Note: Daniel returns from his mission December 2, 2015, after being in the Philippines for two years. We're grateful he's had a chance to serve as a missionary, and are thrilled to welcome him home.
I've been busy doing tons of missionary things and fixing all my past mistakes, but I love each passing day. Yes, there's sacrifice, there's always sacrifice, but I love serving the Lord.
Today we had the privilege of visiting the Manila Philippines Temple. It was great and very calming; just what I needed today. While in the temple I considered if I truly understood the law of consecration, and I read about it more after my session today. The Doctrine and Covenants discuss this principle in depth multiple times. In one of these instances it mentions that we are supposed to give back anything that is left over after we have satisfied our needs and our wants. I think often if I am being thrifty enough or if I should do better. Ironically, I want to only spend money on that which I need. I don't want to want, or to indulge my "wants". I don't think it's necessary, but the scriptures reminded me that I can want things. Things that I don't need are still important. Blessings that we receive from following commandments such as the law of consecration, are meant to please us. Our food is meant to please us. This life is meant to please us. God wants us to be happy. I'm not saying that thrift has no eternal value or that your personal happiness is more important than anything else, but I realized for myself earlier today that I need to be happy, and my righteous and even my natural desires are meant to be bridled and fed. In the Lord's time of course.
I've been very blessed, and for most of my life I have wanted for nothing, or very little, (Just ask my parents, I'm very hard to shop for.) but those who walk in obedience to the commandments of the Lord will always receive what they need, and sometimes the things they merely want.
Let us all remember that we are children of God, and we are here on earth to be tested, but through the infinite wisdom of our Lord it is intended to be pleasing.
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I'm going to be training a new missionary for my last 6 weeks. In fact, everyone in my district is going to be training or in training for the next 6 weeks. I have no idea what his name is. I don't know if he speaks any English or not, but I'm going to love him. He will be my only begotten son in the mission. I'm super excited, I think I'm hiding it pretty well, but nothing can upset me right now.
I remember 6 weeks ago I thought I was going to end my mission in Mandaluyong as a normal missionary, and now I've been called to one of the highest and most challenging, and most rewarding positions in the mission. At the same time I'll be a district leader. I'm going to be stressed. I know that, but I can't think of a greater way to end my mission. :)
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I love being a missionary. I can be a very stressful job if you do it right. I've noticed that the missionaries who don't care are not stressed, but are not happy either. They see no blessings from the half-hearted work that they do, and soon forget why they even left home to serve a mission. There are 5 sister missionaries in my district that are stressed; some more than others. They understand that there are many sacrifices to be made in missionary service.
I've learned to love hard work, and see laziness as the sin it is. I love being active, and doing good things that require effort. I'm surprised by how easy it has become to focus on the work. I remember in my first area emailing was the one thing I looked forward to every week, and I wished the end was near. Now I can truly say that I have found joy in the journey. I look forward to being a missionary for 30 more days. I rarely think about going home. It's drawn quite close, but I know that everything is in order, and I don't have to worry about it or think about it.
Getting lost in the work has made it too inconvenient to be trunky. I love this work too much. I'll wait to get excited about going home until I start packing, probably 28 days from now. I know that there are still people here that need my time and attention, and I know that Elder Dadis has a lot more that he needs to learn from me.
Thank you for all of your letters of encouragement and love. If you haven't emailed me yet, or it's been a while, I would really appreciate even a small email from you, just one before I come home. I'm strong, but I still need encouragement in the last and final stretch.
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Something that I have noticed and applied in my life as a missionary is that a huge part of my life needs to be about giving to others. I realized early in my mission that I'm not here to serve myself or to be served. I'm here to give of myself. My rest, my time, my love, my effort and my heart.
In a physical sense, giving so much of yourself makes very little sense. Physics will tell you that the more you give the less you have. Physically speaking this is absolutely true. If you give your lunch to another person, no matter how much they need it, you will lose your lunch. However, for me, and for those who know of God and His matchless power, and mercy and love, giving of your own possessions or efforts or time will always be a rewarding experience.
400 hours from now my life as a full-time missionary will be over, and I will be released from my prophetic calling to serve in the Philippines. I'm trying my very best to not look forward to it yet. I'm more concerned about those people that still need me, and whom the Lord has called me to serve and bless for the next 400 hours.
I'm very grateful for all of the people who are working together in harmony to make my home coming a wonderful and organized series of events. If I had to worry about the plane tickets or the flight plans or the reservations or the meals or any of the transportation I would not be able to focus on my work for these final hours. So thank you for your quiet planning and preparations. It means a lot.
I'm very grateful for every minute that I've been given to serve the people of the Philippines. And when I'm done I will use every minute to serve Americans, starting with my wonderful American Family. :)
Also, I'll have the opportunity to see my first apostle in person tomorrow. I've heard rumors that it will be Elder Renlund. But I'm not sure.
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I've been doing a great job of not thinking about going home. Maybe it's because I can't wrap my mind around it yet. I feel like I'm in denial. :) But that's okay for now. I know that I'll be home and going through many major life changes in a week or so, but I'm not ready to think about that yet. I've made plans and organized my life in such a way that I don't stress about big changes, because I've prepared for them logistically and physically, and I'll adjust emotionally when the time comes. I thought the emotional trunky battle would be more of challenge.
The mission is still my life for a week, so in my mind there's no reason to start thinking about home.
I was very happy to teach two new families about the gospel this week. They are very kind and they love their families, and they all said they would come to church, but not a single one showed up. I was confused and a bit upset on Sunday (of course I didn't let it show) and I still don't know all of the reasons why they weren't at church, but I realized that the reason why it matters to me if they come to church or not is because I care about them and desire their happiness and their salvation, so as a missionary I can say I did my part and I was successful, because I love those that I teach. :)
Of course I would be very happy if they would come to church next week and continue to do so. Please pray for them. Abrerra Family and Gonzales Family.
Thank you for all of your prayers and words of comfort and counsel. Thank you also for all the missionaries serving in your wards that you help, and feed. There are many people who have in turn watched over and cared for and fed me since the day I arrived in the Philippines.
— Elder Southwick
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