So, I've officially been out on my mission for over a year now. Holy cow, it's not even cool how fast this has gone for me. For this post, I'd like to give 5 things I've learned since I entered the MTC last November, so have fun! :D This is gonna be a little long, but I wanted to share with everyone what I'm thankful for on my mission since this week is Thanksgiving! Crazy!
1. Being busy is WAY more fun than being stuck with nothing to do.
As I've been out on the mission, I've had days where I'm so busy I don't know what's supposed to be next, I just get in the car and go, and I've also had days where I have had absolutely NOTHING (in my mind) to do. Being busy, I always felt better about myself as a missionary at the end of the day. No matter what we were doing, I felt like I'd made a difference that day. If I had nothing, it would take forever to fall asleep at night, because I'd have been wondering if there had been something else that I could've done. Being busy is WAY more fun than being stuck with nothing to do.
2. Being sick is absolutely NO FUN whatsoever.
You know how I said being busy is more fun than not? Well, even if I'm not busy at all, I'd rather have that than being sick. Being stuck at home (if it's bad enough) is the worst feeling ever for a good missionary (yes, I feel like I'm a decent missionary.. :D). You feel like you need to be out doing something, and that if you just push through it, it'll go away faster. While our mission nurse wouldn't always agree with that diagnoses, it was always better to try and do something. If anything, it would pass the time. Even if it was just making phone calls to people from the apartment. When you're sick, you also feel super guilty for making someone stay home with you, generally your companion. Then you know, without a doubt, that there is absolutely no work getting done. <sigh> Oi. Being sick is absolutely NO FUN whatsoever.
3. Obedience is what makes a missionary truly happy on the mission.
Anyone who has read this blog from the beginning knows that I lost my iPad privileges for a while at the beginning of my mission because I broke a rule I didn't know about. When I got the iPad back, I was much more careful, and I knew I was doing everything I could to follow the rules. Rules such as getting up at 6:30am, making sure to be in bed at 10:30pm, being within sight and sound of my companion all the time, and all the others, became so much easier as I understood that they were only slightly meant to restrict me. Many of the other rules, it was really more of a test (I think) to see if I'd be obedient to the Lord, not necessarily for any other particular reason. Now, some things, such as making sure that we followed the counsel of the local leaders, I understood more for the reason that I needed to understand how the kingdom of heaven works. When I start disregarding priesthood keys and authority, I've put myself in a REALLY bad situation, and I've got some repenting to do. Obedience is what makes a missionary truly happy on the mission.
4. Trying to reason away mistakes and to come up with a "good enough" excuse spells instant trouble for a missionary. A few times, whether through my own neglect or from my companion, we've either gotten too many appointments set for one particular time, or maybe not being in a particular place at the agreed upon time. Now, in and of itself, that's OK. We're not perfect. However, when we start trying to say, "It wasn't in the calendar, it must not have saved", or maybe "Our car was low on gas so that's why we were late" when it was really just our laziness, we are automatically weaving Satan's web of lies around ourselves. In this last General Conference, where we had the opportunity to listen the servants of the Lord, something that was said really stuck out to me. Elder Jörg Klebingat said, "Take responsibility for your own spiritual well-being. Stop blaming others or your circumstances, stop justifying, and stop making excuses for why you may not be fully striving to be obedient. Accept that you are “free according to the flesh” and “free to choose liberty and eternal life” (2 Nephi 2:27). The Lord knows your circumstances perfectly, but He also knows perfectly well whether you simply choose not to fully live the gospel. If that is the case, be honest enough to admit it, and strive to be perfect within your own sphere of circumstances. Spiritual confidence increases when you take responsibility for your own spiritual well-being by applying the Atonement of Jesus Christ daily." Pretty long, but worth it. :D We simply can't do anything else than just accept that we messed up, and try and do better. We WILL get caught, whether by whoever we're talking to, or by Heavenly Father. Either way, no fun. Trying to reason away mistakes and to come up with a "good enough" excuse spells instant trouble for a missionary.
5. I must always have faith sufficient in Heavenly Father to believe that He will fulfill the promises that He has given me. I've had lots of different things come up and push me or make me question certain things, and it has challenged me in ways I never thought possible. Having faith in Heavenly Father has been hard at times, because I can't immediately see the blessings and miracles that He puts in my path. It has been my own trial of faith, and something that I've had to push through and to just walk in faith. Thankfully, I have an amazing mission president, other missionaries, and people all around me that have been a huge support to me and that have constantly reminded me to place my trust in Heavenly Father. It's been a huge thing to be a missionary, and has been one of the biggest blessings I've ever had in my life. It's also been one of the biggest challenges, but one I'm sure will be a gigantic blessing throughout my life. I must always have faith sufficient in Heavenly Father to believe that He will fulfill the promises that He has given me.
These things have been some of the biggest things that I've learned so far on my mission, but this isn't totally inclusive. There are SO many more things that I've learned, but if I tried to write everything that I've learned, you'd be reading for a LOT longer than you'd probably like to. :D I'm so thankful that I can serve a mission, and be able to actually LEARN these things.
Elder Conrad Hamilton
Keep Smiling, and Happy Thanksgiving! :D