Monday, October 13, 2014

Fwd: Letter #80 - 10/13/14

Here is her last letter to "the world."  Enjoy!
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Elizabeth Montgomery <>
Date: Mon, Oct 13, 2014 at 6:42 AM
Subject: Letter #80 - 10/13/14
To: Christine Montgomery <>

Dear family and friends,

My bags are packed, the plans are set, and two days from now I close the most incredible chapter of my life and begin a new one. Earlier I said I was excited, but this week the rest of the roller coaster of emotions caught up with me, and I've been all over the place.

If you're wondering what I'll miss about being a missionary, look back at my list, "Why it's an honor to serve a mission." There are actually a lot of those things that will carry over after the mission (at least I'll make them carry over), but as a whole and in such a quantity and quality, nothing compares to a full-time mission. If you're wondering what I'll miss about Ukraine, well... I don't think I could write a list like that for fear of crying in the presence of this teenage-boy-Internet-cafe audience. This is a blessed land with blessed people, and it has won my heart.

But... I'm still excited. :) I get to see my amazing family again and start another incredible chapter in my life (which wouldn't be nearly as incredible had I skipped this one). Recently I was reading in Ether and found these very applicable verses that describe what will most likely happen on Wednesday: "And thus [I was] driven forth, [five hundred and sixty eight] days upon [a mission]. And [I] did land upon the [terminal] of the [Denver airport]. And when [I] had set [my] feet upon the [terminal] of the [Denver airport]... [I did] shed tears of joy before the Lord, because of the multitude of his tender mercies over [me]" (Ether 6:11-12). That's one thing I can't get over: gratitude. It's the emotion that I keep coming back to over and over again: so much gratitude. :)

Well, I've only got a few minutes left, but I'll share with you my final testimony. In the words of Joseph Smith: "And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of [Jesus Christ], this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives! For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father— That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God" (D&C 76:22-24).

Brothers and sisters, Jesus Christ lives! I have seen Him, not on the right hand of God but in the lives of so many people who have accepted Him as their Savior and have been changed by His grace. I have heard the voice of the Spirit bearing record on busy streets and crowded buses, in humble homes and rented church buildings, that He is the Only Begotten of the Father, the Redeemer of all mankind. He suffered, was crucified, and resurrected so that we could obtain peace in this world and eternal life in the world to come if we follow Him. He called Joseph Smith to restore His Church and bring forth more of His word, the Book of Mormon, and today He leads the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints through a living prophet, Thomas S. Monson. I know this, and I hope with all my heart that anyone reading these words will also do whatever is necessary to come to know this for themselves through the Holy Spirit of God.

God be with you till we meet again!

With so much love and gratitude,
Sister Montgomery

Monday, October 6, 2014

Fwd: Letter #79 - 10/6/14

To all of those who bid Liz farewell, kept up with her 80+ letters, and would like to listen to her homecoming talk, she will be speaking in Sacrament Meeting on October 26 at 9:00 am. I'm sure it will be an amazing talk!  The only thing she is afraid of is NOT being able to speak in English.  "I'm sure the Russian will make it's way through" says Liz.  Can't wait!!!!!
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Elizabeth Montgomery <>
Date: Mon, Oct 6, 2014 at 4:36 AM
Subject: Letter #79 - 10/6/14
To: Christine Montgomery <>

Dear friends and family,

I feel a little bit about Moroni, not knowing if today will be my last letter or next week (he added Mormon 8-9 to his father's record and then started his own book with, "I had supposed not to have written more, but I have not as yet perished" (Moroni 1:1). I'm not planning on perishing or anything... I just don't know when my train leaves from Odessa to Kiev, so I don't know how email works. In any case, I'll try to sneak something in sometime. :) [Just got the email that our bus leaves from Odessa Tuesday morning at 7:00 a.m. so I'll email next week like normal. But you can read those Moroni passages for fun anyway.] :)

Well first off, President (er... Elder) Klebingat spoke in conference! It was like music to my ears -- the best of President Klebingat in 10 minutes and 23 seconds. :) He once told us in mission conference that when he'd speak in conference, we wouldn't be the least bit surprised at what he'd talk about (like exercising... ha!), and he was totally right. Sister Cromwell and I were basically finishing his sentences as we watched, and it brought back memories of zone conferences, letters, interviews, etc. (I wasn't the Sister he talked about, though our mission as a whole really struggled with the problem of low self-confidence at one point). Anyway, a great talk and a great man. We've even seen some of the memes that people have made of him... so funny. :)

Well, how was my second to last full week in Ukraine? Kinda lame actually -- Sister Cromwell and I took turns being sick so we stayed home a lot. But we were better by Friday and got back to work and now things are great. We've got a packed week between zone conference tomorrow, meeting with lots of members to say goodbye, meeting with our investigators, and watching all the sessions of general conference. It's going to be a way good last week of the mission. :)

It's also kind of funny because I realized today that I kind of have a "go big or go home" attitude about the gospel right now  (or as Sister Cromwell said, "go big then go home") -- I want to be as diligent and bold about the gospel as I possibly can because I'm not going to have the chance later. People need to know how amazing and true this gospel is! Ahh -- only one more week left! When I was sick, I felt like my gospel flame was burning out and that I just needed to keep it alive until October 15, but I've been fasting and praying and studying to get that flame back, and now I'm going to do everything I can to kindle it and make sure it's raging by the 15th!

I was studying in Preach My Gospel this morning and writing about how I can improve my teaching skills and whatnot, and I had the thought, "You'd think I'd have this all down by now!" I mean, I've been a missionary for a year and a half, and I'm still learning every single day how to be a better missionary. But then I realized that's kind of just how life is. I'm sure that principle also applies to marriages and families -- "You'd think I'd know how to be a good spouse by now -- we've been married 20 years!" or "You'd think I'd know how to parent by now -- I'm on my third child!" But we never really stop learning, do we? Even at the end of life itself, I don't think a person ever truly feels "ready" to pass on to the next life and meet their Maker.

But you know what I love about the gospel? That progression is eternal. This life is a lot more about becoming someone (or becoming like Someone) than doing things, and the person we become is the person we continue to be in the next stage of our lives or eternal progression. I'm not a perfect missionary, but I've become someone better than I was a year and a half ago, with better characteristics and habits and desires. And I'm going to take all of that and keep moving forward to become a Christlike person throughout my life. God expects us to be perfect in our own sphere (President Klebingat talked about that), and I can honestly say about my mission that I did the best I could with who I was and what I knew at the time. And after October 15, I'm going to do the best I can to become the best friend, sister, daughter, Saint, student, member-missionary, visiting teacher, employee, therapist, wife, mother, and whatever other opportunities and roles that the Lord sees fit to give me. I know I'll make lots of mistakes in the process, but weakness (combined with the Atonement of Jesus Christ) is all part of the plan. "Thou hast been faithful; wherefore, thy garments shall be made clean. And because thou hast seen thy weakness thou shalt be made strong, even unto the sitting down in the place which I have prepared in the mansions of my Father" (Ether 12:37).

That's all for now -- I'll write next week!

Sister Montgomery