Friday, September 30, 2011

His visa came through...Victor leaves for Peru on Wednesday!


Mi nombre es Elder Hemsley y soy un missionero de la Iglesia de Jesucristo de los Santos de los Ultimos Dias. Crunchwrap Supreme, taco, taco, Beefy 5 Layer Burrito, quesadilla.

Look at how good I am at Spanish!

This was a pretty good week. Nothing really stands out too much, but I'm having a lot of fun and getting better at teaching and speaking every day. I got my travel plans! I'm going to Peru on Wednesday! Pretty awesome, pretty scary. I'm really sad about having to leave my district behind, because they're awesome. We're all growing a lot closer and I'm gonna miss them a ton. No fair. Elder Peterson (that's the real way you spell his name. Some companion I am. Stupid Petersen Barn is confusing me.) may or may not be coming with me. He hasn't gotten his travel plans yet and I don't know if he will. But Elders Hickey and Matagi are going, so I'm excited I'll get to go with them!

This morning we went to the temple and I did initiatories for the dead for the first time. So that was fairly awesome. So far out of every temple I've been to Portland is still the coolest one. It's all about the big temples, because they look like castles. The Provo temple just looks like a birthday cake. I just wanna go to the San Diego temple because that one looks like it belongs in Disneyland. Definitely one of the coolest ones. Excited to get to go to the Lima temple soon!

So basically my favorite scripture these days is D&C 68:6

6 Wherefore, be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you; and ye shall bear record of me, even Jesus Christ, that I am the Son of the living God, that I was, that I am, and that I am to come.

That's pretty much the most comforting thing in the world to me right now. I've found tons of great scriptures like that but I can't think of any more off the top of my head. D&C 25:12 is still the best though because music is the best thing.

Wanna know some fun facts about my experience at the MTC? Okay super because you don't have a choice...

Within my first week and a half of being here I found a piece of hair in three of my meals, and I found a freaking string in my mashed potatoes. A long white string. So yeah, the food quality here is great. I eat a lot, but I'm still always starving. Always. The showers here are all freezing, except for the handicapped shower which is usually warm. Always take that shower. Always. If it's not open, use the handicapped shower in a different bathroom. It's all about going down a floor to shower because nobody else thinks of doing that. The best thing to play during gym time is def volleyball. Remember four square? That game that nobody has played since they were seven years old? Yeah, we play that at the MTC. Only it's a little more intense than it was in second grade. Fun stuff though.

I saw Porter (I mean Elder Long. Sorry.) one last time this week. I caught him the day before he left which was lucky. Said goodbye, got a picture, I'll see him in two years. Super awesome. He's going to be an amazing missionary!

We have a second teacher now, Brother Goodman, and he's the coolest. He's really funny and a really great teacher. He's from Tustin, so plus 10 cool points for him. Sister Roerig is still great too. And she's from Oregon, so basically I have two awesome teachers who are from the two most awesome places in the world. I wonder how many times I can say "awesome'' in this e-mail.

I met another Elder who's going to Chiclayo the other day. I don't remember his name, but I think he's leaving the same day as I am. I also ran into two Elders who are going to Eugene! Don't know their names either, but all I could think about was how they're probably going to be eating a delicious homemade meal at my house sometime during these next two years. Not fair not fair not fair!! Does it even count as my house anymore? I don't even have a bedroom. But hey, at least I'm not serving in Eugene. That would be a ridiculously hard mission. I've gone out with the missionaries there a few times, and Eugeneans are not nice to missionaries. Hey Eugene, if you're reading this, be nice to the missionaries please! Don't be afraid to talk to them. Heck, invite them over! They're giving two of the best years of their lives because they want to share a message that brings them so much happiness with the rest of the world.

