When our missions draw to a close (at least here, I don't know about other places in the world, but I'm assuming they do the same thing), we give a talk about our missions called a "Reflection talk." As I near the end of my mission, I have thought of these sacred experiences here and what they've meant to me. I have attempted to take these feelings and these experiences of the last two years and put them into a talk. Here it is:
"You have 2 years to work and a lifetime to think about it. How are you going to use the time?" These words have been in my head since I was in training. My trainer would often share this phrase with me. Coming up on these two years, I now find myself asking things like "Have I done enough?" "Have I done and become what God wants me to have done and become?" and, "What lack I yet?"
Fortunately, I feel satisfied with the answers I get and the feelings in my heart. I didn't want to have to wonder at the end of my mission. I wanted to make sure I did everything I could so I wouldn't have to wonder, doubt or worry at the end of my mission. I wanted to make sure I did everything I could to have no regrets. This has been a catch-phrase throughout my mission: "No regrets." Sometimes, it may seem like 2 years or a year and a half is a long time-forever, even-but compared with our lifetime and eternities later, it's VERY short. Do we live in a way now that will allow us to live with ourselves in the future?
During my mission, I have done everything I could to avoid having regrets later. I later had another very influential companion with a similar slogan to "No regrets," he would say, "All in!" Are we "All in" with our missionary work? Are we giving the Lord ALL our time, ALL our will and ALL our hearts? If so, we are "All in," if so, we will have no regrets.
I am not a perfect missionary, nor will I ever be in this life. I am so grateful for the Atonement of Jesus Christ. My weaknesses He makes up for with strength. If I always look to Him, then He will always help me. He has made my burdens light. Being on a mission has been work. Sometimes hard work, but very rewarding work and the most satisfying work I've ever done in my life. I have often thought of the time on a mission as being placed in a crucible. When we want to make or form materials, especially metals, it is placed inside a crucible, where it is heated to a very high temperature and placed in extreme pressure. We are definitely in a place with extreme heat! We also often feel immense pressure. We encounter challenges and trials. While here, we sweat. We sweat out the dross, the imperfections within ourselves. Throughout this experience, the Lord through the power of His Atonement, is always right beside us. He knows what we can and can't handle, when to give and take pressure from us, when to add and take away heat so that we may emerge purer, richer and better than we ever could have imagined before.
Throughout our lives, we have to take the heat to earn our reward. We must study to earn a degree or a good grade. We must practice to improve our talents. We must WORK to WIN, to have success and to achieve our reward. My reward has been peace and joy, and as Ammon says in Alma 26, becoming an instrument in the hands of the Lord, bringing forth sheaves to the garners and being, myself, snatched from being "Doomed to eternal despair."
For me, passing through this testing ground and crucible, so to speak, has brought me the richest blessings in my life: a more happy, loving relationship with my earthly and heavenly family, many new friends here, learning a new language, many experiences that mean far more than the world to me, and, most importantly, this mission has saved my life; both temporally and spiritually. It has brought me closer to my Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ. It has changed my perspective and life entirely around. My mission means everything to me, because it has changed everything for me. It has changed me. It has changed my nature.
As I complete this journey and begin the next, I want to share the words of Moroni in Moroni 10: 32-33. If we have faith in Him and allow Him to help us and do our best, His grace WILL be sufficient, we WILL have peace. We WILL have joy, and we WILL be saved. I have not been perfect, but I have been all in on my mission.
My first convert on my mission is myself. I share my testimony with the thousands that have gone before me and the thousands that will follow that God lives. He is our Father in Heaven. Jesus is the Christ, and He loves us. This church and this work are His. I leave here with peace in my heart and pure joy, and when the day comes that I take the tag off my chest, He will be as close as ever, because His name has already been forever embedded in my heart.