Hello all!! I'll start out by saying this week was so great!! We had a roller coaster of a time and the work continues to move forward. A lady slammed a screen door in our face and then had to stand there and look at us..that was so awkwardly funny. But I've been receiving a lot of revelation this week. It's been really neat. And this one time the spirit brought to my remembrance when I was preparing for a mission how every single person I talked to about the decision I was trying to make would always say to me, "Well missions are very hard." So I knew they were hard, but I didn't really have a full picture of why they were hard, what made them hard? I feel like it might've helped me a lot if I really knew what I was deciding to do. Well I've been thinking and pondering about it this week and Heavenly Father told me that I needed to tell all of you why a mission is hard.
Disclaimer: Sister Johanson has personal, individualized struggles that may or may not apply to you if you ever served a mission.
Other disclaimer: This is in no way telling everyone they need to serve missions. I believe in personal revelation and that God has a specific, individualized plan for everyone.
But being a missionary has been really hard for me. Especially after preparing to come out and I felt like I was spiritually ready and prepared; how could I come closer to Jesus Christ because I felt like I was already so close to Him? But even just my second day of the MTC not only did I feel the impact of all the weaknesses I had, suddenly there were 50 new ones I didn't even know I had!
Every day I feel so inadequate. I've been called to represent Jesus Christ, but how can I? I'm overwhelmed by my inadequacies. My desire is to be a great missionary but I can't keep up a habit that will benefit me, I have to learn the same things over and over.
My companions have problems and it seems like everyone in the world is more qualified to help them but me. What can I say? What can I do? Why am I their companion if I don't know how to help them? I'm so aware of my imperfections and it's so hard not to compare myself to others.
There are times when you will wonder why you're out here. You wonder, "Am I even making a difference? I know this work is here to help me change me but it shouldn't be about me!" You wonder what your purpose is. You wonder if you're feeling this way because you don't have enough faith.
You see people reject the gospel. You see those you know need it the most, that this is the one thing that would change their life forever, but they never latch on. They just don't get it! You see those that do latch on and work their way towards baptism. They know it's true and have a testimony. And then the test of faith comes and they fall away. They never make that commitment and through the gate. And you're left wondering..why? Was there something I should've done? Or could've done? Or need to repent of? If only I had more faith. If only I tried a little harder or was a better teacher. And it's a burden you carry.
You trudge along feeling very alone, despite the fact that you can never be alone because you're with someone 24/7. You're going to feel tired all the time. Physically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally, socially. My comp told me she talked to a doctor once who said scientifically us as missionaries, the way mission life is set up and the way we're thrown into it all, our bodies shouldn't be able to handle it. We should be physically ill with how we have to adjust to all the changes we go through. You are expected to give your all to the work 24/7, legitimately, you start dreaming about the work. You have to work in the rain, snow, 100% humidity, heat, freezing temperatures. You have to work when you're sick.
Sometimes you have hard companions, people who no matter how hard you try you can't see eye to eye.
Sometimes you forget. You're out here teaching everyone about the infinite goodness and blessing of the atonement of Jesus Christ and you forget that it's for you too. You tell people that God knows them and loves them; He's their father. But you forget that you're His child too and loves you just as much as the people you're teaching.
Now I've only scratched the surface of what is hard and what's hard for me is going to be different than what's hard for you, but it will be hard. Elder Holland said, "How could we believe it would be easy for us if it was never easy for Him? Missionaries have to take at least a step or two toward the summit calvary." So why? Why in Sam Hill would anyone ever go through that willingly? Why choose to serve a mission? And I know that a mission isn't for everyone, but oh how I wish it was. I wish every day that we could all experience a mission because it's the most rewarding experience of my life. Not a day goes by that I don't think of my Savior Jesus Christ. I wish I could say all the things I've learned on my mission (and I've only been out 6 months) but it would take too long. This thing is already a novel. I've learned more about myself, about others, and relationships, about God and His church. About His son Jesus Christ, about life and people. About self mastery and life skills. But I think the most important thing I've learned on my mission is love. Because that's what this gospel is all about. If we get to feel some of that agony that Christ felt as He labored for mankind wouldn't it just make sense that we would get to feel some of His divine love that He has for us and others? The love I have for my companions is amazing and God has showed me that I can love anybody He places in my path.
The love you have for the people you serve is insurmountable. You gain a greater appreciation for the leaders of the church and realize what it means to be God's servant. The ward members become your family. Your love for the priesthood grows and deepens. You get to see the power of God at work in other peoples lives and your own.
One of the most amazing parts of a mission is seeing how much of a part God plays in every persons life. Everybody you talk to God has been there. He is preparing them, reaching out to them and leading them to happiness; ultimately to Him. You do realize He is your father and His son is your Savior. I have a testimony that there is no spirit like the spirit of sharing the gospel.
You see the way the gospel blesses lives and families. Seeing the joy the gospel brings is "sweeter above all that is sweet." Because you know they've found it! People have been searching and searching all their lives to find the meaning of happiness to fill that hole in their heart, and you get to be an instrument in the hands of God to bring them the very thing that they've been looking for. And it changes them, completely. You get to SEE the transforming power of the atonement. It's amazing! God is amazing!
My mission has helped me know God. I can't wait for the day when I can enter into His presence. Because I know it will feel something like how I feel on my mission, when I'm sharing the gospel and serving others, but I'll feel it with my family and it will feel like the way I feel now. But 1000x stronger, 100000x fuller and 1,000,000x richer and deeper and it will be lasting. The lines of scriptures and hymns and Mormon messages, songs flash through my head as I talk about it. The words other people have said to me and how they feel about God. The gospel is true! Isn't it exciting!?
This isn't to say that everyone is supposed to or should serve missions. But don't let anything stand in the way of coming if that's what God's will is. And He'll let you know. Because He knows you. And He knows me :) And He knows the people we're supposed to meet and influence, and it could be where you're at right now. But it could be halfway across the world.
Well..so why is a mission hard? Because it is worth it! I love you guys. And pray for you all every day. The other great thing about missions are that they are fun. They are so that's great too! Haha Have a great week!
Sister Johanson JR