Monday, October 12, 2009

Why missionaries knock on your door

O that I were an angel, and could have the wish of mine heart, that I might go forth and speak with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth, and cry repentance unto every people! Yea, I would declare unto every soul, as with the voice of thunder, repentance and the plan of redemption, that they should repent and come unto our God, that there might not be more sorrow upon all the face of the earth. Alma 29:1-2

Q: What kind of young adult leaves in the middle of college, puts everything in their life on hold, and spends their own money to go far away from home where they will have doors shut in their face almost every day for two years?

A: You guessed it: a Mormon missionary! We often call them the "Best Two Years."

A typical day starts off at 6:30 when you get up, pray, study the scriptures on your own, study with your companion, pray with your companion, exercise, eat, dress, plan, and otherwise prepare for the day. At 9:00 you leave your apartment and, if you don't have a teaching appointment , usually begin the difficult process of finding someone who wants to hear the message that you sacrificed so much to come and share. At each door you hope to find a sympathetic heart. Most often, if the door is answered at all, you are quickly sent on your way. You believe that everyone on earth is a son or daughter of God so you strive to treat everyone with dignity and respect, no matter how they respond to your invitation to learn more about Christ, but you can’t stop hoping that the person behind the next door will talk with you for a minute or two or at least offer a kind word.

So it goes: with every door there is the hope and anticipation that behind this door may be that special someone who seems to have been waiting their entire life for the message you were sent to deliver. And at almost every door, the anticipation is followed by disappointment. (Every now and again though, just to keep life exciting, you are met at the door by a shotgun or a snarling Rotweiller!) After knocking on dozens of doors you finally meet someone who invites you in. You are so excited! Even if they are not very interested in your message, you're glad that you had the chance to meet them. You respect their right to choose, but it makes you sad for all that they will be missing. You hope that though your acquaintance was brief that you have blessed their life in some small way.

When someone wants to learn more, you find that you can hardly wait to help teach them! You watch with joy as they begin to understand that they are truly God' child and that He knows them and loves them. Seeing lives change for the better is the best part of being a missionary!

After a full morning of tracting, you go back to your apartment for a quick lunch, then out you go again! In the afternoon you help pack food boxes for a local charity. You really love the people that you have been sent to work with and are anxious to serve them in any way that you can. You know though, that the best service you can give them is to bring them the glorious message of the gospel of Jesus Christ. You know that when someone understands what life is all about and has a deep and personal relationship with God, their lives will be richly blessed. You know that if they join the church of Jesus Christ that they will have the love and support of the other members of a church which is organized to bless people in a very personal and individual way. So, out you go again, prayerfully trying to find someone whose heart is open to the beautiful message that the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored to the earth. After dinner you work for a little longer then you are back to your apartment by 9:30 and in bed by 10:30.

As you lie in bed, you think about all the sacrifices that you have made to be where you are. You have saved your whole life to help finance your mission, your parents pay the rest, one of the elders (male missionaries) you know turned down a football scholarship to be here. You wanted to fulfill Christ's injunction to "Feed my sheep." John 21:16 You didn't know beforehand where in the world you would be assigned to serve. You spent two months studying the language before you had to start teaching in it (that made for a lot of funny journal entries!). You hope your personal weaknesses don't get in the way of the message. You feel so young and inexperienced. Surely this is what the Lord meant when he said that, "the fulness of my gospel [would] be proclaimed by the weak and the simple unto the ends of the world." D&C 1:23 You left behind a comfortable home and your family and friends. You miss being with them for holidays, births, weddings, funerals and all of the other family events that occur while you are serving. Most of your contact with family and friends is through the mail. As a missionary, you are not allowed to date or even flirt with someone of the opposite sex. You must have your companion with you wherever you go. You spend nearly all of your time working to help and bless others. Though there are many rules, you know they are all designed to help you be a better servant of God and more effective in helping others to learn His gospel.

At baptism you took upon yourself the name on Christ. As a missionary you strive to represent Him to everyone with whom you come into contact. You love serving a mission, but it is so hard. It helps to remember the love that inspired you serve...

"I have labored without ceasing, that I might bring souls unto repentance; that I might bring them to taste of the exceeding joy of which I did taste; that they might also be born of God, and be filled with the Holy Ghost." Alma 36:24 "And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto [Christ], how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!" D&C 18:15 But behold, my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God. For our brethren...were in darkness...but behold, how many of them are brought to behold the marvelous light of God! Behold, thousands of them do rejoice, and have been brought into the fold of God. And this is the blessing which hath been bestowed upon us, that we have been made instruments in the hands of God to bring about this great work. Alma 26:3,4,11

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