Dear Mom, Dad, Aubrey and all my Family & Friends,
Wow! Can you believe it? I am halfway done! Finally made it over the hump! Thank you so much for the Hump Day Package. It was awesome! I'll make sure to send you the pictures of the camel hat and burning of the shirt in my next e-mail (I forgot to bring to my camera and cord with me. Sorry). Also, be sure to thank Elder Jarman because he actually took me out to an all-you-can-eat place and paid for both him and me to celebrate my Hump Day. It was really cool for him to do that.
Well, now that one year of my missionary service has gone by, I want to share my thoughts and feelings with you about my experience. To be honest (and I'm sure that you've heard this from missionaries before), being a missionary is one of the, if not the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. Before I did the paperwork for it, I knew that there would be some challenges to being a missionary, but I thought to myself that I would handle those challenges with ease simply because I read the Book of Mormon three times. I then got this idea that, because of my knowledge of the Book of Mormon, doing the mini-mission and going to church, I would get investigators left and right by wowing them with my knowledge. In other words, I imagined myself being the invincible superman of missionary work.
However, after doing this for one year, I have to confess that I am not that invincible superman of missionary work. Being a missionary is definitely a lot easier said than done. I don't always know what to say to people, I get headaches from trying to control my frustrations towards things (situations, people, etc.), I get easily nervous when meeting new people for the first time (street contacting and door knocking), and, most importantly, I hate being separated from my family. I admit that at times serving a mission feels more like serving a prison sentence because I have to leave all my personal affairs behind. It's just that hard.
However, I can and will testify that my faith, testimony and conversion to our Savior Jesus Christ and His Gospel have increased exponentially because of this mission experience. I love reading the scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon. In fact, personal study time has become my favorite part of the day. My prayers to our Heavenly Father have changed from repetitive sentences to conversations with Him. I love going to church and partaking of the Sacrament and fell sad when it's time to leave. I have also made a lot of friends out here in the mission field, members and non-members.
I hope that by reading this e-mail, you'll know that while I do struggle with being a missionary sometimes, I know that I made the right decision to come out here. I really feel like I have a closer relationship with Heavenly Father and our Savior Jesus Christ. I feel like They have made me a better me.
I hope this ramble of mine makes sense to you. Always remember that I love you all and miss you all. I'll see you all in one year. Hurrah for Israel!
Elder Michael Alley