Monday, May 15, 2017

Well, this is the most bittersweet thing in the world. There's a saying that goes like this, ¨don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.¨ But I can't help but write this letter holding back tears.

18 months seems like a long time on paper. A year and a half. I remember preparing to come on the mission thinking that the next time I would be home would be in May of 2017. It seemed like AN ETERNITY away..but here we are.

There aren't many words I can say to descirbe how I feel writing my last email as a missionary, so I'll try to keep this email to the point.

The people here in Peru have made the biggest impact on me. I owe so much to them. I've seen families broken and torn apart, tears shed for loved ones, mothers and fathers fighting to provide for their families not knowing where their next meal will come from, lives changed by the grace of God, the joy and light in someones eyes when they hear about Jesus Christ for the first time. I've had doors slammed in my face. I've been yelled at and spit upon for the nametag that I wear. I've been rejected and denied for the person that I represent. I've been mocked and made fun of for being a ¨mormon¨. I've seen people completely change their lives to follow what they know is the will of God. I've been asked really hard questions about life and have tried to answer them only by trusting my instinct and the impressions of the Holy Ghost. I've given counsel to people struggling with really really hard life problems that I have never even expereinced. I've seen miracles. And I wouldn't trade it for the world. In the hard times I felt the presence of the one I represent, Jesus Christ, walking right by my side in every step I took. It has made me realize that what he went through in the garden of Gethsemane made him earn the name of the Savior. He gets us. He understands our pain because he's already felt it all, and that's why we call him our Savior. And even though I've given 18 months of my life for him, it will never be enough to repay him for what he's done for me. It has been the most incredible blessing and privilege to represent him and preach his gospel to the people here in Peru.

And everything Jesus did, he did it for love.
¨Greater love hath no man than this, that a man that lay down his life for his friends¨
John 15:13
These 18 months have been the best. Absolutely the best. I lost myself in the service of others, but by some miracle I was able to truly find myself. I've been able to understand even more my purpose in life and my self worth. I understand even more the love my heavenly Father has for me, and for you, and for all of his children. Our potential as sons and daughters of a living God is absolutely divine. God wants us to return to His presence, He wants us to have all that He has, He wants us to become like Him. That is His will. The cool thing is is that it's attainable. But where we end up afterall completely depends on our actions and desires NOW in this short, earthly life.
¨For behold, this is my work and my glory--to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man¨
Moses 1:39
immortality- being able to live forever
eternal life- salvation; exaltation; to know and walk with God and Jesus Christ; to live with our families forever in the presence of the One who gave us life

Thank you all for sticking with me these last 18 months, it means more to me than you know.

for the last time,
Hermana Celardo

keep in touch por favor!

Monday, May 8, 2017

All is well here in Tacna! I will have to be short today, but I promise next weeks email will be the best! It's finally starting to get a little bit colder which is nice considering we walk all day long. We had another baptism on Saturday so obviously it was a great week!! Since January we have been teaching a 10 year old kid, Victor. His mom is a member but less active. We started teaching them both, with the intention to reactivate the mom and baptize her son. This family has had so many hardships.. every time we go to their house to share a message with them the mom tells us a story about her life. There are so many people here with trials and difficulties like her, it breaks my heart. It makes me so grateful to be from the United States, to be from a family where I know I'll always have a roof over my head and I don't have to worry about when my next meal is going to be. Victor was finally baptized this last Saturday and his mom shared her testimony with us after the baptism. She told us how grateful she was to have come back to church and to see her son baptized. She explained to us that the problems she was having in her life started to disappear when she started applying what we taught to her and her son in her life. The gospel of Jesus Christ is REAL and it helps us with our day to day trials. It gives us hope when we want to give up or when we feel like we can't keep going. It is the only thing we can truly rely on to lift us up when we've fallen down. We cannot completely put our trust in the things of the world because they are not stable. Money runs out. Work is never constant. Sometimes even friends and family fail us. But Christ is infinite. His sacrifice is eternal. He will always be there for us, but are you there for him?

¨And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.¨
Helaman 5:12 (The Book of Mormon)

Make it a good week everyone!

Hermana Celardo