"Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy." - 2 Nephi 2:25
Missionaries frequently come up with games to make the work more interesting on slow days. Elder Mejia and I tried one such game this past week. One of us picks a word and we have to find a way to fit that word into the conversation the next time we talk with somebody without sounding strange. Words like "dog" or "gold" are fairly easy. Words like "diabetes" are a bit harder. I'm currently two points ahead of Elder Mejia.
Men are, that they might have joy...
I got a little taste of what joy was like this Sunday. We had nine people that we were working with come to church from six different households, five of them being investigators. I personally have never gotten such a good turnout on my mission, but that's not the story.
There is one man in particular, a recent convert, who I have been working on for the last 5 months. He always kept telling us that he was coming to church but just never showed up. I love him to death but after several months of this we told him that we had to move on and help other people.
This past Sunday I was talking to people at church when all of a sudden I looked down the hall, and who should I see but this tiny little man walking towards me with an enormous smile on his face. I was taken completely by surprise, like perhaps at no other time in my life. I immediately ran up to him and gave him a big hug, and, seeing as the top of his head is about an inch or two below my shoulders, I enveloped the little guy entirely.
I think, at that moment, I knew complete joy.
For the rest of church I sat next to this small older man and couldn't keep myself from grinning the whole time. It was the best feeling in the world. I was so glad that he had come, after months and months of working with him, without us even asking him to.
I'm thankful that the Lord gave me that experience because now I know what I'll be looking for in the future when I'm trying to find pure joy again.
Experience number two...
We were over at a member home for dinner. Both parents had served missions, so all four of us were swapping mission stories. We, the two elders, were entertaining their three little kids by proving to them that putting bacon on a chocolate cake can make it even more delicious. (And it was.) After the dinner we showed them the Mormon Message "Earthly Father, Heavenly Father," which is an awesome video, and it successfully reduced the mom to tears.
This sister, who is expecting her fourth child, then shared with us that the world simply doesn't understand why LDS people have so many kids. She said it was because LDS parents understand that children bring so much happiness to their life. She talked about how much she loved her children, and even then -- even after all that she does for them -- her love is nothing compared to Heavenly Father's.
I once asked a nonmember during a street conversation why we, humans, were on the earth. He replied, "To glorify God." I'm glad that we, as followers of the restored Gospel, understand that God has much more planned for us than His own gratification. We are here so that we might have joy.
I shared these two experiences above because they helped illustrate this principle to me this past week.
When I first went through the temple and saw my family waiting for me in the Celestial Room, I was totally happy. When I saw my friend walking toward me in the church building and I ran and embraced him, I was totally happy. But it blows my mind to think that, as happy as I was on those occasions, that feeling of love and joy is nothing compared to what our Heavenly Father feels for us -- and what He will give us.
Some people say that they go to the temple to escape the troubles of the "real world." If you think about it, however, the temple is the real world -- it's as close to heaven as we can get. This other place, where we are living now, is not really our home. Our true home is back where our Heavenly Father lives and waits for us. We can only get little snippets now and then of the happiness we fully enjoyed there.
What a wonderful day it will be, not too far away from now at all, when we will look down a light-filled hallway and see, quite to our complete surprise, the Savior standing there, waiting for us with open arms and a smiling face. Will we run to Him, I wonder? Will we fall to our knees? Will we weep? Will we sing?
What a glorious day that will be, when we finally discover what real joy is like.
I think Enos put it best:
"..And I rejoice in the day when my mortal shall put on immortality, and shall stand before him; then shall I see his face with pleasure, and he will say unto me: Come unto me, ye blessed, there is a place prepared for you in the mansions of my Father. Amen."
I love you all. Hurrah for Israel!