The Final Chapter of the Book of Ellis:
Well everyone, the time is upon us. This is my final missionary email. It's really a relief for me because these emails are stressful to write - trying to make them detailed, interesting and spiritual. I'm glad that henceforth if people want to know how my week has been going they can just call me on the phone. This week has been an emotional roller coaster for me. I've had many ups and downs this week and it's been insane. I wish to begin my letter with a scripture that I feel is quite appropriate.
13. I had many things to write, but I will not with ink and pen write unto thee:
14. But I trust I shall shortly see thee, and we shall speak face to face. Peace be to thee. Our friends salute thee. Greet the friends by name.
I shall keep my remarks brief, and by brief I mean shorter than my emails normally are. Actually, let's be real - my email is still pretty long for a final missionary email home, but I just really wanted an excuse to use this scripture. It's perfect for returning missionaries!
Tuesday was my very last District meeting. Elder Sobczak and Elder Rasmussen did a really good job teaching about finding new investigators through our own efforts and teaching while we find and finding while we teach. It was a pretty decent last District meeting for me. I've been getting really bummed out lately because everybody has been reminding me I am going home. Heck, they bring it up more than I do! I feel like they are getting trunky for me. The depression comes more from the thought of a major chapter of my life coming to an end opposed to an overwhelming desire to stay on my mission. I mean I am certainly going to miss my mission and I know I will frequently long to be a missionary again later on, but the idea that a stage of my life in which I have been preparing for 18 years is finally over kinda scares me. This has been in the making for my whole life and now it's finished! I don't really know how to describe it but right now I am feeling more anxious than accomplished. After District meeting we practiced our skit we were asked to prepare for the mission Christmas devotional the following day. I have it recorded so I don't have to worry about explaining it. After practicing the skit I went on exchanges with Elder Rasmussen in his area. The purpose of exchanges isn't to hang out with other missionaries or get away from your companions; now that being said, it was super nice to get away from my companions. It's a similar situation I had with Elder Dean, (although now Elder Dean is now one of my closest friends out here, so there was a happy ending there.) I get along alright with Elder Johnson and Elder Eccles, but sometimes they can be too much for me to handle, especially together. I fear for this companionship after I leave. I've never liked saying negative things about people I've served with so I will permanently conclude my venting sessions about them by saying this: they're great guys and good friends, but I am looking forward to being friends with them from a distance for a little while.
I really enjoyed my exchange with Elder Rasmussen. One of the families we stopped by to visit were members. I can't remember their names right now but the husband; I think his name was Kenneth; and I really hit it off and he gave me his business card. He is one of the few people I've met on my mission who not only know where Overland Park, Kansas is but also lived there. He showed me on a map where he lived and it was on 83rd Terrace, or something like that; it was only a couple of miles from my house! His job takes him all over the country, so he has also worked in New Orleans (he knows where Thibodaux, LA is, which is a miracle) and he knows where Tooele is. It's not huge but I consider this a tender mercy just for me. It was really cool to meet someone that I could talk to about everywhere I've lived when normally one can't do that unless they're from Utah.
