Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Missionary Stories 2

Here's another mission story:

Throughout my mission, a constant challenge was talking to strangers on the street and on the bus about the gospel. It's just a little bit scary. I must have talked to hundreds--if not thousands--of people in the course of a year.

My last day, I wanted to remember street contacting with pure joy. I was sick and exhausted, and I could easily have spent the day inside, but I asked my companion if we could go talk to people on a street corner on my last evening.

We did so. I was so tired that I had to sit down and rest a couple of times while my companion kept talking to people. We met several Persians, met a number of wonderful people, and got a new investigator family. I gave out a copy of the Book of Mormon to someone who said he'd read it, and I also gave away several pamphlets. It was fun! I really enjoyed it.

I don't know all the variables that determine how fun missionary work is, or anything for that matter, but that day I talked to people because I wanted to do it. I wanted them to feel the Spirit, I wanted to feel the Spirit, and I wanted it to be natural and enjoyable. And it was.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Missionary Stories 1

Well, a friend of mine wanted me to tell him some missionary stories, so I thought I'd post a few here.

First, I'd like to post a funny story. I tell it fairly often. On the phone, people often think I'm a woman. I think it's funny. So, as a missionary, we often asked members of the local congregation to come teaching with us. Their insight and testimony is helpful, and it's easier for someone to start attending church if they have a friend--or at least a friendly acquaintance--at church. So, I once called a wonderful lady to come with us. She said yes, and we decided to meet at a certain street corner and take the bus to the teaching appointment.

Well, I was in a group of three missionaries, which does sometimes happen. So, we went to meet the woman, and all seemed well. Then she asked, "Where are the sister missionaries?" We were quite confused. "What?" "Who's the sister who called me last night?"

Well, I walked away and started laughing silently. My two companions tried to change the subject as gracefully as they could. Then, later, she brought it up again! So, we did our best to change the subject again. We never did get up the courage to tell her what happened.

Next, I'd like to share a story about a day that was really hard for me. I had been sick for quite some time (about two weeks later, mission leadership decided to send me home since I couldn't do a lot of missionary work). This day I felt depressed and discouraged for several hours--feelings that I usually held at bay fairly well. Finally, in the evening, I felt physically and emotionally strong enough to work.

So, we went out, and I had a prayer in my heart that God would help me to enjoy missionary work that day. I really wanted to be a good missionary and to be healthy as well. As we went out, we had several special experiences. I'll share two of them that happened within five minutes of each other.

We went about that evening knocking on doors and inviting people to hear our message. As we began to walk up one driveway, a man in a car called to us. He was a Persian member of the Church who had stopped attending and also stopped living some of the standards of the Church. Now, my missionary companion was the only missionary in all of Toronto at that time who spoke Persian well. That this particular member would find us--out of all the missionaries in the area--was completely beyond coincidence in my mind. A feeling of joy come over me, and the Spirit reminded me that God is, indeed, with His missionaries.

I spent my last couple of months as a missionary learning to find greater joy in the work. When I came on my mission, I liked missionary work, but I wasn't really passionate about it. I was only passionate about what every missionary is passionate about--that is, teaching people who really, really want to learn. My sweetest memories are of teaching those sorts of people.

I hope that when I return to the mission field, I can be passionate and find true joy more often in missionary work.

Note to self: Write about my last night of street contacting.

Saturday, December 6, 2008


God gives us our bodies to hold the light and power that our spirits have--to be filled with love and intelligence. For this purpose, our bodies have certain natural desires--desires for love, desires for nourishment, and so forth. However, Satan tempts us to give in to these desires in ways that contradict God's laws.

Addictions and sins are usually motivated by fundamentally good things that are twisted to an improper use. That is why almost everyone will inherit a kingdom of glory, as shown to Joseph Smith (D&C 76). For example, food is fundamentally good and important. However, some obsess over food to the point of eating too much, too little, or too unhealthfully. We sometimes lose sight of the real reason God gave us food--for health and for moderate joy--and eat to forget our troubles. Most sins are not because we are fundamentally evil, but because we allow a lesser good to distract from God. Elder Maxwell stated, "On the two great commandments, Jesus declared emphatically, everything else hangs, not vice versa (see Matthew 22:40). The first commandment is not suspended just because of our vigorous pursuit of a lesser good, for we do not worship a lesser god" (Neal A. Maxwell, “Consecrate Thy Performance,” Ensign, Dec 2008, 26–30).

I've been reading out of a book, Willpower Is Not Enough. It makes the wonderful point that to change, we don't just gain more willpower. Instead, we redirect our natural, fundamental desires. A desire for love and closeness can easily be misinterpreted as a desire for romance or sex. A desire for good, wholesome food can easily lead us to binge on M&M's. The addiction never actually fulfills the desire, and so we go on and on. If you have ever eaten half a package of Oreos, I'm talking to you! (Yes, I have.) It's not because we are evil binge-eaters. I was just hungry, and Oreos were easier than making healthy food. Obviously, eating sweets just doesn't work as well.

Anyway, good luck to everyone who reads this--most importantly myself--in their quest to sanctify their minds and bodies. The Holy Ghost is the single most powerful tool in this quest. It can change who we are. That is how the Atonement reaches us--the Savior's sacrifice authorizes the Holy Ghost to help us.