Tuesday, October 9, 2012

What I've Learned on My Mission

I want to start with a "Thank You!" to everyone in New York!  Thank you for two wonderful years in your service.  I hope our friendships can continue on and grow, even as we are miles apart.

So, what have I learned during these 24 months away from home?

Several things stand out as of prime importance.

First, we must develop faith, hope, and charity as Paul has taught.  If we have nothing to believe in, no hope for life after death, then our life becomes dark and we are inclined to cynicism.  Such an attitude does not lend itself to the Charity and love that should fill our souls.  "Believe in God; believe that he is... believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth; believe that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend." (Mosiah 4:9)  "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)

Second, selfless service is paramount in putting off the natural man, becoming like Christ, and becoming fully converted to His gospel.  Conversion comes as we honestly and consistently live the gospel of Jesus Christ.  The central doctrine of His gospel is His Atonement and selfless sacrifice for us.  This sacred service to us would not have been possible if Christ weren't who He was.  When the selfish natural man in each of us would have turned inward, Christ always turned outward.  For example, despite the pains, abandonment, sorrow, and persecutions of His suffering in the Garden and on the cross, Christ still spoke to the Father on behalf of the Roman soldiers who had treated Him so cruely: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." (Luke 23:34)  If you or I were in such a situation we would be more likely to curse our enemies than to bless them; or at the least not spare a thought for them as we focused on our own recent troubles.
   So how do we change our nature and come to love our enemies and pray for those that despitefully use us? (see Matthew 5:44)  We turn outward as the Savior did and serve without thought of personal reward or gain.  As we lose ourselves for the gospel's sake and for Christ's sake, we will find ourselves. (see Matthew 16:24-25)  We will not find ourselves if we set out to accomplish it.  We will only find ourselves as we lose ourselves in others; and we won't be looking for it to happen.

Third, ultimately it is only the gospel that can solve all our problems and save us.  There are so many problems, so many heartaches and troubles in this world.  Society runs around looking for new and novel ideas to problems that humanity has been faced with since the fall of Adam and Eve.  There is no greater or more powerful answer to all our concerns than the very answer that was given to our First Parents.  Christ and His gospel remain the only way to fully solve every social, civil, and personal problem.  In the gospel we not only find the virtues that are the basis of a sound and happy life, but also the principles of righteous living that bring the blessings of God to us and our families, nations, and world.

Lastly, I know that God the Father is our loving Heavenly Father.  He knows us each individually and desires our happiness and salvation.
   I know Jesus Christ is His Son, our Savior.  His Atonement can cleanse and heal us from the deepest sins and wounds, if we are willing to change what we need to and live His gospel.
   I know the Spirit of the Lord can speak to each of us.  He has spoken to me from time to time.  We can know what we need to know and do.  We can be comforted and encouraged in our daily struggles.
   I know that the church and kingdom of God are on the earth again.  God has restored everything necessary for the salvation of all His children.  We have again among us living prophets and apostles who speak the mind and will of God.  There is consistency and safety in their words because they are God's words.

   Study the scriptures.
   Pray with full sincerity of heart.
   Keep God's commandments.
   Selflessly serve others.
   and Believe.

Then you will recieve what you ask for, find what you seek, and doors will be opened when you knock.  I promise, in the name of Jesus Christ, that this is true.