Thursday, May 24, 2012

True Sacrifice

This last week I was thinking a lot about how I view my mission. I remember before my mission I really thought that the 2 years I am going to serve is going to be such a sacrifice. I am giving up 2 years of my OWN life to go out and talk to people about Jesus Christ. But recently that mindset has changed. As my mindset has changed I have seen my mission change. I hope that I can truly put into words what has changed my mission.

First I would like to share a quote from Eliza R. Snow

"His precious blood he freely spilt; His life he freely gave, a sinless sacrifice for guilt, a dying world to save."

Jesus Christ gave his life for us. He could have saved himself but He knew His sacrifice would save ALL who would have faith in him and come unto Him. He suffered so we don't have to. It is through His sacrifice that ALL mankind may be saved. Jesus Christ is the epitome of the word SACRIFICE.
I love this quote about sacrifice that my mission president said.
"The day that sacrifice is no longer part of our lives, is the day we lose our connection to the Savior."
I love that quote because I have seen that in my life. We have been given so much and I know that it is through sacrifice that we become more like our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks spoke at the last General Conference in April. He talked about the importance of sacrifice. He said, "Perhaps the most familiar and most important examples of unselfish service and sacrifice are performed in our families. Mothers devote themselves to the bearing and nurturing of their children. Husbands give themselves to supporting their wives and children. The sacrifices involved in the eternally important service to our families are too numerous to mention and too familiar to need mention.
I believe that Latter-day Saints who give unselfish service and sacrifice in worshipful imitation of our Savior adhere to eternal values to a greater extent than any other group of people. Latter-day Saints look on their sacrifices of time and means as a part of their schooling and qualifying for eternity. This is a truth revealed in the Lectures on Faith, which teach that “a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation. … It is through this sacrifice, and this only, that God has ordained that men should enjoy eternal life.”

I have seen the sacrifices that have been made for me in my life. The sacrifices of my parents have greatly impacted how I have been raised, the life I have had, and who I am today. For that I am eternally grateful because I know that they have always sacrificed for the sake of me and my sisters. Because of their sacrifices in my home, the love and light of Jesus Christ has always been present within the walls of my home.

I would now like to share a story with you all. The picture below is me with a member here in our area. She has been through a lot in her life. This story I am going to share with you is one that has made me ponder on why I am here on my mission. This woman is married and has five children. Only one child is a member of our church and he is less active. Her husband is also a member but does not come to church anymore. This family lives in a rough neighborhood. Three and a half months ago when I came here to Woodland she, along with the rest of her family, were not very receptive to us missionaries coming over. Over time, we gained her trust and now meet with her frequently. Her teenage children were never very open to the gospel, but we continued to try and teach them. It was hard because we saw how unhappy they were and their children were not involved in good things. Over these last three and a half months I have really developed a deep love for this family. We have seen how the spirit of God changes people's hearts. I started talking to their daughter, Selena. She loves to draw and is about 11 years old. She has had a hard life and has been neglected in her home. At times it pained me to see how much she struggled at her age. I thought of my own sisters and the love I have for them. I just wanted to give this girl a hug because I wanted her to feel the love that our Heavenly Father has for her. We continued to talk to her and over time she has warmed up to me and my companion. We have also begun to teach Luis, one of the sons. He has made some bad decisions in his life but because of those things he wants to learn more about the gospel and change. This last week we had a lesson with Selena and Luis and we talked about repentance and why baptism was important for them. Elder Richins invited them to be baptized on the 30th of June. When they both accepted to be baptized, a rush of joy and love filled my soul. I did not realize how much I had come to love this family. I bore my testimony that this was the way that they could be cleansed from their sins. I got choked up and said, "Luis and Selena. This is the way you and your family can return to live with our Heavenly Father again. I am filled with joy because I know Heavenly Father is looking down and smiling right now. I know that every bad thing that has happened in your lives can be fixed through Jesus Christ. We love you and your family and we are grateful to be here with you." It was an experience that I will never forget. The spirit was so strong. After the lesson their mom came up to us and gave us unexpected hugs and with tears in her eyes said, "Thank you, thank you. I never thought they would want to be baptized." That experience has made me think about my mission and how meaningful it is to me.

"As we give, we find that 'sacrifice' brings forth the blessings of heaven' and in the end, we learn it was no sacrifice at all." -President Spencer W. Kimball

Before my mission I thought that my mission was "a sacrifice" because I was giving up two years of my life to go and help others. My friends would say to me, "Well, that's a pretty big sacrifice you are making. Two years out of school away from your friends and family. That's a long time." But with some of the experiences I have had, I have come to realize that my mission is not a sacrifice at all. Heavenly Father has given me life, my family, my talents, clothes, money, and time. I have been given these things already. My time is not a sacrifice because God has given it to me. That is what has changed within me. I know now that true sacrifice is not doing something with the expectation of blessings, but doing something purely out of love. I know Jesus Christ loved the world before He suffered and died for it. He is perfect and I hope I can continue to expand my love for those that I serve so that I can become more like Him. I love these people and I love my mission. I thank my family and friends for all the wonderful sacrifices they have made for me so that I could be here for these two years on my mission. To sacrifice is to give something up for something better.

Les Amo,

Elder Vance

No comments:

Post a Comment