"Yea, and as often as my people repent will I forgive them their trespasses against me." - Mosiah 26:30
In case you didn't notice, #72 does not exist. This was because we had to skip off to a Christmas devotional last Monday which caused me to miss my email time.
Just so you know...missionaries are now allowed to read their email on days other than Monday, but we cannot respond to our emails besides Preparation Day. So, please, send me all the email you want, whenever you want. I love to hear how you are doing.
While in the Skype conversation with my family on Christmas Day, I shared with them a list of things I've learned while on my mission. I might just share them with you, in no particular order:
25 things I've learned on my mission:
1. Elders can go anywhere. We can go in the most hood of hood places, where other people would get mugged and cops would only go when in force, and not get touched. 'Cuz we's Jesus people.
2. Family is so so important. I cannot stress enough just how important it is to have a husband and wife married to each other to raise their kids. No other form of relationship between men, women, and children works. It is crucial to have a man and a woman who love each other and respect each other, working together to nurture the kids. SO important.
3. Priesthood power is real. I have complete confidence in the power of a priesthood blessing. I am always certain that they will help a person who is in need. Faith + missionary mantle = miracle, every time.
4. Mormons really stand out in the world. No, really, we stick out like a sore thumb. And I'm referring to the general members of the church here, not missionaries. There have been numerous times where I've accidentally knocked into members that I've never met before, and I'm usually able to tell within seconds that they're LDS -- assuming that they don't immediately say "Oh, hello, Elders!" or something like that. But Mormons really are set apart from the world, in how we act, help others, and live our lives. People generally trust us and are impressed with us, even if they might think we're weird and may be afraid we'll try to convert them.
5. Miracles don't have to be big to be miracles. When people think of a miracle, they might think of an incredible healing or a check for $10,000 showing up out of nowhere after one pays his tithing. But this does not have to be the case. A missionary knows the thousands of little things that go wrong or get changed throughout the week that end up getting him in the right place at the right time with the right experiences under his belt to make a difference.
6. Everyone is a child of God. Some of the most profound conversations I've had my entire mission have been talking with drug-dealers on a rickety front porch. All of these people are children of God. All of them have the Light of Christ inside of them, urging them to do God. He loves them just as much as He loves us, the faithful members. He goes to great lengths to get us to meet them, so that they have an opportunity to accept the Gospel and come home.
7. The Holy Ghost does all the converting. At the end of the day, if someone ends up joining the Church it is not because of anything the missionaries did. It is the Holy Ghost. People get converted because they choose to do so. Therefore, I don't have anything to boast about if they are making the right choices.
8. Nothing is certain. Even the seemingly most prepared individuals can drop off the face of the map. Even the most vile and disgusting of people can change. So many times I have been humbled because someone I thought for certain would not keep their commitments actually did.
9. Little things over a long time cause big things to happen. It is the little acts of kindness and persistent obedience that change us into children of Christ. Conversion does not come through one glorious experience, or in leaps and bounds -- it is a gradual growth, a lifelong process. Investigators do not become converted in a day.
10. God always rewards obedience. I have never had a 9:28 PM last-door-of-the-night experience, but that doesn't mean that God did not reward my obedience. It is a law of heaven: whenever we are obedient, we will be blessed. Those blessingswill come. We may be blessed in ways we would not expect as a result of things we did.
11. Teachability is the greatest virtue. I've come to believe that humility is where everything starts. If we are humble, and accept the truth presented to us, we can have faith. Faith leads to repentance. Repentance leads to sanctification. Repentances leads us to God.
(Wow...unintentionally ended up sounding like Yoda there.)
12. Members are awesome. Your missionaries love you. There seems to be no limit to what members are willing to do for missionaries. They, the "rank and file" members of the Church, are some of my greatest heroes.
I repeat: the greatest heroes of the church are the thousands of people who quietly go along, faithfully serving. The Church could not survive without all of these wonderful people.
13. Gratitude and thoughtfulness = awesomeness. Members are awesome because they love missionaries. They will love missionaries no matter what they do. Therefore, it is important to be thankful. Members really appreciate gratitude and thoughtfulness.
14. Some things are not worth arguing about...but some things are. There are things your companion does where it's just not worth the trouble trying to change it. But then again, there are times where you simply have to draw the line. The Spirit (and the mission president) can help you know where to draw that line.
15. Sometimes you do things just on principle. There are times on a mission where it seems like the Lord is testing you. It's pouring down rain and you just know that nobody's going to be home and nobody's going to listen. Do you go out and work, or stay home? Sometimes...you just do things for the principle of the thing. That's a sub-branch of the thing we call "faith."
16. Greater boldness, greater success. The more we open our mouth, the more opposition we might face, but the more success we will have.
17. People can and will feel the truth if only they're willing to try it. I completely rely on Moroni's promise. I am 100% certain that if people will simply read the Book with a halfway-open heart, they will know that it is true. They don't even have to read the whole thing. I firmly believe that if someone doesn't get a testimony of the Book of Mormon, they haven't read it. Moroni's promise works.
18. Tracting does not work. It just doesn't. I can give you several thousand examples of why.
19. Some people just won't accept the Gospel in this life. It's not that they're evil or that you're a bad missionary. Some people are just too good or too lazy to be able to receive the Gospel in this life. Such people you might just have to leave for Alma and Amulek in the Spirit World.
20. Leaving a good impression is often more important than getting in a door. Some people won't accept the Gospel the first time it comes knocking on their door. But leaving a good impression and helping them feel the Spirit can make sure that there's a second or a third time.
21. By their fruits ye shall know them. Words mean very little. People can say all they want about how touched they are or how excited they are to be baptized...but at the end of the day, what really shows their faith is if they keep the commitments.
22. You can relate anything to anything. Literally anything can be tied to the Gospel. Anything can be used as an object lesson. I have had so many strange parables and comparisons on my mission, trying to find a way to relate a concept to somebody.
23. It's better to leave with the Spirit than defend your position without it. Some people are jerks and mock what you hold sacred. There are times were it's simply better to let them get the last word and leave with the Spirit then defend your point but cause contention. I have had both experiences on my mission.
24. The Lord's way is to forgive. Always. I have come to know that the Lord's capacity to forgive is infinite. Mercy isalways extended on the condition of repentance. Because the Lord will always forgive, we must always forgive.
25. The Atonement is real. It is not some abstract concept we always talk about in Church and Sunday school. It is a real force with real power. I have had the privilege to see it work in other's lives all throughout my mission.
I love you all and wish you a happy New Year! Hurrah for Israel!