This week has been very interesting. It has been a week of reflection and of joy. As I finish my service here in the Texas Dallas Mission, I cannot help but think about how much the Lord has blessed me. I have had much success both in baptisms and in spiritual growth. I thought a lot about all of the areas I served in and the reasons I was there. Some areas I had many baptisms, and in others I struggled to get 1. But I think of those times and I noticed how much I grew in different areas in different situations and for different reasons.
Serving a full time mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has fundamentally changed who I am.
I reflect on the words of Paul as he spoke to the Saints in Corinth: "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see thought a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." (1 Corinthians 13:11-12). When I started my mission, I was more like a child. It was my first time truly being on my own; I was still childish in a lot of things, and I would make a fuss over things that didn't matter. Lately, I feel that I have become more of a man and I understand better who I am. Though I do not understand all things and see only through a dark glass now, I know that the Lord has more in store for me and for each of us.
Now I am not going to lie and say that I haven't been trunky at all, because the past day or two have been pretty bad. Especially in packing everything. But at the same time, while I am going to love to sleep in for the first time in 2 years, be able to play basketball with my little brother, go swimming, watch the Mavericks play the Heat in the NBA finals, and everything else that I have kept myself from doing while serving the Lord full-time, I know that all these things simply bring temporary pleasure, and after about 3 or 4 days, I am going to want to come back so badly. But I know that I can't. That is why the Lord calls us to serve in His church and asks us to endure to the end: so that we may feel of His love and His guidance in our lives.
I was reading Elder Bednar's talk from the October 2010 conference entitled "Receive the Holy Ghost". It was an excellent talk, and one line in particular stuck out to me. In talking about things we can do to qualify for the companionship of the Holy Ghost, Elder Bednar stated: "everything the Savior’s gospel teaches us to do and become is intended to bless us with the companionship of the Holy Ghost." I thought about how profound and true that is, especially as a missionary. All the rules and standards we have in place are to help us to have the Holy Ghost with us always. We set ourselves apart from the world to be able to preach the gospel with power and authority form God. "No man can preach the Gospel without the Holy Ghost" (History of the Church, 2:477). Similarly, I believe no man can enter into the Lord's kingdom without following the promptings of the Holy Ghost. It is the cleanser and the purifier.
Being a missionary is the best thing that has ever happened to me. Now my time is over and I know that I must move on and continue with my life (college, work, marriage, etc.) but I cannot wait until I have the chance to serve again. I love this gospel. Nothing has brought me or my family more joy.
We talk to a lot of people who think we are crazy or think we believe things that are false. I bear my witness that this church and everything we teach stands or falls on the Book of Mormon. If it is true, Jesus is the Christ and this is His church. If it isn't, then we're just another one of the thousands of Christian churches out there. But I know it's true. It is absolutely true.
I love all of you and I am excited to see you. I hope that these entries of mine have helped others to appreciate what I am doing and have helped them to understand the importance of having the restored gospel on the earth.
I know that Jesus Christ lives and is our Savior and will give us answers to our prayers and will guide us as we lean on Him. I close with how I began and with my favorite scripture:
The mission has fundamentally changed who I am.
"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." Proverbs 3:5-6