Tuesday, 8 November 2016

My Mission

I've been reading and hearing about missionaries coming to the end of their two-year-journey and, boy, is it thrilling and terrifying to know that I'll be there soon. I don't want to leave behind the lifetime experiences, powerhouse people, and overall satisfying feeling of serving the Lord full-time. However, I do miss my family and friends without measure - I can't wait to be with them again. And then there's the life to get on with - more experiences waiting in this my mortal journey.

A returned missionary, Jack L. Brinkerhoff, explained it best in his poem titled My Mission:
A mission is a strange experience. It's a trial and a test
A mission throws at you the worst yet teaches you the best

They told me this would be the best period of my life
But I guess they didn't explain it all too clear,
I came out looking for a bed of roses.
I just wasn't expecting all the thorns I've found out here.

Sin[c]e I've been out I've never been so happy.
I've never been so depressed.
I've never felt so forsaken.
I've never felt so blessed.

I've never been so confused.
My mind has never been so clear.
I've never felt my Heavenly Father so distant.
I've never felt him so near.

I've never been so discouraged.
I've never been so full of hope.
I feel I can go on forever.
I think I've come to the end of my rope.

I've never has it so easy.
I've never had it so tough.
Things have never been so smo[o]thly.
Things have never been so rough.

I've never traveled through more valleys.
I've never ascended so many peaks.
I've never met so many neat people.
I've never met so many other (freaks).

I've never had so many ups.
I've never had so many downs.
I've never worn so many smiles.
I've never worn so many frowns[.]

I've never been so lonely.
I've never had so many friends.
Man, I hope this is all over with soon.
Gosh, I hope it never ends...

I recall a conversation I had with a young man I taught a little while back. He spoke of the intense trials that come after being baptised, and commented on my overwhelmingly amazing experiences. In a bit of a rut, I recalled the events following my baptism.

University, rent, work, temptation, family, TESTS - the life kind, and massive decisions. I had choices to make, either closer to Heavenly Father, or further away. I worried about family, friends, the future, and now even Church. It all felt a little too much. I remember the doubts.

Yes, I had them. Change is scary. Disappointing family is heartbreaking. Letting Heavenly Father down is soul-wrenching. However, remember President Uchtdorf's statement, "Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith," helped me carry on. Daily scripture study helped me carry on. Constant prayer, even in the middle of work, kept me going.

I knew, and I know, who I am and what Heavenly Father expects of me.

My mission hasn't all been sunshine an roses. There have been storms and thorns. As the poem above mentions, there have been nights I've simply wept. But there have been days I'd never replace. And if the best is what my Father wants, then the worst is what I'll take, because the joy is so much greater when we've seen the other side.

At a funeral on Friday, Bishop Cunningham shared, "The only way to take sorrow out of death, is to take love out of life." And "Separation makes the reunion so much sweeter."

In a talk two Sunday back, a sister share, "Only time can value he true meaning of love."

Every second is worth it, and the Gospel puts it into perspective.

I remember an exchanged Elder Harp and I ha with the Molweni Elders this last Tuesday. A recent convert, whose daughter is about to return home from mission, referring to the Book of Mormon told us, "I feel like if someone stole my book, they stole my life." It's simple. It's clear. There's meaning. There's peace. There's joy. If we but focus on the good and seek to learn from the bad.

Another family we saw was committed to share a verse with someone not coming to church. The one lady looked at me an asked, "What if you're the one not going to church." I replied, "Then you read a verse everyday. Share you're favourite with someone else not coming to church, and ask them to come with you to church on Sunday." She came to church.

These experiences are priceless. Though, there are more moments. Not just the serious ones, where you can't help but laugh.

A returning less-active member who has committed to quit smoking and prepare for the priesthood spoke about some movie that Elder Harp hadn't seen. To clarify on his coming statement, missionaries don't watch movies or listen to music (other than that which is uplifting and keeps our mind centered on the work). With a bewildered look, he said, "Go home! Check it out-- Wait, I mean, when you go home, check it out." His mother just stared at him as everyone else broke out laughing.

Another experience we had reteaching the Plan of Salvation was with a husband and wife. When we got to the spirit world, we asked, "Where will you go when you die?" The husband whispered to his wife, "Spirit prison." "Maybe you," she said, "but I'm going to paradise."

It's been a great couple of weeks. Transfers are coming, so next Monday I may be in another area. Yep, they've changed transfer days to Friday and Saturday instead of the usual Monday and Tuesday.

​Hope you have a good week.​

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