Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Last Home Letter!

Hello everybody! Well, I hope that you all had a great week! Mine was amazing as usual! :) I don't really even know how to begin this letter to you all this week! Ha my heart is filled with so much emotion I feel like it's going to just pop right out of my chest! How can it already be time for me to come home? What is home? I don't think I have the same definition for home as I did before I came out here! Cambodia has been my home for the past two years of my life and now they tell me I get to go back home... I feel like I already am at home in a way! Ha but at the same time I have an overwhelming amount of joy because I get to go back to America this week and see my family that I love and miss so very much!! :) I really can't begin to describe to you all how much my mission means to me! My mission has blessed my life in so many ways I could not even begin to try to count them all! Before my mission I did not have much of a testimony at all of the truthfulness of the restored gospel. To be honest with you all, I kind of just believed because everyone else believed! When I came out on my mission however, I quickly realized that I was the only one that was heading to Cambodia! Not my mom or my dad or my church leaders, just me. I realized that I needed to figure out what I truly believed in! Because if all of this was just some made up story, I was not about to go share about it for two years halfway across the world! So I started reading and praying for the first time in my life! And by the first time in my life, I mean the first time actually reading and praying and having a burning desire to know the truthfulness of the message! Well, as you all know, towards the end of the Book of Mormon there is a promise that the prophet Moroni gives to all who read the book with an open heart and a contrite spirit, that the truthfulness of that book will be made known unto them. Well I remember I was in my first area when I finally finished the Book of Mormon all the way through. When I finished, I quietly went up to the top of my house up on the roof/balcony where it was nice and quiet. I knelt down to pray, but I remember as clear as day that before I could even get anything out of my mouth, the Spirit rang through my whole body and at that moment I received my first true witness that the Book of Mormon was true. I did not even have to use words to ask, God knew the desires of my heart and answered my prayer that morning. Instead of asking, I thanked my Heavenly Father for the answer that He had already so generously given to me. My very favorite thing about this Gospel is that it is a Gospel of free agency. Nobody is trying to force you into doing anything you don't want to do. All God is asking, all that we as members of the church are asking, and all that I have ever asked anyone to do out here as a missionary, is to take what we have taught them and pray about it and ask God if what we are teaching them is true. What an amazing promise Heavenly Father gives to all of His children! He wants us to know! He wants us to receive! And all that He asks is we cry out to Him with faith and His end of the promise is always fulfilled! I have seen it countless of times out here on my mission! 

I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is Christ's true church once again restored onto the earth! I know that Joseph Smith saw God and Jesus Christ and that through him, the power and the fullness of the gospel was restored. I know that we are led by a modern-day prophet, just like the prophets of old. I know that he receives revelation from on high to lead us safely back home to our Heavenly Father. I love the people of Cambodia. It's a good thing that you guys can't see me right now because I get way too emotional talking about the people of Cambodia! There is not a better group of people in this entire universe! These past two years, having the opportunity to be able to live amongst these people and work with them and talk with them and love them has been the greatest blessing in my life up to this point. How I was so lucky as to get to serve my mission in Cambodia I will never know, but what I do know is that the Cambodian people are some of God's most beloved children. The children that God knew could tough it out, that could handle all of the hard obstacles and trials that this life has. The toughest of the toughest were sent to live their earthly lives here in Cambodia! I love the people of Cambodia. I love my mission so much. In so many ways I do not want this experience to end! I feel like I have learned so much out here, and yet I feel like I am only beginning to scratch the surface! I want to thank all of you as well for all of the support that you all have given me throughout my mission! There have been days out here that were very hard, but one thing that I could always count on was feeling the love of those back at home. There were many days where I know it was because of the prayers of those back at home that I was able to keep on pushing forward! Thank you all so much for your love and support! 

I testify to you all that this Church is true. The Atonement of Jesus Christ is very real and can and should influence every aspect of our lives. The Plan of Salvation is obtainable. Families can be together for time and all eternity. Joseph Smith is a true prophet of God. The Book of Mormon is true scripture given to us from God. I want to share a scripture with you all that I love so much in 2 Nephi. It's towards the very end when he is testifying of the truthfulness of what he is writing upon the plates that God has commanded him to write on. He says, "And now, my beloved brethren, and also Jew, and all ye ends of the earth, hearken unto these words and believe in Christ; and if ye believe not in these words believe in Christ. And if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ, and he hath given them unto me; and they teach all men that they should do good." I know that this is true! I know that God has given us these words out of love and compassion for each and every one of us and I know that if we read and study these words, just like Nephi said, it will only teach us to do good! The Book of Mormon is true and I know that with all of my heart and soul! It's a gift that Heavenly Father wants every single one of us to receive! I know that anyone that reads the Book of Mormon and asks God with a sincere heart if it is true scripture or not, will receive an answer that it truly is of God! I love this gospel with all of my heart and soul. Please, as members of this Church, continue to spread the good word. We have been given a gift beyond measure and it would be nothing short of robbery if we kept this great gift to ourselves. Have the courage to share. Have the courage to invite and always have the worthiness to testify! For those of you who are not members of this Church, I invite you learn more about our church. Visit our website at Talk to a member that you may know and have them help you set up a meeting with missionaries in your area so they can come and teach you more about what we believe in. I promise that if you do this with a sincere desire, that it will be one of the greatest blessings in your life! For those of you that are already members, but for some reason or another have fallen away from the church, come back. We miss you, and we love you so very much!

I have been trying to think of how I wanted to end this letter and how I could express to you all just how much I love my mission, and as I was contemplating about it a few days ago in my personal study I came across the testimony of Ammon and how he felt about his missionary service! As I was reading it, I felt that he and I had very similar outlooks on our missions! So to close I want to share his testimony with you all and I want you all to know that I echo all of his words! I summarized a little bit so if you want to see the full passage, it is in Alma 26. He says: 

12. Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever.
28. And now behold, we have come, and been forth amongst them; and we have been patient in our sufferings, and we have suffered every privation; yea, we have traveled from house to house, relying upon the mercies of the world--not upon the mercies of the world alone but upon the mercies of God.
30. And we have suffered all manner of afflictions, and all this, that perhaps we might be the means of saving some soul; and we supposed that our joy would be full if perhaps we could be the means of saving some.
31. Now behold, we can look forth and see the fruits of our labors; and are they few? I say unto you, Nay, they are many; yea, and we can witness of their sincerity, because of their love towards their brethren and also towards us.
35. Now have we not reason to rejoice? Yea, I say unto you, there never were men that had so great reason to rejoice as we, since the world began; yea, and my joy is carried away, even unto boasting in my God; for he has all power, all wisdom, and all understanding; he comprehendeth all things, and he is a merciful Being, even unto salvation, to those who will repent and believe on his name.
36. 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.
37. Now my brethren, we see that God is mindful of every people, whatsoever land they may be in; yea, he numbereth his people, and his bowels of mercy are over all the earth. Now this is my joy, and my great thanksgiving; yea, and I will give thanks unto my God forever. Amen.

It could not be put any better than that! I am forever grateful for the experiences that I have had out here and I will cherish them and the relationships that I have made and the knowledge that I have gained for time and all eternity! God bless the people of Cambodia! I love this Gospel, I love my mission, and I love the people of Cambodia! One last time...

Much love headed your way from the KINGDOM OF CAMBODIA!!!
Elder Steadman

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