When I first met Amy I knew she was my friend and that I was meant to teach her. In that first lesson, which is always slightly awkward, I felt prompted at one point to ask her, “What is your relationship with Jesus Christ?” She looked at me and paused and then said that she didn’t have one. Amy left this week to go back to school in Virginia so I will not see her for a long while. Right before she left we met for one last lesson. I had been thinking about that question I asked her and I reminded her of it. She said she had been thinking of that exact moment herself that day. She thanked me for asking her that question and then for giving her a way to have a relationship with Christ. I am grateful for that conversation and moment.
Robert was standing in the church building before church and we had a new investigator come to church for the first time. Robert went over to him and told him that he got baptized a few days ago and then told him it was the best thing he had ever done. He said he was wonderful, magical even. He then said he felt clean. The power of the priesthood is real and it can make us new. It is amazing for me to realize just how powerful a change that can be. He gets the priesthood tonight! When I asked him earlier how it felt to have the Holy Ghost in all seriousness he said it felt magical. He was so worried he wouldn’t feel any different but now he knows just how wrong he was. Magical! I love that description.
Imagine that you are standing in a small rowboat 50 feet from the shore line. You have a rope that is tied to a point on the land and you are pulling on the rope. Without understanding physics and things you could assume that you are pulling the shore closer to the boat and not the boat to the shore. How many times do we think this way with prayer? We are standing in a boat and instead of trying to pull ourselves closer to the shore (God’s will) we try and pull the shore closer to us? Prayer is aligning our will to the will of our Father. We must be careful to not flip physics and tell God what needs to be done and pull Him to us. We can only pull our boat closer to God.
So many times we wonder if we are clean enough. If we are worthy enough. If we are doing all we should be doing. We wonder what it means to be a follower of Christ at all times and in all places. We wonder how we can know if we are. I know that there is a way to know how we stand before God. To know when our efforts are pure and when we are doing the right things. God will always testify to us through the Holy Spirit and that spirit can only be felt by clean vessels. When you feel the spirit that is God telling you that you are clean and pure. That is Him reaffirming to you that His great and precious gift is still with you. When it comes in a fleeting moment and leaves that is Him reminding you of that gift and imploring you to search for it. When you feel the spirit your soul is connecting with God and you are standing in the right place in that moment. Search for those places and those moments. Stand our ground in all situations so that His comfort and reassurance will be available to you. He understands the confusion and the questions and He can help with all of them. Some days peace is all we need. That peace is real and it can be felt by all of us. I know this gospel is true through the Holy Spirit. Only in that way can I bear the truth of the message I bear.
I am going to include a part of a letter my trainer Sister Grover worte. She is going home this week and I will miss her. One of the greatest joys of my mission has been knowing her.
This week, I was shown a video by one of my leaders. It was titled "The Unsung Hero". Google it, if you can. It shows a young, average Thai man on a rainy day. He sees a hungry dog and gives him a piece of his lunch. He sees some beggars on the street, one being a little girl who is trying to fund the dream of obtaining a basic education. He gives her basically all that's in his wallet. He helps a woman who is stuck on a curb with her food cart. He performs these, along with many small acts of service throughout the day. People give him strange glances, not seeing any immediate benefit that could come from what many would think, a waste of energy and resource. Towards the end of the feature, the video asks, "What does this man get from all of these acts of kindness?
Nothing, he gets absolutely nothing... But good emotions. Happiness. Joy. Contentment.
The video then shows the man praying, watering his plants, laughing, making friends with strangers. He is the "unsung hero." His heroism is not anything that would be greatly noticed, nor would anyone appreciate its value except for himself and the few people that accepted his kindness.
We are the unsung heros. We labor for 1.5-2 years of our lives, we speak to thousands of people about Christ's love. I've cleaned bathtubs for strangers, hugged homeless women, given ex-convicts the tools they need to repent. Each missionary is given a different experience - mine has been a magnificent and profound one. We gain no prize, no overly-special recognition. Many of us have lost girlfriends and boyfriends, a sense of style, and dignity at times. I don't write these things to brag, but I cannot help but want to exclaim to all of the missionaries, that our work is meaningful! Although you may come to your apartment at the end of the day, tired, maybe hopeless, don't forget that you are a hero. The people around you may ignore you, may reject your offers to serve. The special ones will accept, but when observed from a reality that expects results and totals, what are you receiving from all of this hard work, all of these long days?
Nothing, you get nothing... But good emotions. Happiness. Joy. Contentment. A greater reliance and appreciation for the Savior. An increased measure of the Spirit.
Hard as a mission may often seem, think of the people you've been able to love, think of the strong relationship you've gained with Our Father throughout your service. I feel jubilant and smiley as I reflect on the things I've learned on my mission. Although I didn't come into the mission field to gain anything, I have learned how to become a hero, a spiritual warrior of faith. When I leave this mission, I will become a sweet, faint memory for the people and the missionaries in Carlsbad.
What a good reminder for me and each of us this week.