There is no doubt . . . that if you are a missionary, it's a life full
of both blessings and challenges . . .
of both blessings and challenges . . .
Sometimes that's how we really know if we're focused on the work . . .
Because you experience each day both the blessings and the challenges that always seem to come together. No one says it better than the dearly loved President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, President Boyd K. Packer -
"It was meant to be that life would be a challenge. To suffersome anxiety, some depression, some disappointment, even somefailure is normal.""Teach our members that if they have a good, miserable dayonce in a while, or several in a row, to stand steady and face them. Thingswill straighten out"."There is great purpose in our struggle in life".
There is great purpose in our struggle in life.
No where is that more true than in the life of a missionary.
As missionaries struggle with the many challenges of missionary life . . . they relate well to the struggles their investigators are experiencing as they are also adapting to a new lifestyle. A life within the realm of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which requires repentance, leaving behind old habits and practices, and being willing to set all aside for the blessings of peace and joy that come as one embraces the restored Gospel. How does one do this?
Only through faith. Faith and a knowledge that our Heavenly Father loves us, and . . .
"that all these things shall give thee
eexperience, and shall be for thy good"
-- Doctrine & Covenants 122:7
The model of the mission!
For many if not all of our missionaries . . . the mission is a small model of what they can expect from life's experiences. The emotional difficulties and challenges they surmount here, will give them greater strength in their life to come, as they will surely experience other challenges and opportunities for growth.
Many of the good (or bad for that matter!) habits they develop during this time in their life will stay with them throughout their life, either as a blessing or a detriment . . . depending on the effort they put into this missionary lifestyle.
As missionaries consecrate their efforts and focus more on doing our Heavenly Father's will, and being led by the Spirit. Marvelous things start to happen . . .
Just wanted to share a few experiences from the mission field in the . . .
Honduras San Pedro Sula East Mission.
You arrive in a foreign country, very much unlike that one you have spent your whole life in and it's a lot to take in, especially in the beginning. It's hard, you may not love it immediately. And in all those experiences of finding, teaching and testifying the Spirit changes hearts. Missionaries who have returned all say the same thing . . . "it was hard to come, but it's harder to leave". It's experiences like the following that cause the mighty change to occur.
"Not long ago we baptized one of our investigators and it was an amazing occasion accompanied much by the Spirit. We have watched him progress all the way through since the day we found him. Last night we were teaching his sister and he came in and sat in on the lesson. We were a little worried that he didn't have a super sting testimony, but I knew he had a little one. During this lesson his sister asked how he know this was true and correct. This was the moment of truth, he said he got down on his knees after reading and sincerely asked if this was right and true. He said he felt a burning in his chest that he can't even explain and almost started crying. The Spirit was so strong, in only these 3 short weeks he has grown to have such a strong testimony and wants to serve a mission. It's such a miracle that he is already wanting to share the gospel only knowing it for three weeks."
Frequently getting used to a new culture is a big adjustment. It's hard to never really feel clean, to frequently find bug's all over the floor, your desk, the kitchen table . . . and usually on you too! The food can be a challenge . . . sometimes who know's what you're eating . . . and maybe it's better that way! Sometimes it's difficult to see behind the humble circumstances, the meager and different possessions than we're accustomed to. One missionary commented that at the first baptism it was difficult to see beyond the dead bugs floating in the water. But through the power of the Spirit was able to see the joy and happiness experienced by this newly baptized member by receiving these ordinances through the proper priesthood authority. So grateful for that power of the Spirit!
Okay . . . I'm going to say it . . . our missionaries get robbed sometimes. It happens in big cities everywhere . . . on every continent. Maybe our missionaries get robbed just a little bit more often than some others . . . But even good can come from these experiences.
"I'm not going to lie, after we got robbed other night, I was having doubts about whether or not I was strong enough to finish my mission, about whether or not I would be able to do this for the rest of the time. I was sad about the loss of my scriptures, sad about not feeling safe, sad about everything. But then the next morning at church, a random family stopped by with . . . my scriptures!! They had found them in the street and brought them back to me. I have no idea how it happened, how they found them, how they knew to come to the church building, but I got my scriptures back and it was a miracle. And it gave me the moral boost to keep going! I'm grateful for all the experiences that I've had."
Truly the Lord knows each one of us and our needs!
Another experience . . . as missionaries act upon their faith . . .
While working with a new investigator, one has has been actively involved for a long time in the Adventista Church, but who had been progressing well with the missionary discussions and even scheduled a date for her baptism, found she was experiencing some doubts and turned to to our Heavenly Father in prayer to help her resolve her doubts. One day she was scheduled to meet with the missionaries as well as members of the Adventista Church who were trying to influence her studies and decisions and was worried about how to proceed. She asked in prayer if her Heavenly Father would send the representatives of the true church to her home first, so that she might know which church our Heavenly Father wanted her to join. Our missionaries not only showed up first, but the other representatives didn't come to visit her at all. She was very grateful for a Heavenly Father who answered her prayers and sent the witness of the Holy Ghost to help bring her to a knowledge of the true gospel of Jesus Christ.
Something very dear to the heart of missionaries everywhere is a prepared investigator.
After one lesson this investigator read the whole pamphlet and even filled out the little extra study questions. He understood todays lesson on the Restoration very well since he had studied the pamphlet so carefully. When the missionaries asked him if he had any questions he asked them if his questions had to pertain to the pamphlet, of course not they replied . . . he then asked how and when he could be baptized. When the missionaries inquired why he wanted to be baptized, he replied, "well, I read the pamphlet and I have read parts of the Book of Mormon, and so I said a prayer and asked if this was a true church, and I felt really different and warm and good. And I knew it was the Spirit. I want to be baptized and someday serve a mission".
The workings of the Spirit . . .
"In the afternoon, we went to the river for a baptism where the Spirit was so strong. Then we took that Spirit with us to an inactive family's home. We knew it was the mom's birthday and thought, "let's go make her feel loved". This was a family we had visited many times but they were never interested in returning to church, but this time we went with about 15 members and all six missionaries. We just flooded into the house and sang hymns and happy birthday to them all. Perhaps they felt like the church was literally in their house, or they saw some members that they hadn't seen for a long while. But they felt something. With the singing, she just began to weep, then her husband also and their young daughter. The daughter had been going to church for many months all alone and was praying that her family could reactivate. The Spirit was so strong. They vowed to go to church next Sunday, and all of us, members and missionaries, left with the sweetest feeling inside. I didn't speak almost all day. I just wanted to feel like that forever.
God is our Loving Heavenly Father -
All are precious in the sight of our Heavenly Father. All are his children. Truly God is, our loving Heavenly Father. He wants all to return to him and enjoy the blessings of exaltation and eternal life. This is the one and only way to return to the Father. Each has the opportunity to ponder the sweet gospel message our in their minds, pray over their problems and challenges. Pray for guidance from above.
We are blessed by the soothing and calming influence of the scriptures. The witness of the Holy Ghost will testify of truth if we ask with real intent. Asking sincerely, committing to take action once we have received an answer to our prayers. A commitment to follow the example of our Savior Jesus Christ and be baptized by immersion, for the remission of our sins. This is the way. This is the message that we share.
You too can come to accept and act upon these precepts. You too can know that the message is true. God does live. God has not forgotten his children. He lives and loves each one of them and is ready and willing to bless them as they seek Him out.