What My Mission Has Meant to Me
Washington Spokane July 09-11
It is difficult to accurately express what my mission has meant to me. In Mosiah 18:30 it says, “yea, the place of Mormon, the waters of Mormon, the forest of Mormon, how beautiful are they to the eyes of them who there came to the knowledge of their Redeemer; yea, how blessed are they, for they shall sing to His praise forever.” This is how I feel about my mission. How beautiful it is because this is where I came to an understanding of my Redeemer. My mission has been the place of my conversion to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Yes, I had a testimony before my mission, an undeniable one, but there's a difference between testimony and conversion. Because of my mission I have become converted.
First and foremost, my testimony lies in the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Everything else that I discuss will be and is but an appendage to that Atonement. The reason why I wanted to serve a mission in the first place is because I had felt the power of it in my life as the burdens of my sins were lifted and filled with a desire to help others come to our Savior so that they too can partake of the infinite Atonement. Jesus Christ is our Savior.
“Joseph Smith, the prophet and seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it.” Why is that? Because without the restoration of the gospel, we could not fully apply the Atonement in our lives. All those people who are in Spirit Prison would not be able to partake of the Atonement. Realizing this has given me a great sense of urgency in spreading and preaching the gospel. Without the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, none of us would be able to partake of and apply to our lives His Atonement. Joseph Smith is the prophet of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
A tool that has helped me to become converted is Preach My Gospel. I love Preach My Gospel, I have learned and grown so much from reading its pages and then applying them into my life and into my missionary work. For Easter 2010, my parents sent me a brand new quad! I was very excited to have a new fresh set of scriptures that I could start a new system of marking and referencing. It took me a long time to organize it all together, but that new quad has become my Preach My Gospel scriptures. My marking system correlates directly with Preach My Gospel, particularly chapter three. Every other chapter in it ties back to a principle taught in chapter three, except Christlike Attributes, I wanted those to be marked separately.
What I did was go through every single page in Preach My Gospel and marked in my scriptures every single scripture reference in there. Whenever I came to a blue box, I numbered every reference, marked it in my scriptures, then wrote a summary of the passage in the notes section of that page. This took a long time to finish. But, through it I came much more familiar with the scriptures, and gained a much better at understanding of the doctrine and how to present it in a much clearer way. Going through Preach My Gospel in this way has helped me to become more converted to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Another thing that I have learned from Preach My Gospel and from applying this principle to my mission is goal setting. Not only goal setting but “mastering the techniques of living to reach my goals”. At the beginning of my mission I set two goals concerning baptisms: 1. Baptize in every area. 2. Baptize on average at least once a month. When I arrived in my last area, I only had six weeks left and the area had zero on dates. Because of this I was a little nervous at first that I wouldn't have the opportunity to baptize in that area. I had previously accomplished the goal of baptizing in every area. I was also lacking my monthly goal, in fact I still had three more to go with only six weeks left to do it. Instead of becoming discouraged, Elder Fordham and I set some lofty goals for the transfer. Our goal for baptisms was seven. After setting the goal, we gave it to the Lord so that He would “consecrate our efforts for our good”. We promised that we would give everything that we had if He would make up for the rest and provide for us the opportunity to reach our goal. We held true to that promise and the Lord did provide. We finished out that transfer and I left that last area having witnessed three of my fellow brothers enter into the waters of baptism with four more people on date. The lord provided for us the opportunity to accomplish our goal. I'm going to apply the principle of goal setting to my life for the rest of my life so that “I will then be able to make a great difference in the results I attain in this life”. The Lord helped me to reach the goals I set in my mission, I know He will help me reach the goals I will continue to set for the rest of my life.
Before my mission, I read the Book of Mormon just one time cover to cover, and that was right before I turned in my papers. I read it again while I was in the MTC. This time I feel like I gained a whole lot more from it, since I already knew the story line, having read it just a couple months before. Within my first four transfers, I read it again. I then read the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price. Then I started on the Bible. I got through Exodus and decided that I just wasn't feeling the Spirit as much as when I read the Book of Mormon and modern revelation. So I finished the Old Testament in about a week or two by only reading the chapter headings and when something caught my attention, I read that chapter. I decided that I needed to get back into the Book of Mormon. I got about half way through Alma when President Palmer invited us to mark the references to and the words of Jesus Christ, so I started over. It took me about three weeks to finish it, and I loved every minute of it! When I finished, I got a copy of a paperback New Testament and began marking the same things in there. I got about halfway done when, again, I wasn't feeling the Spirit as strongly in my life. So I decided to take my mini Book of Mormon and do the same marking activity in it. This time I took it slow and kept a study journal with it. I finished that with about two months to go on my mission so I decided to read it one last time, making six times total, five of which were during my mission.
I love the Book of Mormon! I have gained so many insights into my life from reading its pages. I remember when I was with Elder Tamblyn, he was getting ready to go home and so I began to think about whats its going to be like for me when I go home, having changed so much since I've been gone. I started to be fearful of falling into old habits. I prayed for guidance and direction. At the time I was wrapping up the book of Mosiah and through it I was able to receive answers to my prayers. It was amazing. I don't think I've ever had so much revelation come to me at once, pertaining to my own life, then I did at that time when the Lord answered my prayers. I love the Book of Mormon! I've decided that for every time I read it from now on, there will be a topic that I focus on and mark as I go through it, and I'll keep a separate study journal for each topic. I know the Book of Mormon was written for us, for our time. It is a guide book for each of us in our life and contains the answers and the questions and gives the insights that we each need to lead a successful life, allowing us to return to live with our Father in heaven.
In my Patriarchal Blessing, it says, “On many occasions you will be called to serve and teach. But, you will also be called to lead in Quorums and Councils”. Since that blessing the only leadership position I've had has been on my mission because I received the blessing just a few months before I left. During my mission, I had the opportunity to serve as a senior companion, a trainer, a district leader, and a zone leader. Each of these chances I had to serve allowed me to stretch and grow. I learned so much about my self during those times. I would say the single most important event that took place for me on my mission was becoming a zone leader. I served as a zone leader just one transfer short of a year. In fact, I became a zone leader exactly, to the day, one year of me entering into the mission field, September 21. I really believe that becoming a zone leader saved my life. I have learned so much about myself, the gospel, and how to lead. One of the reasons why being a zone leader is so great is because you become companions to a zone leader! I have had some amazing companions. Another great thing that comes from being a zone leader is zone leader council. Its an amazing feeling to be in the same room as and counseling with the cream of the crop missionaries in my mission. It can be a very humbling experience.
Elder Oaks has said that when a missionary is assigned to a mission, he's not being assigned to the mission as much as he's being assigned to a mission president. I feel very privileged to have served as a zone leader for so long under President Palmer's direction. I have learned so much from him; how to lead, how to serve, how to be a good missionary, how to love, and the list goes on and on! I pray that some day I will be half the man he is. Now that would be an accomplishment!
Another thing that comes to mind when I think of what my mission has meant to me is that I served stateside instead of foreign. I was thinking about all the privileges there are from serving in the states. Then I thought about if I had gotten my visa and gone foreign to Mongolia and over half the things were crossed out. I really feel like I have learned how the church is meant to run, how the leaders are supposed to lead, how a member is supposed to do missionary work, and how I can be a disciple of Jesus Christ forever.
I love my mission! The things I've learned and the experiences I've had has completely changed me! I'm not the same person I was when I left, and I will never be him again. What does my mission mean to me? Absolutely everything! In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.