It's a very interesting thing to be on a mission. It's interesting to notice how you are affected by even the smallest of circumstances. An accumulation of all the small annoyances, bitter rejections, unprecedented no-shows, accusations, and the meaningless rubbish that spews forth from people who let their mouths spit quick justifications for their choices of lifestyle and action can take its toll on the attitude of a person. I am generally cheerful and optimistic in my letters, and like to see myself this way even as a missionary, but it was not until after Elder Oaks came to visit our mission that I realized my cheerful disposition was waning in my work.
It was not necessarily something he said that struck me, but the uplifted feeling I possessed as my companion and I returned to our work. I realized I was smiling more, saying hello to more people and with more energy, and the same sense of fearlessness that I felt when I first arrived seemed to reform itself, filling the void of self-doubt that was beginning to grow within me.
The effectiveness of our work, and I'd even say our ability to do anything is largely conditional on the attitude we have. I think it's safe to say also that we don't always fully realize it when our attitude is bad, or that it is hindering our ability to do. But it felt like the difference between night and day when I walked away from that meeting filled with a renewed spirit, courageousness, and a cheerful disposition. I didn't even know that I was so obviously lacking it!
My friends and family, I'm sure you all realize that life is strange. It's just straight-up weird sometimes. We are so caught up in our emotions that we let them rule our natures. But I believe that because our emotions have such a powerful effect on our being, the presence of God becomes so much more apparent. The fact that even our most seemingly set and unchangeable natures can be softened and redirected by the intensity of God's presence and the enabling power of Christ's Atonement is clear evidence to me.
Perhaps I have tried to state it too eloquently. I am weak. I easily forget. Temptations, thoughts, and misfortunes beset me like every other man. But I see eternity in the balance. I feel Divinity right next to me. I would that every man and woman would have purity of intent to truly ask God if He's there and if He will guide them, with a mind to do according to the answer they receive.
I love you all. Do not ever think that I am following after a ritualistic pattern of speech when I say I know that God lives. He is right next to you.