Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Still Learning and Growing

Guest Blogger: Ryan Awerkamp

I had a tender experience this week reflecting on my mission and recognizing how much I was blessed during those sacred two years of my life. I lay in bed and really thought about how much I grew and changed while on my mission. I also thought of all the ways that my missionary service is blessing me now. If you're wondering in what ways, the answer is in everything. What a precious two years. I treasure every day and experience I had in Spain. Those were the best years of my life - up to that point. 

I'm grateful to say that these past two years have been even better. I am actually amazed that Heavenly Father has given me experiences that have helped me grow just as much as I did on my mission. I didn't think I could ever experience a rate of growth and progression quite like I did during my mission, but He has built upon what I learned on my mission and helped me better understand how to come unto Christ. I'm so grateful for that. I'm so grateful for my Savior and for his invitation to continually receive the blessings of the Atonement. 

Zone Conference in Bilbao, January 2011
My mission means so much to me because it is where my quest for constant discipleship truly began. I've still a long ways to go, but my mission taught me to have patience with myself. Heavenly Father is so good and understanding. I think he watches us with the same joy and pride that I have watching Olivia try to take her first steps - yes, she often stumbles and falls, but I'm so proud of her for trying and I know that she'll eventually get it. In a similar way, Heavenly Father is patiently helping me learn to become as He is. He helps me get up when I trip and fall. He knows that eventually I'll be running. Because I believe that God is patient with me on my quest for constant discipleship, I want to be more like my Olivia. She isn't discouraged or fearful when she topples over. She just laughs and crawls back to her daddy so that he can help her try again. That, to me, is the essence of the Gospel, which I learned as a missionary and am still learning now. I'm so grateful for my mission that put me on this beautiful quest.   

Ryan served in Gandia, Zaragoza 1 and 2, Hospitalet 2, and Bilbao. He returned home in April 2011. He married Jeni Gubler on July 29, 2011, in the St. George Temple. They are the proud parents of Olivia. The Awerkamps currently live in Provo where Ryan is a student at BYU. For more information and photos on Ryan, Jeni, and Olivia, see Jeni's blogs at http://jeniawer.blogspot.com/ and http://www.thesmallseed.com/.