Eighteen months. What in the world do you say after eighteen months. I thought that I would get to this email and have novels of deep reflections, witty flashbacks, profound lessons, and all that jazz. But here I am, sitting at a library in north Baton Rouge, wearing my scratched up black nametag that I wear every day, next to my sweet companion, thinking of all the people we need to see and what lessons we need to teach, and in complete and total denial that in two days I will be sitting in Colorado, with no name tag, no companion, thinking of all the amazing people I've met on my mission and how dearly I miss them. And I have no idea what to say.
Everyone asks me if I'm scared or excited or nervous or sad or happy or worried or anxious/etc and yes, the answer is yes. But at the same time I kind of just don't feel anything, because this is my life. It's been my life for a year and a half. The idea of it all being over just isn't even real to me. In any case, more than anything, I'm just grateful. My prayers for the last couple weeks have been nothing but fumbling through my words to try to express to my Heavenly Father how deeply grateful I am for everything. I guess for my last email, I will just try to tell you some of the things I'm grateful for.
First and foremost, I am eternally grateful for my mom, my dad, and my three amazing siblings. I had my last interview with my mission president yesterday, and he said, "You know, sometimes I worry about missionaries going home and how they will do with their families, but I know that you're going to be just fine. I don't even know your family, but from what you've said about them, and from seeing the missionary that you are, I know that you come from an incredible family who raised you exactly right, and your reunion with them will be nothing but sweet." It's so true. It took me going a thousand miles away to realize just how amazing my parents are. After being in so many broken homes, I have a greater appreciation for the family I have, and the home I grew up in. Also, shout out to Jessica, Megan, and Andrew for writing me every single week my whole mission! When I told President Hansen that, he said he had never heard of a missionary who got emails from their siblings that often. Way to go guys! :)
I am grateful for Spanish. I am grateful for the chance to learn a new language and a new culture. The Hispanic people are my people. They are my family. I have learned so much from them and their unconditional hospitality and warmth, and their undying faith in God. I have loved learning a new language and reading the scriptures in a new language because it made everything so much more meaningful and beautiful.
I am grateful for each of my companions. I could spend an hour talking about how much I love each of them. I have changed a lot on my mission, and I think a huge reason is because of the privilege I had to serve with these amazing sisters. Each one has taught me something new, and helped me in a million ways. I have learned in a million ways that there are no coincidences, but probably the biggest testament to that is each and every one of my sweet companions. We've all been through a lot of crazy together, and I love them all with my whole heart. They are my sisters.
I am grateful for Louisiana. I'm grateful for the bayous, the sunsets, the food, the southern accent, all the people who sit on their porch and wave to us as we go by and say "alllriigghhhtt," the crazy streets that make zero sense, the hospitality, the resilience, the rain (except not when it floods), the weird animals, the way everyone is your best friend even if you just met them in line at wal-mart, LSU, the Saints, the French Market, all the plantations, the sense of family, the Baptists, the music, the obsession with car washes, and the love of God. I have seen Louisiana at its worst with all the shootings and such, and I have seen Louisiana at its best with how the community came together after the flooding. Louisiana and I have been through a good run together. This is my home.
I am grateful for my Savior. Before my mission, I knew of Him. I had read my scriptures, I went to church, I sang songs about Him, I watched movies about Him. I knew of Him. Now, I know Him. He is my Brother and my Friend. In my small, tiny way, I have walked where He would walk, said what He would say, and loved the people as He would love them. Obviously, I can't do any of those things to even the thousandth of a degree of what He can do. But I am so humbled by the chance I've had to wear His name over my heart for 18 months. And as much as it's going to shatter my heart to take the name tag off, His name is written much deeper than the plastic. Not only have I been able to be His instrument, but I have come to know the power of the Atonement in my own life, both the redemptive power and the enabling power. There have been times on my mission where I was completely broken, and I had no idea what to do. Only by the power of the Atonement could I have been made so whole again. For that reason, I am grateful for my weaknesses. I am grateful for my trials. I am grateful that my mission has not been easy. Without those things, I would never have had the chance to come to know my Savior as I have.
I am just grateful.
I am finding out very quickly that going home from a mission is a whole lot harder than going on a mission, because my whole entire heart and soul are here. I am so grateful for every day I've had to be Hermana Sorensen. I am grateful for all of you for helping me along the way. Y'all are the best! :)
I just hope all y'all know that I know this Church is true. Joseph Smith was a prophet. The Book of Mormon is the word of God. Thomas S. Monson is our prophet today. We are children of a loving Heavenly Father. Christ lives. I love this Gospel with all my heart. I am so happy that even though the tag will inevitably come off, the call to be a missionary will not.
I'll see all y'all soon! :)
Con amor, y por la ultima vez,