Utah kind of tourtures me. The air here is so dry. My lips are dry, my fingers are dry, my throat always hurts. All the time. Same thing in Rexburg. How do people live here? Last year at EFY James and I both had terribly dry throats, so we tried to cure it by drinking as much Mounatin Dew as we possibly could. And then we ran out of Mountain Dew and it was the saddest time of our lives (except EFY is actually like the happiest time of my life). Every year when I come to Utah everyone always tells me "hey, play that horse song!" and I can't do it because I can't sing because the air is too gosh darn son of a gun heck DRY.  But it's a-okay because Peru is just a few days away. I'm also skipping the two worst seasons of the year and just going to repeat the two best seasons. So that's awesome. It's almost Spring time again!

I did get your packages. Well, I have another package waiting for me right now that I need to go pick up and I assume it's your second one. I loved the pictures!! So much!! And the treats! I can't believe you sent me Chewy Gobstoppers! Those are almost harder to find than a reasonably sized bag of Flamin' Hot Munchies! Speaking of those, Drew sent me two bags of those in the mail. I had the coolest roommates ever. Only they could apprciate the greatness that is Digimon seasons 1 and 2 with me. If any of you guys are reading this, I miss you a ton!!

This was the best mail week of mah life. I got an overload of letters and packages from people I wasn't even expecting to hear from. Awesome awesome awesome! Hunter wrote to me and it basically made my whole life. Except I've been replying to letters all day and it's taking forever and my hand is getting really tired. Apparently we're only supposed to write letters on p-day so I let it all build up for today. It was working out a lot better when I just replied throughout the week. You know what I really love getting in the mail? Photos. Those are the best. Well, letters are probably better, but if I get both of them, then that's the best. I still can't figure out how to e-mail photos home! Even with a camera cord. It should not be this difficult. These computers are just so protected that you can't do anything on them. It drives me crazy. If you can somehow figure out what I'm supposed to do from home and tell me in a letter or something, that would be great. We can't figure it out from here.

Guess who can roll his R's now!!... Not me! Spanish is coming along great though. Except French words keep spilling out of my mouth. Stupid French. I could never pronounce the R's in French either. The letter R is of the devil. That's why it's Team Rocket's logo.

My district is still awesome. We're all getting really close. A couple of them go to BYU-I so hopefully I'll get to see at least a few of them after the mish. Sometimes I wish there were some hermanas in our district but normally I realize it's probably for the best that we don't. Right now women are a tool of Satan used to distract me from doing the Lord's work. Haha, okay, I should probably stop saying everything is of the devil right now. I actually love and admire all the sister missionaries so much. They're a huge inspiration to me and we really need them out there in the field with us. I have loads of respect for them. They're the best!

Anywho, by far the most important thing that happened this week is that the new blink-182 album was released on Tuesday, and I'm sure it leaked days before that. I waited six years for that album to come out and I missed it by two weeks!! Plus I'm sure the new Zelda is out by now, and Star Wars was released on bluray the day I left home. My favorite things are blink-182, Star Wars, and Zelda. Duh. If my mission call had just been one month later all my hopes and dreams would have come true!! But it's all good because I have so much to look forward to when I get back, and I wouldn't trade this experience for anything. I waited six years to hear new blink (and at least I got to hear three of the new songs and a fourth new one live) but I waited almost 20 years to be a missionary. So I'm happy where I'm at.

Speaking of music, everyone who hasn't should go download my new songs that I put online like three days before I left for Utah. There should be a link on my Facebook page, but y'know, I can't go check it to make sure. I miss playing music. Fat Hot Girl is basically my favorite song ever. Well, it was my favorite to play at shows... I haven't gone so long without playing guitar since before I had a guitar! My fingers are getting soft. First time I play guitar when I get home is going to hurt a lot!

Anyway, don't expect to keep getting e-mails that are this long from me. I've been going over my 30 minute e-mail limit these past couple of times and I need to stop doing that. 100% obedience = 100% blessings! And I really, really like blessings, so I think I should probably try that obedience thing out.

I love you all! I can never say that enough so just count on hearing it over and over. You're all the best and I love hearing from all of you! Every week I feel like I'm forgetting to mention lots of things. I'm sure I always am. Anyway, next time you hear from me I'll be in Peru!

