So I've been sitting here thinking and thinking what I can write in my last letter as a missionary...and nothing is coming to my mind except for a lyric I remember from a Matisyahu song it goes something like this, "Time will continue without you, so in the end it's not about you, so what did you do, who did you love....... besides you?" So with that in mind I'm going to begin to try to begin to write one of the hardest letters I'm going to have to write in my entire life. I cannot tell you how grateful I am for these past two years. My Heavenly King has helped me so much out here,and I feel like I've acquired the wisdom of 30 years and I found everything I was looking for. I was challenged beyond what I thought was able, I met some of the most amazing people of my life, I bled,cried, rejoiced, laughed, screamed, smiled, felt foolish, felt blessed beyond comprehension,gave up, lost hope, got up after I was knocked down and tried even harder, read, prayed, fasted, spoke and communed with my creator, I made mistakes, I corrected most of them, I spoke peace unto the broken hearted, I preached deliverance to the captives, I mourned with those that mourned, I lifted those who leaned, I strengthen the feeble knees, and in turn I was strengthened. If I could even try to begin to describe all that I've experienced, learned, felt, or seen..I suppose it would take twice as much time as I have been out. If I could even put to words what this mission has meant to me and what my lovely family means to me they would be the sweetest and most heartfelt words a pen has ever written upon paper. Thank you all for supporting me these last two years,reading my weekly emails,writing,praying and everything else you've all done for me to which I am not aware and surely will never be able to repay. My heart is swollen with gratitude for the support and prayers that have been sent my way and I want you all to know that they have been felt and much appreciated.
Life will continue to move and go on, my time in the Philippines is done and it's time to start a new chapter in my life. I'm reminded of what Jacob the Prophet in the Book of Mormon said at the end of his life. (Jacob 7:26) "....by saying that the time passed away with us, and also our lives passed away like as it were unto us a dream, we being a lonesome and a solemn people,wanderers, cast out from Jerusalem, born in tribulation, in a wilderness, and hated of our brethren, which caused wars and contentions; wherefore, we did mourn out our days." I have come to know that these words spoken nearly 2400 years ago are some of the truest words ever spoken from a prophets lips. Our time is temporary. We are strangers in this foreign land. We don't belong here. It will all pass like a dream and one day we will find ourselves in a place that is oddly familiar some place we've known before, our real home. However, in that day when we find ourselves there it will be time to give an accounting. An accounting of what we've done..for it's not all about us...in the end who did we love more? Ourselves, our vain passions and our vices or Him who gave us everything? Did we lose ourselves in the service of others and try to improve ourselves each day or did we treat our probation like another failed new years revolution? A motto I've taken for my mission since day one I learned from a couple that came into my life unexpectedly as I worked at Arriba's. He was an elderly man who was very spiritual. Notwithstanding we didn't agree at all on doctrine or notions of God or who we think He is, he taught me a very important lesson and I respect him and love him for his faith in God. The quote he would often repeat to me as I would ask him about his beliefs and his purpose here were six simple words. And with these six simple borrowed words I'd like to end the last letter I will ever write as an anointed servant of The Most High.
Love God. Do Good. Go Home.
-Elder Joshua Austin Lonell Gonzalez
July 11, 2011