At the end of my mission, my mission President asked those of us going home to write a letter to him stating what counsel we would give to missionaries, based on our experiences. This is my response.
What Counsel Would I Give To All Of The Missionaries?
Missions are a strange and beautiful thing. God takes and places you with people and in situations that you never would have found yourself in without His direction. He provides you with challenges that give you the opportunity to come closer to Him and find a greater understanding of the Atonement of His son. With each new person you meet, and circumstance you encounter, He gives you the chance to act upon the two greatest commandments He has ever given us. “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. (Mark 12:30)”
These commandments are far easier said than done, but the effect that they will have upon your life and the work you do is worth every effort you put into it. In our mission quote, D&C section 4, it mentions the importance of having charity or love three separate times within those few verses. Why is love so crucial in this “marvelous work (that) is about to come forth among the children of men”?
The answer comes in Corinthians chapter 13. Paul tells us,
1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
It is the reason behind what we are doing, or our motive so to speak that makes the difference. In the war in Heaven, Lucifer’s objective was to make it so every single one of God’s children would come back into God’s presence to live with Him. A worthy goal. He however was driven by his desire for glory, not for the welfare of his brothers and sisters. His love for the Father or for us was overshadowed by his desire to increase his own status. Mormon taught, “If ye have not charity, ye are nothing. (Moroni 7:46)”
The prophets have made the importance of charity rather clear, and lucky for us Paul also gives a clear understanding of what charity is,
4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity. (1 Corinthians 13)
So if I were to give any counsel to other missionaries it would be to love where you are and who you are with. Love your mission! There will never be another time like this! Love the scriptures. If you don’t already love them, study them and pray. Love your companion. It makes a difference in the spirit you have while teaching. If they are hard to get along with, then pray. Love yourself. Not in a self-obsessed way, but know that you are capable of whatever the Lord will ask of you. If you do not see anything within yourself to love, then pray. Love the other missionaries. We are fighting for the same team. If they bother you, that is all the more reason to love them. If it is hard, then pray. Love the people you meet and work with on a daily basis. They aren’t just a number, they are sons and daughters of our most high God and our brothers and sisters. If you struggle to see them in that light, then pray.
“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when He shall appear we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as He is pure. Amen.” (Moroni 7:47)
I have lots more that I need to learn about charity, and I still struggle to apply the things that I have been taught about this important principle, but one thing I have learned for certain is the extreme importance of love in this work. When things are hard, remember “charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all” (Moroni 7:46) The love that I know God has for me is often times what has helped me to push forward. I know that Heavenly Father loves me. He has proven it to me again and again. I know that this is His work and He wants us to include Him in it. We have the incredible opportunity to be His hands and lift His children by helping them to understand their true divine potential. We are trusted to love His children! What an incredible and challenging blessings! There is no better place than a mission to get to exercise and work on the Christ like attribute of charity. I am so eternally grateful for the perfect example our savior has given us. I know Jesus Christ is risen and lives to help strengthen and lift us. I know that the power of the atonement is real. It works. Through His love we have the ability to change. He enables us to be better and do more than we could ever possibly do or be on our own. I love my savior. The apostle John said, “We love him, because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) I know that to be true. I share these truths in the name of my living Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.