"Behold, O Lord, their souls are precious, and many of them are our brethren; therefore, give unto us, O Lord, power and wisdom that we may bring these, our brethren, again unto thee." - Alma 31:35
While on exchange with Elder Jorgensen this past Friday I witnessed my fifth car accident since coming to Newton. A car ran right into the back of a van on the road and got totaled, so we rode up to the scene to see how we could help. I was still in the "offer to provide assistance" mode when Elder Jorgensen, who had more presence of mind than I did, quickly jumped in the road and started directing traffic around the crash. Turns out no one is going to question what a man in a shirt and tie is telling them to do. I went and helped him at the other end and that was what we did for over a half hour while the 911 people cleared up the wreckage.
Saturday we stopped to talk to two young women walking along the side of the road. We asked if there was a time that we could come by and teach them. The taller of the two, Kena, said, "I don't want to lie to you. I don't want to say a time and then not be there."
"Then just say a time and be there!" I said.
She paused for a moment, then slowly stuck out her fist so that I could give it a pound with my own.
And that's missionary work for you. You talk to strange people and see weird churches that are called, I kid you not, "Rose of Sharon Church of the Firstborn in Christ's Name." Thankfully we got five different people from five different households to church this Sunday, including Allen, who is recovered from his kidney stones and on date for the 20th.
To preface an experience that I had recently, I would like to share a story.
My father once had a dream. In this dream, he was in a great white room that he understood to be where people waited before they entered the Celestial Kingdom. An attendant in white gave him a piece of paper and asked him to write on it why he felt that he should be allowed to go in. Hastily my father began to write down everything he could think of that might justify his worthiness: sealed in the temple to a wonderful woman, father of five children, return missionary, bishop, stake president, all sorts of things.
At this point my grandfather came into the room. As he sat down my father began to explain to him what he needed to do. "Here, Dad, you have to write on this paper why you think you should be allowed to enter, you can use both sides--" and so on. My grandpa quietly thanked him, and then on his paper wrote down a single sentence and handed it to the waiting attendant. The attendant looked at what he had written, and said with a smile, "That is enough. You may go in." And then my grandfather entered into the other door.
My father told me that he never saw what it was that my grandpa had written down. But he did realize that what our Father in heaven is looking for from our mortal existence is not necessarily what he had thought He would be. What He was seeking was apparently something that could be expressed in a single sentence.
A little while ago in my Book of Mormon reading I came across my mission plaque scripture, Alma 31:35. It stopped me dead in my tracks. I had gone into my mission with the thought in mind that I would bring souls again unto Him. The horrible thought entered into my head: have I done this?
A host of negative and depressing thoughts flooded into my head. I took out a pen and paper and for 40 minutes wrote them down. I felt that I had not used my time the way I could have. I felt that I had done a poor job in serving the Lord. I finished the page and started on another that was blank, and there I stopped. Instead of continuing to write more negative thoughts, I wrote, "And therefore, Daniel, what?"
I stopped and considered the question, and then I quietly left my companions and went to the bedroom. Closing the door behind me, I knelt down in prayer and asked the Lord if my offering had been acceptable to Him. I needed the reassurance that the time I had spent in His service was something He was pleased with. I prayed and prayed, but after several minutes no answer had come. I got my patriarchal blessing and read through it and prayed again, but there was still no response.
I took my little alarm clock CD player and turned off the lights and shut myself into the closet and listened to This is the Christ, hoping that somehow it would help me. I heard the words of the song, "With saints of old, in joyful cry, I too can testify: this is the Christ!"
A question came into my head, unmistakably clear, like I've never experienced before in my life: "Can you at least say this?"
My response was an immediate "Yes!"
And then came the reply, "Then your mission has been acceptable."
Instantly the negative feelings and self-doubt were driven away and I felt complete peace fill my soul. In tears I thanked my Heavenly Father for all He had done for me as I sat in that tiny closet, and I came out feeling overwhelming joy and gratitude. I crumpled up the paper of negative thoughts and rejoined my companions in the other room.
Someday, when we are called before the Master to give an accounting of how we have used our time and He asks us why we think our offering should be considered acceptable to Him, what will we say? I don't think He will be much concerned about the number of lessons we had taught, or in what positions we had served, or the places we had gone. The answer He is looking for, I imagine, is something that you will be able to give in a single sentence. It is the reason why missionaries are sent out on missions. It is central to why we have been sent here to this earth.
I am thankful, so thankful, to my Father in Heaven that He has allowed me to come out and offer myself in His service. What could I ever do to repay Him? What could I ever do to adequately show my thanks? I am grateful for the testimony I have come to have that the Work is true.
I love you all. Hurrah for Israel!