This is a thought I was typing a few weeks ago but now I have the chance to send it.
In the April 1971 general conference Sterling W. Sill said,
“Certainly the most successful lives are those that have the most worthwhile experiences. The religion of Christ itself is not so much a set of ideas as it is a set of activities. The purpose of the Church is to help us translate the principles of the gospel of Christ into constructive, meaningful human experience.”
I have found that life’s greatest experiences (as I have experienced so far) are consequence or benefits from the Gospel we live. I grew up surrounded by the gospel and meaningful experiences. My whole life our family has been involved with Smith family reunions. Taking me to most all of the historical sites of the church. This deepened my testimony of the restoration.
I was also involved in Young Men’s activities. I know I may not realize the full impact that the Young Men’s program has had on me. I can’t say for certain what would have become of me had I not been involved in Boy Scouts and Young Men’s. Earlier, while writing one of my Young Men’s leaders I had the chance to reflect and I know this, while other teenagers were at parties exposing themselves to all categories of temptation, I was at the base of the delicate arch. While they were watching inappropriate movies, I was at the top of a mountain contemplating the creations and wonders of God. These things have not just become wonderful memories, but they have become a part of who I am and brought into my life worthwhile experience.
The same rings true with my mission. The daily devotion of living and sharing the gospel has broadened my understanding. As well as given me experience I could not have gained any other way. As a missionary I experience and witness adversity daily. I would say that adversity is a fundamental ingredient of experience.
In Liberia I felt at first that my physical conditions were difficult. I had to draw my water from a well (even if I just wanted to flush the toilet). I had no power so we used a generator for three hours a day. One month I had no electricity at all. I had to wash my clothes by hand, had to take cold showers out of a bucket, had to take pills each day to prevent malaria and many more hardships. But it didn’t take long until I was used to it all and forgot that there was any other way of life. I also didn’t feel so sorry for myself once I saw the conditions of others. I saw people pass through trials unimaginably difficult. I am sure that nothing could have helped them as much as the gospel and Divine aid. Going through and witnessing all of this helped me a lot.
The American poet, Douglas Malloch, said in his poem Good Timber:
The tree that never had to fight
For sun and sky and air and light,
But stood out in the open plain
And always got its share of rain,
Never became a forest king
But lived and died a scrubby thing.
The man who never had to toil
To gain and farm his patch of soil,
Who never had to win his share
Of sun and sky and light and air,
Never became a manly man
But lived and died as he began.
Good timber does not grow with ease,
The stronger wind, the stronger trees,
The further sky, the greater length,
The more the storm the more the strength.
By sun and cold, by rain and snow,
In trees and men good timbers grow.
Where thickest lies the forest growth
We find the patriarchs of both.
And they hold counsel with the stars
Whose broken branches show the scars
Of many winds and much of strife.
This is the common law of life.
Adversity is not just an important part of life but an important part of the gospel. It is essential to gaining experience and growing stronger. It is easy to talk about adversity being good and essential but while we are experiencing it most of us don’t want it. As a general rule we (humans) don’t like change, we don’t like difficulties, and we don’t even like thinking about our weakness. Why is it that everything of great value requires difficulty as the price? I guess you just need to gain experience to understand value. One the best parts of serving a mission is you learn what is really valuable in life.
I am so very grateful for being given the privilege to serve as a missionary.
Sincerely and for the last time,