By the way, just so everyone knows, when I'm in Peru it will take a lot longer for my letters to get to you (duh) and there's even a chance they'll never get there. But I'll always try to reply to every letter I get! Mail makes me happy.

I love you! Again.

- Elder Hemsley

P.S.: this scripture really spoke to me this week:

   And on that day I will bring unto your rememberance that your copy of Pokémon Diamond remaineth in the possession of James Giles, who is your friend.
  And to you it will mattereth not, and you will forgive him.
  For you doth not enjoy that game anyway, and you will desire that he should keep it.
  And in your heart you will wish that that game were struck with the thunderbolts of a thousand Raichus, for it paleth in comparison to that other game. Yea, even Pokémon Gold.
     (Metroid N:64)

Okay, I'll refrain from writing fake scriptures in the future. Maybe.

[Awesome count: 13]

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Yay! Another letter from Victor!


This computer is going kinda slow so we'll see what I can fit into this e-mail before I'm outta time.

I had like a zillion things to tell you and I know you had specific questions for me, but something happened on Tuesday that blew everything I had to say out of the water, so I'll start with that.
We had our first devotional on Tuesday. Everyone was getting all excited expecting to maybe hear the prophet, which was kind of funny. We waited to get into the gym where they hold devotionals for like an hour before they opened the doors and let us in. When the doors opened it was the craziest thing ever trying to get inside. Just a gigantic flood of people all trying to squeeze through a little entrance. I thought I was going to lose my nametag. Anyway, not the important thing. When we got in there we still had a long time before the devotional actually started. As I was sitting there I just looked across the room at all the hundreds of Elders and Sisters who were all preparing to serve the Lord for the next 18-24 months of their lives. It really touched me. I could feel the spirit before the meeting had even started. We sang three pre-devotional hymns just to pass the time before it started, and during the third hymn our speaker walked into the room and everbody stood up. I couldn't see who it was, but when he walked into the room I felt one of the strongest impressions of the spirit I've felt in my life. When we finished the hymn we all sat down and I finally got to see who it was. It was Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles!! I was so excited. He gave such a great talk on the Book of Mormon, full of fun little random facts about it, and he walked us through the October 2011 edition of the Ensign which is all about the Book of Mormon. Elder Nelson is a super funny guy, which I didn't know before. Being about 20 feet away from an Apostle of the Lord hearing him speak was such a great experience. The only thing I can compare it too, and this is probably a totally innapropriate comparison, is how I felt the two times I got to see my favorite band in the world, blink-182, in concert. A feeling of such great excitement and happiness, only paired with feeling the spirit which made it way better. (P.S., shoutout to all my awesome friends who went to see blink in Seattle with me about three weeks ago. Especially to Keegan for going so far out of his way to take me to Seaside afterward. Thanks for making that one of the best nights of my life!!) If I ever had to pick between seeing blink, which is one of my favorite things ever, and seeing a General Authority speak live, I'd pick the General Authority every time.

Anyway, the best part of the night was after the devotional. Our district met together for a devotional discussion with our branch president, President Hansen. President Hansen had us go around the room and share something we got out of the devotional. I was at the end of the room so I was going to go last. I was still on a spiritual high from the devotional, and the feeling got stronger and stronger and everyone shared their thoughts and I thought about what I was going to say. As I was thinking, something clicked in my head. People will feel different around you if you have a close relationship with God, and have strong faith and a strong testimony. The way I felt when Russell M. Nelson walked into the room, and I had no idea who it was or that he was an Apostle because I couldn't see him, was proof to me of that. When it got to be my turn I shared this with my district, and as I was speaking I felt the spirit so strong that I was having an incredibly hard time speaking and I was literally shaking. I think it was the strongest impression of the spirit I've ever felt in my entire life. After I finished sharing, I decided to try to write about how I was feeling at that exact moment. I was still shaking and it was difficult for me to write but here's what I wrote:

Amazingly strong spiritual high. The way I feel right this moment is the most undeniable proof to me that this gospel is true. I feel the spirit so strong it's difficult to talk and I'm literally shaking. I never want this feeling to go away. People will feel different just being around you in you're close with God and have strong faith and a strong testimony. The way I feel right now makes it so I could never deny the thruthfulness of this church. This is the absolute greatest feeling in the entire world.

