A Good Day

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Why I want to serve a Mission

do-small-things-with-great-love

Last April I was baptised. I was introduced to the church through meeting missionaries on the street. A month after my baptism I pondered on serving a mission myself; I deeply desired to change lives in the same miraculous way as all of those who had taught me. The missionaries taught me about the scriptures and the gospel, about the commandments and the organisation of the church, but most importantly they taught me how I was loved. They showed me that I was cared for, that I was not alone, that difficult times were to make me stronger, that I was understood, that I had a purpose, and like every other person on this earth, they showed me that I was special.

With them I felt the greatest joys, shared my deepest sadness, and grew to love a God who had always been beside me. Through them, God loved me. Through them, God touched my heart. Through them, God filled me and He filled my life with an unchanging peace, a purity, and a divine intervention.

My dark wounds have been made light and my burdens have been made easier to carry. Maybe this sounds crazy; to devote 18 months to spreading the word of the gospel in a country I don’t yet know. It can be anywhere in the world. This time last year my motivation to work, to wake up in the morning, to smile, was the hope that someday soon I could travel somewhere beautiful again. But when I travelled before, in all of the excitement, self-discovery and exploration of foreign lands, I needed greater purpose. It was not enough to be helping small communities to live environmentally friendly and though I adored their simple, authentic cultures I could not refrain from questioning the deeper significance and finding none. They were just living, and I was just living. I wanted more. I wanted to get to the root, to the beginning, to the foundation of creation, to my exact natural being. Something has changed within me, and I want to inspire that change in others whether it’s related to religion or not. It doesn’t matter if people don’t accept my religion or if they don’t want to talk about God; it matters only that they know they are loved. That’s the reason I will serve a mission…to love the people who need loving, who have been hurt, wounded, broken-hearted, lonely, and lost so I can remind them that they have a purpose too.

{thank you: http://wind-rose-grace.tumblr.com/ -for the quote}

 

Teaching with Missionaries

My religious journey has progressed so that now rather than meeting up with missionaries each week to have lessons, I am going out with the missionaries to meet other people who are interested in the gospel. Now I am learning how to teach others about the joy, peace, and spiritual fulfilment that comes with understanding our interpretation of God. Because everyone has a different interpretation of God, I thought I could never accept God to be man. Yet I’m here, testifying with every fibre of my being that God lives and loves every one of us and I’m here sharing this message so that we may all have the option to follow this path.

Yesterday we taught three individuals entirely unique and entirely interesting. The first one, I will call Gary. We walked into his bedroom that was adorned in ACDC posters, a desk covered in paints sat in the corner and a gentle purple butterfly duvet cover was made on his bed. Gary was a short man, slightly hunched with shoulder length soft brown hair and stubble. I missed his eye colour; his gaze refused to hold mine as he spoke whilst perched on the corner of his bed looking towards the wall talking about ancient civilisations and religions. A cat leapt down from the top of his window-frame and crawled around our legs. As Elder Andrews and Elder Reynolds taught Gary about God’s plan for us I noticed that his forearms stretched down into tennis-ball sized disfigurements over his elbows. His fingers were bent like claws and he mentioned he had a disability. His beliefs were primarily based upon Paganism but he was willing and open to learning more. Although he had this interest in learning, he was also more interested in talking through the lesson. I recognised how God reaches the sick and afflicted, how this pain gives us an opportunity to seek God, but that we have to be willing to listen to God and His multiple ways of communicating with us.

Next we were to meet *Rachel. She had called four times because she was early and waiting in the cold for us to meet her so already we were anticipating the lesson with caution. Rachel was Indian with long thick black hair and large glassy brown eyes wearing camel-toned workman boots and joggers. She greeted us with a tear trickling down her cheek and distress oozing from pores in her dishevelled face. She said she had diabetes, had left her money at home and needed food and sugar straight away; the missionaries took her to a cafe to buy her food and sat down to talk. I joined them as Rachel told us she could see spirits, that she had good thoughts as well as evil thoughts trying to take over her mind. She said she felt good and strong and faithful, sometimes. On other occasions the darkness crept in and took her sanity as though she owed it for her sins. Spirits told her to get baptised, to be cleansed of her sins, and she wanted to. She needed our help and we had been sent to her. Months ago I had prayed to God asking, how can we stop this depression? How can we feel God’s love through depression? Is schizophrenia an attack from the opposition? Is a relationship with God enough to heal these illnesses? Is a relationship with God the solution instead of drowning in numbing medication? I was intrigued by Rachel’s life and her story and I was desperate to discover if the Lord could be almighty enough to heal this woman.

