Monday, July 18, 2016

Bonne Fete Maman!!!

HELLOOOOOOO MAMA!!!!! HAPPY BIRTHDAYYYYY!!!! I'm sorry, I don't have a present for ya but I think I got the next best thing...

It's so dang weird to be thinking that I will be seeing y'all in just a couple of days!! Shoot, the time flies like crazy!! And this week has just been another example of that! It doesn't matter how little or how long of time you serve in an area as a missionary, saying goodbye is never an easy thing. We've had a lot of good exchanges with a lot of great people over the past few days - a lot of well wishing and a lot of good luck. I am extremely grateful for the time I have had here in Chapel Hill. I am looking forward to hearing about the Riviere family baptism in a month!! We are SO excited for them. Elder Bird will be coming to take my place and I will get to meet yet another grandson of mine on Wednesday!! I'll also hopefully be getting to drive the mission van just like old times for my last time to the airport. So weird - I'm used to picking up and dropping off so many people at the airport, but now one of those people is me.

I wanna share a quote by Neal A. Maxwell - "The same God that placed that star in a precise orbit millennia before it appeared over Bethlehem in celebration of the birth of the babe has given at least equal attention to the placement of each of us in precise human orbits so that we may, if we will, illuminate the landscape of our individual lives, so that our light may not only lead others but warm them as well."

That completely describes a missionary's experience right there. I have felt that for myself as I have felt the hand of God guide me through my time here in Canada as I have been led to people and experiences that will forever define my life. As we seek to make a difference in the world around us, we define ourselves in the little moments with the little things that we do. That's what being a missionary/disciple of Christ is all about- the little moments where we choose to do something that just elevates things or that brings some inspiration into our life or in the lives of others.

Sometimes as a missionary, or just in our lives in general, we reach periods to where we are just "going through the motions" - we are acting almost mechanically, as we are doing what is generally expected of us, but we are completely detached from it on an emotional and intellectual level. We don't feel it. Sometimes I feel like that is how our progression in the gospel can feel sometimes too. Have we hit a plateau? That is why I love the words of Alma in Alma 5 "Can you feel so now?" In reality, there is no such thing as a plateau in regards to the gospel - we are either moving forward or backward. Particularly for me, at a very particular time in my mission - shortly after dad's accident in 2014 when I was in Lemoyne, I was feeling very much as if I was "going through the motions". And it was through the testimony of bro Roy (who has since passed away from cancer) reading and crying his eyes out about this scripture where I was able to really realize it for myself. He was a recent convert - he spent 37 years against the church while his wife was a faithful member until one day, he had a change of heart. This is one of the most powerful examples I have seen of someone who truly experienced a "change of heart" Through what he shared with us, it completely woke me up from my passive state and it shook me to the core. In the end, I feel like we try to over complicate things - expecting some great change or some great event to happen. Or sometimes we just feel so disconnected from what we are doing. I think we just need to step back and remember how the Lord works as opposed to how the adversary works. And really, the only way for us to "wake up our souls" as Nephi would say, is to do the exact same thing that we as missionaries are trained to teach to people: TURN TO THE LORD.

To any and every current and future missionary - if you are feeling disconnected from what you are doing, wake up. We increase our Faith through invitation and action which in turn gives us more light into our lives. Invite yourself to do something more, follow through with it, and watch the Lord take you to another level. Being a missionary is one of the greatest privileges anybody can experience in mortality. Any young man who is worthy and able to go on a mission is making the biggest mistake of his life by choosing not to go.

I love my mission and I will always love my mission. I could never even begin to describe how much I have learned over these past 2 years from the experiences I have had. Easily I have learned more these past 2 years than all the years before of my life put together. The Lord is good to us - we just have to open our eyes to see it.

I LOVE Y'ALL!! Thanks for the constant love and support that y'all have sustained me with over these past two years! I will see y'all on the other side!

Love,

Elder Cody Warren Ritz

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