20 years old and half way mark in the mission!

First off I just want to thank you all so, so much for all of the sweet birthday wishes I’ve received today. I feel SO loved and so blessed to have so many wonderful people in my life! I can’t tell you enough just how much I love you. You guys are the best.

I’m still trying to catch up to the fact that I am now 20 years old and officially half way through this mission… what?!? Where does the time go?

Recently we received permission from our mission president to work on our own family history trees for an hour each week. My companion and I have taken full advantage of this opportunity and it has become one of my favorite parts of our weekly routine. I always find the coolest things! I’m related to Elvis Presley AND the one and only Abraham Lincoln! I also came across a branch in my tree where every one has the last name "Butt." Not kidding. I have a great, great, great aunt named Fanny Butt and another named Sarah Little Butt. Talk about being the butt of a joke…

If you haven’t done family history before, I’d invite you to give it a try! The church offers free accounts on FamilySearch.org for everyone, whether you’re Mormon or not. Log on to Lds.org and click on the "my account and ward" button on the top right hand corner and then "sign in." If you already have an lds account, once you’re signed in go back to that same drop down arrow and click "my family tree" under "my account" to get started. If you don’t have an account yet, go to the bottom of the sign in page and click "register for an LDS account." You can then set up an account either as a member with your recordship number or "as a friend." Both options will give you full access to all church related sites, including FamilySearch.org.

Fair warning: it’s addicting and once you get started, it might be hard to quit.

In addition to all of the humorous little gems I’ve stumbled upon in my genealogy, I’ve also been able to learn a whole lot more about the incredible heritage that I come from. My tree is absolutely full of Mormon Pioneers and Missionaries. The more I learn of their stories, the more proud I am to be able to wear this missionary name tag of mine. Who I am has been in the making for a lot longer than 20 years. There are so many that came before me and gave it all for their families, their freedom and their faith. That faith has brought peace and purpose to our family for generations. This Gospel is one of power and of truth. I’ve seen the healing effect it’s had on my ancestors’ lives, on my own life and on the lives of so many of those that I get the privilege to interact with out here. I am so thankful to have this blessing and to be able to share it full time. I’m also grateful for all that my ancestors gave to live and to share the Gospel. I know they’re not all that far away. Loved ones on the other side are still very aware of us and our lives. They influence, protect and love us from where they are and I look forward to the day when we are once again reunited as a family– I’m especially looking forward to meeting all of the Butt cousins at that big family reunion.

There is a God. He is the Father of our Spirits and He has this beautiful plan prepared for all of us, His children, to be able to achieve ultimate happiness as families. Christ lives. He is our loving Brother and by following His example and teachings we can come to be our very best selves. I know these things to be true and I leave them with you in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.