This last week has been great. Teaching, contacting, preaching, inviting, exhorting, expounding. . . .
I would just like to mention two significant things that happened this last week.
The first experience has to do with something that I heard years ago and that has stuck to me ever since. I mentioned this before, but I will just remind you all for the purposes of understanding what happened this week.
When Dad's mission president (President VanDam) came to visit our house in Virginia while I was still in high school, the one thing I remember that was said was right before President VanDam left for the night. We were sitting in the living room and he looked over and said, "J.J., I just want you to know what kind of a missionary your father was. He had integrity. There were some missionaries that I had to worry about--where they were, what they were doing, who they were with. But I never had to worry about your father." That comment really stuck with me, and I decided that during my missionary service I would strive to be the same kind of missionary that my dad was--someone who President Cook could trust. I have reflected on President VanDam's words repeatedly throughout my mission.
Fast forward to last Wednesday, when I had my exit interview with President Cook. . . . It was great to sit down and talk with President Cook about the things I have learned on my mission and my goals and plans for afterwards. As we were wrapping up the interview, President Cook paused and said, "Thank you for your service, Elder Gibbons. I just want you to know that I have never had to worry about you."
I know that he was inspired to say that, because when I heard it, I thought immediately of what President VanDam had said about Dad. I am so grateful that the Lord was kind enough to let me know that my righteous desire had been fulfilled.
Experience number two happened last night, in what turned out to be the last lesson I will ever teach in these incredible two years. We were teaching a new member lesson to Dasy (the convert whose husband baptized her two months ago) and as we were wrapping up I wrote down my contact information and gave it to them so we could stay in touch.
As she took the sticky note, she said, "We're going to miss you a lot. Thanks for helping us. We're sad that you're leaving, but we know that the Lord needs you somewhere else now."
Another inspired comment. Every other time I have been transferred throughout my mission, I have thought that exact thing to "ease the pain" of being transferred, but it never occurred to me that it applies just as well to this final transfer meeting of my mission. I wish I could continue as a full-time missionary because I love doing it, but this last week it has distilled upon my soul as the dews from heaven' that my time is over. I have loved it and I am sure that the Lord is pleased with my service, but it's time for me to take on something different. Even though one amazing chapter of my life is closing, I know that means that another is starting.
Even though I'm sad that I'm leaving, I know that the Lord needs me somewhere else now.
I am very excited to see everyone again (I think I may have gotten taller, but I will have to wait until Wednesday night to verify).
el élder John gibbons