This Sunday I was asked to speak in church. My sweet friend and neighbor is going to be serving as a missionary in Latvia. It was her farewell. I decided to turn to my mission journal for some inspiration on what to share. This photo fell from the journal when I opened it.
My mission was challenging-but in so many amazing ways. He sent my life on a different trajectory and I am so thankful for that.
This is what I shared Sunday:
On the first page of my mission journal is written-
“Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold thus saith the Father, ye shall have eternal life.” 2 Nephi 31:20
This has been a favorite scripture of mine because of the assurance it ends with- “ye shall have eternal life.” That is the goal…and what Paitlyn hopes to share with those she meets as a missionary- eternal life. I want to focus on three of the invitations in this verse: “love of God and of all men,” “feasting upon the word of Christ” and “having a perfect brightness of hope.”
First, to LOVE GOD AND ALL MEN
I served my mission in the Spanish speaking country of Argentina. My first companion was from Argentina and didn’t speak English. The MTC was great but my high school Spanish and MTC learning were no match for 100% immersion in a new language. I understood and could use quite a few words in my new language with basic conjugation, but I felt like my personality was lost. I had a love for the Savior and His gospel- but was SO limited in how I could really communicate and share it-my reason for being a missionary. A few weeks into my first area, I received a letter from a close friend who was nearing the end of his mission in the same country. He advised me, “LOVE the people-make Argentina your home-let go of what is different and embrace what you LOVE-and you will LOVE being a missionary. I had definitely been focusing on the differences between countries, people and my life in general. I committed to change immediately. I didn’t bring up any differences in my thoughts or conversations. In fact, when people asked me where I was from (my accent and missionary tag were big clues) I responded with the neighborhood I was living in in that area. They would press, assuming that I didn’t understand- and with a smile…I would tell them “I am from Argentina!” They would laugh-again my accent. I did eventually tell them where I was from…but my desire to be from Argentina softened their hearts and mine and brought us together in unity.
Sister Jean B Bingham said,
May we show our gratitude and love for God by ministering with love to our eternal sisters and brothers. The result will be a unity of feeling such as the people in ancient America enjoyed 100 years after the Savior’s appearance in their land. “And it came to pass that there was no contention … because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people.“… There were no envyings, nor strifes, … and surely there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God.”
FEASTING UPON THE WORD OF CHRIST
Elder Neal A Maxwell taught:
“One cannot have adequate faith in a Christ whom he does not adequately know, ‘who is a stranger … far from the thoughts and intents of his heart. Instead, by laying aside ‘every weight’ of the world and the sins which so ‘easily beset us,”’by looking unto Jesus and by feasting upon His words, we will be able to move forward with intellectual and spiritual vigor. ‘It is all so wondrously Christ-centered. Whether in the structure of the atom or of the galaxies, or in the truths about temples and families, for those who have eyes to see, all things “from the beginning of the world” “bear record of [God].’ They are designed to point us to Christ, typifying Him, so that we might follow Him, have faith in Him, and keep His commandments.”
Paitlyn, as a missionary and a full time disciple of Christ, his representative-you will have a special perspective. As you study, share and live out the words of Christ through your mission, make part of your feasting and treasuring these words and experiences-journaling. Document the transformation in your heart, your struggles, triumphs and testimony, especially where Christ in concerned. I know writing and processing what I learned, benefited me as a missionary but I am amazed 30 years later about so much I had forgotten.
“And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up…” Deuteronomy 6
A PERFECT BRIGHTNESS OF HOPE
The night Paitlyn opened her mission call- I saw her parents beaming with pride and joy-all of us there were beaming with joy. Paitlyn, you have so many people here that love and adore you-who want the very best for you. As great as that is, you have something even greater- Heavenly Parents and an Elder brother Jesus Christ, perfect in every way, wanting you to thrive, grow and succeed. They want to lift, support and guide you as you press forward to live and serve. Maybe it’s not that “our hope” has to be perfect, but turning your hope to your Heavenly Father during your mission and throughout your life, will give it the perfect brightness that it needs.
Elder Uchtdorf said,
This is the quality of hope we must cherish and develop. Such a mature hope comes in and through our Savior Jesus Christ, for “every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as [the Savior] is pure.” The Lord has given us a reassuring message of hope: “Fear not, little flock.”God will wait with “open arms to receive” those who give away their sins and continue in faith, hope, and charity. And to all who suffer—to all who feel discouraged, worried, or lonely—I say with love and deep concern for you, never give in. Never surrender. Never allow despair to overcome your spirit. Embrace and rely upon the Hope of Israel, for the love of the Son of God pierces all darkness, softens all sorrow, and gladdens every heart.”
The most important invitation in the scripture is ENDURE TO THE END…not just for missionaries but all of us on this mortal journey. As I read my mission journal-I realize that I have grown in life experience-the world is so much less black and white now. There are many things I understand today, that I didn’t then. Yet one thing I want to work on recovering is the sweetness of faith. Bringing back that faith and dependence on my Savior that saved me then, will also save me now. May we all- young and old- strive to FEAST UPON THE WORDS OF CHRIST, LOVE GOD & ALL MEN and turn our HOPE to the PERFECT BRIGHTNESS of our FATHER IN HEAVEN…that will keep us PRESSING FORWARD to the END.
Elder Holland said so beautifully:
I give thanks, my brothers and sisters, for all we have been given in this last and greatest of all dispensations, the dispensation of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. The gifts and blessings that flow from that gospel mean everything to me—everything—so in an effort to thank my Father in Heaven for them, I have “promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep…”
May we press forward with love in our hearts, walking in the “brightness of hope” that lights the path of holy anticipation we have been on now for 200 years. I testify that the future is going to be as miracle-filled and bountifully blessed as the past has been. We have every reason to hope for blessings even greater than those we have already received because this is the work of Almighty God, this is the Church of continuing revelation, this is the gospel of Christ’s unlimited grace and benevolence.”