How My Mission is Changing Me

Monday, January 19, 2015

Finally got to see the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur

Hey everyone!!

This week, as normal, has been full of challenges to our faith and patience, but as we put our trust in God and worked harder, we were able to see many blessings. We found that we were lifted up as we in patience kept going in spite of the problems.

Unfortunately, the Iban family we met last Sunday really doesn't want to meet with us anymore (spoke to some pastors and stuff hahah) and they sent us a message like this on Thursday:  "Hey sorry for getting back to you late. I've read a tiny bit. We don't believe in that. I believe in the Bible and Jesus Christ, not in any other prophets. Good night." hahahah woof. We felt pretty down after that but then!! In my study of Hebrews, I found some verses (ch  6) :    

23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering;(for he is faithful that promised;)

So I really like verse 23, God's always faithful in his promises. I connected that to this verse - about Abraham in Romans 4:20-21:

 20 He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;
 21 And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.

God is able to fulfill his promises!! Any promise he makes, according to our faith, He will fulfill. Then the Spirit got me to think of this Book of Mormon verse in Alma 26!!

 26 But behold, my beloved brethren, we came into the wilderness not with the intent to destroy our brethren, but with the intent that perhaps we might save some few of their souls.
 27 Now when our hearts were depressed, and we were about to turn back, behold, the Lord comforted us, and said: Go amongst thy brethren, the Lamanites, and bear with patience thine afflictions, and I will give unto you success.

What God is promising Ammon and his brethren (and any other missionary, for that matter) in verse 27 is that if they are faithful and push on despite of and in spite of their afflictions, they will be given success. Or the Lord promises them that if they do not lose faith though they have been going through some really hard times, they will be instruments in the Lord's hands in bringing to pass whatever the Lord desires them to accomplish.

Then I read on in Hebrews and found this verse:

10:36 For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.

And, oh gosh, Elder Misa and I got picked up and went out and the Lord led us to like 4 families and these ones actually are willing to try out what we teach. Pretty cool. The Lord wanted to test our patience and faith (see Mosiah 23:21), and then the Lord picked us up and led us to a bunch of new people/families. So great. Elder Misa and I realized that in order to test our faith, He took away one family (who weren't prepared anyway) - and then, in response to our faith and strength, led us to 3 or 4 more. That's pretty cool, and definitely a faith promoting experience.

Furthermore... Mahendran! He is a guy I mentioned last week whose work didn't allow him to come to church for more than a hour, and his wife is very sick with cancer!! Well, we finally met him this week (for some reason he could stay longer this week), and he proceeded to tell us that he has finally been able to change his work schedule so he can now come to church every Sunday. He told us he is finally ready to be baptized. He also said that he is ready to bring his wife and son to the church as well. WOOOOOOOW. SO MANY BLESSINGS!! I'm just here in the right time when the Lord needs me here. Mahendran will be baptized in three weeks. Who knows! Maybe his wife will eventually be baptized as well - by Mahendran himself!! We really didn't see that coming so we are way blessed and just doing what the Lord wants. We are literally just trying to be conduits for the Lord to do his work.

So grateful to be on a mission and here are some things that some converts asked me to write up for them! Hopefully you get a better insight of how I'm doing from here.

1. Why did I want to become a missionary?

While I was in Johor, the first area of my mission, I thought a lot about this. Why did I come on my mission? Why did I want to become a missionary? What motivated me to come out here and turn over two years to the Lord? Well, I came to several conclusions. The main reason I wanted to become a missionary was because the Lord had blessed me so much. I wanted to serve the Lord because I wanted to give something back to the Lord, and I hoped that as a missionary I could demonstrate my love for the Lord. I wanted to express gratitude by dedicated and hard work as a missionary, striving to bring others to the same knowledge and blessings I enjoy every day. I needed to spend time trying to share the amazing things that have been given to me. 

Of course I was also motivated by the fact that LDS young men are expected to serve missions, and the chance that I could go to an exotic/cool place on my mission, and because many of my friends were going. I can honestly say I never considered NOT serving as a missionary, thanks to great parents who taught me to serve the Lord and great leaders who set my sight on the mission field. 

I also had the desire to help save souls, of course. I really wanted to get involved and get to work and bring people unto Christ - these are probably the best motivations to desire to become a missionary - but I think that desire was outweighed by the more simple motivation that I wanted to give the Lord something back. Because I had been given much, I too must give and serve as a missionary.

2. What are the differences in you before and after you became a missionary?

Well, there are very very very many differences that I've been able to notice in myself, but even more differences that have been noticed by others (fellow missionaries, friends, family through skype and email). I probably won't be able to give a full explanation of this, and after my mission my family would be able to give the best answer, but maybe I can share some of the things I now know. 

