Dear Elders and Sisters,
One of the great challenges of being an effective missionary is staying focused on the work. In the Missionary Handbook, President Brigham Young reminds us, “If you go on a mission to preach the gospel with lightness and frivolity in your hearts, looking for this and that, and to learn what is in the world… you with go and return in vain…. Let your minds be centered on your missions” (MH, p. 7).
It takes time to adjust to the missionary lifestyle. Missionary work can be very repetitive. Many of the normal outlets one would usually engage in to divert from a rigorous schedule are not in keeping with the rules and conduct for missionaries. One of the great miracles associated with this work is witnessing the change that takes place in each heart and mind as missionaries begin to give of themselves and hold nothing back. They are able to not only remain focused on the work, but to actually love it and center their hearts and minds upon it. In a short time, they find, as President Thomas S. Monson has said, “The Lord will shape [their] back to bear the burden placed upon it” (Ensign, Jan. 2011, First Presidency message).
Last week I received the following email:
This has really been an incredible week. It was great to be able to interview with you. [My companion] and I are seeing miracles daily. It’s incredible. I loved what you told me about having faith in our area. I'm starting to see the faith of our companionship bring the spirit and success. I am really, really happy right now. This is probably the best I've felt on my mission since I arrived here last November.
[My companion] and I are seeing miracles so often I don't even know how to choose. I feel like as we've improved our companionship's obedience, unity and diligence, we've started to become "magnets". Talking with everyone has never been easier. I swear that almost everyone we talk with is willing to have a nice conversation with us. Over the last two weeks I can't even count how many times we've set up or gotten a number from someone when we weren't even planning on finding at that time.
I really love how good our companionship studies have been. We've started to do a really good job planning and preparing with the spirit, and that has a really strong impact on our lessons. I love teaching with [my companion] and I feel like our unity improves more every day. I'm so grateful for a companion that is ready to work and be obedient, its really what I and this area needed.
This email illustrates beautifully the process whereby one finds great joy as they lose themselves in this work. Remember that, “Righteous conduct will influence your effectiveness as a missionary and your personal salvation. Your conduct also affects the trust and confidence nonmembers, members, and other missionaries have in you. Conduct yourself at all times in such a way that everyone who sees you will recognize you as a representative of Jesus Christ” (MH, p. 7-8, emphasis added). To fulfill this admonition at all times is not an easy thing to do and requires great focus. The Lord will help you as you humble yourself and ask for strength (Ether 12:27).
“There is no more compelling work than this, not any which brings greater satisfaction” (PMG, p. v). As Sister Blickenstaff and I look back on almost three years, we can testify of this! Even in months as difficult as April has been, we can find no greater satisfaction than in being called to bear testimony of Christ, His Restored Gospel, and His Plan of Salvation.
Mentor of Champions
P.S. Last month we baptized 20 people. The good news is that the 9 baptisms that we had on April 30 will all count towards our May baptisms so we are off to a great start this month! Let us be focused at all times on teaching repentance and baptizing converts so that we can help more souls enter the waters of baptism!