I was still on exchanges with Elder Rasmussen so I drove over with him to Fairfield, where the devotional was taking place. As soon as we entered into the Fairfield city limits I became so ridiculously nostalgic; I miss my days in Fairfield so it was really good to be back in the area. Well I got to say that the past two mission Christmas parties were way better than this one. President Wright changed some things up so this year wasn't an all mission party; only Fairfield, Davis and Woodland, Vacaville, and Vallejo missionaries were at mine, so it was pretty small. Not to mention I am so old in the mission I hardly know any of the other missionaries here. Last year I knew almost everyone but now there are so many new faces. The mission is completely different than it was back in the day. Our lip syncing skit went pretty well, I'd say. I think ours was the best out of the 4 zones. After all the missionaries shared their memorized scripture of what they want to give to the Lord (mine was Proverbs 3:5,6) and the devotional concluded I had my departing interview with President Wright. That was rough on me; he asked me to offer the opening prayer and I couldn't even get through one sentence before I found myself weeping uncontrollably. I didn't even cry like that when my father passed away. I calmed down and he asked me questions about my short and long term goals, qualities I think my spouse should have, and what I have learned on my mission. I share with you all what I told President Wright: I now know how much God loves me, and how much value I really have, because I didn't think I had any before my mission (I was crying during this segment as well, just to let you know). We had a really good talk; President Wright cares so much about all of us missionaries. Then he told me that he accepted my efforts as a missionary and that he was sure that the Lord did also and he thanked me for my service. That was really special for me to hear, because I've always felt inadequate about myself, especially my efforts in serving the Lord, so that was a great relief for me to hear. Not much happened the rest of that night. Elders Johnson, Eccles and I were invited by Elder Dean to go Christmas Christmas caroling with their ward, so we obliged and hit a few houses and then for the rest of the night we visited some members that I've gotten close to.
Well, Thursday was officially my last day on my mission. It was hard to wrap my head around it. I had to keep reminding myself while I was packing that I wasn't getting transferred and that I was actually packing to go home. I am really not sure how to feel right now; but don't get me wrong, I am definitely excited to return home. I am definitely a lot more optimistic and excited for the future now than I use to be. I don't think I will have much problem adjusting to being home; I certainly didn't have any trouble getting use to my mission when I first arrived so being home shouldn't be to hard, at least in theory. Well like I said, Thursday was mostly packing and getting my iPad taken care of, like getting photos and notes off of it before it gets wiped. So sadly my last day was sitting around all day trying to prepare for my departure home. But I think it helped get me more in the mindset of going home. So other than having breakfast with Brother Aguilar and saying goodbye to him, and visiting Patricia and Adrian, my recent convert, and saying goodbye to them, I just physically and mentally prepared myself for home.
Thursday night for dinner, my last dinner here in California as a missionary, I ate with some of my favorite members here in Vallejo, the Beards. They made my last night memorable and really made me feel loved. Trevor really went how of his way to try to make the best meal for me he cool, and it was fantastic. There was lobster, oysters, mussels, crab, shrimp and scallops; all my favorite things in the world. It was one of the best dinners I've had out here. Then he gifted me a really nice knife. The whole evening really got me right in the feels. He told me he really wanted to make my last supper something I could look back on, and how he was excited to stay in touch with me while I'm off my mission. In fact he charged me with the task to call him soon after I get home. I've made some amazing friends here in California, that I will be forever grateful for. My mission has blessed me more than anything else in the world could at this point in my life. I will forever be grateful for my decision and ability to serve a full time mission, and I know it will affect the Ernest of my life.
Well everyone, my two years of full time service is concluded, but now my rest-of-my-life mission has begun. I wish to end my missionary letters with but a few words:
And thus I close The First Book of Ellis; an account of Elder Ellis and his companions in the land of California. Although this Book may not be doctrine or revelation applicable to the reader, the writings within are wisdom granted unto me by the Lord whilst in his service. It is a record of my two-year journeyings in the wilderness amongst the Californites and my dealings with them. The course of my travels. It contains an account of my afflictions and my triumphs in the Lord. Enclosed is my testimony in the Savior, Jesus Christ, and His Atonement. Also my testimony of The Book of Mormon, which was written by revelation given from God to men much more inspired than I. This is according to the account of Elder Ellis; or in other words, I, Elder Ellis, wrote this record. About A.D. 2013-2015.
Now I close my epistle. I am Elder Ellis; I am a missionary of the people of California and a warrior for the California Santa Rosa Mission. My final exhortation is to keep the commandments, and "....come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness..." (Moroni 10:32), that ye may receive the promise from our Heavenly Father of Eternal Life.
Christ lives and is the Savior of mankind, the Book of Mormon is the word of God, and Joseph Smith restored the Lord's true church on the earth which I am a proud member and missionary of. I bear you all these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen