It's been over two years now.
Two years ago, a boy walked away from his family in an airport and traveled back to a place that he had called home. He had left BYU only to return to Provo to enter the MTC and begin a new chapter in his life. When he walked through those MTC doors and got his shiny new name tag with the "dork dot" on it, all he could feel was uncertainty. Two weeks flew by and the next thing this boy knew he was walking down the airport escalator towards his mission president and his wife and the assistants. He felt lost and unsure of himself. He went through some great times and some bad times. He served to the best of his abilities and sometimes he struggled to do so. This boy learned who he really is over the course of two years. Tomorrow this boy, now a young man, will be at that same airport that he came in except this time he is walking towards those doors that will lead him home to his family and his future.
This young man is me.
For the last two years I've had the glorious opportunity to serve my Savior Jesus Christ in the Oregon Eugene Mission. These last two years were the hardest two years of my life yet the most fulfilling two years ever. People say that the mission is the best two years for your life and they are totally right. I've learned a lot about myself and I've changed for the better.
A mission is something that has a lot of ups and a lot of downs. I've had some hard times. I've been in tough areas. I've had difficult companions several times on my mission, some being extremely disobedient. Thankfully I've never wrecked on my bike but biking through Oregon winters is pretty tough, especially when you are biking next to a semi in the pouring rain. Ive been out tracting and have had people yell expletives at me only because of what I was doing. I've endured countless times when people have tried to "prove" that the work I was doing was false and that I was wasting my time. I have gone from teaching a ton to being lucky to teach once a week. I've had times where I felt utterly alone and I didn't know what to do about my situation. There have been times when I felt I couldn't go any farther.
Quitting was never an option. Returning with honor was.
Despite the hardships, I've seen so many miracles and other things occur throughout my mission. I've seen people's lives change forever. I saw a baby who should've stayed in the NICU for months leave in three weeks because of a priesthood blessing. I had someone tell me that I had changed their lives forever. I've been able to serve in different service situations, for members or for the community. I've been able to watch people enter into the waters of baptism and make sacred covenants with their Father in Heaven and His Son Jesus Christ. Now those people are preparing to do more than just that. One is going to go on a mission, another is preparing to go to the temple.
Although the tough times were hard, the good times were amazing to have.
I'm grateful for the opportunity to serve a mission. Several years ago, a friend's dad asked me why I was going on a mission and not pursuing baseball or some career. I felt like I knew why but now as I approach the end of this journey, I know exactly why I've come to the Oregon Eugene Mission.
It's because I know that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God, called of Him to bring in the last dispensation of times and to restore the Church of Jesus Christ back on the earth. I know that Thomas S. Monson is the Lord's prophet on the earth and that the priesthood authority is found on the earth once more.
It's because I know that the Book of Mormon is the most correct book on earth and that a man would get nearer to God by reading what is contained within and praying to Heavenly Father for an answer.
It's because I know that my Savior lives. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He knows me inside and out. Through His suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross, He was able to overcome death and allow me to do the same. It's because of Him that my garments can be made white when I stain them with sin. I'm grateful for my older brother and my best friend Jesus Christ. I know that His Atonement is real and that through His Atonement I can do all things.
It's because I know that families can be together forever and I want everyone to have that opportunity to be sealed with their families. I wouldn't be the person I am today without my parents and my siblings. I'm so grateful for them and forh sir love and support over the last two years.
Those are just some of the few reasons why I have come on a mission.
As my mission comes to a close, I want to thank my Savior Jesus Christ for the opportunities that I have had to preach His Gospel and defend His faith. I want to thank all of you who have supported me in any way. I'm grateful for your prayers and for your love. I'm excited to come back to the real world but I'm going to miss this great work which I have been called to do.
'Till I see y'all again and signing off for the last time,
Elder Jacob Tonini
Oregon Eugene Mission
"Days Never to Be Forgotten"