Dear family, friends and everyone else,
One year down, a lifetime to go! This missionary will never stop being one.
When you have been out for a year on mission you start thinking of the past year. You think about all the successes, all the failures, all the good and bad times. You think about the days where you were so tired that you could hardly think straight. And then you also think of the days where you felt like you had nothing to do besides go talk to random people. You remember all the funny moments and wonderful people you have met and grown to love. And above all, you look back and see how far you have come and how much you have changed, but also, how far you have to go and how much you STILL need to change.
I recently have undergone a life-changing experience. We had a talk with President Merrill where he told me of the expectations he had for me and how he wanted me to step up and be the missionary the Lord and him expect of me. He talked to me about needing leaders in this mission, and how it's time for me to step up and make changes if needed to become what I must.
I am the kind of person I usually have to learn from personal experience before I change, but once I do, I never need to learn the lesson again. I was told by a missionary once, "Sometimes you learn from obedience, and sometimes you learn from disobedience, but what really matters, is that you learn." And I think that is the lesson that so many of us NEED to learn. We have this experience called life, we are here to learn and grow because of the trials and different obstacles that are placed before us. We have been sent here to gain experience and to prove ourselves. How we live in this life determines where we end up in the life to come. Alma 34:32 sums it up. This is the time we have to prepare to meet God.
The hard part is, we need to be thankful when these opportunities arise for us to step up and be who and what we are meant to be.
"It is easy to be grateful for things when life seems to be going our way. But what then of those times when what we wish for seems to be far out of reach? Could I suggest that we see gratitude as a disposition, a way of life that stands independent of our current situation? In other words, I’m suggesting that instead of being thankful for things, we focus on being thankful in our circumstances—whatever they may be." -President Uchtdorf. Elder Dryer just sent this to me, and I think it has a lot of truth. He also sent me a great picture quote from his girlfriend that I'll attach as well. I have learned to try and be thankful for the lessons that come my way and to actually learn from them.
Because God loves us, he let's us suffer. He let's and even helps us learn lessons from the painful experiences that we go through. He does intervene in our lives and gives us the chance to change, but leaves us the agency to act upon it. God so loved us, that he sent his only begotten son so that we could be saved. He has given us this atonement to take advantage of and to change.
"Change is necessary, progression is optional." I think we can all agree that cliche quote is dead on. No matter how hard we try to fight it, change will happen. Whether we use that change as a springboard to personal growth is the only part of change that we can control.
Last night I decided to give up my agency to the Lord. Elder Cook pointed out to us that we "signed away" our agency when we wrote and accepted our call, but I realize I was holding out on the Lord. One of my all time favorite scriptures is Omni 1:26. Where it speaks about offering up our whole souls as an offering unto him. I know I talk about this a lot, but I tend to hold back parts of myself. I have my "little pretties" if you will. Last night I knelt down and gave all those up. So I want you all to hold me accountable to this change, and I can bet you will see an even greater difference in me as well.
We got permission from our Zone Leaders to go on exchanges with two other elders in our zone that were struggling. They didn't have motivation to get work happening in their area. They didn't believe that people in their area even wanted to change or hear the gospel. So my son Elder Dryer was with one elder and I was with the other. We went tracting in THEIR area for five hours. The Elder I was with couldn't believe that I had so much faith that we could find people.
Our faith and efforts brought forth great fruits. We helped them gain 21 new investigators in just those five hours of tracting. We filled up their planners for the coming week and helped them find some serious motivation. It was a great experience. We started with a prayer of faith, and ended with a prayer of gratitude. After praying we went out and worked. It was our faith and action that brought the blessings.
Sorry I don't have any more crazy mission stories for you guys this week, but I will be having lots for you next week.
Love you all!
Elder Mitchell Ryan Thayne