I hope you don’t mind indulging a proud mother. You see, this year for Christmas I will be given the gift of a return missionary. My beautiful daughter pictured above will return home with honor on Christmas Eve. No words can express how joyous I know our reunion will be. I can’t adequately describe the transformation that has occurred in this magnificent daughter of God, so I will let her do it for me. The excerpt below is taken from her email home to us last week:
Amazing grace, How sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I am found, was blind, but now I see. ‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved. How precious did that grace appear, the hour I first believed. Through many dangers, toils and snares I have already come, ‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far and grace will lead me home. The Lord has promised good to me His word my hope secures; He will my shield and portion be, as long as life endures. Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail, And mortal life shall cease I shall possess within the veil, A life of joy and peace. When we’ve been there ten thousand years bright shining as the sun, We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when we’ve first begun.
So, I had my departing interview on Thursday, with President Cleveland. This man has changed my life. I am so grateful for him. I have strived to be obedient on my mission because of my love for President Cleveland. He has allowed me to see my potential and realize that when trials come, miracles are around the corner. Those 45 minutes I got with him, were so sacred. He cried, I cried a lot more. He said, “Sister Peel the day you go home is the best day of your life up to this point and one thing I promise is that you and I will be friends for a very long time.”
I used the words to Amazing Grace because I am just full of gratitude right now. I felt like I was lost before my mission, but now I am found. I hate to think of me NEVER serving a mission. I feel like Ammon in Alma 26 vs. 36 where he says, 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 are a 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.
I was and am a wanderer in a strange land. God has been mindful of me and I am SO happy, happier than I could have ever imagined for myself. I asked God to help me be happy and when he asked me to go on a mission I thought He was ruining my life. Little did I know that being a missionary in Indiana is where I would find happiness. I have been changed, I am SO imperfect and in some cases have found a lot more of my weaknesses. I have struggled and pleaded with the Lord. I have wanted to give up. Before I left, I promised the Lord that even though I didn’t want to go, I would not waste my time. I know there is more I could have done the past 17 months, but I also know there will always be more that we could do. I didn’t waste my time, I finally let the Lord change me. I pray I allow Him to keep changing me. I am so glad I got on that plane.
Tis grace has brought me safe thus far and grace will lead me home.
I can testify that the Lord loves us and that He will lead our lives! He created us to be happy and to be successful. Sometimes we have to experience trial and heartbreak to get there, but it is worth it. I know that the same church that Christ established is on the earth today. I know that Joseph Smith is a true prophet and a good man. I know the Book of Mormon is the word of God. And I know that God still speaks to us today. I know the Savior was born and that He died and that He rose and lives still.
I can’t say it any better than her, but I will add my testimony to hers, that I know that God lives and loves us. He sent his Son that we may have eternal life, and that through our Savior, all is possible. How thankful I am for HIs grace. How grateful I am for this time of year when we can celebrate the birth of our best friend, advocate, and brother, our Savior Jesus Christ.
I wish you the most joyous Christmas and a New Year filled with grace and love.