Over April break, I had the opportunity to serve a mini mission. During this time I shadowed the sister missionaries for four days. I followed them and kept the missionary standards- including wearing a dress for four days in a row, which for me is a feat in itself- and did what the sisters did. We taught investigators (those learning about the gospel) visited members’ homes to share spiritual messages and extend invitations to them to work on their missionary goals, did service, and attended planning meetings to go over our goals. The entire experience really strengthened my testimony and taught me so much.
First, I learned the importance of preparation. Every morning we would go over our schedule on who we were going to teach that day, and what the lesson would be focusing on. During scripture study, we looked for messages we could share with those we taught that would be helpful to them. We put together a lesson plan and prayed for direction. Having a lesson prepared helped things to go smoothly, and allowed for the spirit to be with us. Even more important, perhaps, was the long term preparation. Sometimes during lessons I would feel prompted to share a comment or add something that we hadn’t specifically planned. I know the ability to have experiences like those is strengthened when we allow God into our lives. When we pray, study our scriptures, attend church meetings, and live the gospel standards we are,“extending our antenna to God.” These things prepare us to have spiritual promptings and act on them. In Doctrine and Covenants 100:6 the Lord promises that when we are prepared, “it shall be given you in the very hour, yea in the very moment, what ye should say.” Watching a bunch of crash course videos may help you the day before an AP exam, but if you really want to do well you have to read the textbook and study throughout the year. (not that I would know anything about the first option). In the same way, the best way to succeed in the test of life is to continually do these things. It truly makes such a difference.
I also learned a beautiful paradox of missionary work. The more you strive to serve others and remain selfless, the more you gain for yourself. In the mission, a huge emphasis is placed on serving others. When we studied our scriptures, we did so focusing on the needs of those we were teaching. In return, my scripture study became more meaningful. I gained more inspiration during scripture study and throughout the day. When we prayed, we focused on gratitude- thanking the Lord for what he had given us. We also prayed for our investigators, for members, for leaders, and for other missionaries. When we prayed for ourselves it was for guidance and strength in teaching, rather than asking the Lord for material things or to make our day easier. As we did so, we received strength and guidance, because God wishes to grant us our righteous desires. He blessed us with more opportunities and I felt my relationship with Him grow so much stronger. Service is one of the greatest way to build a relationship with someone, and as we learn in Mosiah 2:17, “when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.” While serving others, I grew closer to them and to my Heavenly Father. As I grew closer to my Heavenly Father, I felt his love- both for me and everyone around me.
I also saw in the sisters such love and selflessness. Because the sisters had such great love for others, they were truly happy when their prayers for them were answered. Love is truly the greatest missionary tool. When you love someone, you desire happiness for them. The gospel brings greater joy than anything else can. When you invite with sincere love, others know that they are not just a number to you. You do not want them to join the church and be baptized just to add a name to a list. You want them to learn about the gospel because it is the greatest gift in your life, and you want them to also have this gift, just as Lehi desired for his family to taste of the delicious fruit in his vision (1 Nephi 8). I know that the gospel of Jesus Christ is true. It has blessed my life in countless ways. It has brought me great friends. It has given me great role models- both in the scriptures and in my leaders today. It has given me direction, and following its principles has protected me from so much pain that I see my peers go through. It has taught me responsibility and how to have fun without having to turn to substances. Most importantly, it has given me hope and a relationship with My Father in Heaven and His son Jesus Christ. It is the greatest blessing I have in my life.