Last letter home

Liebe Familie,

I was called by a prophet of God to serve as a full-time missionary in the Germany Berlin Mission and to invite others to come unto Christ. How grateful I am that I had this wonderful opportunity to serve the Lord and His children, to dedicate all my heart, might, mind, and strength to help build up His kingdom on earth. I was called to succeed, and succeed I did. Of course, I didn’t do it alone. I learned to humble myself by putting my trust in God, working in unity with my companions, and allowing myself to be led by the Spirit. I have learned that a successful missionary is an active missionary, one who prays, serves, obeys, teaches, finds, works, learns, acts, commits, plans, studies, and endures. I have learned and experienced so much, as you know, and would like to share with you a few things which have had a great impact on my life.

A successful missionary knows that faith is the power through which miracles happen. God is a God of miracles. I have witnessed countless miracles on my mission, which confirm to me that there is a God, that He loves us, and that this is His work. We help investigators make and honor commitments so that they can act and learn by their own faith, whether newly-found, dormant, or already strong. I have learned that it is important to pray for faith, to live your faith, and to cherish your faith, for faith has the power to change lives. Every conversion is a miracle. The first conversion I witnessed on my mission was that of Shu Yuan Zhao, a husband and father, a professor of Philosophy, and formerly active member of the Communist party in the People’s Republic of China. Shu was living temporarily in Berlin, working on a translation of one of Immanuel Kant’s famous works when we knocked on his door one evening. He didn’t believe in God, but graciously invited us in and listened to our message. We met with Shu over the course of three months, and during this time he took his commitments seriously. He learned how to pray, read in the Book of Mormon, and came to church. He developed strong faith in Christ and experienced a change of heart and desired to be baptized. At his baptism, Shu bore his testimony. I listened in amazement as he shared his feelings about his newly-found faith and the impact it had on his life. He never missed an opportunity to tell us how grateful he was that we helped him find his faith. A communist atheist turned into a humble Christian. When we put our faith in the Lord, He will give us the power we need to touch the lives of others and bring them unto Him. With faith, all things are possible.

A successful missionary knows that obedience is the price we pay to receive blessings from God. We dont obey just for the sake of obeying, rather because we love the Lord and want to do His work, His way. Someone once told me, “When obedience ceases to be an irritant and becomes our quest, at that moment God endows us with power.” As we obey with a willing heart, the Lord pours out His blessings on us and consequently on those we teach. The time I had on a mission was the Lord’s time. I took several opportunities throughout my mission to consecrate myself to Him, to His work, and to renew my desire to be exactly obedient. Of course, there were times when I fell short and didn’t perform to the best of my ability. A successful missionary is not perfect, rather strives to be, who is in the process of becoming, who repents of their sins and moves forward in faith. I truly believe, how one acts on a mission is a reflection of one’s conversion to Jesus Christ. Obedience is, after all, an act of faith.

A successful missionary knows that love is the motivation behind all efforts….the love of Christ, that is. I have learned to love my companions, no matter what happens, to love the members, whether they support you or not, to love the investigators, despite the disappointment you feel when they don’t keep their commitments, to love the people you approach on the street, even when they spit in your face (true story), to love yourself, despite your shortcomings, and most importantly, to love God. You could have asked me at any point during my mission what my motivation was behind everything I did, and I would have told you the love of God. I have so much love for others and want them to experience the joy that comes from living the gospel. The love I have for the Lord motivates me to do all I can to help others accept the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.

A successful missionary knows that Preach My Gospel is the way to prepare themself to fulfill their purpose. I am truly grateful that we have this inspired manual at our disposal, and that members and missionaries alike can use it to strengthen them and to help them become better teachers. I love how Preach My Gospel encourages us to teach by the Spirit, to study the scriptures in depth, and to apply what we learn. I learned to feast upon the words of Preach My Gospel, which helped me to understand better what I needed to do to fulfill my purpose as a servant of the Lord. Preach My Gospel is the way–the Lord’s way to do missionary work.

