Alma the Younger is such an example to me. While teaching his son Helaman just before entrusting him with the records we now know as the Book of Mormon, he expounds on his conversion story, and what he felt as he accepted the Atonement of Jesus Christ into his life. He says that he was "harrowed up to the greatest degree and racked with all (his) sins", and that he felt so bad about what he had done that he wanted to "become extinct both soul and body" (Alma 36:12, 15). He felt so terrible, so hopeless, that he didn't even want to face God at the judgement. I think that sometimes we can get caught up with stuff in our lives, whether it be a grievous sin or not, that make us feel guilty and shameful, and just overall uncomfortable with being in the presence of our God.
In missionary work, it's easy to get discouraged, beaten down, or to feel hopeless. The adversary sneaks in sometimes. He can cause contention between you and your companion, a lack of faith in your area/the ward, or even tell you that you're not good enough. But there is one who has "descended below them all" (D&C 122:8). And He has the power to change us. To help us. To heal us not only physically, but spiritually as well. His name is Jesus Christ, and He is our Savior and our Redeemer. Whenever we go through a rough patch in life, whenever we make a mistake, He is there. Because He has been there. He has felt exactly what it is like to go through anything we can ever go through. He knows what it's like for all of my investigators. He knows what they need to do--exactly what they need to do--to change. To repent. Why? Because He has felt it. All of it.
I'm teaching someone who smokes and drinks to relieve his stress at work. His job is stressful, and the only way he feels he can get relief from this is through the substances that have chained him down. But the cigarette he picks up doesn't know what he's going through. It can't help him. It just prolongs the problem. But Christ can help him. He can solve the problem. Because when He knelt down in that Garden, He suffered for each of us. He went through everything we will go through. Individually and intimately. He felt, for a moment in that Garden, exactly what it's like to try to raise a young family in an expensive neighborhood, to work all day in a stuffy, dirty kitchen, and to try to quit the addictions that drag him down. He's felt exactly what it's like to go out onto a street, with a desire to share the gosepl, and to get turned down by every single person walking by. What it's like to get yelled at, to get threatened, to get ridiculed. Because He's gone through it all. For us.
And once we reach out to Him, once we live His gospel, His doctrine, by exercising faith unto repentance, being baptized and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end, we can feel His strength in our lives. Because we will have shown unto Him that we accept His sacrifice for us.
That's what Alma felt as He repented. Everything in his life changed for the better, "When I thought this, I could remember my pains no more...yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain! Yea, I say unto you...that there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains...on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy" (Alma 36:19-21).
That's what we do as missionaries. We invite ALL to come unto Christ, to feel that power of the Atonement. Because it really does change us. It washes away our pains, our sins, and replaces them with joy. That's our message. That through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, all mankind may be saved...
My mission is going so well. This week was a blast. My understanding of the Atonement of Jesus Christ has grown so much these past 9-10 months, and it will continue to grow through my entire life. And that is why I am thankful for the gospel of Jesus Christ and the opportunity I have to share it each and every day. I am even grateful for the hard times! Because I draw closer to my Savior in those moments.
My companion and I are doing so well. This is the last week of his mission coming up, so you'd better believe we are going to go hard in the paint* and work so diligently to preach repentance to everyone we see! I don't care what happens. I just want to send him off well. Elder Marchand has taught me so much. (I have NEVER heard of the saying go hard in the paint....here's a definition: To approach a problem, obstacle, or challenge with supreme confidence of success through a commitment to use all facilities available to one's self to achieve a goal.)
My mission president is awesome. President Burt is so inspired. And our zone is doing so well! I've learned this week more than others what being a leader really means. It's humbling stuff, and I hope and pray every day that I can just rely on my Father in Heaven, and seek His help in all things.
Missionary work is a blast. It's fun, it's energetic, it's chaotic at times, and sometimes it can be hard. But it never ceases to be the most rewarding experience of all time each and every day I go out. We're teaching some awesome people. Please keep Angela, Suki, Michael, Stephanie, Deano, and Alba in your prayers. Because they need all the help they can get.
I hope you all continue to feel the joy that only Christ can give to us, because it will propel you through everything. Thank you all for everything you do for me and for the missionaries around the world! I love you all!