After we had our closing prayer, President Hansen shook my hand and thanked me for my powerful words. I didn't know what to say but I told him that I felt really good. About a half hour later after our district had another meeting or personal study or something, we were all leaving to go back to our dorms. As I stepped out into the hall, Elder Hickey, one of the Elders in my district who's going to serve in Bolivia and is also going to the Lima MTC in two weeks, came up to me and shook my hand and thanked me for what I had to say, and that he really appreciated it. Since then two other people have told me how much they appreciated my testimony. That is so cool! I'm so glad I can have that affect on people. That's exactly what I want to be able to do out here. Now I just need to learn how to do it in Spanish. Anyway, that was one of the best experiences of my entire life.

So, here's what's new. I think. At lunch on Wednesday Elder Harris (one of my roommates, and our district leader) came up to Elder Petersen and I and informed us that he's our new companion because his companion Elder Tensmeyer went home. So now I'm in a trio! I don't know why Elder Tensmeyer went home, and I'm not making assumptions. He is a great guy and he was a great example to me and really helped strengthen my faith while he was here. In fact, because of his example I now feel like I'm able to listen to the spirit and trust in God enough to be able to give a Priesthood blessing, which was pretty much one of my biggest fears before I got here because I've never given one before. We miss him, and I wish him the best.
I'm still pretty tired. Not as much though, so that's good. Except yesterday we had gym first thing in the morning and I decided to run 10 laps around the track, which I'm pretty sure is one mile, and the whole day after that I was exhausted. I haven't gone running since high school so that pathetic one mile is big deal for me, okay? Haha. I'm hurting today. Usually during gym our district plays volleyball, which is awesome. I've loved v-ball for a long time even though I've always been terrible at it. Someone needs to teach me how to play for real when I get back, deal? Deal.

Elder Harris, Elder Petersen and I commited our first fake investigator to be baptized the other day. In Spanish! We're awesome. We're learning the language unrealistically fast. It's truly incredible.

I haven't met anyone else who's going to Chiclayo yet, and I haven't heard anything about my visa either. Elder Hickey and Elder Matagi are the Elders in our district who are serving in Bolivia and they got their travel plans yesterday. I'm not worried though, I wasn't expecting to get them this early. But we'll see what happens. Our expected departure date is October 5th but it depends on our visas.

I can't believe I'm going to have a new cousin when I get home! That is so exciting!!

You know how all my pants are dry clean only? Well a pair of them are in the washing machine right now. So we'll see what happens! No way I'm living in Peru for two years with only dry cleanable pants.

Anyway, I'm running out of e-mail time, so I'm gonna go... and have my p-day.

You're all the best. I love hearing from you. Mail is my favorite. Thanks for everything!!

-Elder Hemsley

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Victor's First Letter Home!!

Hello everyone!

If my calculations are correct you should be receiving this letter at the exact moment the deloreon vanished. I have been living comfortably for the past six months in the year 1885.

I'm a missionary now. How wierd is that? I miss you all so much! This has been the craziest week. I've never been so busy in my entire life. I had a lot of fun visiting the Balkman's before checking in here at the MTC. Always so good to see them.

I have a pretty awesome distrcit. My companion is Elder Petersen and he's great. He's the only person I've met so far who's going to the same mission as me. Most everyone else in our district is going to Mexico. Two elders are going to Bolivia though, and they'll be going to the MTC in Lima with us in three weeks, so that's cool. By the way, I'm terrifed of the Lima MTC. I can't handle being immersed in Spanish like that! I've been learning the language so fast though. It's ridiculous. I was the first missionary to get to our classroom on Wednesday, and our teacher Hermana Roerig just starts having a conversation with me in Spanish. That was like... within an hour of getting here. Yesterday Elder Petersen and I taught our first "investigator" completely in Spanish. Three days ago I couldn't even speak spanish! To think I spent an entire year in Spanish II getting worse at Spanish, and here I am after three days basically as good at speaking Spanish as I am at speaking French, which I took for eight terrible, painful years. Actually eight good years, but the French was the terrible part. It's unreal how fast we're all learning though. One elder in our district had absolutely no Spanish experience at all prior to coming here, and he's doing as great as the rest of us. In three days!!

