Lessons Learnt

Every now and then I’ve attended various Mission Preparation classes at different Institutes. Some were good and some… not so good. However this past semester attending the Mission Preparation class was often the highlight of my week! Those 14 weeks were filled with some of the most powerful spiritual experiences and lessons that I’ve ever felt and learnt.

During the very first lesson we were asked to write down answers to two questions: ‘Why do I want to serve a mission?’ and ‘What do I hope to gain in 14 weeks of mission preparation?’

As I read over what I had written more than 14 weeks ago I was surprised at my own expectations of what I would gain from the Mission Preparation class. I also realised that I had gained something far greater than what I had originally anticipated. My understanding of my role as a missionary and representative of Jesus Christ did increase as desired, but I was also able to feel what it would be like to be a missionary, representing Jesus Christ.

I also marvelled at how much I had changed during those 14 weeks. But isn’t that what the Gospel of Jesus Christ is all about? CHANGE.

At the end of our last class together, our Mission Preparation facilitator, Brother Hemi, invited us to do the following…

“Close your eyes. Clear your mind. You’re sitting on a plane. To the left of you is a mother, holding her child. To the right, you can see out the window. You’ve finished your mission. You’re on your way home. You’re so excited to see your family. You can’t wait to share with them, all of those experiences that have changed your life.

“Suddenly, the plane starts shaking. It’s descending rapidly. People scream. Over the intercom the pilot announces that the plane is about to crash. In two minutes, you will be dead. You start to panic. You think of your friends. You think of your family.

“Now write down what you would want to share with them.”

Attending and participating in the Missionary Preparation class felt as though we were serving our mission then and there! This is what I would share with my family and friends regarding my time in that class:

Personal Worthiness

Following the Spirit of the Holy Ghost was the most important lesson I learnt. But we can’t follow the Spirit of the Holy Ghost and His promptings when we aren’t worthy to have Him abide with us. And so the first lesson that stood out to me was to be worthy of the Spirit. It’s a simple lesson but it’s also extremely important. We cannot represent Jesus Christ if we are not worthy to do so. We cannot teach about His commandments when we aren’t keeping them ourselves. We cannot be a light unto others when we ourselves do not possess light. Personal worthiness should be our first priority.

Follow the Spirit of the Holy Ghost

As we role played with other class members, visitors and even the full-time missionaries, one thing became apparent throughout – we needed to follow the Spirit of the Holy Ghost! The people we “taught” during our role plays had an array of different concerns. Some we knew about before-hand and others were raised during our lessons.

On one occasion, Sister Maea (my lovely companion) and I had planned to teach our investigator, Sister Stephens, about the commandments. We had taken a few moments to pray, prepare and briefly plan our lesson (there’s only so much you can do during those 10 minutes in class). We felt good about teaching our lesson. We felt as prepared as we could be given the time constraint. As we started our discussion with Sister Stephens she mentioned that she was feeling sad because there was a lot going on in her family at that time. She said that she just wanted to be happy. Immediately, Sister Maea and I looked at each other and knew what we had to do. Instead of proceeding with our lesson about the commandments, we started teaching Sister Stephens about the Great Plan of Happiness and how she can be happy.

We both prayed hard during those few minutes, that what we were sharing with Sister Stephens would be what she needed to feel comfort and peace. The Spirit was able to inspire our minds as to what to share with her to console her and help her feel that peace she desired.

Although Sister Stephens was only role-playing and already knew everything that we were teaching her, it was still a powerful lesson, even bringing her to tears at one point. I strongly believe that it was because Sister Maea and I were first, worthy to have the companionship of the Spirit of the Holy Ghost and second, because we followed His prompting to alter our lesson and teach Sister Stephens according to her needs.

“You don’t have to be a master teacher, you just have to have the Spirit.”

(Rawiri Hemi)

Love Your Companion

From about the second week of our classes we were put into companionships. Brother Hemi emphasised the importance of getting to know our companions.

I didn’t know Sister Maea well before hand but it didn’t matter because we were both eager to learn and to work together to help one another become better teachers and closer companions. We decided that we would text each other every day and share a spiritual thought from our personal study. I really appreciated this experience as it helped to uplift one another. I also believe that keeping in contact with each other everyday helped us to grow closer, thereby increasing our companionship unity.

