So before I say anything else, I want to say Happy Birthday to my little sister! Keep going and living Hannah!
So this week has been great. It’s been a continuation of a great transfer we’ve been having in general. We haven’t had any investigators, and therefore not too many chances to teach. But God has been good, and in the drought of having almost no chances to teach, I realized just this week over the past 3 weeks just how much He has been teaching me instead. Looking back in my journal and emails, I’ve see that I’ve learned more in these past three weeks than at any other point in time on my mission. I wish I had the time to write it all down, but unfortunately the reality is that email time and people’s attention spans would run out before I could do that. In general though, so many seemingly normal moments have become learning moments that I wonder what God is teaching me all this for.
One of the things Iearned is the nature of one’s conversion. Up here in the Hanoi branch, we have a lot of recent converts. Recent converts are awesome because in the beginning they are so strong. Generally, they actively come to church, they says their personal prayers, they read their scriptures, and take joy in their interactions with other members. They’re starting to realize the amazing things that this Gospel has to offer, and it’s becoming a part of their lives. They’re a lot like new missionaries actually, so I can say they have this thing called Recent Convert fire in them. Honestly, if you just sit and watch them do their thing at church, it really is a beautiful sight to see.
But like any fire, it dies out after a while if it’s not kept fed, and that’s another thing I’ve observed with less-active members here. Without going into too much detail, there’s a lot of reasons why strong RCs would go LA after 2, 3, 4 whatever years. I’m not one to judge or accuse because everyone has a different situation that I don’t fully understand, but I’d would say that something that makes it easier to step off the “strait and narrow path” is because the Gospel is only a part of their lives. It’s not just eating a slice of the best cake you’ve ever had and then leaving the rest. It’s like eating just that slice, and then abandoning the rest of the cake to go focus on things that don’t taste as good , like broccoli (ignore the irrelevant benefits of nutrition). It’s the same way here with RCs. Because they’ve had only a piece of the cake, when other things come up, like work, school, and whatnot, it draws their attention from the thing that actually matters most. For sure, it’s a high expectation to prioritize, but He promises us that if we prioritize him, He will help us take care of everything else, even the material things.
The difference between one who is tempted to less-activity in church and one who remains active throughout their lives is this: It’s not enough for the Gospel to just be a part of your life. Sometimes it’s not even enough to make it the center of your life. I’ve seen what happens to those who make the Gospel their lives, not just a part of their lives. It doesn’t mean we have to put EVERYTHING to the side to serve in the church. But the influences of the gospel permeates everything in their lives, and influences everything that they do. Through doing so, that’s when they truly realize the beauty of the Gospel and what it can do for their lives. My parents are 2 good examples. And when you realize that, how could you possibly walk away from that?
So how do you get to that point? Doing the basics and learning and remembering your experiences as you do those basics. Reading the scriptures and saying your daily prayers can be sweet experiences, especially when you find something to apply in your life and you do so. On those days where you don’t feel like going to church, go to church. The more you place God before other things, the more substantial your life will become. It’s hard a lot of the time, but God tries the faith of His followers. It’s easy to be faithful in the easy times. For those who are tried and still remain loyal to him, they are the happiest and most blessed in the end. In the Book of Mormon, a prophet teaches: “I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shallprepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.”
God may try us, but this is a promise from him, and if we want, we can try Him as well to see if this promise has fruit. As one of his representatives, I know that He will keep His promises if we keep ours. And that promise covers all aspects of our lives, from family, to work, to school, everything. Place Him first and He will help you with the rest.