The first part of Elder McConkie’s letter is filled with beautiful testimony building, heart opening insights he has learned through study and prayer. Much of his message home has caused me to ponder and consider truths in a way much deeper than I have before.
The Gospel makes everything make sense. For the longest time, whenever I have talked to someone else of another faith – on or off the mission – I’ve had the hardest time understanding the Spirit that they felt in their church. This past week has changed my whole perspective on missionary work, and even on life.
The beginning of this last week, I had been thinking a lot about the experience we had with the guy who kicked us out of his shop last week. After that experience, I had been feeling a little insecure as a missionary. Even up to that point, there had been something inside of me that cared too much of what people thought of me (Proverbs 29:25). I really was a little ensnared and was restricted in my efficacy as a missionary.
As I’m sure you’ve seen, each week has had a sort of theme of something that I have learned. This week was all about the work. As Elder Ballard says in his Special Witness of the Restoration, through “experiences too…sacred to discuss”, I have come to know the work better. Perhaps a quote that I saw this last week would sum it up best. President Young once said (and this is not exact, but to the best of my memory) that the faithful Catholic, the faithful Methodist, etc. will have the opportunity to receive the highest blessings of exaltation. Why? Because if they had been able to understand the message of God, they would have accepted it. Brother Vogel took us to Obadiah 1:17-21, which is a direct reference to the temple. He pointed out that the biggest difference in the message that we share is that we have the saving ordinances. This eased my fears with sharing the message SO MUCH. Now I have no fears when others say they are Catholic or Baptist, for it is wonderful that they are seeking to follow God!
And how wonderful is it that God has given us his priesthood and the saving ordinances once again for those who desire to follow? It truly is wonderful!
Also, I realized how divine emotions are. We know God has been proud of what was created (Moses 2:31). –also I know that the word proud can ignite negative connotations in the minds of many, so I would recommend you read “Pride and the Priesthood” from October 2010 General Conference)– We know that He has been so sad He has wept (Moses 7:28). We are “that we might have joy” (2 Nephi 2:25), and it’s okay to feel all variety of emotions, from happiness to sadness, from patience to frustration. What matters is what we do with these emotions. In the Church’s “Guide to the Scriptures“, it says that the heart is “the figurative source of all emotions and feelings.” As children of God, seeking to follow him, we “shall follow the Son, with full purpose of heart” (2 Nephi 31:13). While we are counseled against certain emotions, like envy and lust (#the10commandments), all other emotions are good and should be used in the service of our God. When we are truly happy, we know we are doing something good, when we are frustrated we know that something needs to be fixed or changed (even if that just means we need to change ourselves), and when we miss someone we know that we love them.
I hope I’ve communicated these two lessons I have learned well enough to share the life changing and mission-changing effect they’ve had on me. This work is of God. The Gospel according to St. Mark starts out with “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mark 1:1). –A very defined, simple, and powerful message of the nature of this Gospel is shared in the heading of each chapter. It would be worth reading the headings of each of the chapters during a study.– It is this Gospel that raises people was the darkest depths, that looses the chains that are wrapped around so many, and that brings us the greatest happiness, peace, joy, and deepest understanding that we can ever achieve.
I am grateful to be a servant in New York. God is good. Words truly cannot communicate how grateful I am to God for using me as a tool in a work I could never do on my own – I am too weak.
Because I am unable to communicate truly how I feel, I would invite all to take time for scripture study each day. Do more than just saying a prayer – talk with our Heavenly Father. He is the perfect father. He is the friend that we all wish for, one that will listen without guile, one that will love us through it all, one that will get us through anything. And the best thing about it is He WANTS to be that friend, that Father to us. We just need to turn to Him.
There was a lot that happened this last week. We were super busy with lessons, service, and planting seeds (talking with people).
Remember the drunk man who jumped in the back of our car a while ago? Well, I can’t remember if I told you this last week, but we’re teaching him and his girlfriend. It was actually at his house that Elder Johnson stepped on a nail. And guess what? They have baptismal dates now. 🙂 Haha! The Lord works in incredible ways!
On a more serious note, it is very obvious that there have been very evil things done in that house. When we first went in, a feeling of darkness permeated the house. However, with each visit, with each prayer we say with them, with each lesson, the house is changing. The darkness that once emanated from this place is being replaced with peace – it is amazing.
The first time we entered I consider to be a very sacred experience. We could feel the protection from the evil inside the home. Evil spirits were very much present there and by our righteous living and the power of God we were protected. I remember in the blessing given when I was set apart as a full-time missionary that angels would protect me and I can feel them in these times. We are never alone. This couple is seeking to change and they are truly incredible – they have been through a lot and Christ’s arms are stretched out to them still.
Our coolest lesson in terms of who we taught was on Sunday. We taught the Senior VP of the parent company of a nationwide store. So cool! And she wants us to come back. 🙂
Paul and Linda are still progressing, although we need to talk with them about our purpose and why the message we share is so important. I hope they understand that we bring them more than good feelings and happy truths – we are bringing them life-changing invitations to the “ensign of the people” (Isaiah 11:10; D&C 113:5-6 really adds to this
I love you all! Hope you are having a great day! Let me know if there is anything else you want to know! 😀 Love ya!
A Hampton Missionary,
Elder McConkie 🙂