Something to add though before I continue - what I have learned from President Mains is that a mission has a very different purpose than meets the eye. Each missionary's purpose, as we often recite, is to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. Or, to strive to baptize individuals and families in the restored Church of Jesus Christ. To help people find peace and direction and happiness through Jesus Christ. That is MY purpose. I am to find and teach and baptize!!! But the MISSION's purpose is different. The mission's purpose is not just to be (some of ) the best two years of a person's life, but to be the best two years FOR that life. The purpose of the mission is to change missionaries and help them grow. To allow them to become powerful tools and dedicated disciples of Jesus Christ. To throw young men and women up against challenges and to teach them to depend on Jesus Christ to overcome them. 
Oftentimes, missionaries ask, "Did I accomplish enough on my mission?" but a VERY VERY VERY good question for them to ask is "Did my mission accomplish enough on me?" So, here are some ways the mission has changed me.

First of all, I know myself a lot better now. I know what gets me upset, I know what things I do that make others upset, and I can try to avoid those situations that usually result in me acting below my ideal self. One of those things (very simple thing, don't tease haha) is that I can now feel a HUGE difference in myself and my own happiness/cheerfulness level when I don't get good rest. If I am ever late to get to bed (from staying out a little to late teaching a lesson or by writing in my journal etc) there is a definite difference in my ability to be happy! I just am more snappy and crabby and just lash out over dumb things that don't really matter. This is something I WISH I had known when I was at home, because I would have changed my behavior and gotten more sleep to be happier and make everyone else more happy around me. But I have learned this on my mission and hopefully I can make the decision to be more wise with my time to get more sleep and be more happy and cheerful and less irritable.

Another thing is that I have matured a TON, especially regarding controlling/correcting other people. Before my mission, I was of the opinion (perhaps due to pride, or just this is the way I was?) that if someone was doing something wrong, or was misinformed, or was saying something incorrect, it was my duty as a human to immediately tell them of their mistake and correct them!!! If someone was doing something wrong, without any impetus, I would go over there and tell them what they were doing wrong and tell them to stop doing it (think MTC). If I knew something more about a particular skill or talent, I would offer tons of unsolicited advice that I assumed the person would greatly appreciate and receive well. Here's a funny example from my childhood. One day, a little kid was seen sprinting down the church hallway, making tons of noise. My parents then heard me, walking as fast as I could, yelling "NO RUNNING IN THE CHURCH," making quite a bit bigger disturbance than his running hahaha. That's just how I was! I would tell you what I knew to be true and right and correct. If someone was wrong, they would be talking and I would interrupt and say "NO, it's actually like this..." Well that did a great deal to make people like me!!! I blew it!! I aroused resentment and dislike and wondered why in the heck they felt that way. Since I've been on my mission, I've realized that everyone has their own agency, and though we CAN in some circumstances influence the way our friends and colleagues make their own decisions, we CAN'T choose for them and if we try to tell them what's what it just results in bad relations/situations. I'm definitely not perfect now in this regard, but I have learned to lessen that terrible habit to a dramatic degree on my mission. Sorry to everyone who had to deal with that one :P

Last of all, I think I have changed a ton in being humble and led by the Spirit. I went on my mission thinking "How is Elder Clay Coleman going to wreck it and change these people and bring many people unto Christ" when in reality I am just a tool. As I have humbled myself and instead thought "How can I change to become a better tool in the Lord's hands" or "What would God have me do here to help them?" I have learned that the Spirit often whispers to our minds and hearts when we ask questions like this. It's been pretty cool and humbling, but I'm so grateful to know I am just a tool/instrument in the Lord's hands and not actually worth anything at all. 

Tons of changes!! I pray each day that my changes can become permanent differences in me!!

3. How has missionary work helped you change to become a better person?

Here is an interesting question. How has the work itself, the day to day labors of a missionary changed me. I think I am much more able to confront challenges / uphill battles with faith and hope than I was before. As I have served in areas that required great effort, I have been able to see great changes in my own efforts. Now I have faith that as I diligently and patiently work, relying much on the Lord, over time, situations that seem impossible to change CAN become different! Of that I have no doubt!!

Another change: I think I'm more loving. I'm learning it's ALL ABOUT THE PEOPLE and that if I really want to help others, it's about focusing entirely on them and getting all motivations off of myself and working hard to love them. As the Apostle Paul says, "Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved." We stop seeking the profit of ourselves and strive to push ourselves outward to love and teach because we love.

I know God is with us and this is the message/church that will bring us most happiness!! And that's why I'm here in Klang. To bring as many people as will receive it more happiness, peace and direction from the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.

Malaysia Boleh!

Elder Clay Coleman

The Petronas Twin Towers are 1,483 feet tall, with 74 stories

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