This is Mitch's letter written to Grandpa Bob & Grandma Rhonda as part of a family Christmas tradition we have had for many years. He spent most of his letter writing time on this, so I asked him to forward it. It is beautiful.
This year has been the most unique of my life. As you both know, I have been serving my mission. The year of 2014 I have spent entirely as a full time missionary. There hasn't been a day when I haven't ironed a white shirt, done up a tie, and put on that black name tag with both our family´s name and more importantly, our Savior´s name.
I have learned so much this year, and I am still in the process of learning much more. I would say that what I have learned about the most is the 5 basic principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, through teaching, being taught, and through my own personal study. These 5 principles are Faith in Jesus Christ, Repentance, Baptism, Receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End. The objective of every full-time missionary is to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored Gospel, through living these 5 principles. In particular, I have come to understand much better the doctrine of repentance and baptism.
Before my mission, I knew what repentance was, I knew what baptism was, but I didn't
understand completely why we had to be baptized if we were able to repent. I knew that baptism was important, but I didn't know why. As I studied, I learned more about the nature of covenants. When we are baptized, we make a very important covenant. We promise to always remember our Savior, Jesus Christ, and to keep the commandment which He gave us.
As long as we keep this promise, God will give us the company of the Holy Ghost, and promises to cleanse us, to forgive us and forget our sins. Therefore, we can´t have complete forgiveness for our sins if we aren't baptized, if we don´t make that covenant. Covenants with God are essential for our eternal progression. Baptism is our first covenant, and is often referred to as a “gate”. After entering through this “gate” we are able to make other covenants, like when we receive the endowment, and are married in the temple. Without these covenants, there is no eternal progression, and it would be impossible to return spotless to the presence of God and achieve exaltation. And all of this comes back to living those 5 basic principles of the Gospel.
I have learned so much more beyond a better understanding of doctrine. I have
learned a lot about who I am, and I have gained a better idea of who I want to become after I return to “normal life”. I would say that what has really defined this year for me has been growing up. I have
gone through the whole process it seems, from when I first arrived here in Brazil when I practically depended on my trainer for everything, to being a leader in the mission,
taking care of several other companionship's and missionaries. I have progressed so much since I have left home, and I hope to learn a lot more before I return.
I feel so blessed to be a representative of Jesus Christ for these two years. It truly is a life changing experience. I am so blessed to have had this experience, which will help me for the rest of my life. Thank you both so much for always being examples to me of how to be more Christlike.
I love you.
With much love,