I also had some tender and precious moments being able to speak with Sister Ontoria. I love her so much!!! We began our missions at the same time and in a similar way. Finally, as the time is coming to a close we have the opportunity (no doubt part of God's design) to spend time together once again and really discuss our experiences. It's crazy how even though we've been serving in the same mission, our experiences are totally different... like at least 80 percent different. Yet through it all we've been able to learn and grow in the ways that God intends us to. I've said it before and I'll say it again: God's timing, wisdom, and love never ceases to blow my mind. I know He lives and that He loves us beyond that which can be described by words. It is a knowledge that comes only through the testifying of the Holy Ghost, often through our feelings.
In all my reflection I've especially thought about true happiness. I read an article in the September Liahona that discusses true religion, as defined by James in the New Testament. He said,
"Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction,and to keep himself unspotted from the world." (James 1:27)
The times that I have felt closest to the Savior are the moments when I can truly identify with Him--His life, His experiences, His character. It is through focusing on others, through practicing true religion and unselfish service, that we are filled with His love and become truly happy. I know that it is through Him, through this good news of the gospel, that we attain lasting joy and happiness. I've experienced this repeatedly through my mission... I've visited people in their homes and on the streets. I've felt an overwhelming love for strangers I've just met, and for those who I struggle to communicate with through broken verbal language. I love the Korean people more than words. I am filled with gratitude. I love my Lord and my God with all of my heart. I am forever thankful.
Sister Marissa Hatch