I've seen a ton of people I know here. Let's see if I can remember them all...

Probably within three minutes of arriving I got to see my good ol' friend Elder Porter Long!... from a distance. I didn't get to talk to him then, but I finally ran into him again yesterday and got to chat with him. Like five minutes after that I saw Sister Jenny Doll who was in my ward in Rexburg. I've also seen Elder Braydon Graf, from my mission prep classes and Book or Mormon class in the winter. I ran into Peter Barnes, who's teaching here. When we met the branch presidency I got to see Brother Macdonald, who was the mission president in Eugene not so long ago, and his wife... I know I'm missing people. I've seen more than that. It's great to see some familiar faces around here though.

All the members of the branch presidency we met with and their wives breifly introduced themselves to our district at the meeting. When Sister Macdonald got up, because I was in there she started her introduction by talking about working with Doctor Hemsley back in Eugene and how helpful he was to all of the missionaries and how much they love my dad. Uh, that was cool. I felt more at home with the Macdonalds being there.

I've never been so tired in my life. Seriously I don't think they let missionaries get enough sleep. Every day it's harder to get up, harder to stay awake throughout the day, and way easier to fall asleep at night. At this rate within a few days I won't be able to wake up at all!! Get this though. Yesterday I was struggling so much trying to stay awake during our early morning study. I could not keep my eyes open. After fighting my tiredness for a while, I decided to say a quick prayer asking for some extra energy and that I'd be able to stay awake. Almost instantly I got that extra energy. God is with all of us here every step of the way, helping us in so many ways. Heavenly Father has truly become my very best friend. I've wanted wanted to be able to truthfully say that, and after this past week I finally can.

Today is my first p-day, but I think from here on out they're going to be on Fridays instead.

Ahh, I don't even know what else to say. This week has been so crazy. I've been so blessed this week. My testimony has been strengthed so much since last Saturday. I've become so much closer to our Heavenly Father than ever before. My prayers are so different than they used to be. I feel like I'm having a conversation with my best friend now when I pray. It has been amazing.

I'm not sure what else to say. Thank you so much for all the prayers and support. It's crazy to think that literally millions of people around the world are praying for the missionaries every single day. I know for a fact that those prayers are helping us so much, because there is no way we could possibly be learning as fast as we're learning in any other place. I miss everybody! I can't wait to see you all again, but I'm excited about what I'm doing. Terrified. But excited.

Can't wait to hear from you and I'll send another e-mail your way next week! I have no idea how to attach pictures right now, so I'll have to figure that out next time. There's no SD card slot on this computer. Why? WHY?!?! I've barely taken any yet anyway. With everything that's been happening to me this week, it's really got me thinking... how come in Return of the Jedi Obi-wan has to walk around the bushes to talk to Luke even though he's a ghost?... Food for thought.

I love you all!

Elder Hemsley

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

He's on his way!

Victor waving goodbye to his teary-eyed family @ 5:30am this morning.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

My Farewell

Welcome to my new mission blog. This is where you will be able to read (hopefully) weekly updates from me as I serve for the next two years in the Chiclayo, Peru mission. This will be the only post actually made by me. From here on out my family will be updating this blog and posting my e-mails and maybe some pictures I'll be sending home to keep everyone updated on what I'm doing.

For the next three weeks I am going to be in the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah. For anyone who's interested, this is my address while I'll be there:

Elder Victor Paul Hemsley
MTC Mailbox # 211
PER-CHI 1115
2005 N 900 E
Provo, UT 84604-1793

I will get a new address when I actually get to Peru, and my family will post that for everyone when it happens. I'd love to hear from you while I'm gone!!

