Hola Mis Seres Queridos,
This last week I went on a rather large exchange and was serving in the Arizona Phoenix Mission and also in the Illinois Mission. I was companions with Addison Ricks and various other family members during the week and have learned much this week, as with any other exchange I have been on. I am sure most of you have already heard all of this, but yes, I was home this last week because my Father had a stroke on friday the 21st and I was flown in to make some critical medical decisions for him because he could not speak, nor was he very alert during the times that I was with him. He passed away on sunday the 23rd around 8:30 in the morning. It was something I never expected to happen, but something that has strengthened my faith. I was able to attend the 3:00 session of the Gila Valley Temple dedication in my stake center and although I cried through the entire thing I am so grateful that I was able to focus on the beauty of the temple and the reality that families are meant to last even beyond the grave and that my Father will be waiting for me on the other side of the veil.
My aunt Liz, Aunt Cherie and Uncle Mike were in Arizona with me as well throughout the week and helped me do a lot of things I surely couldn't have done alone. Monday we picked out a casket (who would have believed that the "wooden box" is the most expensive casket!) and made arrangements for a visitation in Arizona and then a visitation and funeral in Geneseo, Illinois where my dad was raised and would be buried. Tuesday we meant with a lawyer and signed the appropriate documents in order to pass the authority to deal with all the matters concerning my dad's estate from me to my uncle Mike. I cannot possibly express how grateful I am to my uncle Mike and aunt Cherie for taking this burden from me, because I sure don't know how to sell a house or deal with creditors and things like that, and it also allowed me to return to the mission. Wednesday we had the visitation in AZ and it was very nice and a lot of my dad's friends and co workers were there. Wednesday night I also had the opportunity to attend a temple session in the Mesa Arizona temple with Brother and Sister Hofeling, which was an amazing experience for me and gave me an added measure of peace. Thursday morning we flew to Illinois, Friday was the visitation, and Saturday the funeral. By the time Saturday I was pretty exhausted emotionally, it was just not an easy thing to attend three open casket events, 2 visitations and a funeral. Sunday I flew back to Houston and now am back in the mission feeling ready to work as hard as I possibly can to bring souls unto Christ and to teach others of Heavenly Father's love for them and the power of repentance and the atonement of the Savior.
Although this last week has been a challenge, I feel strengthened and have grown in my faith and trust in my Heavenly Father. I know now, more than ever, that this gospel is true. I trust in the plan that God has for me and for my family and trust that all these things shall give me experience and help me to become more like the Savior. I know that the Plan of Salvation is real, and that I will see my dad again. Although I will miss him every single day, I have faith that I will see him again and that my family will be eternal. I love my Heavenly Father and His son, Jesus Christ, and know that they love me, and that they love my dad and that his death was just a step in his growth and learning and was the best thing for him. I am also grateful for all of the love and support I have received this week from friends, family, and the members, missionaries and investigators that I serve with here in the Texas Houston Mission.
Con Amor y Paz