Sister Maea and I both had different weaknesses and strengths. Where I lacked, she made up for. And where she lacked, I tried to make up for. We certainly weren’t perfect teachers or companions but Sister Maea and I had a mutual respect, care and love for one another. This coupled with the companionship of the Spirit of the Holy Ghost helped us work and grow together, enriching our experience as companions during our time in Mission Preparation.

As a missionary you represent Jesus Christ 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for 18-24 months. You say and do all that He would say and do. You teach and testify of Him and His Gospel. Not all companions I have while on my mission will be as easy to get along with as Sister Maea was. But if I am a missionary, representing Jesus Christ Himself, saying and doing all that He would, love for my companion is needed.

“Sometimes you’re put with someone you may not like but the work of the Lord needs to go on.”

(Rawiri Hemi) 

Love Those You Teach

During one of our classes Sister Maea and I actually taught someone who wasn’t a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. She had come to Institute with her cousin.

We were quite nervous as this was an opportunity for us to help her recognise and feel the Spirit of the Holy Ghost. This was an opportunity for Heavenly Father to use us and potentially bring one of his daughters unto His Son, Jesus Christ. We understood the gravity of the situation.

Bearing in mind that she had already been taught by two other companionships before us, we realised that it didn’t matter so much what we taught her, we just needed her to feel of the love that we had for her and the love that Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father had for her. This feeling of love would transcend all that would come out of our mouths.

I can’t say whether she felt that or not but we hoped that she would. When people feel your deep concern and genuine love for them they are more open to hearing your message and will be more receptive to the promptings and whisperings of the Spirit. Developing that genuine love for people may require that we try to see them as Heavenly Father sees them. To do so we need to see with our spiritual eyes. We need to see beyond their outer appearance or circumstances and look deeper.

During one of our youth conference counsellor trainings a few years ago, Brother Ball shared that the Tibetan word “namaske” means “the divine in me sees the divine in you”. In our interactions with all of the Father’s children, whether they’re our friend, family member, companion or someone we’re teaching, whether we pass them on the street or smile at them as we go by on the bus, this is the level at which we should interact with them.

You Can Have Spiritual Experiences Now

Sometimes we allow ourselves to believe that most spiritual experiences only happen for missionaries on their missions. This is false! We had powerful spiritual experiences every week in our classes. I believe we had those experiences because we allowed ourselves to. One, we were in the right place and the right time – Institute. Two, we didn’t treat our role plays light-heartedly. Anyone who seeks after and is worthy can have spiritual experiences. We don’t have to wait until we’re missionaries. We can have them now if we choose!

“Miracles do not produce faith but strong faith is developed by obedience to the Gospel of Jesus Christ; in other words, faith comes by righteousness, although miracles often confirm one’s faith.” 

I Believe & I Know

There is no fibre of my entire being that can deny the eternal, divine truths that I know. We are indeed children of a loving and kind Father in Heaven. This is not our home, but a temporary state in which we are “learning Heaven”, preparing ourselves to return to live with our Father forever, if we choose.

We have an Elder Brother whose name is Jesus Christ. He loved us so much that He came to earth more than two thousand years ago and performed the Atonement. He took upon Himself the sins of mankind, bleeding excruciating drops of blood as He did so. After experiencing one of the most painful ways in which anyone could die – crucifixion – He rose again paving the way for all mankind to rise as He did.

Joseph Smith was and is a prophet of God. He had a divine calling as the prophet who would restore the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the earth one final time before the Saviour’s glorious return. A chosen man, eventually dying a martyrs death. His life and testimony, all that he accomplished will be forever remembered and appreciated.

One of those accomplishments was the divine translation of The Book of Mormon. It is a sacred record of an ancient people and their dealings with our Saviour, Jesus Christ. It bears witness of Him and His Gospel and testifies to the world that He is the Son of God. It does not replace the Holy Bible but complements it. It is true. With all my heart I know that it is true for the Spirit has told me so.

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