Could it really be December?? I keep forgetting because it’s HOT here. It’s probably better that way cause I don’t want to think too much about home… distracting. So I was reading the Liahona the other day and I saw a painting that I loved. I immediately recognized that it was a Turner because he always paints the sea and a bunch of misty waves and colors. I attached the picture, which President Monson calls, “To the Rescue,” and its official title is “Life-boat and Manby Apparatus Going Off to a Stranded Vessel Making Signal (Blue Lights) of Distress,” by J. M. W. Turner and exhibited in 1831.
Anyway, I really liked the painting because I feel like it captures well the essence of serving a mission. The painting shows a rescue boat leaving the shore and heading out into the darkness to find somebody who could be lost or drowning. The work of saving souls is similar. I had to leave behind the comfortable shore and my family and loved ones to search for people who are lost in dark places. We spend a lot of time fighting the waves and the storms and we see a lot of people who are just throwing their lives away and don’t want to make the effort to climb into the boat even though they will die if they don’t make it to the shore. Every once in a while somebody makes it into the rescue boat and we bring them to the shore and it’s beautiful and makes everything worthwhile. But most of the time we’re just out fighting the storm. We spend a lot of time out in the darkness.
Obviously I love the mission and I love when people are able to truly turn their life around and start making good decisions and enjoy the peace and blessings of the gospel. Those are the parts we try to remember and that everyone tells stories about, but lots of times the mission is hard and takes everything I’ve got just to stay afloat. Sometimes you never have moments to return to the shore and rest. Sometimes there are storms in the house or with other missionaries or even in the ward and Satan just beats us down with everything he’s got. I really feel that way sometimes. The mission is hard because we have to go to where the the lost people are and enter the darkness to find them and then try to leave unscarred.
Everyone always told me about powerful spiritual experiences they had on the mission and I imagined a world on the shore, full of light and the Spirit. It’s a little different than what I thought. We are actually on the front lines of the battle. The good news is that God gives us the most powerful arms or else we would die right away. Those that aren’t participating as much in the battle don’t need the Spirit so powerfully like we do. Anyway, I like the painting. The mission is horrible and beautiful at the same time and I think the painting demonstrates that well.
This week we worked like never before. It was pretty extreme. We literally sweated and bled and cried and fell down and got back up again and got sick, and contacted everyone we saw and invited the whole world to get baptized, and fasted and prayed, and studied, and taught and taught and taught and taught. We’re worn out but it feels so good to be able to give everything we’ve got and I’m so grateful to have a companion who is willing and eager to do the same.
I really love you all. Thanks for remembering me and reading. I really love you each so dearly and I don’t have time to express it to everyone by name, but I do love you all. Thank you for the influences you’ve had in my life and the things you’ve taught me. I invite you to join us in the rescue crew. The best thing about being a member missionary is that most of the time you stay on the shore and just invite people nearby to join you. You may not have all the same tools or a name tag like us full-time missionaries, but you don’t need them either. Your work is easier and brings the same feelings of joy when the people you rescue tell you about what it was like out there and how much better the shore and the light of the Gospel is.
With all the love in my heart,