I gave my farewell talk at my home ward today and a few people told me they wanted it, so I decided to use this first post to post the talk I gave in church today. It's not word-for-word exactly what I said, but it is essentially the same. Please forgive me for being terrible at English, maybe that's why I was called to speak a different language. Here you go!

My Farewell

Being a missionary is something I’ve always known I was going to do. Ever since I was very young, although it seemed so far away that it would never really happen, I knew that someday I was going to serve a mission. Growing up in this ward I got to see many people I knew leave to serve missions. When I was a child, the missionaries seemed like adults to me, and it seemed that it would be a very, very, very long time before I would ever reach the age to serve a mission. Missionaries really stood out to me back then, and they still do. They’re so easy to pick out with their suits and name tags. In my eyes the missionaries knew everything. They’re the ones who are out there for two years teaching people the gospel, so why wouldn’t they know everything? We would have them over for dinner and give us little lessons and I figured they were gospel geniuses. I couldn’t exactly see myself ever being in their shoes, because once again, I wasn’t going to have to worry about being a missionary for at least another million years.
Growing up in the church we are taught about missionary work from a very young age. As far back as I can remember I’ve always been learning about doing missionary work and preparing to serve a mission, so it’s something that gets engrained in our minds that we’re most likely going to be doing someday. All the nursery, primary, Sunday school, and priesthood leaders I’ve had here have all helped point me in the right direction and prepared me to get to the point where I turned in my mission papers. The examples and encouragement of my family and friends brought me to the point where I really wanted to be a missionary. Even though I never wanted to go to them, the service projects I’ve been a part of in this ward have made me so thankful for this amazing church that is always so willing to go out and help others. Service projects basically used to be my worst nightmare, but lately I’ve been craving opportunities to help other people. I just can’t wait to go to Peru and help make somebody’s life just a little bit better. What could be more important than that? There’s nothing quite like the feeling of willingly going out of your way to help brighten someone else’s day.
            While as a child I felt like a mission was too far off to worry about, as I grew older, I realized the missionaries weren’t so old, and that in a few years time I would be old enough to go on a mission too. I didn’t always love the idea of serving a mission. As I got a little older and the fact that I was going to be a missionary in the next few years became very real to me, I questioned whether or not I really wanted to do it. I didn’t like the idea of leaving home for two years, of leaving my family and friends for two years, of leaving my music or video games for two years. Since nobody is required to go on a mission, the idea of not going started to seem like a good idea to me, though I still figured I would probably go anyway just because everyone would expect me to. I don’t remember exactly when this feeling went away, and when I finally started getting excited about it. But even since getting my mission call I’ve had times when I wished I wasn’t going. Leaving life as I know it for two years is scary, but in the end I always realize how important this work is, and how incredible this experience is going to be for me.

Last summer my cousin Mitchell left to serve a mission in Moscow Russia. I’ve always lived far away from Mitchell, so I didn’t get to see him super often, but he was my closest friend to ever leave on a mission at that point. Mitchell is somebody I look up to very much, and watching him make the decision to serve really got me thinking about how I was going to be doing the same thing soon after. Reading his letters home gets me so excited to go out and get the work done.
When I was at school this past year I lived in apartment with five other guys. Every one of my roommates was a returned missionary. I got to talk with them about their mission experiences, and all the great times they had, and it got me so excited that I would soon have the same opportunity that they had. They would tell me that they were jealous that I still had the chance to go serve, because they wished they could still be on their missions too. Talking to my roommates got me more excited about missionary work that I’d ever been before.
            One of the biggest factors in preparing me to become a missionary has been the gift of the Priesthood. The Priesthood is a central part of our church, and has had a huge influence on my decision and desire to serve a full time mission. On, it says:

“The priesthood is the eternal power and authority of God. Through the priesthood God created and governs the heavens and the earth. Through this power He redeems and exalts His children, bringing to pass "the immortality and eternal life of man" (Moses 1:39). God gives priesthood authority to worthy male members of the Church so they can act in His name for the salvation of His children. Priesthood holders can be authorized to preach the gospel, administer the ordinances of salvation, and govern the kingdom of God on the earth.”

