Tag Archives: missionary

I dedicate this post to the dedication of the dedicated…

22 Sep

A couple of weeks ago, we New York missionaries were asked to ponder the question “How can I be a successful missionary?”. In the midst of my pondering, I came across a story told by President Thomas S. Monson:

Elder Thomas Michael Wilson entered the mission field already having battled cancer in his 23 years of life. His companions described his faith as ” unquestioning, undeviating, and unyielding”. 11 months into his 2 years of service, cancer returned, but Elder Wilson persisted in his missionary efforts. He underwent surgery and the amputation of his arm, but stayed in the mission field. President Monson relates how “Elder Wilson continued month after month his precious but painful service as a missionary. Blessings were given; prayers were offered. Because of his example of dedication, his fellow missionaries lived closer to God.” As the end of his mission drew near, so did the end of his short life, but he asked, and was allowed, to serve one additional month. Elder Wilson died shortly after returning home, and was buried with his missionary nametag in place.

As I read this story, I recognized it as a success story. Elder Wilson’s life was short. He didn’t make a lot of money. He didn’t raise a beautiful family. He didn’t set any records or break any barriers. But he dedicated himself completely to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I’ve also seen this same quality over and over in the mormon.org videos. These are quick glimpses into the lives of members of the LDS church and each one seems to be a glimpse into a life of success and joy. The common thread that I’ve seen is that each person featured talks about their dedication to worthy causes — family, talents, interests, life.

One of my favorite quotes comes from George Bernard Shaw, who said:

This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of Nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.

Dedication is success. In the last few weeks I have formed the opinion that to be successful in life, all one has to do is find something worthy to be passionate about, and be dedicated. For my part, I choose to be dedicated to my family, to the gospel of Jesus Christ, and, for the next week and a half, my mission as a representative of the Lord.


My Anniversary

17 May

May 17, 2010

There are a lot of mile-markers to celebrate as a missionary. You’ve got your 6 months, 9 months, halfway point, yearmark, last transfer, etc. Today just happens to be the anniversary of the day that I arrived in New York! One year ago today, I went to the Sacred Grove for the first time and prayed, checking in with the Lord and dedicating the next year and a half to His service.

We had a missionary meeting last week in the Grove, the forest area where Joseph Smith had his first vision. About 40 missionaries met there, and we had some time to walk through and just ponder. The Sacred Grove is a quiet, beautiful place. Like a church building, it’s a place where we can receive revelation from God. Last week was a unique opportunity for me to check in again with my Father, reflecting on my service so far, one year from the day I first arrived.

As we walked, I prayed in my heart, beginning with the simple address, “Heavenly Father…”. And as I spoke those words in my mind, a flood of warmth filled my heart and I knew that He was listening to my prayer.

I thought about that experience, and how it has happened before, and I realized that the thing that has changed the most about me on my mission is that I have come to know God so much better than I ever did. I have formed a relationship with my Father through nights and mornings spent in prayer and study, days spent seeking and teaching his children, and many attempts to follow the example of Jesus Christ. I’ve spent some time despairing that I will ever know Him, I’ve searched when it seemed in vain, I’ve cried when the heavens seemed silent. But last week, I looked back at my old self and I took a look at my new self and I suddenly saw it. It’s happened slowly and imperceptibly, and there is still a long way to go, but I have made so much progress and learned so much in my spiritual journey.

I feel a great sense of gratitude that I can say that I know God. I know what my relationship to Him is. I know how I can speak with Him and I know how He can speak with me. It gives me so much confidence and joy to know that. And that’s why I keep going. That’s why I keep praying and studying. That’s why I want to teach His children.

Part 2: Fear Not

13 Mar

When I was a brand new missionary about to leave the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, I had a little breakdown. For 3 weeks, I had been reviewing everything I’d be teaching. I had felt the Spirit testify so strongly that the message I would be sharing is true. But in my fourth week I began to fear. I was afraid to talk to people. I was afraid I wouldn’t ever learn everything and that I’d be a bad missionary.

We’d been taught from the scriptures that if we were worthy and did all we could, we could open our mouths and have them be filled by the Spirit with what God needed his children to hear (see Doctrine and Covenants 33: 8-10, 84: 85). But I was afraid to open my mouth. And I was miserable.

