Well I'm not exactly sure how long this letter's going to be and what there is to talk about. It is a weird feeling now to see the next week and how crazy it's going to be. Happy Birthday to Natalie first of all! That's a good start for her week. Thanks for the email too Nat. I didn't know someone could put so many smiley faces into 4 sentences haha. I appreciated the enthusiasm though.
We have the exchange with Elder Mead and his companion Elder Davidson later this afternoon actually. We had to switch days on them so he will be here with me tonight until tomorrow morning. Then we have exchanges with missionaries Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday with meetings for the mission leadership Wednesday and Thursday with all the new missionaries and their trainers. It's plenty to keep us busy but I'm afraid of how quickly the week's going to run by! I have nothing against you guys but like Mom said it perfectly I could almost come visit for a little while, catch up on some sleep, and then come right back and that might be just fine with me. President hasn't assigned anyone to replace me yet so sometime amid all the other stuff we'll pick up my replacement and try to train him on everything I know for Bloomington in whatever time I can.
I have had to write me final letter to President about my mission and all the memories and things that I feel I have learned. That task has proven to be much harder than I could have anticipated. It is almost impossible for me to summarize all the amazing experiences that I have had in my two years in Minnesota! I can look back and say that I have loved every bit of it. This has definitely been the best two years of my life that I could have ever imagined. I have felt the biggest change come in my view of priorities and values. I have come to learn that the Gospel really is the only thing to bring true happiness to us as God's children. It's not the church that brings that happiness but is the divine organization for the Lord's eternal restored Gospel on the Earth that is our most helpful tool and aid in living the Gospel fully in our lives. I have come to love learning from the scriptures and seeing the truth that is taught to us in there. We had the chance to teach the Gospel Principles class yesterday on the Postmortal Spirit World and in that discussion and preparation we learned how crucial our choices are to eventual lead to our eternal destiny. The Spirit World and the happiness, rest, peace, and ultimate joy that come with it are only temporary and immeasurable compared to what we can imagine returning to the presence of the Father will be like after that brief waiting period. That is why I feel so grateful that the Lord has shaped me and helped me learn the importance of my priorities because as Elder Oaks put it in General Conference that, "Desires dictate our priorities, priorities shape our choices, and choices determine our actions". Those actions are what we must strive to be obedient and righteous in because President Uchtdorf teaches us something that I know to be true, "Diligently doing the things that matter most will lead us to the Savior of the world". I have loved seeing what matters most in life. Our relationship and devotion to Our Father in Heaven is what our life ultimately comes down to. His love is endless and His Son was sent to show us that. If we change our focus and priorities to see that we can repent and become better through Him. That understanding has been one of the greatest blessings in my life and greatest things to teach others. Trying to obtain an eternal perspective has been one of the things I have strived for in my time serving and feel like I have only now caught a glimpse of it. The quote Dad sent last week about fearing our potential is so true because it is so true. God wants us to receive all the peace and joy life is intended to have for us and you as my family have helped to bring that to me! I have come to appreciate and love you guys more now than I feel I did before my mission when I thought it would be hard to leave you all behind. Through that sacrifice my feelings have only grown. If you weren't so great I might just hide out in Minnesota and never come back haha. I have feelings that words can't describe and gratitude to my loving Father in Heaven that is unmatched for the blessing and opportunity to serve as His minister and messenger for His Son in this great mission. I will be eternally grateful for this blessing and privilege of trust that He has given to me that I have been able to gain so much from. It has changed my life forever! I love you all and will be sending one last note either Sunday night or early Monday and look forward to talking to you then. I love you and appreciate you all more than I could say.
Love, Elder Alex Craft