July 25, 2013

What Is A Missionary?

Hello friendly readers! Welcome to my mission blog! Here is where you can get all the updates on my life over the course of the next few months while I am serving as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in NATAL BRAZIL. How cool is that?

Once a week for the next year and a half, I will be sending my parents an email recounting my adventures serving and teaching the people of Brazil. They, in turn, will be posting these emails to my blog so you all can hear my crazy ramblings. If you look on the sidebar, there's this clever thing where you can "subscribe" to my blog, and you'll get an email every time it updates. Its really good for all you lazy people/college students (practically synonymous) so you don't even have to click on this page to see my blog posts. They'll come straight to you! My communication is going to be pretty limited while I'm on my mission, so this blog here is the best place for you to get updates on my crazy awesome life :)

Okay, now that my shameless plug for this blog is over, let's get down to the nitty gritty of this post. What exactly is a missionary?

Well, according to our handy-dandy dictionary.com, a missionary is:
a. a person sent by a church into an area to carry on evangelism or other activities, as educational or hospital work
b. a person strongly in favor of a program, set of principles, etc, who attempts to persuade or convert others
c. a person who is sent on a mission

Well, all of these are true-ish. Especially letter (c), that one is pretty difficult to debate. But I have a different definition for you to consider:

"You are called to represent Jesus Christ in helping people become clean from their sins." Preach My Gospel, chapter 1.

There you have it folks. I am called to be a representative of Jesus Christ in helping people feel free and clean again. To me, this means that I try to do what Christ would do in any given situation. To listen as He would have listened, to give advice and counsel as He would, to give meaningful service as He did in Jerusalem, and - most importantly - to love as He loves. I don't want to sound presumptuous here, because I will fall far short of this standard time and time again. Christ lived a perfect life...and me? I'm just doing the best with what I understand. But the point is, this, this right here is my ultimate goal. To act the way Christ would act.

Tonight a went to a "Mission Preparation" class. [Its a small group that gets together once a week, with a volunteer teacher who helps us learn how to be missionaries.] Now, there are many people who have this crazy picture of what missionaries are supposed to be: boys in suits chasing down people on the streets, trying to force scripture down their throat. With that image in mind, you might imagine that this Mission Prep class would teach us such useful skills as how to skillfully debate, rote memorization techniques, and running exercises. WRONG. Our class was all about Christlike Attributes. The focus: How can I make myself a better person? We had time for self-reflection, and learned about the characteristics of being charitable, being diligent, being humble, being patient. All of these sound like very good things to me! A missionary who shouts at a person to get baptized is not a good missionary. EVEN IF that technique seems to actually be working. No, a good missionary is someone who is trying his hardest to become more like Christ. To become more loving and more patient. Missionary work is less about what you can make other people do, and so much more about how I can change myself to become a better, more compassionate human being who is willing and ready to help all of God's children.

"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." [Matt 5:16]
My hope is that as I try to live the way Christ lives, people will want to draw closer to God because of the good they see in me. That is my purpose as a missionary. That is what I will focus on, shutting out all concerns about education or finances. That is my reason for leaving friends and family and school for a year and a half. And you know what? I think its a pretty worthwhile reason.

Until next time!

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