Tuesday, July 8, 2014

"Our Message"

Wow, yesterday at church one of the young woman in our Branch got her mission call. She decided to open it at church after Sacrament Meeting. The hymn right before she opened it was, ´´God Be With You Until We Meet Again.´´ It was the second time I´ve cried here in Brasil because of a song. I couldn´t help it thinking about the mission call and the memories I had. This was the last hymn we sang at my farewell and I remember seeing mom crying. Whooo! It was a good feeling Sunday. I felt so grateful for our awesome family.
I hope you enjoyed the family vacation. It seems like it was awesome. Dustin sent me 3 small pictures of the trip. If you can, please send me some next pday. I'm seriously starting to forget what the family looks like! Haha all I have is my pillow case with the family picture on the Goodson farm and Boston and Reese´s school pictures. 
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MATT AND BOSTON!! I love you guys. I hope your birthday was as awesome as mine!

Yesterday morning we had a leadership meeting here in Campinas. Because Monday´s are usually pday, we had to switch it to Tuesday - hence the email today. But I saw President Perrotti yesterday and gave him a hug. I put my arm around him and asked him the same question dad used to always ask me, ``Presidente! ... Está feliz?`` I never liked that question of, ``Are you happy?`` because it never made much sense to me. But the more I think about the good examples in my life, the more profound this question becomes.
He responded and then asked me the same question. I always responded to dad´s question with a yes, but for the first time in my life yesterday, I think I finally responded honestly. ``Yes President. I´m a happy man.``

This week I woke up with probably the worst dreams Ive had on the entire mission. I returned home from the mission, gave a farewell talk, and was at home in Powell with the family. I realized after a couple of days that I returned the same type of person I was when I left. The only difference that I noticed, and that others noticed was my accent (which was kind of funny because that's still how people recognize me as an American here).
I woke up alone, before the alarm went off and thought a lot about the dream I had. After conversing a lot with Heavenly Father, I realized the importance of change in my life. I was incredibly sad because I returned home the same way I was before the mission. No one noticed a difference, I didn't feel a difference... I returned back to the same activities, speaking casually and dressing the same, lounging around the house watching TV... Mom didn't say anything but I realized that she was sad. I completed 2 years of service, helped a lot of people come unto Christ, but me... nothing changed.

I was incredibly happy this week. Although it was my first birthday away from the family, the members really knocked it out of the park. We had investigators and members surprise me TWICE, in the same day, with a brasilian BBQ, with pictures and letters of memories, soccer jersey, cakes (one of them with a bunch of PEANUTS!! haha), pens, hat, key chains, bathroom supplies (kind of strange but funny... maybe I smell now??), and much more. I seriously felt like a hundred bucks. I don't know how to accurately describe how I felt. Seriously, I was so happy. The second surprise ´´party´´ was at 7 o´clock at night where we entered a members home to teach an investigator... Not what I expected. Haha it was awesome.
At the end of the night, the Relief Society President started crying and told me that I will never understand what I did to her family and the branch. Her husband called the Mission President the day before and asked if I could stay at least one more transfer here in Socorro. I hope I can too.

I have thought a lot about this and the type of experience we will have after this life as we ´´return´´ back home. What our Heavenly Parents will think and how they will feel. Maybe we helped a lot of people with their problems, did a lot of good, but didn't ´´become´´ anything. Like Elder Oaks has said, this is the very essence of the gospel. To change and become something.
I'm here to Preach the Gospel. But I think Ive still lost a little bit of my identity as a child of God as a missionary. I need to stop thinking about teaching the gospel, and just ´´live´´ it.
This week I caught myself telling people that ´´OUR message will bless your life... OUR message will help your family repair fights and misunderstandings... OUR message will give you a sense of identity.´´ I thought to myself, ´´Why do I say that? it´s not MY message, but The Lord´s.``
After thinking and studying this week, I´ve come to realize that as I do what He would do, or do things that would please him (John 8),  ``His message`` starts to become``My message.`` And therefore, it´s ``Our Message.``
Happiness is coming to a realization of the way things really are and how they really will be. I´m His child and will return back to His presence one day. I look forward more this week of becoming more like Him, so that ´´His message´´ becomes more and more ``Our Message.``

As President Monson said two conferences ago, ``I´m a happy (20 year old) MAN!``

Love you all!
Elder Welch

This couple... wow, words cant describe it. They were less active members with seriously Lamanite hearts. I was always so sad because I was never able to connect with them. I never felt on the same page with them. I never knew what I could do to help them. They came to us crying a month ago with problems... With a lot of prayer, The Lord changed their heart and they finally decided to get married. They are a part of the family of the Relief Society President. They used one of the pens I got for my birthday to sign the papers. It was a privilege for them to use my pen... Haha.

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