Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Conclusion, but not the end

Hello, this is Hyrum (formerly known as Elder Ruby). Thank you all who have commented and taken the time to read about my experiences as a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the California Ventura Mission. The posts written on this blog can hardly touch the surface of the wonderful people I met, the lessons I learned, struggles I endured, and the many miracles that I was blessed to witness.  Still, it represents the service that I gave and expresses my testimony of the great work that I engaged in.

I set out to write a conclusion. Not necessarily a conclusion to my missionary work, but a summary of the things I learned and a statement on my future plans.

I know that we have a loving Father in Heaven who knows and loves us. I have felt His overwhelming love again and again. He expressed this love in a myriad of ways, in small tender mercies throughout my life and in sacred moments of comfort when I needed Him most.

I learned that "by small and simple things are great things brought to pass. . . and by very small means the Lord. . . bringeth about the salvation of many souls" (The Book of Mormon, Alma 37:5-6). The Lord taught me that small things like smiles, services, church and temple attendance, and daily prayer and scripture sturdy build an armor around us that protect us from evil. Salvation comes after consistent exercise of faith. Regularly I would feel an impression to knock on a specific door or walk down a street that I didn't anticipate walking on. Even when I heeded these promptings, we were sometimes led to people who were less than friendly with us. I questioned why Heavenly Father would inspire me to do things that led to unprepared people. Without fail, we would find a person who was ready and searching for the truth later that day. As I looked back on the day, I was reminded of all the small seemingly uninspired decisions we made that day which ultimately placed us in the path of this prepared individual or family. It was the small and simple things.

I learned for myself that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. I challenge anyone who reads this to gain or strengthen their own testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon by reading, pondering, and praying with faith in Christ and a sincere heart to know its truth. I have done these things and the Holy Ghost has born witness to me that it truly is God's word, as is the Bible. Each time I study the Book of Mormon my faith in Christ is strengthened, I feel peace, and I receive answers to my questions.

I know that the priesthood authority that Christ gave to His Apostles (Matthew 10:1-15; Matthew 16:19; Luke 9:1-6) and prophets has been restored to the Earth today. I hold that power and I can trace my authority back to Christ in an unbroken chain. This authority is given to me and other worthy male members of the church to bless the loves of others. I have seen this on my mission as those I have blessed, taught, and prayed for have been healed of their infirmities, changed, and blessed.

My mission was an incredible time for self examination. I learned who I am. I developed more Christlike attributes than I had before I left. I learned to communicate with many different kinds of people. I honestly think that serving a mission is also meant to prepare us for marriage. Compromising, serving, and growing as a companionship gave me a glimpse of what life is like with another person. There were companions that I struggled to relate to, but I built lifelong friendships with many of the missionaries that I served with.

Coming home was another challenge.  I feared that all the learning and growing I had done on my mission had changed me so much that there would be an awkwardness as I rebuilt the relationships I forged two years earlier. This concern was immediately dispelled when I embraced my family at the airport and we picked up where we left off. Instead, adjusting to the lack of productivity, making decisions for my future, and finding my standard of technology and pop culture priorities challenged me after I returned home. While on my mission, I used a church provided planner to manage my time and stay productive, but when I came home, I lacked purpose and organization. I had a lot of time with nothing to do. Since my first few weeks home I developed a semi-regular routine and I find joy in helping my mom at the house. I have really enjoyed my time home with my family. After spending two years in the service of other people, I found making decisions for myself difficult. I came home and needed to choose a college to attend along with a career path in addition to finding a social life and trying to date. These choices I refused to think about on my mission because I thought of them as distractions from my purpose as a missionary. So, when I came home, I had a lot of decision making to do. As missionaries we don't engage in worldly entertainment such as the internet, movies, music (except for reverent music that invites the Spirit), smart phones, Facebook, Twitter, the news, magazines, radio, video games, and television. When all these entities began vying for my attention upon my return I sought to find a balance of these things in my life. I came to the conclusion that I need to spend time with things that will be of eternal significance (like my family, building relationships, preparing for college, etc.) rather than vain entertainment or worthless gossip. Still, holding true to that standard is a challenge.

I have been home for 3 months now. Thankfully the Lord gave me a few months to enjoy time with my family before He sent me off to college. I decided, after weeks of himming and hawing, to attend BYU-Idaho starting in January 2017. I will be studying Biochemistry, which is the long way of saying pre-med. The medical field interests me (maybe due to my father's participation in this field), but I am unsure where this interest will take me. Thankfully, I don't have to decide at this very moment, but I personally would like to know my career plan in the near future. I do know, however, that I want to find a wonderful young lady and build a righteous, happy family with her. Who and when, is in the Lord's hands.

While my service as an official full-time missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has concluded, my service to the Lord and my fellow brothers and sisters has not ended. I will continue to look for opportunities to share the light of the gospel with everyone who will let me. I won't be pushy, I won't be overbearing, but I will be persistent. I will do my best to set a Christlike example for those around me and lift the hands that hang low and strengthen the feeble knees (Hebrews 12:12).

I encourage anyone who reads this to strengthen their faith by study and prayer. I hope that you will reach out to those who need strengthened, and if you are one that needs strength, may you find it in Christ's everlasting love and His angels - heavenly and earthly.

I conclude this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

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