The Priesthood is split into two parts; the Aaronic, or preparatory priesthood, and the Melchizedek Priesthood, the greater priesthood. When I was twelve years old, I graduated from primary, and received the Aaronic Priesthood. I became a deacon in what was a very small deacon’s quorum at the time. The switch from primary to priesthood put me in a position where every Sunday I now got to spend part of the day with other priesthood holders, including boys who were at the age when they were starting to serve missions. I looked up to the priests who were preparing and leaving to serve missions. The older I got, the closer the boys who left on their missions were to me. Now the missionaries who were leaving from our ward were boys who I actually knew; boys like me who I had seen every week, who I had gone to mutual with and done service projects with. The idea that I was soon going to be old enough to serve a mission started to feel very real to me.    
Receiving the Priesthood was one of the biggest steps I took in preparing to become a missionary, because it has provided me with so many valuable experiences that have helped strengthen my faith, and to become a better person than I was before. For the first time, I now had responsibility in the church. As a deacon, I got to pass the sacrament every week. As a teacher I got to prepare the sacrament, and as a priest I got to bless the sacrament, which was always my favorite. One of the more amazing experiences that I’ve had with the priesthood was when I became a priest in November 2007. One month before then, my brother Sam turned eight years old, and he was ready to be baptized. My family decided to wait an extra month for me to become a priest so that I could have the opportunity to baptize my brother. That was the first time I had ever used the priesthood for anything other than the sacrament, and it was a very special experience. When I was at school this past fall I got the opportunity to help my roommate give a girl a blessing by anointing the oil on her head. I was nervous, but I was so thankful for the experience to use the God’s priesthood power to help bless the life of someone else.
I’ve seen miracles happen through the priesthood. Years ago my parents were getting ready to go on a vacation to Australia… without us. The night before they were supposed to leave, something happened to my dad’s back, and he was in so much agony that he couldn’t even get up off the floor. I’ve never seen him in so much pain. There was no way in a million years that he was going to be able to travel to Australia like that. He couldn’t even move.
He decided he wanted to get a priesthood blessing. I was young and it was long enough ago that I can’t remember, but we had some brethren from our ward come over to give him the blessing. By the next morning my dad’s back had healed and he was all set to travel to the other side of the world. Experiences like these scattered throughout my life have built my faith and strengthened my testimony of the gospel little by little over time.
Of all the things that helped shape my decision to become a missionary, the single greatest thing by far has been the Holy Ghost. In our church we believe that our Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are three separate beings. Anybody is able to feel the Spirit, but when we are baptized we are given the gift of having the Holy Ghost as a constant companion so long as we are living righteously. Having been a member of this church my whole life, I heard experiences from members all the time who had felt the Spirit or were influenced by the Holy Ghost. For most of my life growing up I wasn’t sure if I had never felt the Holy Ghost, or if I just never knew how to recognize it. Even after I was baptized I still felt the same way. I assumed I would recognize it someday, but I couldn’t truthfully say that I had ever felt its presence.
In 2005, when I was thirteen years old, I had the first experience that I can remember where I really felt the Spirit. It was at my sister Jacqueline’s baptism. I remember sitting there in the front of the room, and I felt the Spirit so strongly it was overwhelming. To this day I don’t know if that was really the first time I ever felt the Spirit in my life, or if it was only the first time I had actually recognized it, but that feeling overcame me so strong that night, and I knew what it was.
I know some people feel the Spirit differently than others do. For me, when I feel it, it’s the best feeling in the entire world. For me it’s the most amazing calming and comforting feeling of all time. Since my sister’s baptism I have been able to recognize the Spirit frequently throughout my life. I feel it the strongest when I bear my testimony to others, which sadly I don’t do very often, but I will share it with all of you in a few minutes. When I bear my testimony, and I feel the Spirit it is the most amazing confirmation that the things I am saying, or at least am trying to say are true. Bearing my testimony has been one of the strongest testimony builders for me in my life, if not the absolute strongest, because when I do it it’s almost like I can literally hear the Holy Ghost telling me that the things I am saying are true, and that is an incredible feeling. Being able to recognize the spirit is probably the best blessing in my life. It took me thirteen years before I finally felt the spirit for the first time, but ever since it has been a reoccurring event that I crave, because when I feel the spirit so strongly, I never want it to end.            
The church website says this about the Holy Ghost:

