Monday, April 15, 2013

Lessons Learned

April 15, 2013


Since this is my last real week to email home I wanted to send some summarizing thoughts about my mission.

Being a missionary the past two years for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has been an incredible experience! I have faced more difficulties and grown more than perhaps during any other stage of my life so far. I have learned truths of eternal significance. 

Testimony. It is said that in bearing your testimony you will find it. I have found that to be very true as I have frequently shared my conviction of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. In times of doubt and disbelief the Spirit of God has reaffirmed the faith I grew up with. By guiding others along their spiritual journey I myself have taken great strides down the path to return to our Heavenly Father. I have felt the love of God pierce through sadness and despair. I have learned for myself the truthfulness of this church. I planted a seed and watched it grow within me. The great swelling motions described in the 32nd chapter of Alma have been felt within my own breast. I testify that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the church that Jesus Christ established in antiquity. 

The Word of God. We are invited by Nephi to feast upon the words of Christ. Before my mission I rarely accepted that invitation. I have now drunk deeply from the living water contained in the scriptures. In particular The Book of Mormon has been a beacon of light to my soul. When I had been out on my mission for a year I made a commitment to myself that I would read The Book of Mormon once a month for the rest of my mission. That has been a life changing experience for me. As I pored over the sacred pages again and again I received further light and knowledge. My heart has been changed permanently by the powerful Word of God. I love The Book of Mormon with all my heart and I know it is true. If I were to choose one thing that I love above all else in this supernal record is its consistent messianic message of Jesus the Christ. I have come to know more fully who my Savior is through this inspired text. I have learned of His attributes and His love for us - the children of God. The eternal importance of Christ and His Atonement has been emblazoned upon my soul by The Book of Mormon. 

Service. I have learned of the great joy that is found in the service of your fellow men. I have always loved helping others but I understand service in a much fuller way. I have seen my efforts rejected and ignored by others and I think of our Savior who must feel that rejection much more deeply. I have tried to turn outward instead of inward and know the joy that losing ourselves in the work of the Master brings. 

Relationships. I understand better how to build relationships with others. I am less naive and gullible about what is out in the world and will protect myself better. I have learned that often when you give love to others they return it back. I am better at working with individuals and helping them learn and grow. Whether that is an investigator or companion. I see now how much a good example can influence an individual. I have been changed by the example set of other powerful missionaries and members. 

Prophets and Apostles. I have gained an appreciation for the living prophets and apostles. I bear witness that they are servants of the Almighty God. I love to read their words and their stories. Sermons given by the brethren have given me strength and comfort in times of need. I love Elder Holland. His talks gave me strength in the beginning of my mission that got me through the day. I read one of his talks multiple times per day. I said to myself figuratively speaking,"If Elder Holland knows it is true that is good enough for me." I love President Monson and know he is the Prophet of God on the earth today. 

Family. I have felt a hole in my heart where my family used to be. I learned how important my family was and is to me. The time to email home was like a sanctuary from the cares of life. I realized how much my father meant to me and the role model and example he was. I love his humility. My mother became my hero. Her conversion to the gospel and subsequent mission service have made me admire her immensely.  I can say like the stripling warriors that I did not doubt my mother knew it. My siblings have been my best friends and faithful writers and cheerleaders.  Even though I have missed my family I know it has been worth it to help other families grow in the gospel.

Atonement of Jesus Christ. I have seen the Atonement of Jesus Christ change lives forever. I have seen the Atonement of Jesus Christ change my life forever. I understand a little better the strengthening and redeeming power that emanates from Christ. I have felt his love and power deep within my soul. It has made my heart full and to borrow a Book of Mormon phrase has made me want to sing the song of redeeming love. I have felt encircled in the arms of His love. I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior. Regardless of specific doctrines or principles I know that the name of Jesus Christ carries inherent power. I love Him.

Converts. I have loved seeing others join the Church. I have made incredible friends who I will love always. But even if all my converts fall away or don't stay strong I know that I have converted one person. Myself!

I will always be grateful for the unique opportunity to serve a mission. Thank you all for support and encouragement. 

Elder Arnold

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