Today I write concerning a matter that has been on my mind since I was set apart as a missionary on April 15, 2013. In my blessing President Wight mentioned that I would be blessed with opportunities to develop my talents. Although I could not comprehend what he had meant at that time, that statement stood out to me and has remained in my thoughts ever since that evening. I believe that I have finally come to understand what the Lord meant. Over the course of these last two months, I have improved in my musical talents by practicing the organ and the piano. I have expanded my athletic capacities by participating in the morning sports (getting up at 5:30 a.m. to play sports at the park) and by biking. I have improved in my social skills by communicating with a wide range of people. I have expanded my doctrinal understanding and knowledge as well as my general study skills as a result of the many hours of studying that I have completed. I have improved my teaching skills, as well as my public speaking skills. I have strengthened my testimony. I have improved in my writing abilities. I have become less picky in my diet and more appreciative of meals that others prepare and share with me. I have done many difficult things and carried burdens that I never thought I could. I have learned to care about other people more than myself-and to think about them and even understand how they think. I have made friends. I have overcome emotional barriers and negative mindsets.
Work is very closely knit with the concept of happiness because heaven is a state of mind that comes through progression. God has said that his “Work” and “Glory” comes from bringing about the immortality and eternal life of man(Moses 1:39) Note 3: See “Things How they really Are” –David A. Bednar, “The importance of Work” Chapter 27, Gospel Principles Manual) To achieve this degree of glory as high as God’s, we must in turn work as he does. I imagine that transforming a natural and carnal man into an eternally progressing and spiritually glorified man is not an easy task. (I suspect it would require an incredible amount of work). As I have consecrated and separated myself from worldly distractions and sought to lose myself in all forms of work, I have discovered my many hidden and suppressed talents. I am not boasting of them, for I recognize that I’m not all that great at any of the things listed earlier when comparing myself to others, but rather to myself. I am measuring my own personal progression, acknowledging that joy I have experienced, and rejoicing in the greatness of my God for blessing me with opportunities to develop these talents. As I have developed this more positive mindset, my obedience has been less strict, keeping in mind that I am still striving to be obedient, (I just don’t despair when I sleep in 2 minutes in the morning) however, my heart has been more fully behind my actions and my mind has been at peace as I have recognized my progression. My progression has accelerated and I have experienced a greater level of happiness. By allowing myself to progress, I have a greater level of happiness. By allowing myself to progress, I have opened myself up to future opportunities to help others progress. (I speak of selfish interests rather than selfishness).
While all missionaries are physically removed from the worldly distractions I mentioned earlier, not all missionaries remove the distractions from their hearts or their minds.