It was a curious final few days of my mission. Recalling from last week, I ended the week sick, which had some effects on me throughout the week. Monday, P-Day, was ultimately spent packing while still feeling a little sick to my stomach. It wasn't enough to keep me home bound the whole day, I was able to do shopping and emails, but at the same time, appointments had to be rescheduled because both I and a member we would be taking were feeling too queasy for the task. Of all the times to get sick on a mission, your final week is probably not the best.
Tuesday I was able to meet with others. The day started by saying goodbye to an Elder in our area being transferred. We waited with the staying Elder, Elder Domingues, for his new companion to come to Hanau. After lunch, Elder Russell, an Elder I knew from my days in Siegen came in to Hanau to join Elder Domingues. My companion and I then drove to meet with a less active member and so I could say goodbye. The member had us sing some hymns with him and we read a scripture with him and we invited him to continue meeting with the Elders, because he's kind of a hard guy to stay in touch with. After meeting this member, we then met his parents (also in the ward) so I could say goodbye to them. We really just talked and read a scripture with them, because these members LOVE to talk. In the evening we had our last meeting with the ward mission leader and choir practice, and during that time we also went to the hospital to say hello/goodbye to the assistant ward mission leader who had recently had a surgery.
Wednesday the original plan we had went completely out the window. My companion was to leave for Frankfurt to pick up his new missionary while I stay in Hanau with the other Elders, but Elder Domingues became sick. So instead of staying in Hanau, I got to go to Frankfurt a day earlier than planned and I was able to spend the day with the Tech Elders, or more specifically Elder Pfleumer, a past companion of mine. I was also able to attend the trainer/new missionary pairing meeting and escort those missionaries to the hotel they were staying in that night. It was fun to spend the day in Frankfurt and meet the new missionaries that would be filling in for my group that would be leaving the mission.
Thursday all the leavers met in Frankfurt for one final day. We all went up to the Main Tower in Frankfurt with the mission president and his wife to get an overlook of Frankfurt, and then we had a short street display before heading to the mission home for some final words from the mission president and advice for the future. We then went to a restaurant for a final German meal (my stomach still feeling a little small from being sick), and then we met in the Frankfurt chapel for the leavers testimony meeting. I got to see some familiar faces at the meeting, there was a slideshow of pictures from all of our missions, and it was a great testimony meeting, including some final words from a member of an Area Seventy who was in attendance. We then all left for the hotel, said goodbye to the mission president, and then played a game before getting some sleep for the travel home. Friday morning we took a taxi from the hotel to the Frankfurt Airport, and before we knew it, all of us leavers were on a flight leaving Germany. The flight to Atlanta consisted of a 9 and a half hour travel time, and all the willpower I had to not look at the guy sitting close to me as he was watching "Star Wars: The Force Awakens." Surviving the trip, us leavers divided into smaller groups headed to different locations in America, and then I was on a plane to Salt Lake City. It was close to a 4 hour flight, and the travel and anticipation started to get to me then, but I was able to meet my family at the Salt Lake Airport in one piece. It was exciting to see them all again, and then we drove to our Stake Center and I was released as a missionary from my Stake President.
Wrapping it all up, I'll leave with some thoughts and my testimony. I am so grateful for my time serving as a missionary in Germany. There were many experiences I had and people I met that I will never forget. From my "Golden" days in Offenbach, a baptism and friendships made in Paderborn, serving as district leader in Schweinfurt, acting as a branch secretary in Siegen, to finishing in Hanau, it has rightfully been an adventure in every aspect. I know that God lives and that he is our loving Heavenly Father. Jesus Christ is his son, and through his son we can return to our Father in Heaven. Christ's church is the true church, and it was restored through the prophet Joseph Smith. The Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ, and through it we can know that Joseph Smith really was called of God, and that God still speaks to us today. Isn't that great?! I think so. Although my mission may be over, it's not the end of the world but rather the beginning of a new chapter of my life; one in which I know if I do my best to follow the example of Christ, I will receive the heavenly help I need moving forward in life and ultimately one day return to my Heavenly Father. Until that day, may your life be blessed, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Saying Goodbye To Germany
Welcome Home Aaron!!