Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Week 97: Definitely "The BEST TWO YEARS!"

THE BEST TWO YEARS

     How can someone even begin to recount all the wonderful experiences and good times that happen in the course of two years? Better yet, a missionary's two years? Words cannot describe the teachings I've learned and the feelings I've felt while being a full-time advocate, minister, and representative of the Lord, Jesus Christ. By no means did I do a perfect job, nor did I baptize 100 people, but the changes that I've seen have been extraordinary. The changes not only in other people, but in myself as well. I have really seen what it takes and the dedication that must be put forth in order to be a true disciple of the Savior. The promise that is found in Matt 10:39 and echoed throughout the scriptures is true in my life as I have lived as a missionary for these last two years.
     I remember that I was so focused on myself as I started my mission. Sure, I wanted to help others, and I knew that the gospel could help them, but I was in it for myself. On the outside I'm sure I was talking only about those whom I'd serve, but on the inside I was more focused on myself. I would be able to learn Spanish; I would become so much closer to the Lord; I would become a scriptorian; I, I, I... It wasn't until the MTC that I finally realized that my mission should never be for myself, but it should only be for the Lord. I had to be wiling to do whatever was necessary to be fully able to act as an instrument in the hands of God to bring to pass the advancement of His kingdom. I had to decide to serve the Lord because of my love for Him, not for the glory of man, nor for any personal progression. The Lord would make me into the person He wants me to become, rather than the person I think I want to become.
     President Kendrick always talked about our purpose as missionaries. He said that our purpose is to bring others to Christ, thus, to be succinct, we "Find, Teach, and Baptize." Later on, the mission was compelled to slightly change the vision statement, in regards to a world-wide missionary broadcast, to "Find, Teach Repentance, and Baptize Converts." Along with this phrase he often stated that missionaries who come out on their missions to personally grow, don't grow and they don't baptize. The Lord has an everlasting promise that he will bless us with everything that we need and will help us become who we must become as we first seek His kingdom. Throughout my mission I feel that I have learned more and more how to apply that concept and how to more fully dedicate my life to the furthering of God's kingdom here on the earth.
     Before he left the mission, President Kendrick asked me if my mission has changed me for 24 months, or for the rest of my life. Right away I feel confident in responding that it has changed me for the rest of my life, but it isn't that easy. Change is a process, not an event. Change takes time, dedication, and disciple. We cannot expect to change and never again need to put in an effort to continue changing, or maintain the change we have seen. It takes an unyielding will, and trust in the Lord to continue to become the individual He wants us to be. I have experienced many mighty changes within my heart, but that doesn't mean anything if I fail to continue forward, firm in the faith, and work more on coming closer to the Savior. It has taken two years to get me to this point, but it could be as quick as two months to put me back to where I was. I will not waste the change the Lord has allowed me to experience. I will do that which the Lord asks of me and I will seek Him, and not myself.
     I will forever be grateful for the people I have met, the experiences I have had, and the conversion I have seen. I know that the Church is true and that the Lord does love us enough to send us a Prophet to lead us and guide us. I know that He speaks to us by His Holy Spirit, and that we can always speak to Him through prayer. He is ever watching, and always looking to bless us. He sends us tender mercies, and also allows us to pass through difficult times, and it is all for our benefit. The Lord does not do anything but that which will help Him accomplish His purpose, "to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of all men." I know that God is in the details of our lives to help us make righteous decisions, and to be happy and feel His love. These things I know to be true are simple, and they are just true. The Spirit has borne witness to me time and time again that these things are true.
     The Lord wants us to be happy, and He wants us to feel His love. The only requisite is that we follow His plan, and don't go off calling our own plays. I know the Lord loves each and everyone of us, and that He has a perfect plan for each of us individually. Jesus Christ is our Savior, and He paid the price for our sins so that we will not have to. He is the Perfect Teacher, the Master, the Lamb of God, and our Savior. "His name [is called] Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." I am grateful I have had these two years, the best two years, to serve Him, who I love. I will forever more continue to do the same.

- Elder Brian J. Farley