But then one day, as I was seeking comfort from the scriptures, the Lord answered my prayers. I’ve heard stories of people who opened the scriptures at random and found just what they needed to read, but that had never worked for me before. On this day, though, I said a prayer and opened them, hoping for a miracle. I turned directly to Doctrine and Covenants 67 and read verse 3:

Ye endeavored to believe that ye should receive the blessing which was offered unto you; but behold, verily I say unto you there were fears in your hearts, and verily this is the reason that ye did not receive.

I suddenly remembered the story of Peter walking on the water. While in a boat, Peter saw the Lord and wanted to go to him. The Lord promised him that he could, and Peter stepped out of the boat. But when he saw the storm around him, he began to fear, and that’s when he fell into the water. Christ pulled him back up, chiding “O thou of little faith”.

I realized that day that faith and fear are like opposite sides of the same coin. When fear is up, faith is down; and when faith is up, fear is down. I began that day to work on drowning my fear in faith that God would help me. I opened my mouth. And I have experienced the miracle of having the Lord work through me to help his children here again and again. I have been extremely blessed.

Now my faith is strengthened and my fear decreased. I’ve learned that there is no storm so terrible that the Lord can’t calm, and no missionary so weak that the Lord can’t strengthen.

“Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not.”  –Doctrine and Covenants 6:36

Why won’t the Mormons leave me alone?

4 Jan

I know you’re asking yourself this. I know you’re wondering why they’re at your door, why they stop you in the street, why they insist on talking to you about their book.

Well, I’m the Mormon missionary who’s knocking on your door. I know you’re hiding behind your couch to avoid me, but I still want to talk to you. Let me tell you why:

I was raised reading the Book of Mormon. I was taught from my early childhood the story of Joseph Smith seeing God and being given the record to translate into English.

As I got older, I began to critically think about this story, and what I realized was that it sounded ridiculous! At that point of indecision, I had to know if my parents were right or crazy. Thanks to their teachings, I knew what to do to find out. I prayed to my Heavenly Father to tell me if it was true, and I began again to read the Book of Mormon.

The Book of Mormon is the only book ever published, of which I know, that carries in it a promise that one who reads it prayerfully and asks concerning it in prayer will have revealed to him by the power of the Holy Ghost a knowledge that it is true.

I asked God if the Book of Mormon was true, and He answered me. I know that it is. I asked God if this was His Church, and He answered me. That’s why I follow it.

Mormons aren’t out to tear you away from your religious beliefs. We aren’t coming to brainwash you or confuse you with circular logic until you’re convinced. (Blech, I would hate trying to do that.) We are simply providing copies of the Book of Mormon and asking you to pray. We do so with confidence that you will be answered.

Being a Mormon means that I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ — the same church that he established when he was on the earth, placing it in the charge of his twelve chosen Apostles — which was restored in its true form through a prophet in the latter days. Hence, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

I love being Mormon.

And I don’t put carrots in jell-o. That’s gross.

Small Enough

10 Dec

As a missionary, I’ve been exposed to some music I hadn’t known before I came out here. In other words, I’ve been listening to a lot more religious music than I ever had before.

I was listening the other day to a song called “Small Enough”. The opening line says

Oh, Great God, be small enough to hear me now.

It really struck me.

With all of the snow we’ve had in New York these last several days, there are huge snow banks piling up by the sides of the road. I keep looking at those and marveling at how many individual flakes it would take to make that enormous pile. And I think about how many people have lived on the Earth — how many children our Heavenly Father has. There are almost 7 billion people on the earth now, plus our parents, plus their parents, plus their parents … It’s endless. Like individual snowflakes, we pile into an enormous mountain of souls who have lived and will live.

With all of these children, can our Heavenly Father really have the time and the attention to give to us, individually? Can we really have a personal relationship with a God so great?

It boggles my mind, but we can. I have prayed with my silly little needs, expressing my simple thoughts and my small concerns. And He has heard me. And He has taken the time to answer me, to commune with me when I reached out to Him.

His omniscience is beyond my comprehension. But it allows for me to have a personal relationship with my Heavenly Father. He can look at a 10 foot snow bank and see the beauty of each individual flake. The greatness of our God does not take Him from us. His greatness is His love for each of us.

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