A successful missionary knows that sincere prayer is the tool to communicate with our Heavenly Father. I know that I can express my innermost desires and feelings to Him and can receive answers and blessings. I know that He answers prayers according to our faith and actions. President Harold B. Lee once said, “If you want to receive a blessing from God, don’t just kneel down and pray about it. Prepare yourself in every conceivable way you can in order to make yourself worthy to receive the blessing you seek.” As we learn from the story of the Brother of Jared, the Lord wants us to do everything to the best of our ability, and then He will do the rest. I will never forget the week while serving in Leipzig, when we set a goal as a mission to have 177 investigators in church on Sunday. That roughly rounded out to be 3 investigators per companionship. Well, because we were the Leipzig Zone, our Zone Leaders encouraged us to “double it.” We prayed so hard for God to help us achieve our goal of having 6 investigators in church and to lead us to those prepared to accept our invitation. Then, we went to work. We brainstormed ideas, planned, and worked as hard as we could. We invited everyone and their dog to come to church. We bore testimony, shared experiences, gave out bold commitments…you name it. Sunday came, and 10 minutes before Sacrament meeting started, we were out on the street inviting people to come in. Out of nowhere, people started pouring into the chapel. As I sat there with a prayer still in my heart, I looked around at the congregation and started counting.  1, 2, 3, then 6 and 7…9, 10, 11 investigators! I could hardly believe it. Some of them were our investigators who unexpectedly decided to bring friends with them, others were invited by members, and most of them were old investigators who decided to show up on their own. We had set a goal and did our best to achieve it, and the Lord did the rest, as a blessing for our diligence and faithful prayers. He hears me.

A successful missionary knows that the spirit is the key to opening people’s hearts to conversion. When I teach the gospel, I feel the Spirit testifying through me. That is a powerful feeling. During one appointment, I realized that we were not teaching the investigator. The Spirit was teaching her. People convince people, but the Spirit converts people. It is necessary that we allow ourselves and others to feel the Spirit of God and then act on its promptings. One such prompting led me to stop Francis Akakpo on the street one day. He looked at me apologetically and said, “kein Deutsch. kein Deutsch. Francais.” I smiled and told him that I spoke his language. He had interest in learning more about the Book of Mormon, but told me he wouldn’t change religions. We read together and watched films in French. He came to church faithfully every week, even though he didn’t understand anything. He told me he liked going to our church because he felt the Spirit so strongly there. After a few months, he wanted to be baptized. I was amazed at his faithfulness and understanding of the principles and ordinances of the gospel, and I knew it wasn’t me who conveyed it all to him, especially with my broken French. I was just a cheerleader for the Holy Ghost! The Spirit opened up his heart, which allowed him to humble himself enough to be baptized and confirmed. He received the priesthood and even passed the Sacrament before he went back to his home in Africa. I found out later that he found the Church near his home, taught his wife the gospel and baptized her. They are now looking forward to going to the temple in Ghana this summer to be sealed together and to their 14-month old daughter.
The Spirit was also key to Geeta’s conversion. We had been teaching her for a few weeks, when she told us she was confused and felt too much pressure to be baptized. She told us she didnt want to meet with us anymore and of course, we were devastated. We told her to continue to pray to God to receive an answer. Two days later, she called us and said, “I prayed to God and felt His spirit so strongly. I got my answer. What do I need to do to be baptized as soon as possible?” Geeta was baptized 4 days later. The Spirit is the key.

A successful missionary knows that Christ is the reason. Everything is really all about Christ. His Atonement makes it possible for us to return to the presence of our Father in Heaven. I know that Jesus Christ is the son of God, that He is the Savior and Redeemer of the world. Through prayerful study of the holy scriptures, I have come to know Him better and to understand His teachings and designs for us. I have witnessed the power that the Book of Mormon especially has had in my life and in the lives of converts, how it strengthens our faith in Jesus Christ and our desire to follow His example and become like Him. Christ is the reason why I came on a mission.

Everyone has their own idea of what a successful missionary is. I learned not to compare myself to others and worry about what they think of me. I feel that the Lord is pleased with me and my active efforts in bringing many souls to Him. If a successful missionary is one who knows that faith is the power, obedience is the price, love is the motivation, Preach My Gospel is the way, prayer is the tool, the Spirit is the key, and Christ is the reason, then I must humbly conclude that I am a successful missionary.

I will treasure all the memories I have from my mission and always remember God’s tender mercies. I now have a firm conviction to continue my missionary efforts for the rest of my life and to apply what I have learned in everything I do. Once a missionary, always a missionary!

I love you so much.



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