I don't really know if I'll be able to find the words to express everything about the past two years. Even if I could write forever, I still wouldn't have the words. I've had so many life changing experiences and seen so many miracles over the last twenty four months. I've learned so much and felt the love that our Savior and Heavenly Father have for us in true abundance. It's been an incredible ride.
I can't take you through every conversation I've had with people; from every homeless man yelling at us, to all the insightful and spirit filled lessons. I can't tell you every single miracle I've seen; the small or the large. And I can't share every personal spiritual experience that I've had. But, I can share with you all the things that I know for myself to be true, independent of anyone else, because I've come to find them out for myself by the Spirt of God.
The first thing I know is that God loves us. He loves us SO much. So much that he allowed his only perfect Son to live, die, and live again, so that we could do the same. I can't thank him enough for that gift to us. I've seen the love of God in the people of Oregon. No matter the circumstances we face, the mistakes we have made, or the questions we may have, God is always there. Always. We spiritually and physically cannot cannot drop lower than the light of Christ shines. He's descended below all things and is there to lift us up, all we need to do is reach out.
I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. I've had the amazing opportunity to study the Book of Mormon in depth over the course of my time in the mission field. That Book has changed my life, and I've seen it change the lives of others. It's brought so much peace and comfort to my soul, answered so many questions, and given me so many answers and so much direction. There's no way that the Book of Mormon could have come about other than the way that Joseph Smith said that it did; by the gift and power of God. I've truly come to love the scriptures, and I couldn't imagine myself living without the guidance and spirit they bring me.
I know that the church is true and the Restoration happened. Joseph Smith was and is a prophet and the first of this dispensation. I know that that office has been passed on and that we have a prophet today. I know that the organization and doctrines taught in the church are inspired from our Heavenly Father. I'm so grateful for the members of the church that I've had the opportunity to serve and be served by. It's such a blessing to know that wherever you go, they'll be a network of people that love and care about you and are willing to help in any way they can.
I've come to know for myself that God truly answers our prayers and knows us each personally. Countless times I've found myself on my knees or praying in my heart for either myself or others. Every time, and in His own time, Heavenly Father has comforted me, strengthened me, answered my questions, and forgiven me of my flaws and mistakes. Even when we can't see the end clearly, He can, and He will guide us along. I know that everything that we go through is for our good in the end. Every trial, every challenge, every mistake, every shortcoming, and every experience we have will pull us closer to our Heavenly Father, so long as we have faith that it will.
Oh man there's so much I wish I could write.
I love Oregon. I love the people here. I'm so grateful for the investigators, companions, leaders, fellow missionaries, members, and everyone that I've had the opportunity to work alongside. I know that the Lord calls us to where we need to be, when we need to be there. I'm so grateful that the Lord has allowed me to serve here and now. I wouldn't trade the experiences I've had for anything in the world.
The point I'd like to close on is one near to my heart. I know that the Gospel of Jesus Christ changes lives. I've seen my own life and the lives of others changed so much for the better. I've seen a homeless part-member family living in a tent on a bike path become active members with callings, jobs, and a home. I've seen an anti-Mormon investigative journalist have his heart softened and grow to love the Book of Mormon. I've seen life long inactive members come back and become some of the strongest carriers of the spirit that I know. I've seen the little changes that people have made in their lives that have brought them closer to their Savior. And I've seen the effects of Christ's gospel change my life.
The church hasn't always been something that was super important to me. I could say that I was a more active member of The Church of Me, Myself, and I. The church was just kind of--there. And frankly, I didn't care too much about it. Never would I have imagined that I could be where I am now. The Savior has changed my life. Being his representative, living his gospel, studying more about Him, and focusing all my time and effort on His purposes has blessed me incomprehensibly and changed my very nature. I've come to know that the gospel is so much more than just a lesson we learn in Sunday School, or an excuse to kill three hours on Sunday; it's a way of life. It's THE way of life, from He who is the way, the truth, and the life. Because of Him, the Plan of Salvation is possible, forgiveness is possible, and we can become so much better than we ever possibly imagined. I am so grateful for Him and I love Him so much.
I couldn't put it better than the words of my favorite hymn:
"Nearer, dear Savior, to thee,
Nearer, nearer to thee--
Ever my anthem will be
Nearer, yet nearer to thee!"
Thank you everyone for all the love and support you've shown me over these last two years. It's changed my life. I am so grateful for the chance I've had to come to know these things for myself, and I leave them in the name of our Savior and Friend, Jesus Christ, amen.
Be fun, have safe.
Elder Chase Jensen