I was going to talk about this week, but I fear that I don't have much to say. The trio is working smoother than it was before, but I'm finding that Elder L and I are oftentimes at odds with each other- just a matter of differing opinions and pride, really. I asked for this though; a few weeks ago, I was afraid that my "seasoned" status as one of the "old missionaries" (apparently there are more young missionaries than old missionaries, and I find myself in the small number of old missionaries) was going to get to my head and I was seeing signs that it was, so I asked the Lord to humble me. Though I do not enjoy the humbling process, I understand that it is necessary, and I never want to be that stubborn, prideful, arrogant person that I previously was ever again. There are a lot of things that I'm discovering that I was and am not now, and the more I discover them, the more I question how I had any friends or any loved ones back home at all. If you could all see the person I am becoming, I think your jaws might drop; a lot is changing. Though I'm still me, I'm becoming a much better me. I may not be the smartest bloke, and I may prefer the more simple things in life, and I might not become the most amazing person in the world according to the standards of the world, but no matter my simplicity on the outside, I know that I am becoming more like the man that God wants me to be.
Something that I just felt impressed to share was this; I was thinking recently of the time when I'll come home (a year from now and I'm nowhere near trunky... I just was trying to make some goals of where I wanted to be in a year) and I was thinking specifically about the last testimony I would bear at the end of my last transfer meeting. I decided that I don't want to share any stories- every missionary has stories and those are more appropriate to talk about in a less formal setting I feel. Instead, I thought I would just go with what President Carter has been telling all the leavers to bear witness of before they leave, and that is of three things that have helped them the most on the mission. Lots of missionaries still like to chuck in stories though. As I was thinking of the three things that have helped me the most so far, or the three things that I would like to see help me progress even further, I made a few decisions on what I want to share with the younger missionaries when that time comes.
First, and not necessarily the most important one, is diligence. I know that being diligent is the key to serving the Lord to the fullest. When I have always had something to do, I have been the most happy, I have been the most tired (as I should be for now), and I have felt the Spirit constantly. Filling the day with things to do to fill up blocked periods of time, however, is not being diligent. Diligence, to me, is when one is actively doing all that they can to bring souls closer to Christ, and they have a real desire to- not just a desire to fill in the blocks of time with things to do.
Second, and arguably the most important, is loving everyone as Christ loves them. I know that if I am leaving my flat for any other reason than a Christlike love for those I have been sent to serve, I am leaving for the wrong reason. I know that it is only by showing people sincere interest in their lives, concern for their welfare, and actually wanting to get to know them, that they can then identify you as a servant of the Lord on His divine errand. People do not care about how much you know until they know how much you care, and that is as true a statement as God is our loving Father in Heaven. I know that everyday-people are children of God, just like us- they have hopes and dreams and aspirations, and He loves and cherishes them just as much as He does you and for me. Love is the only thing that motivated the Saviour to do what He did for us; love is the only reason that Father sent His Firstborn on our behalf; love is the only reason we should leave our flats to preach.
Thirdly, and most definitely the most important, is applying the Atonement in our own lives. Without going into detail, I have needed Christ's Atonement daily, and on occasion, I have needed it very desperately. I do not fully know how the Atonement works, I do not understand all of its details, and I don't know why things are the way they are that makes such an Atonement necessary. But I do know that it is necessary, regardless of the why it is the way it is, and I do know that the enabling power of the Atonement is real. I don't know how it is accessed, I just know that I have accessed it before and I strive to access it continually. I cannot see the enabling powers working in the moment, but I can see the aftereffects, and truly, I know and can offer my personal experience as a testimony of it, that the Atonement heals, and that it will change us if we use it with real and sincere intent. I know that God loves us and is merciful towards us... His mercy, and His desire to be merciful far outweighs His obligation to be just. Christ's Atonement satisfied the laws of Justice for those who access it, and choose to repent and come unto Christ. I don't know how it works... but I know it works because I have seen the end result in myself. I am not the same person as I was, and I reckon I will continue to change as my service to the Lord continues for the next year.
Last of all, I want you all to know that I love being a missionary! I love being a devoted servant of the Lord; I love being able to bring God's children back into His fold. Though I despise some things in the moment, ultimately I love the challenges and the heartbreaks and the difficulties- they are opportunities for growth, and I know the Lord is telling me that He loves me when I go through them; only a perfect parent would love one enough to let them struggle on occasion. I love seeing others allow themselves to receive the fullness of God's blessings by being baptized; I love witnessing His children humble themselves as they repent, as they develop a desire to fully follow God that Father and do all that our Advocate, Jesus Christ, asks of us. I love watching the look on their face as they come forth from the font, dripping wet with water running down their smiling faces- you know that they are changed individuals when you see the glow in their eyes.
I know for myself that this is the Lord Jesus Christ's church restored to the earth. I know that the Church is modelled to exactness after that of Christ's primitive church; I know that the Priesthood, which is given to Man that the blessings of God may more fully be poured upon His children, has been restored to the earth, and because of it, families can be together not only in this life, but in the eternities to come. I know that God loves us- His love for us is incomprehensible, and I do not understand it from a parent's perspective, but I do understand it from a son's perspective, and I know that He loves me. I know that He is our Father, and that nothing can separate us from His love for us, not even our own sinful actions. I know that He is merciful towards us... words cannot describe how merciful He is, and how much He wants us to taste of that grace and mercy which can be attained only through the Atonement of His Only Begotten. I know this Church is the one and true church, and that Jesus Christ lives; He is the Master at the helm of it, and His only desire for us is to be able to return to live with Him and Father again.
I also love you all, and I pray that someday -if you've not yet accepted the fullness of Christ's gospel- you will allow yourself to develop a desire to accept all of it, that our Father might pour out His most choice and rich blessing upon you. "He who shall lose his life for my sake shall find it." I know that what Christ said is true- I experience it every day that I choose to follow Him. I love you all, and I leave things with you in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
-Elder Jeffrey Schomburg