Wow! I'm finally starting to realize that I'm only 2 & 1/2 weeks from entering the MTC. I've got 2 weeks until I'm set apart and won't see many of the people that I'm so close to now again for over 2 years. The whole start of the mission experience is starting to hit home.
Last night I got to to see some of my closest friends for what will probably be the last time for 2 years. I was able to drive to Longview to share one last night with a few of the YSA that I've gotten the experience to know over the last year (all but one...we go back "a little farther"). One of these friends is getting ready to go back out on his mission within the next couple of weeks because of some previous trials while he was out previously. Another friend is getting ready to go off to school at BYU on the 17th. So, it wasn't really just for me. We were able to go bowling and then out to Gilmer Lake and take a little time to enjoy the scenery and peacefulness (despite the constant murmuring)... It was fun to see everyone again before we all go our separate ways and hopefully we can keep in touch wherever we are.
This past Friday I left my job of the last 3 years (unfortunately I had to close still) and several of the friends that I wouldn't otherwise have. It is wild to think that some of the coworkers that I've grown so close too may never see me again. I've had my last school (in a university setting) for a while, my last day of work, my last free time with some friends... Within the next three weeks I'll have to say goodbye to my family, the rest of my friends, the home I've known for my entire 19 years, the ward I've grown up in, and all of the comforts that I now enjoy.
However, this I do know; I know that I'm am doing what the Lord expects of me at this time in my life. Today in Sunday School we had a lesson on service and had the priveledge to have 6 missionaries in our ward (a couple from the offices, our current senior couple leaving on the 17th, and our new elders), they each shared with us their perspective of a mission and the reasons that they were on a mission. This really got me to thinking about why I'm truly setting aside 2 years of my life to serve a mission. I know I'm doing this because it is expected of me, but it is so much more than that as well. I love this Gospel and see a mission as a great faith and testimony building experience, in this endevour I look forward to having an impact on the lives of those I serve.
So among all of the lasts that I'm currently experiencing, I had a literally once in a lifetime experience. Today I had the opportunity to travel to Henderson and receive my Patriarchal Blessing. I met Brother McAvoy there at 4:00 and was able to sit down with him and talk for a few minutes before receiving the blessing. It was a very spiritual experience and had a impact that I'm finding hard to put into words. Not to make it sound like a burden, but it really opened my eyes to the impact that I could have on those around me. I look forward to being able to ponder on the truths and teachings that it contains as it is truly personal scripture. I encourage anyone who is able who has not received their Patriarachal Blessing to do so.
Just as a final note...this week holds a lot of unknowns. Saturday is my "farewell" get together at the Lufkin Ward Building from 6-8 pm and Sunday I get to give my last talk in my homeward for the next 2 years. It is all coming so very fast! But I wouldn't change it from the world!