The missionaries and I took a break for lunch; they went to their flat to prepare hot food and I went to the library with a hot chocolate and my packed lunch. I walked up beside the park to re-join them and sat upon the entrance gate waiting. I gazed out at the stretching snow covered fields, wind whipped my hair and a flock of dark birds glided left then right then landed and shot up then dived then swept left and landed in synchronisation riding the current. Everything worked, everything harmonised and everything mattered. We approached *Tony’s flat where we climbed stairs to a damp scent and carpet blanketed in coarse, white dog hair. The lounge was cold as Tony had no wood for his fire resulting in regular early retirement to his bed where it was the warmest place in the house. Tony was an older gentleman with a blonde ponytail and beard, yellow teeth, wearing a colourful abstract jumper. His living room walls displayed Led Zeppelin memorabilia, an empty ashtray was on his coffee table, and his  beautiful husky visited each of us as we sat down on cream leather sofas. Our purpose this lesson was mostly to listen as Tony told us how he gave his time to charitable causes by helping the homeless. Through his past addictions he was able to share experiences and be the example to the people he helped that a positive future was possible. Giving his time pro-actively was admirable but he could not retain his negative thoughts about society. He saw so much of the destruction, the lack of gratitude, the lying, the neglected, but in a brief moment I explained how connecting with God helps you to overcome these thoughts and focus on the positive so that you’re able to contribute with peace of mind, so that God is always on your side and so that your head is clear for your heart to love. A busy mind prevents the heart from loving, and that’s the reason we are all here. To find God, and to love.

How did I develop faith in the church?

My faith in the church has been built upon numerous small events and occurrences that I cannot deny participation of a Godly being.

I had always believed that everything happened for a reason, at the right time, every single person I met had significance, and every single word spoken had meaning. I knew there was life far beyond that which our human eyes could see. I had felt powerful energy, I had lived amongst the purity of nature, and I had stumbled through darkness shrouded by shadow beings of other worlds. I knew that there was more to life than a vicious cycle I was trapped in; there was something that wasn’t right, something missing. A hollowness in my being existed from a young age, as if my soul had been torn from me. It was a life-long search filling this hole with alcohol, substances, promiscuity, stealing, and uncontrollable rage. I had depression and severe anxiety so I would be afraid to leave my bedroom, afraid to walk down the street, and afraid of who I really was.

When I left England to travel I longed to find freedom. I wanted to run into the earth’s open arms and strip away all of the tarnished influences of this world so I would be left as I was when I came into the world; like a baby: pure, innocent, unknowing, impartial. In ridding myself of all worldly affairs and accepting and forgiving my troubled past I became open and prepared to hear God’s word that had long been forgotten.

On returning to England with no home, and no money, and no concept of what the future may hold, I was in a heightened state of peace interested only in creating and maintaining this peace, with a yearning to discover my purpose. I was still in a meditative state and continued journeying in my own mind in search of answers, in search of explanations for that which I could not comprehend. I moved on, I was lonely, I was betrayed, I was convinced I had a mental illness. But I continued still with a spring in my step and the hope that I was going somewhere great.

My meeting with the missionaries was a simple passing on the street while I was walking home from work with my head in the clouds. A kindly gesture that allowed me to pass them giving me a friendly “Hi, how are you?” I replied with a spritely “hello, I’m good, how are you?” I think both of us were equally pleasantly surprised to be spoken to with such courteous manners on those streets of Gillingham. They asked me if I ever thought about the meaning of life and I said ” yes, everyday, it keeps me awake at night.” I had pondered and pondered, and dived into my own thoughts, into experiences, into religions, into people and my only conclusion was that there was no purpose. Nothing around me had real meaning. I would tap things to find out if they truly existed, and what were these particles that held it together anyway, where did they come from? It could all be no more tangible than my disappearing thoughts. I was surrounded by objects, places, people, who were not living. It was a town invaded by spiritual poverty that was attempting to drag me down with it. As this elder spoke on the street corner stood opposite an old church, I felt this heightened peace returning to me. I wanted to meet with them again only because I had enjoyed the interesting, spiritual conversation and was curious to know more. Weeks passed where we exchanged messages. I attended Sunday services at a Church of England and felt power run through my body when my forehead was anointed with oil. I had never had a relationship with Jesus, I had never known if he was even real. I attended one Alpha course lesson which was to help people better understand Christianity and when we were presented with scholarly evidence of Jesus and His miracles I knew that he was true. There were friendly people at this church, they danced when they sang, the words touched my heart, and they were involved with community outreach projects. This was a place I felt far more comfortable than other places of worship.

