Sometime our vision is clouded, and as Paul described, in this mortal life we “see through the glass darkly.”  This means that we do not always see things as they are.  We often see our world through our perspective, not God’s and not through an eternal perspective.  As I have been sorting through memories, journal entries, and photos of my mission in preparation for my homecoming address on Sunday it has caused me to reflect on my experiences the past eighteen months and what I want to take from all of that into the future with me.  You see, you can’t really just take the good, you have to take the bad as well because in the end all of that has shaped you.  Here is a video I put together that depicts a lot of my mission. Enjoy!

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A final view of the exquisite land of Yorkshire.
A final view of the exquisite land of Yorkshire.

Well, I think I have a few more blog posts in me before I retire “The Life I Leeds.” This is one of the first posts that I am actually physically posting since 18 months ago here in my hometown of Holladay, Utah. How strange. In looking at the stats of my page I came across the information of what countries it has been viewed from and how frequently. I was shocked to see that it has been viewed in 49 different countries (including Suriname, and Bahrain) since I’ve been gone! Of course most of my hits were in the US and England, but nonetheless. I hope people have drawn some inspiration from this space, regardless of what religion you profess, if any, or whatever lens you view the world from. I hope maybe it has helped you reconsider really just what your purpose in life is and what the meaning of life is. In terms of religion, I hope you don’t feel like all religion is just “doctrine in cold storage.” President Hinckley’s father once said, “Religion can have very little significance when removed from life. In other words, a man’s religion isn’t worth much and it will never save him, if it does not carry over into the details of his daily life.” Although I have been living a very unusual life for the past year and a half, a life some might think impractical and a bit outside of reality, which it is.  BUT the experiences I had on my mission helped me take the doctrine I profess to believe, out of cold storage, and into the details of my life. That changed my life, in that it changed the way I will live my life from this point on.  That’s not something I could’ve bought with gold or silver, that came straight from experiences and people I came across, and it is priceless to me.

So are you wondering what exactly I did with my last week in England??  Well it was an absolute blast even with being sick, exhausted, anxious, emotional, excited, etc.  It was a wild ride, but made so much fun with Sister Prawitt by my side.  We tried to live it up, and I am so grateful for that final time in Leeds.  I felt like there were some loose ends there that needed wrapping up.  In Leeds 1 we spent some time with Maria, Holly, the Parrs, Jane (and her parents from China), Susan, Clio, the Boycotts, and others.  Not only that, but I got to meet many new wonderful people that Sister Prawitt worked with in Leeds 4 area, and that was great.  In a twist of cruel irony, during my TEN hour flight from London to Dallas, my TV monitor for my seat was inoperable the whole time!  What is that?!?  But with the zen patience I developed as the Lord’s missionary for 18 months, I proceeded to harass the stewardesses and glare jealously at the girl next to me who was enjoying Maze Runner.  And then I decided it was a perfect time to take a small moment to reflect on the last week in England and the end of an era.  So I took out my journal and put pen to paper.  Just a small excerpt:

“Well I am on the plane now headed for the homeland for the first time in a year and a half!!  Sister Prawitt and I had a great week (when we weren’t breathing into paper bags due to anxiety attacks.)  I was thinking about my departure all week, trying how best to get closure and express my gratitude to the Pilkingtons and all others that helped me through…I’ve been feeling nervous all day, but I guess that’s normal.”

There is this brief moment as you return home to your old life where you have this irrational fear that you won’t fit into the niche that you used to occupy anymore.  You know that everyone else has moved on and changed, and that you have changed, and it is a scary moment to get thrown head first into all of that.  I almost melodramatically felt like Esther when she is about to enter the king’s chambers and says well, “If I perish, I perish.”  I remember feeling that way going into the mission.  How weird to feel the same returning.  All I can say is it is great to be home!  Although you have only gotten bits and pieces since I have been gone, believe me when I say, it is a miracle I made it the whole way!  Enjoy some last moments through some photos!

One of our last nights at the mission home with the Pilkingtons and the other missionaries leaving.
One of our last nights at the mission home with the Pilkingtons and the other missionaries leaving.
Enjoying a final crisp morning amid the dry stone walls and sheep of Yorkshire.
Enjoying a final crisp morning amid the dry stone walls and sheep of Yorkshire.
Seriously two of my favorite people!
Seriously two of my favorite people!
My dear Sue!
My dear Sue!
I am so proud of Jane in reaching graduation, and just generally for the wonderful person she is.  I got to meet her adorable parents from China my last Sunday!
I am so proud of Jane in reaching graduation, and just generally for the wonderful person she is. I got to meet her adorable parents from China my last Sunday!
My final partner in crime :)
My final partner in crime 🙂
Bidding farewell to the wonderful Pilkingtons.
Bidding farewell to the wonderful Pilkingtons.

In honor of leaving this great country for a year and a half, I felt it only appropriate to give homage to my new home and leave my mark in my old one. This is what that looks like.

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My Sunday started with giving my farewell talk at church, and ended with defacing a rock. Operation Union Jack started as a hair-brained scheme, but came together through the support of good friends and family and 30 cans of spray paint, which is sort of how the whole mission process has felt to me (minus the spray paint). We also decided to commemorate Mary’s name under the flag because we just know if she were here, she would have been right there with us, spray paint in hand. While on the path to get to suicide rock, we noticed sunflowers growing all along the way, although they hadn’t bloomed yet. If you don’t know the significance of this, sunflowers were Mary’s favorite flower, and we have had several instances, since she died, of sunflowers growing out of nowhere. We feel like it is Mary’s way of telling us she is there, or knows what is happening with us. In this case, it felt like Mary was telling us she wholeheartedly approved of our rebellious act. Isn’t the British flag just lovely?

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It has nothing on the American flag of course, but let me just have my moment. We did a terrible job of documenting the whole “British tea” in our yard after church, but I was so overwhelmed with all the people that came in support of me. It meant so much, and sometimes you just need a solid reminder in life of the people that are there for you and love you. Here is one of the few photos that I got thanks to a friend who snapped it.

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Thank you  again to all that came to support me, and to those that couldn’t make it, thank you for your endless support in other ways. I love you all!

Top 5 Things I’m Looking Forward To About England

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1. The idyllic English countryside, which BETTER be in my tracting routes.

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2. Mostly the non-British food, but who can pass up some fried food?

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3. My orange rain boots.  Sinatra once said, “Orange is the happiest color.”

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4. Revamping my driving skills: roundabouts will no doubt be the death of me.

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5. Passing up the crowds for the lovely Preston MTC grounds

Top 5 Things I’ll Miss About Home

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1. This awesome group of people (minus a crucial few) who are my foundation and rock.

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2. The dog shenanigans that are inevitably and continually occurring.

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3. This small little hobby of mine (I’ve already lost my calluses) Ahhh!

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4. The glory that is Cafe Rio, and all food of the Mexican persuasion.

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5. The Wasatch mountains, which are a symbol of home to me.