It's impossible to completely describe the missionary life. If you've lived it you know what I'm talking about. One serves a mission far from home and family, surrounded by a world that is almost always completely different than the one they left at home . . .
And then they return after a period of 18 months or two years and report briefly, an ultra "reader's digest" version to the Stake High Council. And then in a 15-30 minute report to ward members of their experiences in the last 18-24 months. But there really aren't words to express, or time enough to really share an accurate description of the life of a missionary.
Working alongside of these young, hard working missionaries almost daily has given me an entirely new appreciation for missionary service.
My two sons served missions. One in the New York New York South Mission and another in the Korea Busan Mission. I thought that by receiving letters and weekly emails from them that I perhaps understood the missionary life. I'm realizing now that I understood nothing. I have far greater respect for their efforts now, after these many years than I did at that time. Even though at the time I was so pleased as a parent with their willingness to sacrifice and serve our Heavenly Father. And I know it was a blessing in their life and a blessing for our family during that time.
But I am just now getting a glimpse of how a mission actually changes the life and hearts of young men and women all over the world as they truly come to love the people, love the country, love the gospel, love their Savior and Heavenly Father. This certainly comes to pass with many missionaries. Sadly, perhaps not all. But those who have the desire . . . will experience this mighty change in their hearts and lives.
Those who remember their purpose as missionaries and give up their own will and desires . . . and
“Invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end” ( , 1).
And the challenge for them, is it's impossible to share or describe this life changing experience through words. (Although, I must admit, some do an amazing job . . . . which I'm sure you'll agree if you follow along on any of the blogs listed in the right sidebar.)
A glimpse into missionary life that really delights me . . .
The power of the Spirit. What a blessing the power of the Spirit is in the lives of the missionaries everywhere. They receive promptings telling them what they should do, they receive promptings telling them what they should not do. The words of Elder Ballard describe this great blessing.
The power of this work is when we get to the point in our relationships with Heavenly Father that we know the voice of the Spirit, and we know it so well that we know exactly what we should do” (Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, devotional address at the Provo Missionary Training Center, June 25, 2002).
The power of Prayer. Prayer becomes second nature for missionaries . . . it is vital to every aspect of their work. They pray individually, they pray as companionships. They carry a prayer in their hearts as they study, plan, eat, visit, teach, walk and walk and walk. They understand how the power of prayer is exactly linked with the power of the spirit. And they need the spirit . . .
“the Spirit shall be given unto you by the prayer of faith; and if ye receive not the Spirit ye shall not teach” (D&C 42:14).
The power of daily scripture study. It is through the power of daily scripture study that missionaries are prepared to live and share the gospel each day of their lives as a missionary. It is a blessing for their service and to the missionary as an individual, and as a companionship to have this dedicated amount of time for scripture study daily in their lives. Probably never again will they be able to devote themselves so whole heartedly to a comprehension of the scriptures and how to apply it, and how it blesses their lives everyday.
“I frequently say to missionaries in the field, ‘You make or break your mission every morning of your life. You tell me how those morning hours go from 6:30 a.m. until you are on the street in your mission, whatever time it is; you tell me how those hours go, and I will tell you how your day will go, I will tell you how your month will go, I will tell you how your year will go and how your mission and your life will go’” (Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, seminar for new mission presidents, June 26, 2011)
The power of Teaching and Testifying. Missionaries have challenges. Yes, they do . . . some appear to pass through missionary service without a struggle. But I think it would be a fair statement to say that they ALL have challenges to overcome here in the mission. But it is through the power of teaching and testifying to others that they are able to forget self, and move ahead one day at at time. The cure for homesickness is to teach and to testify. The balm for worry, sadness, anxiety . . . is to teach and to testify. Not only do they assist their investigators to come to know the Savior, they strengthen their fortitude as missionaries in the work.
And then the time comes when they go home . . . it's a time of very mixed emotions. They leave a large portion of their hearts in the mission field, saying goodbye to members, investigators, leaders possibly forever. They return to the world, and all it's different challenges.
But those who have the desire . . . will experience this mighty change in their hearts and lives.