Thursday, March 10, 2016

Thank You, President Monson

Dear President Monson,
You may have seen your Presidency from your own eyes, your colleagues' eyes, the church's eyes and for all I know even the Lord's eyes.  But, I want to let you see it from my eyes.  Sure, in comparison to those you rub shoulders with I am nothing more than a young girl, but I am a young girl whose life has changed drastically over the course of your time as Prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
I know you have been an Apostle for over fifty years, but to me, you came into play one day in Middle School when I was in Yearbook Class and a girl received a text that you were to be the new President of the church.  I had no idea just how big of a part you would play in my life.  I learned from you and your example taught me many things about the Gospel.  Even as a fourteen year-old girl, I sustained you from the very beginning.
Fast forward almost five years, just two weeks after my nineteenth birthday. It was October of 2012.  I was feeling a little lost.  No matter what I did, I had this unshakable feeling that I was supposed to be doing something else. On the morning of the sixth, I got up to go for a run. I had to work that day, so I had decided to record General Conference to watch it that night.  However, just a few miles into my run, I heard a voice telling me to turn around.  I ignored it.  I had been sick for months and I finally felt good, there was no way I was turning back then! The voice returned a second time, and finally a third.  That last time, the voice was so clear and firm that I thought my life was in danger.  I turned around and sprinted back to my house.  I wish I had been wearing a watch that day because I am almost certain I set a new record.
Exhausted, I stomped into my apartment, headphones still in, and got a drink.  My friend was watching conference and I noticed that you were speaking.  That same sharp voice returned and told me to take my headphones out because the Prophet of God was about to talk to me.  Completely oblivious to the fact that a historical announcement allowing young men to serve missions at the age of eighteen had just been made, I pulled my headphones out just in time to hear you say:

"As we have prayerfully pondered the age at which young men may begin their missionary service, we have also given consideration to the age at which a young woman might serve. Today I am pleased to announce that able, worthy young women who have the desire to serve may be recommended for missionary service....."

President Monson, as crazy as it may sound, I felt time stop at that very moment.  It's not that I guessed that you would say nineteen, it's that something eternal clicked inside of me and I remembered that you were going to say nineteen and I remembered that I had told my Heavenly Father that I would serve.
And my life was forever changed...

The Spirit had to tell me three times to turn around so I would hear the announcement, but I was not going to make it do the same thing for going on a mission.  That second of eternity was enough, and the prayers I said along the path left me with no room to doubt.  I wasted no time. On October 24th, 2012, just two and a half weeks after the change was announced, I opened my call to the Peru Lima North mission.  It was sheer missionary joy.

But President, a new bombshell was thrown at me during your Presidency.  Fifty-eight new missions were opened, several of them in Peru. On my first day in Peru, I found out that I would not be serving in the Peru Lima North Mission, I would be serving in the new Iquitos Mission in the Amazon Jungle.
Words can never describe how I felt or how amazing my mission was. But, I can try to sum it up in pictures:

My life changed. My world changed. I changed.
Then, it was time to return home.  But, it felt more like I was leaving home.
I struggled a lot, but eventually I got comfortable with my new life as a returned missionary.  The April 2015 General Conference rolled around and for the first time, I watched it in the conference center.  That's the first and only time that I've seen you in person.  The Spirit was strong as you spoke.  Even though your health was already effecting you and you were not able to speak as much as normal, your words, through the Spirit, changed my life once more.  That day, sitting next to my boyfriend, my heart was touched and I knew that I was to marry him.
So, when the October conference rolled around, I watched it in my apartment, cuddled up to my new husband, with my missionary nametag hanging on the wall next to me.
Basically, a map of the last three years of my life can be created using the events of co

That, dear Prophet, is your Presidency in my eyes.  It's the mission that changed my life and the man that will be mine for all eternity.  
So, as I watched you speak and watched your health start to fail you, I began to imagine that I could feel your exhaustion after so many years.  My love grew for you even more than before. 

Thank you, Dear Prophet.  

With all my heart and all my love, I thank you.

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