Dear Elders and Sisters,
I have been thinking about the importance of striving to be happy, obedient missionaries. The ability to be happy comes naturally for some but is a gift that can be sought after for others. The joy and happiness that are the result of living the gospel of Jesus Christ have been a powerful source of motivation for each of us to come and serve as full-time missionaries. And yet the burdens associated with our service, such as homesickness, feelings of inadequacy or unworthiness, lack of success in the work, etc., sometimes leave us unable to feel cheerful and glad.
Most of you know that our daughter is currently serving a mission in Korea. She is like you: excited about life, has many friends and interests, and serves because of her love for the Lord and desire to share her blessings with others. Despite all of this, for the first half of her mission, she struggled to feel happy each day. About two months ago, her letters changed. You could really tell that she was happy. I asked her how she did it. She said it started with a decision to be happy. And she prayed earnestly and persistently for the gift of charity in order to love her companion. “And it worked!” she wrote to me.
“Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness and keeping all the commandments of God” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pgs. 255-56). Don’t you just love someone with such a clear understanding of what it takes to really be happy! There is an undeniable power that comes to us through obedience. President Benson put it this way: “When obedience ceases to be an irritant, and becomes our quest, in that moment God will endow us with power” (Donald L. Staheli, April 1998, general conference).
The happiness that can come to us in this work can be a powerful blessing as we go about our duties each day endowed with power. It can radiate from our countenances and be seen in virtually everything that we say and do. As we are spiritually reborn, we receive the image of Christ in our countenance; indeed, it is evidence of our own “mighty change of heart” (Alma 5:14). The word countenance comes from a French word that denotes behavior, demeanor, and conduct. When we receive the Savior in our countenance, we will act like him.
“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure” (Mor. 7:48).