week 17 Crestview Florida-Last week in the mission field

Dear Family,
Well this will be my final letter of my mission, and I can say that it
has been an incredible two years. The best two years of my life... so
far. I plan on making each year of my life better than the last. but
without the things I have learned and experienced on my mission I
would not have the knowledge, the skills, and the testimony to do
that. I am really going to miss being a missionary. and the time I
have had to serve will always hold a place of reverence in my mind.
these last few weeks have been very surreal knowing that my mission
would be ending and I would be coming home. and I have had a lot of
bittersweet feelings about it all. I am excited to be coming home to
be with the family again, and this time it will really feel like im
coming home. although, I know its cliché, but my mission and the
people I have met have really become my second home and family as
well, and its going to be hard to leave it all behind. but I guess
that's what facebook is for, right?
My mission experience has been amazing! and what I may try to write
will never do the past two years justice. as I look back I am grateful
for what my mission has been and wouldn't trade it for anything. I
know that my mission has been for me and that I was called to the
Florida Tallahassee Mission for a reason. I have been able to see a
little of what that was as I have been blessed to teach some of God's
amazing children and serve with others. but I know that I will never
truly know every reason why I have been here, or served in certain
areas, or will I fully understand the impact or the differences that I
may have made. but what I do understand is the impact and change my
mission has had on me. my mission has changed my life in so many ways.
and I feel that my mission will become a foundation that I can built
my life on. I have learned a lot from my mission, my areas and the
people I have served, the companions ive had, and from the gospel and
the spirit. I have learned to Love. I have learned what love is and
how important it is. I have felt the love that Heavenly Father and
Jesus Christ have for me, and I have felt that love for others. I love
the people of the South and the people I have been blessed to serve,
and I love the companions I have had. and I have come to love and
appreciate our family even more. the experiences I have had have
helped to develop my love of god and my fellow man. but ive also had
to learn a great deal of patience and humility. and I have had to turn
to the Lord in prayer asking for charity many times. I have learned
knowledge. there are many life lessons that I can take away from my
mission to make my life what the lord would want it to be. I have
learned the importance of obedience, and that if I turn my will to the
lord he will bless me more than I could imagine. learning things like
teaching and listening skills, how to work with people, social skills,
how to plan, how to work hard, how to be a leader, how to follow, the
doctrines of the Church, and the list goes on and on, have all helped
me grow.
But if there was one thing that I would say has come from my mission,
and changed my life the most, and has been the greatest success it
would be the testimony of the gospel I have received. before my
mission I would not say that I was converted, I had never read the
book of Mormon, nor had I ever 'really' prayed. all I could say I had
done before my mission was believed. believed enough to want a
testimony, believed enough to go on a mission. but after leaving home,
and the safety of Utah, and having to go out to try to get people to
believe as well (most of which would not listen, or they were against
the church) and facing so much opposition to my 'beliefs', it caused
me to search out what I really believed. I read the book of Mormon and
I read it again and again, always praying for answers or to know if
its true. and id keep going, and teaching, and learning, and in all
that id feel the spirit here and there. never all at once but
gradually until I can now say that I know the Book of Mormon is true.
I would not be honest if I said it weren't because I know deep in my
soul that it is the word of god. it has blessed my life and I feel the
spirit as I read it. and from it I know that the book of Mormon is
true. another thing that I have come to know it that God is real, that
he knows and loves me, and He loves all of us. I know that Christ
lives and is my Savior and I know that the through him and the plan of
salvation we can all live with them again, as a family. I know that
our family can be together forever. these last couple months and the
death of Tiffani have strengthened my testimony of this. the spirit
that I felt after the news of her passing is indescribable, and I knew
at that moment stronger than ever before that God lives and loves us
and that Tiffani will be with us again one day. since I came back out
I have had to turn to the lord more than ever before, and it has not
been easy to keep going, and to serve with the same zeal as before,
but I have felt the lords strength and Tiffani's spirit lifting me up
and bringing peace. and I am grateful for the testimony I have of the
gospel. I know its true!
that's all I have time for, I will see yall on Thursday! I love you all!
Elder Balling

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