In our last Zone Conference, Sister Palmer, one half of the office couple, bore her testimony, and talked about how they had watched batches of missionaries come and go. She made a comment that had me thinking and reflecting for a bit after that. She said every now and then, Elder Palmer and her would see a new missionary and comment "It'll be fun to watch that one grow."
As I thought about that, I started to think about how I have grow and changed over the course of the last seven months as a missionary. As cliched as that might sound, it really made me think just that little bit more about how I have grown, and what I have learned throughout the year.
Over the course of my mission, I've definitely had highs and lows, times of absolute joy, but also times of absolute depression. Through it all, I've come to learn that the most important thing to do, to have faith and trust in the Lord, then be at peace with the Lord's will for you. I've had four companions so far, and I've learned much from each one of them. In retrospect, as I look back at each companion, I have come to the conclusion that they were inspired of President Skelton, and there were things that I could never have learned from anyone else. I love them and will always remember them as wonderful friends. No matter what I've said in the past, I can honestly say that I appreciate each one of them for who they are, and what they have each done for me. It's been a hard thing for me to have to be with someone 24/7, and it can definitely be trying on some days. It's been hard to learn how to budget, and to not have what I'm used to. It's been hard to have to wake up at seven in the morning, to sleep at 11p.m, and to have a set schedule to follow. It's been hard to have to report, to have a standard to constantly measure up to, it's been hard to be rejected time and time again by people around us, and occasionally, to be mocked and ridiculed.
But, It's been wonderful to feel the love of the Lord, it's been wonderful to see an investigator, or more appropriately phrased, it's been wonderful to see a child of the Lord grow. It's been wonderful to enter the waters of baptism with these souls. It's been wonderful to work with people who want to serve the Lord, it's been wonderful to have times of laughter and joy.
Throughout these six months, I suppose that some of the adjectives that I can use to describe the things I have learned are things like faith, hope, charity, love, brotherly kindness, humility, diligence, virtue, knowledge. Now I know that these might just seem like a list of empty words as I list them. But, in one way or another, I truly have gained just a little more knowledge about each of these attributes, and have learned to apply them in my life just a little bit more. There have been times when I have been satisfied at the end of the day with the work that I've done, doing my best to serve the Lord, but also days when I have felt the disappointment of returning home at the end of the day, knowing that I could have done better in serving the Lord. But, there's only so much you can do in this life, and regretting about things in the past isn't one of them. So, without glancing back, I hope to be able to take a step forward to the new year, to learn what I'm supposed to learn, to do what I'm supposed to do, and be what I'm supposed to be.
I've come to understand just how important my family is to me, I miss my parents, and I've come to know just how much they love me and care for me. Aside from the love of our Heavenly Father and His Son, there is no kind of love, that can substitute a parent's love.
Last of all, I've come to learn that the only way that you can serve a mission, the only way that you can live a life filled with true peace, love, and happiness, is to do put your faith and trust in the Lord. He's always there for us, and I'm learning slowly to put my trust in Him completely, and not in the arm of flesh. To know that what you're doing is helping to change the world for the better in just a small way is good enough for me. And, to be able to feel the love o0f my Heavenly Father, and knowing that he is pleased with me, is what gives me much peace. I hope that you all have a very Merry Christmas, and a great start in the year 2009. I have always loved this poem by Louise Haskins, and has always been an inspiration to me at the start of each year. I hope that it might in some way inspire you too.
He replied, "Go into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God.
"So I went forth, and, finding the Hand of God,