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Elder Balzer - 11/16/2023

Alright, let's do this one last time. 

This has been my final full week and a half as a full time missionary and now all that's left is the next few days. It has been an amazing experience and there have been some fun moments this week that I want to share. 

I went to the Arlington Nation Cemetery and that was a out of this world. It was so still and calm there, yet there's this weight on your heart you can feel. Standing in a place where countless men, women, and children gave there lives for a cause much bigger than themselves. I can stand here today because of there sacrifice. 

It also reminded me of my Savior is suffered worse so for us all. Yeah it was a big moment and being able to just quietly go through really made it special. 

The week also started strong with being able to do some service Monday night and visit with a family I love, the Atkissons'. They asked, like everyone else, about what comes next and now it's really starting to hit me that there is a next chapter in my life and that the mission won't last forever. I'm making it count while I can.

Today is my last full time day and it's special because I'm going to the temple today. I haven't been inside since the dedication and I haven't done anything inside since provo. So it's been a little bit, haha. It's good because I've missed being inside. 

It's even better too, cause Brother Mobley is taking me there. He's been a big influence on my mission and I'm so happy he gets to see me here as well on the last day. 

For the previous week though it started to get crazy on Tuesday. I did my college class registration and got my Spring schedule all set. Jeez, college has been something on the mission, but it was well worth it cause now I'm fully ready to go from here. 

Later that day was also the start of the longest exchange of my mission, 44 hours. The Persians came to get us to go to a few stops for roleplay purposes, by that I'm mean Elder Boardman need some supplies. It was well worth it cause they are always amazing roleplays. 

We saw some crazy things on the drive, but after dropping off two of them at the church Elder Richardson and I went to go have an amazing lesson in Annandale. The man was so elect and the lesson on prophets and some of the commandments was superb. It felt great getting to lead and teach again, to feel that type of spirit. It had been a while cause I haven't has a lot of it these past two transfers, so I'm glad I got it here. At the end he said he would be praying for me and that he Tha ked me for my service. That sparked a thought about prayers for others cause many people have kindly said that to me. 

I think true power(infinite power) comes from when you pray on the behalf of others, they receive a much bigger boost in a sense. So as we strive to love one another, we'll be praying for each other and that's where miracles happen. 

That's why our zone is making sure to pray for everyone by name every night. 

Wednesday was fun going to my departing interview at the mission home. Getting to talk with my mission parents, and reflecting on the mission and what I've gained was surreal. I've had more moments like that with a departing zoom call, a long walk a couple days ago, our dinner with Sister Sabo, and a couple others. 

I've gotten a real sense of peace, and it's all starting to make sense now, which I know is funny cause I'm at the end of the mission. Learning about feeling the spirit, striving to build and keep my testimony growing, working past differences and reaching new strengths with companions and others, etc. Its been amazing and I'm so happy that it's happened. 

Now the real way to measure the success of the mission is by what happens after it. How I am in the future determines it. I've had a long time to think and write about this, so I've got some help, but it's still a whole new world. I can't wait for it though. 

Anyway we had a great district council and later that evening while walking falls church. I kept following one prompting after another and it led us to Rose. I saw she was crying and after talking she told us she was alone and that her mother passed away the other day. After talking with her and praying with her we really helped her out. We've been staying in touch since then. 

Sometimes it's just the one person you can be there for, sometimes it's just one thing that can be/needs to be done that day or that week or year. I can never be bummed, because I've done all I could, all I needed to do and one little thing has been the world to someone else. 

Another moment like that was giving a convert named Julia a blessing a couple months ago. It meant the world to hear and she has never forgotten. She was so thankful for me that she made me cupcakes because she knew it was my last Book of Mormon class on Tuesday. She was in tears, but some may think it was just a little blessing. It was the world to her though, and now I have a special place in her heart beacuse of it. 

Moments like these and the people I've met have really filled me with such a spirit. I never thought much of myself in the past, but seeing the love everyone has for me, seeing the care. It's made me so glad that I could be here and it's made me want to continue serving others as long as I live. I feel so blessed and loved. The mission has really sparked a fire inside me, I feel empowered to do anything. 

Another person I got to say goodbye to was Bruce who rode down to have lunch with me. He has been another inspiration in my life, and helped me to know of the difference one can have in one's life. Seeing his progression and love has always pushed me to keep doing better. I'm so thankful I met him and I'm thankful I wanted to start teaching him cause now here we are sitting together. We're family now, a bond that can't be broken. 

I'll do my best to stay in touch with everyone. 

Okay this email is getting really sappy, but don't worry it won't be much longer. 

On Sunday Katherine came to church and we had an awesome reunion. She's doing a lot better now, and I'm so glad to hear that her and Joash(he came to the class on Tuesday) are in a much better place. Its like the prodigal son, after they came walking up we just ran to then and gave a hug with tears in our eyes. 

Now these past couple of days have just been meeting with members who want us over before Sister Buck and I leave. The Porters had all us Arlington missionaries over and the Oliphants had a big party at there home with a ton of people invited. Tonight the Woods are having us over as well along with others. 

So now I'm back here talking about the last day, so much had happened and I can only put so much in an email or journal page or talk.

So I can only leave with this. I know it's all true, I've felt it and seen it. I know the church is true and I've seen my life along with others changed by the gospel of Jesus Christ. I know the Book of Mormon is true and that Joseph Smith was a true prophet called for the restoration. I know God is real and that He knows me personally. 

I'm forever grateful for it all and I know these aren't the best two years of my life. It's just the best two so far, it's just one chapter that's finished. The next one starts though, a new adventure. Each new chapter of this grand adventure called life is better than the last. 

I say all these almost 99 weeks of things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen. 

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