I Have Kept the Faith

Fireworks at the Braves baseball game. I think they're trying to say I'M BACK I have fought a good fight, I have finished m...

Fireworks at the Braves baseball game. I think they're trying to say I'M BACK

I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith - 2 Timothy 4:8

Iaorana tatou pauroa!
I occasionally put my hand to my chest, right above my heart, looking for that familiar black nametag - but I took it off for good a week ago! It may now have found a spot on the shelf in my room, but it left behind it's imprint on my heart, along with all the new knowledge in my head, and the tan of hard work on my skin, and the desire to testify of Christ on my lips, and of course a huge pile of shells from people I love in my room.
Sorry, now I'm getting sappy.
I arrived safely back from Tahiti on June 13 and my family was there to greet me at the airport. My mom brought me a 'lei' of Georgia flowers, which matched perfectly with my woven hat, tahitian dress, and bright red ukulele case. I'm not sure I fit in at the Atlanta, Georgia airport, but that didn't matter because I was home! (One of my homes, at least - I have several, Tahiti included.)
Cool coincidences on the way home - at the airport in Los Angeles I spotted a polynesian-looking couple with a Tahiti bag, turns out they are members from Oregon (origin Tongan) and their daughter comes back from her mission in Brazil in a few months! Then another couple headed to Atlanta recognized my ukulele case (from a popular Tahitian brand) and I ended up talking to them for a while. She grew up in the church but is no longer active. They had also been on the same flight as me coming from Tahiti, where they'd been for vacation. It made waiting to board less lonely to find some kind souls! 
After getting home, I was able to see lots of family throughout the week and weekend! Grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, siblings and new siblings (in-law) all passed through. Roosters and stray dogs were replaced with squirrels and toads and birds. I have not yet had the guts to try an american banana yet, but we have been feasting on all the american food that I missed. (not to forget the austrian spaetzle and goulasch) Thursday night we fed the sister missionaries of our ward, and we made them shepherd's pie, my favorite comfort food. My mom made her special brownies, twice. And on monday night, we went to a fish restaurant - and we even tried tuna poke, which is the hawaiian version of poisson cru (raw fish) which I ate often in Tahiti. 
I've been to 3 baseball games now, the offical Ladd Favorite Sport. It was also fun to get back to institute class on Wednesday night. I love learning about the scriptures! And also teaching - yesterday I taught my dad's mission prep class during Sunday School, and I've volunteered myself to teach gospel principles this coming Sunday.
Last night, actually, I was reading my scriptures before going to sleep. I read in 1 Thessalonians, which is a letter from Paul to converts in Thessalonica. (I couldn't help think of my friends back in Tahiti) Paul really wanted to go back to Thessalonica, from which he had been kicked out by some angry Jews, but despite his efforts was not able to, and therefore sent Timothy in his place. Timothy returned with the good news that the converts were still strong in the faith. He then sent the epistle in 1 Thessalonians, rejoicing that they had kept the faith. "For what thanks can we render to God again for you, for all the joy wherewith we joy for your sakes before our God." (chap 3 verse 9) 
As I was reading this, I got a Facebook message from a member in Tahiti, who was at the missionary concert with T, who I taught in Pirae and was baptized on Saturday. We talked back and forth a bit and I couldn't help agree with Paul, "For what thanks can we render to God again for you!" and for the fact that I don't need to send Timothy to Tahiti for me, but I can text, call, videocall, facebook, email people halfway around the world and get pictures like these:

(T's baptism on Saturday)
I mean how coincidental, right? Reading about Paul not being to see his friends a few hundred miles away, and mine call me up from thousands of miles away. #Blessed
Fight the good fight, finish your course, keep the faith.
I love you all.
Soeur Ladd