I wished to know what that warm burning in my chest was and why sometimes my body felt to be glowing with life. The elders told me it was The Holy Ghost, testifying of truth and righteousness and offering guidance. I had felt this goodness many times and had defined it as pure love. I needed more evidence, more confirmation. They suggested I pray to God and ask if The Book of Mormon was true. Sitting down in my bedroom holding this blue book in my hands, I pleaded to know if it was true. My heart glowed and a wave of peace fell upon me. Still this was not enough, I knew the mind’s capabilities that could be playing all manner of deceptions luring me into false hope and imagined emotions.

I was angry with the concept of forgiveness, that I was expected to ask God’s forgiveness for my transgressions when He had given me this life. I had already forgiven my parents for mistakes they made and accepted responsibility to change the damages. So I had to forgive God for leaving me, for putting me through darkness, for giving me a broken home, for sending me to live beside beings made of shadows, and for letting me live without His love.

I learned that it hurts him too when we suffer. And sometimes we suffer because we have done wrong, sometimes we suffer to grow, but in the end we will always grow and always come out the other side. I learned that God loves each of us and he wants to be close to us so that we can feel his love that is comparable to nothing else in this world. I learned that there is a before and after; that we are spirits given human bodies upon this earth in a mortal life that is microscopic in comparison to our eternal destinies. I learned that this is not it! That the spirit world really does exist beside us, and there are endless worlds, multiple universes, and angels, and we ourselves have the potential to become Gods.

It isn’t to say that I did not know these things before. But I have read, and prayed, and studied, and found stable, unchanging, solid facts written in the words of God concluding what I already believed. No matter where I go or what I do, God will speak to me in a multitude of methods and He always has done without me truly knowing it was Him. In nature I feel His presence envelope my spirit and warm my heart, away from the scriptures, away from any of the people who belong to the church, away from the pews, and away from all of the resources. Alone amongst the sunsets with birds singing, alone when I’m reaching to the lost souls, and alone when I fall to my knees. I speak to Jesus and I know He lives, as my brother, and as my healer of pains he understands; I feel Him carry me when I am too weak to carry myself. In opening pages of scriptures I feel His peace and I feel God’s peace. In the Gospel I know, who I am, why I am here, where I came from, and where I will go when I die. There had been many stories, many theories, many discussions, many thoughts in attempts to answer these questions that I had turned my cheek against in disbelief. None of them seemed quite right.

I was afraid to commit to one religion, I wished to explore religions and cultures and people across the earth and thought that by belonging to a religion I would segregate myself from others. I didn’t want to create division in a world that was losing its’ unity and needed bringing together. I left behind delving into other religions and spiritual theories to commit to this new life that I hoped would bring me stability, knowledge, purpose, direction, truth, and the opportunity to start over. In my heart I longed for adventure and travelling but I also desired a soulmate who would be with me forever and the best chance of raising and protecting a happy family with all of the love I could give. Within both these dreams I also wanted to fulfil my natural desire to serve others and to live only to benefit and assist those in need. Between battling with leaving everything behind again and fleeing to unknown lands, I stayed to learn and live this way God wanted.

It was a mistake to assume finding God’s church would alleviate my troubles. Days are still hard, at times I am lost, and occasionally I wonder whether anything has really changed. But I know my life is for the work of God and it will find me when the time is right, or maybe it already has and I’m too busy searching to see. Life’s mysteries continue to astound me and I have not enjoyed turning to books so much to find answers to some of this profound life’s ultimate questions. At the moment my focus is on reading and living these scriptures and I’ll occasionally read materials that are not of the Gospel but this is my foundation that I build upon; my roots that will grow deep into the earth, and when I have enough knowledge, then I’ll be ready to build some more, growing into a beautiful, full-bodied, fruitful tree of life. And in this I bare my testimony of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.