Monday, August 28, 2017
Monday, August 21, 2017
One of the things that you learn on a mission is to pour your heart and soul into the people you're teaching. It´s one of the greatest and most crushing things about missionary work.
Imagine this, you wake up great, like you're ready to take on the world. You study, plan, put on that missionary tag, and it seems like today will be one of those awe inspiring days where everything goes right. About 5 minutes on the street you get yelled at because that person heard that “the Mormons” don't use the Bible, don't let women participate in church and a bunch of other nonsense. Alright, first contact wasn't so great, but our first meeting of the day is with Thomas. He has been liking everything we've been teaching, praying about baptism, and will go to church Sunday! Upon arriving at his house he comes out and says that he´s decided to leave the church all together and doesn't want to see the missionaries anymore.
I bet the return missionaries out there are remembering experiences like these. It´s easy to see that with missionary work a lot can go south really quick. And in the end a missionary can become really frustrated and unwilling to go on with the day or the work. For me I remember a lot of nights where we literally had nothing to do for the next 2-3 hours, because we had gone from plan A to plan Z, and then back to plan A just out of hope. So you may be thinking, after about a year or more, do missionaries just get fed up and just wait out the rest of their missions?
Well let´s take a side step for a minute. A question for you, how much in common does missionary work have with real life? How many times do we wake up, ready for everything, only for everything to be a jerk and give us a good old slap across the face? It could be at work, school, home, or maybe a combination of all three. It´s hard when the difficulties arrive when all we want is a little peace. In a world where everything is fast-paced, high tension, and exhausting. We may take a minute to say, “That´s it, going home and hitting the bed. Don´t want anymore today.” It really can be tiresome to go through the same emotions and attitude and receive the same negative results.
But it doesn´t have to be that way.
One of the amazing gifts we have been given, even before this life, is agency. With agency we have the ability to choose how to combat negative effects in our lives, and what we can do to improve the situation. I like the story of Alma the younger when he was journeying to preach the gospel. During his journey he came across a city of Ammonihah where he was determined to keep up the good work that he had done in previous cities. In Ammonihah the work was hard, the people were tough, and Alma was doing his best. He prayed, he taught, he did all that he could. But in the end the people cursed him, spit on him, and eventually cast him out of the city. (Alma 8:8-13)
Rough day right?
So Alma goes out of the city heavy with sorrow because he had tried so hard but not a single soul would bear him and his message. Alma probably thought that nothing could soften the heart of these men (Alma 8:14). So what did he do? It could´ve been really easy for Alma to just let it go. Try a different city, leave Ammonihah for good, and look for his own way to help the people he loved. But the Lord had another plan for him.
So the Lord sent an angel who said, “Blessed art thou, Alma; Therefore lift up thy head and rejoice, for thou hast great cause to rejoice.” The angel continues to call Alma to rejoicing because he is keeping the commandments and is doing what the Lord is commanding Alma to do. The angel then tells Alma to go back to Ammonihah and preach the same people who literally don't want Alma in their city and probably will kill him. But what happens? Alma goes forth “speedily” and enters the city again to preach the gospel. (Alma 8:15-18)
Why did Alma go forth “speedily”? Why did he have such a motivation to go back again to a city he was about to leave? Along with the need to declare repentance, I believe he left “speedily”, because Alma remembered that the Lord was on his side, and that if he worked again, the Lord would provide a way. And it did! Alma met Amulek, they converted many souls, continued their work, and were saved by the power of God at every turn (Alma 8-15). So what changed from that 1st visit to the 2nd? Along with gaining a companion, warning the people of the incoming destruction, etc., the one thing I want to focus on is the attitude and effort that Alma gave.
The world in some senses, is the same as it was in Alma´s time. Full of people who look to bring us down, and misfortunes to boot. But as we see from the holy scriptures, Alma stood strong, happy, and diligent in his missionary work throughout the land. And because of this effort great miracles happened. A motto I´ve learned/created here on the mission is “Sempre feliz, Sempre trabalhando” which translated mean, “Always happy Always working”. Here I´m serving the same purpose as Alma was in the Book of Mormon, teaching people the path to repentance, and helping them understand the everlasting gospel of Jesus Christ. Here there are people and circumstances that try to shun the gospel and it's holy influence on people. A lot of times everything starts to come apart and it seems like nothing more can happen.
But it doesn´t have to be that way.
As I remembered my purpose here as a missionary, and thought of the people who needed the Lord's help, I threw my worries aside along with my poor attitude, and decided to go to work. And because I decided to be happy and do the work the Lord has put in front of me, miracles have happened. So after a year or so am I tired and just floating through my mission? No I am “anxiously engaged” in my and the Lord´s work. Always happy to help my fellow man and always working to help establish God's kingdom here on the earth.
So we have reason to lift up our heads and rejoice. The gospel of Jesus Christ is a wonderful and everlasting guide and gift for us here on the earth, and when we decide to be happy, full of faith and charity ready to proclaim and live the gospel. When we decide to leave the past and work even harder towards the future, miracles will happen.
Being a representative and missionary of Jesus Christ, I testify that these things are true. That through a sincere change of our attitude and work. That through faith, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and “working” until the end, we can become better disciples of Jesus Christ and we can help the work of miracles progress here on the earth.
In the name of Jesus Christ amen.