Missionaries serving for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints come from all different backgrounds and places around the world. They each set aside their own personal lives and motives to help others come unto Christ. After their 18–24 months of service is up, undoubtedly, each missionary returns home a different person because of the experiences and lessons learned while serving the Lord and His people.
Each person who chooses to serve a mission has a different experience. I was less than thrilled when my mission call assigned me to labor in the Montana Billings Mission, but I soon realized that it was where the Lord needed me. Today, as I reflect on my experience I know that I was meant to serve there and cross paths with the many people I connected with. The lessons I learned about Jesus Christ, His gospel, and life in general have aided me each day since I returned and will continue to do so. Here are five select lessons I learned from serving as a missionary.
A Love of HymnsMy first companion asked if I could sing after knocking on a door while tracting my first day in the mission field. He then spontaneously asked the woman who answered the door if we could sing a song. I hardly stopped singing over the next two years. We sang for everyone anywhere we could. At first, I thought it was strange, but quickly recognized the powerful spirit that came with the hymns. When a new mission president was assigned, he encouraged us to sing even more and memorize the hymns. I tried to do so, and at one point even laminated copies of hymns so that I could take them into the shower. By the end of my service I organized a new arrangement of one of my favorite hymns and rarely used a hymnbook. But most importantly, I saw the power hymns could bring into a home and change the setting in a moments notice.
|Sunset near Wolf Point, MT|
How to Use My TalentsOne of the best pieces of advice I received before leaving on my mission encouraged me to remember the unique things that made me who I am and to be myself while still serving the Lord. I learned to recognize and utilize some of the spiritual gifts I have been given to bless the lives of others. I also learned to use my talents, things I am good at and that make me me, and develop them to help others and further the work of the Lord.
What True Happiness IsOne of the best days of my life happened when a woman I taught was baptized and received the gift of the Holy Ghost, her husband returned to activity and advanced in the priesthood, and their adopted son was given a name and a blessing. I remember the burning feeling in my heart and realizing that I had discovered what true happiness is. Seeing this family brought together in the gospel of Jesus Christ and a year later sealed for time and all eternity changed my life forever.
Additionally, this happiness can be found in the simple doctrinal truths of the gospel. Christ suffered for our sins. He was resurrected and has restored his church through a living prophet. Through consistent and meaningful prayer and scripture study, we can have his spirit with us to help bless our lives.
|Sunset at the Crow Fair Pow-wow in Crow Agency, MT|
How to Do Hard ThingsMy mission president once said:
"I'm going to teach you to do hard things. Someday your wife will be sick, your child will be screaming, and you won't want to get up and go to work. But you will and that's hard. I'm going to teach you to do hard things."There were plenty of hard days and times when things weren't working out, but learning how to overcome and keep pressing forward was so important. The other day I experienced the scene described in the quote. I laid in bed and I thought of all of the hard moments and the lessons learned serving a mission and promptly got up and went to work because I can do hard things.
How to LoveLove is the greatest motivator of all. The Savior taught his gospel, performed miracles, and suffered for each of us because he loves each of us so perfectly. You encounter so many different kinds of people while serving a mission and sometimes wonder who could love these people. Some were easy to love and others were more difficult, but I knew that my Savior loved them and I could too. I was shown how to love by members, leaders, companions, and even complete strangers, who loved me. I learned how to love others and that doing so can change lives.
|Sunset in Hardin, MT|