July 3, 2017
Things are going fine in Goshen! Two of our three baptismal dates have been dropped, but we will get them back on track. The other person who is preparing to be baptized is a model investigator. He attended church on Sunday, is making friends in the congregation, and we have been able to make short visits several times a week with him. I’ve never had an investigator like that before, especially one who has a full-time job. It’s quite refreshing.
Elder Smith is perhaps one of my favorite companions. I took my mission president’s advice to heart when he told me to try to be the favorite companion of each of my companions. We get along well. I can tell that he is by nature very somber, but I can get him smiling and laughing. He reminds me of myself just about a year ago now.
Elder Smith is a talented teacher and missionary. I can feel the power of God when he bears testimony, promises blessings, and encourages investigators to continue on the covenant path.
I have developed a strong testimony that the Savior really does intend for us to become something, and the teachings he places in our lives are indicators of that truth. It is not the doctrinal understandings I have developed that are memorable to me, but the character flaws Christ has carried me past. I find myself more patient and hopeful through adversity. I feel less anger towards circumstances outside of my control. I have more courage in proclaiming the Gospel.
I couldn’t even write down all the things Christ has taught me in the first half of my mission, because they have been burned into the fiber of my being. I say “burned” because the experiences that I went through to develop these traits were quite painful. I have been brought “low in the dust” many times, being “compelled to be humble” rather than “humbling myself.” One cannot spend long on his knees on such a dusty floor before bowing his head to pray.
It is good to know that our God is a forgiving one. When we sin, “all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.” Time and again I find myself on that dusty floor of my character, lamenting how infrequently I tend to it, and eventually turning to the Lord in prayer. His grace lifts my head and my spirits, and motivates me to grab the dust rag of repentance, for “as often as my people repent will I forgive them their trespasses against me.” I always stand up feeling ennobled by His love.
I’m halfway to the finish line, and now I have a wealth of experience behind me to accomplish all the Lord’s work. I am grateful to know that Christ “will go before us and be our rearward; and He will be in our midst, and we shall not be confounded.” I have felt the arms of angels lift my arms to do the work that my body does not want to do. I have heard their cheers, even if only in the echoing chambers of my heart. I have come home from otherwise discouraging days, having my spirit lifted by Christ, knowing that He is pleased with my efforts in His service.
Though I know I will invariably become “lifted up in the pride of my heart” many more times. I also know that God is waiting for me to call on him from the dust once more, and He will forgive me. The more frequently my knees hit the floor to pray, the less dusty it will be when I am eventually brought low again.