Good morning, everyone!
Though I think it's afternoon there.
How are ya'll doing? Sometimes I accidentally say ya'll in English when I'm talking Spanish. ¨Ustedes¨ just doesn't roll off the tongue as easily.
Right this minute, my district leader is talking about how he will be going home in two days. Another elder in our district is also finishing his mission. It stresses me out to hear about it; I do not want to think about ever not being a missionary.
Though I suppose that, even when I go home, I will get to keep being a missionary...
Which, hey, leads to what I wanted to talk about... member missionary work!
Because this week I don't have that much to report. We just put our shoulders to the wheel and lost ourselves in the work, and it was wonderful. We met our zone's goal of finding 20 new investigators this week, and had 17 lessons with members present! All of the people we're teaching who might be baptized this week are close friends or relatives of recent converts. We had 5 people come to church on Sunday, and all of them had a good friend there. It was a beautiful testimony meeting, with complete families going up together to the pulpit to share how the gospel has changed their lives.
It made me so happy to see everyone there, feeling the Spirit, loving being at church. It made me remember that living (and sharing) the gospel shouldn't feel like an obligatory duty, but should be a natural result of having a testimony, an outpouring of love.
I think in the language is where we need to start: in Spanish, it's called la obra misional. That can be translated to missionary work, but a better word for work is trabajo. Obra means more of a grand, great, overarching project. A long term goal, a cause. Not work, like a drudgery job.
If we are going to have success sharing the gospel in this church, we're going to have to do several things.
1. Stop thinking about it as a chore.
2. Strengthen our own testimonies.
3. Love people more.
Strengthen our own testimonies because doing so will help us understand why sharing the gospel so important. If I actually, really believe that this is the only true church, if I know that the priesthood was restored and doesn't exist anywhere else, and if I live worthy to feel its blessings in my life, I'm going to be a lot more likely to want to let other people know about it than if I'm just coasting along going to church because I know I'm supposed to but not really thinking about the doctrine or the teachings.
So, my challenge to every one of you, Mormon or not, is to answer these questions: Do I know what is being taught in my church? Is this doctrine true? What questions do I have about it?
Prayerfully study your questions and analyze your doubts. The truth is not hiding.
And then, we have to love people more because even if we know all the things about the doctrine and believe it's true, we might still be scared to open our mouths and invite others to move outside their comfort zone. But the apostles have promised that nobody will ever be offended by a sincere and respectful invitation to learn more about the restored gospel. Love conquers all. And love for our friends and family, combined with knowing that it's necessary that they know what we do, will help us put aside whatever fear and start the conversation.
Last but not least: I encourage you, also, to finish the conversation.
Lots of times before my mission, I thought it was enough to just have a profound conversation about theology and then go back to the dorm room and move on with life, having invited others to think about ideas new to them.
But that's really not enough, and I have repented of those times that I was scared to do anything more.
I'm seeing in the mission (and recognizing that it's held true in our life too) that as human beings, we generally wait to act until we're invited to. Sad, but true. So... invite people to meet with the missionaries! They're good at extending the rest of the invitations, that will help your friends change their lives if they're really prepared to recognize and live the truth. But we need your help in making that first invitation. People opening doors have a hard time believing that we, perfect strangers with name-tags, love them. But, if you're living like Christ, your friends have already felt your love, time and again.
It might not all be perfect, there might be an awkward moment or two, but if we're respectful and honest with ourselves and everyone else, I promise that everything will work out alright, and we (and our friends) will be happier and more satisfied than we were before.
This is what I want, for Christmas and Valentine's Day and my birthday and everything else... that people at home share the gospel. These missionaries around me who are going home this week will be doing it, and in 10 more months I'll be doing it, but it's a calling for every one of us.
And it's a pure and perfect joy :)