This week has been a bit slower, mostly because of the holiday, but I had a neat experience that I'd like to share:
Last night I was lying in bed, when a question popped into my head: "Why do we share the Gospel?" Seems like a funny question for a missionary to ask. But I was thinking about this for a long time. I couldn't get to sleep because of it. It just kept coming back. Eventually, I asked myself, "Why does God command us to do anything?" Heavenly Father's sole purpose is to make us happy. Everything He does is geared toward helping us achieve "immortality and eternal life," in essence, eternal happiness. Every single commandment, scripture, and experience that He gives us is for the sole purpose of making us happy. So Why are we commanded to share the Gospel? Because it makes us Happy!
One of the greatest scriptural examples of the joy that's found in missionary work is found in Alma 26:11, when Ammon is rejoicing in the change that has occurred in so many lives: "But Ammon said unto him: I do not boast in my own strength, nor in my own wisdom; but behold, my JOY IS FULL, yea, my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God." This "fullness of joy" is mention many other times throughout the scriptures, but as far as I know, it only comes when we see OTHERS increase their faith in Jesus Christ.
In 3 Nephi, we see this same joy that comes from seeing others increase their faith and come unto Christ. This time, however, it's Christ who experiences this joy: "And they arose from the earth and he said unto them: Blessed are ye because of your faith. And now behold, my JOY IS FULL."
We as members of the Church have the opportunity to feel that same joy that the Savior felt when he saw the faith of the multitude. There is so much Joy to be found in doing missionary work, but Satan is trying his very hardest to deceive us into thinking that missionary work is hard or awkward or that they won't be interested. But he is lying!! Missionary work is easy! It's natural, and EVERYONE in this world NEEDS the Gospel more than anything else.
Alma, another Book of Mormon missionary, experienced this same joy from sharing the Gospel in Alma 29:13: "yea, and that same God did establish his church among them; yea, and that same God hath called me by a holy calling, to preach the work unto this people, and hath given me much success, in the which my JOY IS FULL."
This is how I feel about missionary work: it makes me so happy to see others coming to Christ and finding the joy of this Gospel.
But, Alma doesn't stop there. He continues in verses 14-16: "But I do not joy in my own success alone, but my joy is MORE FULL because of the success of my brethren, who have been up to the land of Nephi. Behold, they have labored exceedingly, and have brought forth much fruit; and how great shall be their reward! Now, when I think of the success of these my brethren my soul is carried away, even to the separation of it from the body, as it were, so great is my joy."
Just like Alma, I rejoice when I hear of your missionary experiences. It makes me even MORE happy to see others sharing this wonderful gift with their friends and neighbors. So I'd like to make a simple request to all who read these letters: Whenever you have a missionary experience, please send me an email and let me know what happened! I would LOVE to hear how the Gospel is blessing your friends and family. The wonderful thing about this Gospel is that it is Happy! And the more we share it, the happier we are! Then, we are even happier when we share those experiences with others! It just keeps going and going! The Gospel is eternal, and so is the happiness we can discover by applying it.
The Church is actually producing a Christmas media initiative called "He is the Gift," which is centered around making Christ the center of Christmas. You all should have received information about it in this month's Ensign. It is such an easy way to share the first gift of Christmas with everyone around you. I would encourage you to watch the video at christmas.mormon.org and share it with your friends.
I love all of you, and I love this work.
The Church is True!!!
So we were driving down the road the day after Thanksgiving, and Elder Burningham saw this Christmas Tree with a "Free" sign on it. So, of course, we took it and set it up in our apartment. Tender Mercies! (Those are Pass-along-card ornaments, by the way.)