lost from its body in a strange land; yea, I say, blessed be the name of my God, who has been mindful of us, wanderers in a strange land.

37 Now my brethren, we see that God is mindful of every people, whatsoever land they may be in; yea, he numbereth his people, and his bowels of mercy are over all the earth. Now this is my joy, and my great thanksgiving; yea, and I will give thanks unto my God forever. Amen.

I love the Lord. I love His work. I love Perú, these people, this language. I love you all, and am so grateful for your love and support these past 18 months. My life might go back to normal this week but I will never be the same…I’m still Abby but a CHANGED Abby. A better Abby! I love being a full-time missionary…but more importantly, I love being His humble servant…and that calling never ends.

For the last time,

Hermana Butikofer

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