He “witnesses of the Father and the Son” (2 Nephi 31:18) and reveals and teaches “the truth of all things” (Moroni 10:5). We can receive a sure testimony of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ only by the power of the Holy Ghost. His communication to our spirit carries far more certainty than any communication we can receive through our natural senses.”

In my life, that last part has certainly be true. The Holy Ghost is has been the single biggest confirmation of my beliefs in my life, because when the Holy Ghost communicates to me, it is such a sure confirmation of what is true that there is no way I could ever possibly deny it. 

I want to serve a mission because I want to help other people have the same amazing experiences that I’ve had. I want to help people feel how amazing it is to have the Holy Ghost as a constant companion. I want to help people find the most incredible sense of comfort by learning that their Heavenly Father loves them, and He wants the best for them, and He listens to and answers their prayers. I’ve had countless experiences where I’ve been nervous or unsure about something where I’ve said a prayer about in my head, and it’s one of the most comforting feelings in the world to know that I can always ask my Heavenly Father for help whenever I need it, and that he wants to help me. I want to help people discover that they can be with the people they love after death, that they will someday see loved ones who have passed away again, and that they can live with their families for eternity. Knowing these things has helped me get through the hardest experiences of my life. Two years ago one of my younger cousins suddenly passed away. It was the worst experience of my entire life. Nothing has ever come close to being so difficult for me. But during this experience it was the best thing in the world to know that I will be able to see him again someday. It didn’t make it easy, but it made it so much easier, and I felt so blessed to have that knowledge.
The Gospel has blessed my life in so many ways, and I just can’t wait to share it with people because I want everyone to be able to experience all the same amazing blessings I’ve had in my life.  
I want everyone here to know that I believe what I am going out to teach the people in Peru is true with all of my heart. Not because my parents told me it was true, not because my Sunday school teachers said it was true, not because anybody here has said anything, but because the Holy Ghost has borne personal witness to me that these things are true, and that is something I can never deny. These beliefs are so dear to my heart that I would give up my life for them. I’ve never felt so strongly about anything before in my life. I believe that this is Christ’s true church, restored to the Earth through the prophet Joseph Smith in 1830. I believe that Joseph Smith really saw God the Father and Jesus Christ, and that he translated ancient scripture that we now know as the Book of Mormon. I believe that our president of the church, Thomas S. Monson is a true prophet of God, like the prophets of old in the Bible. I believe miracles still happen, and that God still listens to and answers our prayers. I believe Jesus Christ is our savior, and that he gave up his life for us so that we can live together forever with God. I believe these things because I have felt that they’re true, and I can’t accurately put how amazing that feeling is to words.       
   I want to thank all of you for pushing me in the right direction over the years. To all my friends, family, and church leaders. I’m here right now because of you guys, and I’m so incredibly thankful for that. All of your support has been amazing, and I’ve felt your love so strongly as I’ve been getting ready to leave. I love each and every one of you. Thank you so much for getting me here so that I can go out and do the Lord’s work.

So there you have it. Thank you all so much for the amazing amount of love and support you've been sending my way over these past few months. Thank you for all the prayers. I've never felt such strong support for a decision I've made before. I'd love to hear from any of you while I'm gone! I can never get enough mail. Though please forgive me if it takes forever for me to respond. Missionaries are busy people! I can't wait for my next chance to see you all again when I get back. I love you all! Until next time.

- Elder Hemsley