"You are surrounded by people. You pass them on the street, visit them in their homes, and travel among them. All of them are children of God, your brothers and sisters. God loves them just as He loves you. Many of these people are searching for purpose in life. They are concerned for their families. They need the sense of belonging that comes from the knowledge that they are children of God, members of His eternal family. They want to feel secure in a world of changing values. They want “peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come” (D&C 59:23), but they are “kept from the truth because they know not where to find it” (D&C 123:12). The gospel of Jesus Christ as restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith will bless their families, meet their spiritual needs, and help them fulfill their deepest desires." (Preach My Gospel, p. 1)
Missionary work is a work of changing lives. There are so many people who are searching for more in their lives, and this gospel is the place to find it. It is our duty as missionaries to "Invite others to come unto Christ by helping them recieve the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end." (Preach My Gospel, p. 1) Many lives are changed when a person leaves the comfort of their home to help others come closer to Christ.
I would like to focus on the lives of three main groups that are changed through someone serving a mission. The missionary, the missionary's family, and those whom the missionary teaches.
One returned missionary had the following to say about his mission,
Serving a mission changed my life. I came to understand more clearly my relationship with Heavenly Father. My testimony grew, and the significance of the work, of bringing souls to Jesus Christ, became eternally impressed on my mind and heart.The mission definitely has an effect on you. I have changed and learned a lot on my mission. I have learned how to love people, even people that I have never met before and never seen since, I have loved them. And those people that I have loved have made such a big difference in my life, and I have learned so much from them.
What is most dear to me now that I have completed my mission is the promise I made to God that I would endure to the end. I remember my mission president’s words as a group of us were soon to be released. He said he wanted us to stay worthy so we could all be together again in heaven someday. I have thought of this challenge often, especially during times of trial.
My heart is filled with gratitude. I am grateful that God has protected me and provided me with learning experiences. Many of these experiences were surprising and unexpected, but they all have stretched me into becoming more like the servant of the Lord I so much want to be. (Wang Shu-chuan)
I have also learned a lot about myself, and how to handle myself and my many problems. I have gained more of a trust in God and allowing him to help me with even the simple trials and difficulties in life. And greatest of all, (which may seem the most simple) I have learned that God really LOVES me, and all of us, His children, here on this earth. And that He is always there. He is ALWAYS there for us. It is us who turns from Him! I have gained a greater love for my Father in Heaven, a love that I will strive to carry for the rest of my life!
My Brother Richard, said that having a sibling on a mission has effected him in the following way.
[It] makes you think more about being a better member missionary and to take the time to have missionaries over for dinner or to go out with them more often since that is what I would hope and expect of the families where [my brother is] serving. It is difficult to pray that [he] will have success without including the members as part of that success, thus we need to be involved in our own wards so that [he] can receive those blessings.I have heard of many changes that have come to the lives of the families of those who serve missions. Ben Truman and Jason Deere say it well in their song "In a Letter Home."
I've made mistakes you know that left me broken and I've scarred the hearts of mom and dad, but this prodigal son is doing things he's never done as I pray for mercy with all I have. Down on my knees I 'm finding answers. How could I have known? In a letter home you'd save me how did you know that I just wasn't right. You gave me the strength to break free from thousands of miles, you saved my life in a letter home... I 'm finding courage in your faith in me, and you need to know I feel your prayers. Over and over I read your words as they soften this heart of stone...That love's the thing that always mattered most, that Jesus really died to save me. Two years in a foreign land, how'd you know that you would find the most desperate man in a letter home?I know that when I was younger and my older brothers served their missions that it had an effect on me and the man and missionary that I am now.
The gospel heals wounds and changes lives. It has that effect on any one who allows it into their lives. Here is a great example from a woman that I have a great love for.
I want to tell you how I came from searching for the Truth since I was a teenager. I've been to almost every denomination you can think of. At 14, I knew I was in the wrong church. At 16, when I started driving, I would church hop. Sometimes I would enter a church building and the people were very friendly but that's as far as it went. I also felt like an outsider at some and even though I yearned to be part of their service, it was too clickish and I was ignored. I'd even begged members of these different churches to study with me, but to no avail. I felt like I was traveling in a foreign country where I didn't understand their language. I never would give up though and off I'd go to yet another church. Nothing changed after I was married. We both ended up church hopping. We had children and we drug them with us. That is until one day.... We had a yard sale 6 months ago and up rode two little Elder fellers from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on their bicycles. They were so kind and they asked if we had any ties for sale. My husband actually went into his personal stash and let 'em pick through it. They offered to come back and help us clean up after the sale was over. We were dumbfounded but said it was okay but I didn't think they would show. We couldn't believe they actually showed back up! We had an amazing discussion and they invited us to their church service. Of course we said yes because remember we were church hoppers. We hadn't even gotten out of our car the first Sunday morning before somebody came rushing over to welcome us. Wow! I figured it was probably a fluke but no, it was a continuous stream of welcomes. I'll admit, the service was slightly different than any other church I'd been to. It was amazing! I was a sponge and soaked up every smile, handshake, and spiritual lesson. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. I didn't want it to end! My heart melted when I went into this class called Relief Society and I was intoduced as a "Sister". Why is that such a big deal you ask? Well, at other churches, it was explained to me that since I wasn't a part of their church, I couldn't be called a sister. I have to tell you at this point, I knew in my heart that my search was over. How did I know this? Every time the Elders would come and teach me, I understood and believed every word. It has been so natural for me. I've been studying with little Elder fellers for almost six months. I have new Elders now that are studying with me and......... I am getting baptized this Sat! WooHoo!!!!! I am just "giddy" and I can't hardly contain myself. I can't wait to "bury" my old self and become new when I come up outa that water. Oh.....I cannot wait to receive the Holy Ghost after. Spiritually. I am the happiest I've ever been. So...... The moral of this story is: Don't lose hope and don't give up. Keep searching for the Truth and you will find it....at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Well, that's my Testimony and I'm sticking to it. I write these words in the name of Jesus the Christ, and amen.Since Darla wrote this she, as well as her three children, have been baptized and confirmed. They all have a glow about themselves. Oh how the true gospel can change someone's life.
Missions change the lives of all involved, the missionary, their family, and those they teach. My mission has changed my life and I will be forever grateful to God for the opportunity to serve and to grow and change.