I love being here as a missionary! I love the work and the service I am able to give here. I know being here and the blessings I have felt is something I would have never anticipated. However, I think for many people there may be a little bit of a mystery about what exactly I do as a missionary every day, both for members and those who are not members. As we are a part of new mission, how we work is a little different than what has been standard missionary procedure in the past, different than what most members are familiar with. And I assume most non-members do not have much of an idea of what being a Mormon missionary entails to begin with. So hopefully this will be something interesting to everyone who reads it! I want to first talk about why I am here, then what do we do here as missionaries, and last, how we do it.
I am here because I love being a missionary! I am here because this church is true. I am here to share with others the blessings and comfort I have found from Jesus Christ in my life. I feel blessed with the trials and struggles I have had in my life. They have helped me better understand the role of Jesus Christ in my life. We all have times of difficulty, and times when we feel we have more than we can handle. The gospel of Jesus Christ is designed to help us with the struggles we have. Trials and hard things are a part of Gods plan for us. It is through relying on Jesus Christ and His gospel that we can use these struggles to come closer to God in our lives. As I felt abandoned, I was able to find He was there for me. As I felt lost, I have been able to find direction from Him. As I was confused, I have found understanding from His gospel and His plan for us. Because this has been such a blessing for me in my life, I am now here as a missionary to share it with others. I am here because this is something which will bless and help the lives of all those who accept it. I am here to help others find the same lasting joy and peace in their lives despite the challenges they have.
The Holy Ghost is one of the vehicles through which we feel the love of our Heavenly Father and the healing we can find through Jesus Christ (John 15: 26). It is through the spirit I have found the testimony I have. The spirit has helped me know why I need to serve a mission. We read in the Doctrine and Covenants—“And the Spirit shall be given unto you by the prayer of faith; and if ye receive not the Spirit ye shall not teach.” (Doctrine and Covenants 42: 14) It is only through the Spirit we are able to teach people. It is not that we won’t be good teachers or that teaching will just be a little harder, it is that we “shall not teach” unless it is through the Spirit. The spirit is what helped me to find the testimony I have. Helping those we teach and those we work with is what helps those we teach know the things we say are true. Moroni tells us in the Book of Mormon—“I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith” (Ether 12: 6). Faith comes after the trials we have. We need to experiment on the Word. We try it for ourselves and look to see what result it brings for us in our lives. As the fruit, of the result of it is good, we can know it is from God and we continue. Our task as missionaries is to help those interested in learning what they can do to find the spirit in their lives. No one can know our message, our understanding or the verses, or what we say is true just because we say it. Faith takes effort, and faith takes time. Faith takes dedication. Helping our investigators find the spirit in their lives is the only way for us to teach them.
Just as important as helping the investigators find the Spirit in their lives, we need to have the spirit in our lives. As we have the spirit God is able to give us communication and direction on how we can help bring the spirit to the lives of those we teach. Finding the spirit in our lives and helping others find it in their lives are essential principles to missionary work. As a principle, all full time missionaries have two hours for study in the morning. One hour of personal, and then an hour to study with an assigned companion. After studies, for the majority of the day we proselyte—we go about inviting others to come unto Christ. We do this by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.
As I mentioned earlier, our mission is a little unique, but the principles remain the same. Our day starts very similar to most other missions. In a typical day, I wake up at six thirty, get ready, eat breakfast, study for an hour by myself, and then study with Elder Howden for another hour. In my own personal study lately I have been dividing the time I have in a few different ways. I enjoy memorizing verses, I try and read through a few chapters in the Book of Mormon, and for the other half of the time I study different parts of Preach My Gospel. (Preach My Gospel is the “go-to” book of Missionary Work, it helps us know how to better follow the example of Jesus Christ and invite people to Him). For our companionship study, Elder Howden and I will review the personal study we had, and talk about the lessons we have planned for that day. We try and focus on each investigator and we discuss what we feel they might need to bring the Spirit more into their lives. We also will read from Preach My Gospel together and discuss our understanding and ways we can apply it into what we do. An advantage we have of serving online is that we have the computers to keep notes.
Proselyting is old, but proselyting online is a new frontier. A traditional missionary walks door to door asking people if they are interested, trying to talk with all those we meet. We are commanded by God “Say nothing but repentance unto this generation” (Doctrine and Covenants 6: 9). We read in Preach My Gospel on page 195 “When you ask for commitments as part of your teaching, you are inviting the investigator to repent.” Repentance is a process by which we change our lives, we change from things which God does not want us to do to things which He does want us to do. We invite people to repent and come unto Christ as we meet them on the mormon.org chat.
How we do that now is actually different than when I started my mission. As it is so new, it fluctuates as we try and find what is best and most effective. I will focus on what we have found to be most useful now. For a typical person, we meet them on the chat. Most people come on with a concern or question. We try and help with that as best we can, and then we invite them to repent, or keep commitments, or come unto Christ more in their lives. Everything we ask people to do is designed to help them feel an increased measure of the Spirit in their lives. We leave scripture passages or general conference talks for them to look over, we ask them to pray, to look over a presentation or video online, to attend church, to talk with us again, and any other thing we have found to be effective. Each of these things is intended to help them to find an increased measure of the Spirit in their lives. The spirit teaches us truth (John 16: 13), and recognizing the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5: 22-23) in our lives can help us know we are doing what is right. As we talk with people we have four main lessons we like to go over with people; on the reestablishment of the church of Jesus Christ in our day, the plan of happiness God has for us (why we are here, where we came from, where we are going, etc), what the gospel of Jesus Christ is and how we apply it in our lives, and last about what commandments we have from God, and why they are important.
We help those who are interested have these lessons as is best for them. Some people prefer the old-fashioned way—meeting with missionaries in person. With these people we may only teach one or two lessons to help them get over some fears they have, and then as they go to church and meet local missionaries we are able to provide support. We take more of a supportive role answering questions they don’t feel comfortable asking in person, and we are easily accessible to help with any concerns they may have. As you are reading this online, you may also realize the internet has become a very social place. We also find there are many people who prefer learning online. With some people we will continue to teach and reach out them online. We teach people lessons with what we find they are more comfortable with, be it Facebook, msn, Skype, over the phone, blogging or anything else. Another direction from Preach My Gospel quotes B.H. Roberts when he said, “To be known, the truth must be stated and the clearer and more complete the statement is, the better the opportunity will the Holy Spirit have for the testifying to the souls of men that the work is true” (p. 182). That is what we try and do, we try and make the message we have clearer and more understandable for those we teach. We try and communicate with them in a method that is best for them.
As I reflect on it now, I have started to see that what we do really is just a small part of the potential there is for us in the future. I think it is amazing to see the changes in the world, and the changes there have been online in the last 5 or 10 years. The changes are only going to keep coming; it is only going to become even bigger and more a part of our lives. I feel so blessed to be a part of something so new and exciting! Please leave any comments with any questions you might have about what I do; I will answer them as I am able.