I've heard from some today how at this stage in the mission I'm probably at my high point, taking all the skills I've learned and applying them to spread good to every ear that will hear it. As much as I value the knowledge, skills, and additional spiritual witnesses that I've gained these nearly past two years, I can't tell you how often I find myself thinking, "I wish I could take what I know now and start another two years." Where I am and the responsibilities I've been given are not badges of honor or marks of achievement; my first thought this morning as I got out of bed was, "Don't ever assume you've got everything figured out." It's probably a moral I should live by for the rest of my life.
Serving in Discovery Bay has been a new ball game for me. Teaching in English to people from New Zealand, Australia, Nigeria, Italy, Mainland China, Philippines, United States, and everywhere else you can think of, whose religious backgrounds vary from being devoted church pastors to passionate and (if I may, rather vehement) atheism, has really given me a run for my money. To tell you all the truth, I feel like a child more at this point in my mission than perhaps I've ever felt. And I'm on the front lines, walking around for most hours of the day and trying my hand in a box of chocolates, quite literally never knowing what I'm going to get.
I had a wonderful day at the Temple today. As I sat and pondered and prayed, I felt very close to the Lord. I felt very much like I was having a two-way conversation with Him as I prayed and asked the Lord what He would have me do for the very short time I have left. It was very clear that the point I'm experiencing now is much more a beginning than an end. It has been made very clear to me on several fronts that although I of myself am a rather unremarkable person or teacher of the Gospel, that this is indeed the Lord's work. I am grateful for every single day that I have to serve Him with all my heart, might, mind and strength.
I believe that it was once said by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, "It's an awfully thin pancake that only has one side." For all those whose testimonies may be hindered by the sleight of misinformation, or whose faith might be weakened by the convincing "evidences" that shroud our understanding of God and His reality, I say to you that on either side of the pancake you can find something just as convincing, intellectual, and I guess "enlightening" to prove to you that God exists or that He doesn't, that Joseph Smith was a prophet or he wasn't, that religion improves the quality of people's lives or makes everybody crazy. If you'd like my two cents, I hear just about everything around these parts: if you expect to lean your testimony on evidence, whether it be bad or good, if you don't already, one day you'll find yourself pretty bitter and dissatisfied.
Spiritual witnesses should be sought after and treasured more in today's world than ever. If everything on all sides can convince you of anything, then any of those pieces of information do nothing more than reinforce your decisions to follow God or to turn away from Him. I know that God exists not because a man wise in rhetoric and smooth talking told me so. I got my witness of the Spirit, and I cannot describe that to any of you any easier than a blind man can describe the color yellow.
"Where can I turn for peace,
Where is my solace,
When other sources cease to make me whole? ..."
Only one source will keep us whole. With a heart set on crying repentance to my fellow man and with full recognition of my own faults, I say with Alma, "Yea, and I know that good and evil have come before all men; he that knoweth not good from evil is blameless; but he that knoweth good and evil, to him it is given according to his desires, whether he desireth good or evil, life or death, joy or remorse of conscience," (Alma 29:5).
I choose good, life, and joy. God answers my prayers, and He will answer all the prayers of His children in His own time, and in His own way.