My sister comes home from her mission tomorrow from Sydney, Australia. I haven't seen her since I left for mine on July 5, 2012. We've exchanged many emails, several photos, and seven short phone calls. One of those calls was the day she had flown into the Sydney airport, where she ran into my mission president and his wife, and they connected her to me. I could not have been more excited for her; twenty-one months into my mission, I wish I could tell her what lay ahead in her future. At the same time, I tried not to be aware of what was in mine.
The day I flew home from my mission, I prayed that I would never ever forget those marvelous experiences that I had as a missionary. I could never forget the amazing people that I had grown to love. I couldn't forget anything. How could such a time and place have completely changed who I was? These were just everyday people, living their lives; how could something so simple as a setting apart uttered with hands laid upon my head have put me on the path to desiring nothing but their happiness? I had never felt so torn apart as I realized that in no time at all, I would be released from once having been set apart to represent the Lord Jesus Christ.
As much as I feel I have done countless wonderful things since coming home - and many things have happened - God continues to grant me that final wish, that I not forget who I truly am - a Sydney RM, a revelatory missionary forever. One who knows the words revealed to Joseph Smith in Liberty Jail as D&C 121. I can't say I've been more faithful than previously, in fact if anything I have gone through much toil and confusion and to be honest the longing for that other world could not have tormented me more than it had at those times. But I'm grateful to, despite my difficulty in learning and adjusting, have gone through what I have. These are never the trials that I would have wanted! But what had I expected? Trials wouldn't be trials if they were easy. And yet they are so minute in the scheme of things.
I hope the people of Australia who knew that I once knew them could know that I still remember them clear as day. I'm so grateful for the increased memory I was given for that time and for that specific purpose. You're still in my heart. I remember that I taught you; that I befriended you on the street though you continually denied interest in lessons; I remember that I stood there with you into the waters of baptism as you accepted the greatest joy you could then receive. Some of you have disappeared and returned to your home country, some of you have found yourselves lost and once again in search of truth, and some remain, continuing your progress toward eternity. I wish that I could still reach you, though no longer missionary, still a friend. Still someone who cares deeply about you, to see you thriving in something so powerful as the Atonement of Christ. But even if you can never hear my voice again, I know our Father in heaven continually hears my prayers for you, and is watching over you in every step you take. I wish you could know that He can never truly forsake you - for the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but "my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee."
When Sister Howes sent me this recording shortly after I performed the song in Hyde Park YSA Ward Easter fireside, she mentioned that she didn't know if I would share it or even if I would want to listen to it, but it was moving to her. I gave it a listen and immediately found my intonation, among other things, revolting. And truthfully I still do. But as I lose contact with more people that I knew as a missionary, my memories are slowly failing me with time. This song is a small piece of the love that I knew and felt in those last months in Australia and further evidence of the truth. Can I forget something so beautiful? Never. The gospel is true, regardless of what we do. I will never forget it.