I Know a lot of you don't know me. We moved here halfway during my mission. Im Cole Bagley. I originally left from Houston, Texas and I just got back from my mission. I served for a year in the Fort Collins, Colorado Mission. Then my second year, I served in the Milan, Italy Mission. If words can ever describe how grateful I am for my mission and for the opportunity that I had to serve my elder brother Jesus Christ and for his example.
I really grew a lot during my mission and I learned a lot of things. I learned just how personal the atonement is for each one of us. Especially as I was sitting here taking the sacrament. I was thinking about how these young men, the deacon, are representing the Savior, coming and offering the sacrament to us personally, one by one. And the intimate nature of the sacrament and the atonement that he provides for each one of us, so that way we can return to live with him. That way we could be cleansed again. And that was definitely a recurring theme that I saw on my mission. Whether it was working with people that have never known the Gospel or God or it was the members who have been members their whole lives. Who were faithful and just like continuing in knowledge. Or those who were struggling with their testimony, who had not been to church in a while.
And especially I think, working with the youth, this was probably one of my favorite things during my mission. I loved talking with them and testifying to them about the power that Christ has in our life. The change that he can bring in our life. And it was so powerful to say that I walked away from everything, walked away from the world, and I came here to specifically be there for them. And to testify of Jesus Christ and in the power that he's had in my life. I'm able to relate to the struggles they had especially. As a youth I remember not wanting to go on a mission. I very much so struggled with my testimony and my belief in God altogether. But, thanks to my two younger brothers who were the Nephi's in my life. They would come to my room every Sunday and invite me to church will search boldness.
I found my testimony and I was able to go out there and testify to them of the change of heart that I had. And the old habits that I had given up because of this Christ, because of my Savior and all that he had done for me. Id seen this time and time again with all the people and I'd seen Christ work through me personally and show me how much he cares for me. Show me that I can do these things, especially upon arriving in Italy.
It was a very tough period. All of the missionaries that were able to speak the language were returning home soon and we had just gotten there. At a very low point there was not very many of us. I remember my trainer saying that he wanted me to train and telling me that he was going to tell my president that I should transition in another missionary. And so sure enough I did, after learning how to say I am and I have, is about the only Italian I knew at the time. But I knew that my mission president was inspired and that I could do all things with the Lord. And sure enough It was a struggle everyday to try to talk to people. And also trying to be the lead in the language and help out my companion who had just arrived. But I saw how the Lord strengthened me individually every day personally. Giving me just a little bit of utterance, whether it be with the actual language or the spirit that was brought into the room, enough to help those around us. Those who were investigating the church. And I think one of the biggest miracles was a man named the Enrico that I met there. We instantly clicked even though I could not talk at all. But there, me and my companion sitting in diners with him and talking and eating pizza and the little Italian that we knew, We got to know him. Got to know his story and his faith. And we saw this mighty change happen in him as he came to love the gospel. And give up all these old habits, especially these deep, rooted cultural habits in Italy and just walk away from all of it. And I remember for his baptismal interview we we're talking to him beforehand and asking him kind of his path and such. And It really struck me to maybe think differently about myself as a missionary. Because when I looked at the missionaries, I always saw them as perfect beings. And then I got on the mission and I realized how flawed they are, and how flawed I was. But there was Enrico who had just passed his baptismal interview telling us that he can see the light of Christ in the missionaries whenever he saw them and whenever he met with them. He saw this light in each and every single one of them no matter how good of a missionary they may have been or whatever it may have seemed to the outside world he saw that pure Christ-like example in them. He saw that name on their tag every day and he testified to this light and to this joy, and to the truth that they brought into his life. To all those around us, you can see the impact that they had. And so this really changed me it was the key moment in my mission. It showed me just how powerful my calling was and just how powerful the truth of the gospel was. And I loved all my companions, some of them difficult. I'm sure I was a difficult companion as well. The conversations that I had with companions in districts and the bond, the brotherhood and sisterhood that the family that a mission is in both my missions was a beautiful thing. To learn from them and to teach them, to feel the savior through my companions, through zone leaders and district leaders, and STLs and the council that they gave. And to see wherever I went Just how much my heavenly Father cared about me. How aware he was of me and everything I was facing. He knew Everything I needed when I always thought I was a little bit behind and a little bit older than most missionaries. But then, I thought COVID was another setback. Until I got, you know, two missions, a blessing that I would have never thought to ask for. To receive both these missions and to meet people that I did in both missions. Whether it be a missionary that worked I worked with, the members, or the investigators. Everytime I went to a new area, every day there were these little things God showed me that he was there for me. That he was consistently aware of me and that every event in my life, it was planned and organized. I was right where I needed to be. That he knew who I was, the things that I was facing. And time and time again on my mission to continue to meet these people and have these conversations with them. And then listen to their stories. I loved talking to these people. For some reason as a missionary people love to drop their whole life story on you in the first five minutes. But it was the most beautiful thing to sit down With who I knew as a brother or sister, no matter the circumstance, I knew that they were a child of God. And for them to open up and to share their pains their troubles, their afflictions. And to ask for this help, ask for this truth and knowledge and how it can change them. And then you share the gift that is their elder brother Jesus Christ. To share that light and knowledge with them. And to watch transformations and watch seeds be planted in every little person, as we look forward boldly, declaring the gospel and talking to those that we could.
I loved it, every minute of my mission. In the times that I thought I wouldn't. As I look back on the times that were the hardest and that I felt I could not walk through I look back with joy and saw that Heavenly Father strengthened me. That Christ was there with me every moment. I realized that I did not have to earn my way into heaven or to work towards this perfection here on earth. Christ had already atoned for me. That it wasn't my responsibility to atone for my own sins. That I was meant to strive to be like him and to follow him.
I remember an experience, as we were coming home from a man who hadn't been active and over 50 years, he was preparing to go to the temple. We were talking to him and he was struggling with the things that he had done in the past. I remember after having a very lengthy lesson on the atonement, coming home, we're driving home, and just remembered this small voice and whisperings of the Spirit. The same thing for me, a small voice coming into my head and saying you are redeemed. It applies to me as well, not just the people that I taught. I think that was one of the greatest blessings that came from my mission was my savior, I thought I knew the power of the atonement and who he was beforehand. But after after my mission, I can say that I know to the fullest extent that I probably possibly can in my life, that Jesus is the Christ. That he is my elder brother. That he suffered for me personally, and for each one of us personally. That he loves us perfectly just like our Heavenly Father does. That he knows each one of us most perfectly. He bears his testimony in Italian. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.