WEEK 15 Fairfield 2nd Ward
Family and Friends,
Quick news update: I'm STAYING HERE IN FAIRFIELD! Elder Achal is heading out to Vacaville, California. Vacaville is literally nine miles away from Fairfield, so we will be seeing each other quite often! My new companion is Elder Smittenaar. I get to meet him for the first time this week, so stay tuned for updates on how he is. ;) Hahaha totally kidding, I'm sure he's awesome.
Well, this has been the most humbling and spiritual week of my mission to say the least. I really don't even know how to put it into words, but I've never felt The Spirit this strong in my life before. I will forever remember this past week for the rest of my life. You know those “experiences” that everybody talks about when they're telling you about their mission? Yeah, well one of those things happened this week.
Upon entering into the missionary training center, I had never before read the Missionary White Handbook. Never had I ever thought it would've been a good idea to read the guidelines and standards that are contained within that small little book. I came into this with an oblivious sense of knowledge as to how we are expected to dress, act, and convey ourselves as missionaries. For me, I came into the field with a very materialistic sense of personality. Little did I know... missionaries can't be fashionably sensible and we have to look like nerds 24/7. Hahaha, totally kidding, but seriously. I came in with the wrong perspective as to how my appearance affects my sacred calling.
Soon after getting into the California mission field, I was quickly informed that the bracelets on my wrist, and the socks on my feet weren't on terms with missionary standards. I took this as missionaries were being “too serious” about this rule in the white handbook. I figured that I could get by without abiding by to this rule. I figured this wasn't going to be too big of a deal. So, I brushed that off my shoulder and went on. Throughout my whole mission I wore these bracelets, and off colored socks. It was fun. It was different. It was enticing.
This past week, I received a letter from my sweet cousin in Little Rock, Arkansas. Sister Nelson is currently serving a mission there, and we have been emailing back and forth every week or so. In the past, I had expressed my feelings to her about my mission and the fact of the matter that “I just wasn't REALLY enjoying myself out here.” I liked my mission. It was fine. But, it wasn't anything special though. I'd had some really cool experiences, but it didn't necessarily mean a ton to me. I thought about home a lot. I thought about everything I could be doing and I wasn't as anxiously engaged as I wished I could be. In this letter that she sent me, she included two talks that were both on the subject of missions and missionary work.
I chose to read one of the talks by Elder Holland titled “The Miracle of a Mission.” In this talk Elder Holland gives a very in depth description of how he understands how hard missionary work can be sometimes. He talks about how we are given standards as missionaries for a reason. He talks about HIS OWN mission. He talks about how much the “little things” of missionary work really do matter. He talks about how we must portray ourselves as missionaries. He talks about how our missions “are more sacred and more eternal than anything you’ve ever done thus far in your life.” He says: “It is by definition the most important thing you can do in the world, in time or eternity. For this reason you are engaged in the saving of the human soul. And that is the highest and holiest work in the universe.” From just this short passage, I'm sure you can imagine how motivating and moving this talk really is. And today, I can certainly testify of this.
After much pondering about my mission (and the willingness I've shown Heavenly Father to perform this “high and holy work”) - I had a very serious talk in prayer that night. I prayed to Heavenly Father and asked what I needed to improve on. I asked what I was lacking as a missionary, and how I could improve. I asked with a sincere heart, and very very soon came my answer. With a little rebuking from the spirit, it was quite evident to me what I needed to do. I needed to shape up. I needed to take these bracelets off my wrist, and the socks off my feet. I needed to portray myself in a cleaner, more respectful way. I have been trusted as an emissary of the savior, yet I didn't respect it with all that it deserved. I didn't follow all the “little rules” of the white handbook. I was disobedient in certain aspects of my mission and it was made evident in how much I was enjoying my mission.
I had heard and been taught all my life that as we are obedient to The Lords commandments, we would be happier than we ever could've been before. I knew this and had a testimony of this (for myself) before I even left Utah. I had always tried to heed to the counsel given by prophets of old, & modern day prophets and apostles. I had seen the blessings reaped from this and I was “cemented” in this facet of my faith. Yet, in these short couple months of being out here - I was reluctant and arrogant in keeping these “little rules” of the mission.
So, after much prayer and taking this to The Lord, I decided I needed to shape up. I was willing to do so, and I asked Heavenly Father to help me. I went forth with a willing heart – not knowing what the result and outcome of this would be. I took my bracelets off, and placed them on my desk. I took all my socks, folded them up, and put them away.
Waking up the next morning was a bit of a surprise. I jumped straight out of bed with an eagerness to get out of the house and just WORK. I have never showered, gotten ready, and been at my desk studying this fast before. I slowly started to realize that my motivation level and persistence had gone through the roof. I was happy. Like, happier than I've ever been before. I felt a joy in my heart. I didn't worry about home. I was no longer worried about family and friends. I was just... here. I was in the now. I had never felt The Spirit so strongly and it made me happy. I was happy to be a missionary. I was just... happy. This overwhelming feeling of The Spirit encompassed my whole body and spirit.
To make this long story short – This feeling hasn't yet left me. I am feeling so in-tune with The Spirit of The Lord and it's the best I've ever felt. I have a whole new outlook on missionary work and the standards of what we are expected to do. I never knew the importance of these “little rules” that were given to us. But now, I've come to know that “by small and simple things, are great things brought to pass.” (Alma 37:6-7)
Now, coming back to the real world. You're probably sitting here thinking.. “What the heck is he sharing all of this for? This is one of the smallest and simplest principles of The Gospel? Keep the Commandments, right?” Well, my reasoning in sharing this is for two simple reasons. Number one, being that I have to give you a weekly update on all things that are going on here in California. Number two, being that I think this message applies to all those that are reading this. I invite you to think about any of the “little things” right now that are in your life. Any of the dumb, little, insignificant things that you think might not matter. I invite you to try and “shape up” these things. I promise and testify to you that you will be happier. You feel The Spirit more present in your life, and you will see The Lord's hand more in your life.
Heavenly Father gives us commandments and standards because he knows it will make us happy. It's as simple as that. I invite you to try and find this out for yourself. It's true. It's all true. This Gospel is true. God is real. Heavenly Father and his son Jesus Christ are here for us. They want to see us succeed and progress in this life. I can testify that the only way to do so, it through them. Through the all-knowing. He's there for us. Always. & Forever.
I love each and every one of you so very much. I hope you take my invitation and challenge because I know how happy it can make you. I had this humbling experience this past week and I know it was because of a righteous decision. I know that the same will work for you. I know that The Spirit of The Lord can reside in those that are faithful and willing to his holy commandments. Commandments are meant for us and our progression. They're only here to make us better. Even if it is super dumb like not wearing sentimental bracelets and cool stance socks. Hahaha, again, it's only for our benefit.
I'll see you guys soon. Hope all is well. GodSpeed.