President was so inspired by President Uchtdorf’s First Presidency Message, “All is Well,” that he asked me to discuss with each of you your thoughts during interviews. I was excited, being inspired by the pioneers' examples and applying the principles directly to missionary work. But what evolved was an amazing learning experience as you shared with me your personal insights and testimony. President has asked me to condense your thoughts into this month’s calendar letter:
Compassion = Charity = Unity
Like the pioneers, missionaries often find that showing compassion “slowed their progress, caused inconvenience, or meant personal sacrifice and toil.” Contacting people you don’t think will accept the gospel, building the area when you are about to leave, meeting as a district to identify ways to improve, are only a few examples. Compassion is about developing Christlike attributes of charity, patience, humility, hope...not so convenient! But then, the Atonement was not exactly convenient nor easy. Like the pioneers, missionaries that develop these virtues find their friends becoming family. They truly love those they serve—investigators, companions, ward members—and would give their life for them. They learn to love others as Christ loved us first, and gave His life for us. As we serve with compassion, unity is the end result: companionship unity, district/zone unity, ward unity, being unified with Christ even unto becoming an eternal family with God. “Thee lift me and I’ll lift thee, and we’ll ascend together” (Sis. Burton, April 2015).
“Come, come, ye Saints, no toil nor labor fear.” The Savior of all mankind knew that all would not be well. He knew that in order to carry out the Atonement, He would have to endure “even more than man can suffer except it be unto death” (Mosiah 3:7) even that He would bleed from every pore. Yet He did not shrink from the toil nor labor. Rather Christ’s determination to carry out the Atonement was so sure, that those who exercised faith in Him several hundred years before His birth received a remission of their sins (Enos 1:8). I was most inspired by an elder who shared with me that whenever he has a hard day, he thinks of the day he signed his mission papers in his stake president’s office, and what he promised the Lord he would to do as a missionary. Then he puts his shoulder to the wheel and pushes on! Another sister commented that missionary work is called “work” for a reason. She is willing to work for the Savior, for the people of Taiwan, for her eternal exaltation. When she works, she knows that happiness is the end result!
Optimism = Faith + Gratitude
All agreed: happiness is a choice! It’s a choice to act instead of be acted upon. We can act to express gratitude in any circumstance (Pres. Uchtdorf, April 2014). “In all thy ways, acknowledge him and he shall direct thy paths” (Prov. 3:6). One elder raised the thought, "Why should Heavenly Father bless you with more if you are not grateful for what He has already blessed you with?"
The people of Nephi chose to live “after the manner of happiness” (2 Nephi 5:27), despite the many wars and contentions they had had with their brethren. How was this possible? The Nephites had a temple. One elder shared with me a sacred experience he had in the Taipei Temple. Fasting, he went to the temple with a desire to be happier. There, he received a strong confirmation of Heavenly Father’s love for him. He knew if Heavenly Father loved him so much, who was he to disagree and be unhappy? It was the turning point in his mission.
Attitude, like agency, is one thing we have control over. One companionship set a goal at the start of the transfer that they would wave with a smile to everyone they passed while biking. Then no matter if the sun was beating down on them, or it was pouring rain, or they had just been fanged, they carried on with a happy attitude. What came were people who stopped to talk who they never thought would!
To help us endure faithfully our trials, we must come to understand that the Lord’s timing is perfect. He knows when we need specific trials and what we need to learn. The lyrics ring out, “Why should we think to earn a great reward if we now shun the fight?” If we are to become like Christ, we must be willing to suffer His cross, which cross He has already suffered for us. So let us “Gird up our loins; fresh courage take. Our God will never us forsake! And soon we’ll have this tale to tell—All is well! All is well!”
Before you know it, your mission will be one of your greatest tales. I testify to you that doing hard things on your mission will deepen and strengthen your body, mind, and spirit; magnify your understanding of your divine nature, and heighten your compassion for others. Your mission tale will firm your soul and become a blessing to you long after your service in Taiwan has ended!
I am so grateful for all you that have taught me, and each other!
P.S. I laughed together with the elder who shared this scripture with me: 2 Nephi 28:25.