By: Vannessa Gunnell, Moroni Channel
Provo Utah, USA
As it says in the title, and as I have mentioned in my previous blog posts, I am a Mormon Convert. Before I knew the gospel, I was stuck in habits I never thought I’d live without. I was living a self-destructive pattern that only the gospel could fix. After I was baptized, my challenges did not go away, but they did become easier to tackle. The gospel brought light into the darkest areas of my mind, and helped mend the broken pieces of my heart; for that I am forever grateful. I changed because I finally had the form of help I needed: the restored gospel. *Read more about that change
here, and here.* Of course, I wouldn’t have made this transition if it hadn’t been for the help and guidance of the missionaries.
Missionary (noun): someone who leaves their families for a short time, so that others may be with their families for eternity.
Even though I have only been a member for a few years, I have gotten to know a number of missionaries. I express my deepest appreciation for those who have gone and served a mission, whether they served their entire mission or not. It amazes me to think about how much my life, with effort, completely changed because I made the decision to talk to two Sisters. Both of them have returned home from their mission, and are doing well. I am grateful for their testimonies and their example.
I haven’t dealt with coming home from a mission, but I have experienced other transitions. Let’s face it: life is hard. Satan is tricky. One day, we may think, “I’m too tired. I will just read my scriptures tomorrow.” Let me ask you this. If you put off your scripture reading for ONE day, how easy would it be to neglect to read your scriptures the following day? Brothers and Sisters, faith cannot wait for tomorrow. Start today. Don’t quit. It won’t be easy, but it will definitely be worth it.
“Write down your goals and what you plan to do to achieve them. Aim high, for you are capable of eternal blessings.” – President Thomas S. Monson
There is nothing that saddens me more than to see returned missionaries come home, and lose their faith. Seeing return missionaries who grow to be less motivated in the gospel once they get home hurts my heart particularly because I know what it’s like to live without the gospel for so long. I have heard stories of return missionaries who chose to neglect their covenants and unfortunately were excommunicated. I have met return missionaries who flourish at reading their scriptures every day, while others slowly let it go. Brothers and Sisters, I am not saying you should wake up at 6:30am and go tracting every day once you return home, but don’t take the habits you formed on your mission for granted. I know life is hard and Satan is tricky, keeping your faith stronger than your struggles is what will keep you going.Your testimony is like a candle. Are you going to keep it lit, or let it burn out? You have to exercise your faith in order to prevent from slowly losing it.Here are some tips to help you keep your testimony “lit.”
1. READ YOUR SCRIPTURES
As President Thomas S. Monson counseled, “Spending time each day in scripture study will, without doubt, strengthen our foundations of faith and our testimonies of truth.”Whether you’ve served a mission or not, reading your scriptures is not a habit that should be put on the back burner, EVER. I highly recommend studying your scriptures every.single.day. If you’re married, I strongly encourage you and your spouse to not only read scriptures together everyday, but independently everyday as well. Believe me when I say that Satan can make daily scripture reading challenging to do sometimes, but don’t give in! Be consistent with your scripture studying. Struggles are inevitable no matter who you are, but if you commit to daily scripture reading, the trying times will feel a little bit easier.
2. KEEP IN TOUCH WITH YOUR INVESTIGATORS
I think keeping in contact with the people you baptized on your mission is essential not only for them, but for you. Keeping in touch with investigators might be easier said then done, but I think it’s very important, even if you are only able to touch base every once in awhile. Social media, like Facebook, makes this simple and easy. Even an occasional text message can go a long way.
3. BE MINDFUL ABOUT WHAT YOU WATCH/LISTEN TO
The world makes this one very hard to do sometimes, but our Prophet and Apostles have counseled it time and time again: be careful what you invite into your minds. As President Monson said, “Our minds should be filled with uplifting and ennobling thoughts and kept free from those things which will pollute.” I don’t necessarily think you have to limit your entertainment strictly to Mormon Tabernacle Choir or LDS videos, but when it comes to things like television/movies and music, be wise and pay attention to the promptings of the Holy Ghost. “Stand ye in holy places and be not moved” (Doctrine and Covenants 87:8). Desire to have your physical environment and your mind be a holy place where the Spirit can be present.
4. ATTEND THE TEMPLE
Church authorities have counseled us to always keep the temple in our sights. Remember the temple and the covenants you’ve made there in every moment. Missionaries attend the temple when they can, and that should continue both on and off the mission field. Don’t push the temple to the bottom of your list once you get home. Do the best you can to make it a priority. You don’t want the Lord to think you have a spotty temple attendance, especially if you have a temple close to where you live. If you don’t have a temple near you or are unable to attend for some other reason, you can still participate in the work by doing family history.
The phrase “I served a mission…” is often used in our church conversation. Some of us may have served missions for 18 months or two years, but is your mission really over when you step off that plane? No. You are currently serving a mission simply by being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Although it’s not the same as when you wore the name tag, your mission is not over once you’re released, it’s just beginning. Don’t keep the Gospel to yourself. Never assume that people don’t want to hear about Christ. The Gospel is meant to be shared – so share it always.