Good morning Brothers and Sisters, er I mean afternoon. Wow, sorry. It’s so bright here, I haven’t seen the sun in like 18thmonths as you can probably tell from the pigmentation of my skin. I truly believe that vampires live in England because there is literally no sun for the majority of the year, (Whilst I was in England I lost my tan in like 3 months.) But, as a missionary you sacrifice everything, those 18 months or 2 years, your family, friends, university, sport, everything even your body. But that’s all right, because the sacrifice is worth it. It’s so minuscule compared to the grand growth we achieve. Now if there’s anyone out there who is on the fence about serving a mission, my advice for you is Nike - Just Do It. You won’t regret it. A mission is a place of growth in many aspects, to become better and more importantly, to share all those wonderful blessings we receive with others. It’s just like bacteria in a petri dish. You grow so rapidly in a fortified environment and you blossom into something so much more beautiful than a clump of bacteria.
I served in the England Leeds Mission, the best mission in the universe - some people out there will get that reference. I served in the cities of Newcastle, Sheffield and York - some of the best areas in the entire mission. I was very lucky and spoiled to serve there.
When I look back, I see all the changes I’ve made and the same but different person I am. And I don’t want to revert to the person I was. I am more spiritual, the depth of my understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ has expanded. And I want to continue moving forward, keep progressing. And the key to that is to always have my heart in the right place.
Now, keeping missionaries' hearts in the right place was a big focus in our mission. But it applies to church members and missionaries alike. The heart. The heart drives all action, our thoughts, feelings, motivation, and desire. If we set our hearts in the right place, everything else will fall into place. We are able to progress, become more like our Saviour Jesus Christ and accomplish our righteous goals and to be happy.
All of us want to keep bettering ourselves, and I of course did as a missionary and I want do so now. There is no joy in a comfort zone. I found myself plateauing whilst in the first half part of my mission. I found that I wasn’t enjoying the mission as other missionaries were. I wasn’t distracted by family or friends. In that particular moment, in the mission perspective, I wasn’t doing half bad. My companion and I found good people, taught progressing investigators, and I got on well with my companion. Yet I was unhappy doing the best and most important thing ever possible. And that experience led to loads of pondering and contemplation. What was I doing wrong? What more could I do? Was my heart totally focused on what’s important?
And through my searching process, I discovered that being consciously grateful for all Heavenly Father and His son Jesus Christ have personally done for me, serving others, and being obedient allowed me to re-center my heart in the right place. And these are things, which we already know can help us. It’s kind of like when our parents tell us to do something in a certain way, yet we try to do it another way that either doesn’t work or take an unnecessary amount of time. For me this personal revelation was a bit of a wake up call. It was re-revealed truth but it helped me feel much joy and growth.
There were a few times in my mission, one in particular was an amazing experience, where I felt so strongly Heavenly Father’s and Jesus Christ’s love for me. My companion and I were headed out by bus to a village outside of city center that was 30 minutes away. After bus contacting the people around me. I just sat there and took time to take in the beauty of England’s green green hills, fields and countryside - it really is a calming and peaceful sight. I admired how the sun shone around me. And I recognized the amazing opportunity of serving the Lord’s children in such a beautiful country. And that this mission was a once in a lifetime opportunity. And at that moment, I felt so warm, so comforted, supported and loved. It was a feeling I felt in my heart and radiated outwards towards my fingertips. I recognized the love God had for me. And at that moment, I wanted to do more. I worked harder and used my time to its full potential. I also learned more about God. Why do They care so much about me? I studied more about Christ’s life and purpose, deepening my understanding of Him. I studied more about Heavenly Father and His role. The more I learned the more I appreciated Them. And the closer my heart was to them and in the right place.
And when my love grew for my Father in Heaven and His son I wanted to serve those around me. God’s second greatest commandment is to love thy neighbor as thyself. I’ve always tried my best to serve my companions. I can tell you I grew loads in love, charity and patience. At the start of one transfer I was getting a new companion and I wanted us to have the best time together. To have fun, yet work hard. And my companion and I ended up having an endless battle, a endless service battle. I don’t know how it started. But I would be doing the dishes and she’d basketball box me out to take over washing the dishes, or when we bought groceries together we’d always compete to pay for them, or we’d cook for each other. I can tell yous that our cooking skills improved loads in the time period we were together. And so did our weight. But serving others does something to you. We worked better together, there was more unity and love in our flat. A happier spirit overall. Like in the Mormon Message Lift (see https://www.mormonchannel.org/watch/series/mormon-messages/lift-the-power-of-service), a man says, ‘When we heal the body it’s an inward effort - we pay attention to ourselves. When we heal the soul turning inward doesn’t work, the triage of the soul is turning outward.’ This is totally true and the second step that helped me focus my heart.
The third step was obedience. We know that keeping the commandments of God keeps us on the straight and narrow. We’ve all experienced it, when we keep the commandments we are legitimately happier. It’s just something that works. On the mission you have even more rules to follow. And when church investigators learn of them, they always freak out because they think it might apply to them in the future. And I’m talking about ones that are like: ‘No use of internet except to email family’, or ‘No shopping except on preparation days,’ or ‘Staying at tea appointments for only for an hour,’ rules like that. But every rule to follow is more protection and added happiness. Sometimes we don’t know why we have certain rules or regulations but we do know enough and we know God will bless us if we love Him and are obedient to Him.
These 3 fundamentals, growing my personal love for Heavenly Father and Christ, serving others, and obedience have led me to setting my heart on the proper place. The led me to be the most effective missionary as I could be, have greater happiness, feel great love and be more Christ-like. But I always needed to re-evaluate those three things and to be continuously doing them, to keep my heart in the right place. And the more often I did it, I was able to sift out what is truly important. And I just invite yous to try it out, do these three fundamental concepts. I promise yous that it works and will truly bless your lives. I am extremely grateful that I had this experience to serve the Lord. And that He’s given me this experience to help me be molded into the person He wants me to be. And I’d like to leave you with my testimony of the Lord.
God always walks beside us and loves. He gives us special tools to help us. The Book of Mormon has been a stronghold for me. I believe that Joseph Smith is God's prophet and living prophets today guide Christ’s true Church. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.