Yesterday, my wonderful, amazing Chungjang Ward threw me a party after church. But before I get to that, each Sunday morning for the past ten months I have stood by the front doors of the same church building welcoming the people that I love. Yesterday, even though it was my last Sunday in Korea and in Chungjang, it didn’t feel different. If not for the heavy rock that was my heart, it felt like I would be there next week. One of the bishopric came up to me and said, “You should say a few words during sacrament meeting.” I responded saying it was ok, not a big deal. But apparently it wasn’t a request.
I hadn’t prepared anything, so when it was my turn, I just walked up with my Korean scriptures in hand. I said, “Hello, I am Sister Roueche.” Then I couldn’t go on. I had this huge lump in my throat. But, I did not want to cry so I chuckled, cleared my throat, and said, “I love you.” That didn’t really help the lump, but I told them about some of the miracles I had seen while in their ward. I pointed out that when I first came to this area, I served in two wards and there was only one set of elders. But now, if they looked around there are eight missionaries serving in just Chungjang Ward. EIGHT! I have been privileged to serve during a truly magnificent time for missionary work. When I was a new missionary, it was announced that both men and women could serve at younger ages. Since then, the number of Mormon missionaries in the world has increased by almost 30,000. It’s a miracle and I’ve been a part of it. What a blessing. I was already in the mission field when the announcement was made, but for the past ten months I have trained new missionaries all far younger than me. Wow, I have learned so much from them. I have been humbled time and time again as I have needed to rely on the Lord. So many times He has been able to use my strengths and, despite my weaknesses, He has brought about miracles. I know that this is His work and that He cares about every stranger, every investigator, every member I’ve spoken to.
In every church meeting yesterday I was called on to bear my testimony and say a prayer. The day culminated in a party for all the members held in my honor. We ate only delicious things that I wouldn’t be able to find in America. The bishop told everyone that my hometown was Gwangju and that I just had to go to America for a little while for graduate school. He looked at me and said, “Come home quick.” I so look forward to that day.
At the beginning of my mission, I heard some missionaries who were soon going home say things like, “Oh, when I was a young missionary and had more faith…” I remember thinking, “No. I will have more faith when I go home than when I first came.” How could I not? And now, the end is here. Almost my whole life I’ve looked forward to this sacred time I could serve the Lord, and now next week at this time when I write you, I’ll have no more nametag clipped over my heart bearing the name of our Savior Jesus Christ. But what I’ve learned is that this sacred time doesn’t have to end. Instead I’ll have His name on my heart as I continuously try to serve others as He would.
I can say with Paul of the New Testament that “I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:6-7). I have been blessed to not only have kept the faith, but my faith has exploded! It’s HUGE! I know that God is our Heavenly Father. He knows each and every one of us and cares about our joys and sorrows. I know that He sent His Beloved Son Jesus Christ to this earth to show us the way back to our heavenly home. Christ, our brother and Redeemer, loved us so much that he willingly suffered and sacrificed himself so that we could return when our time here is finished. From the beginning of time, they have worked together for our good by calling prophets, providing scriptures, answering prayers. Once again, they have called prophets to lead and guide us. They have also given us more scripture to testify of Christ’s sacred mission. I know that anyone who sincerely reads the Book of Mormon and seeks an answer from God of its truthfulness will receive an answer that they can recognize. I know this because I have done it. During the past 19 months I have seen countless others do this and come to know for themselves. I know this gospel is true! It has been my joy to share that with the Korean people. And with you.
Until next week!