Imagine sitting in a bus in the middle of a manifestation with people holding up signs “Je Suis Charlie.” That was me Wednesday night this past week. As I am sure most of you would have heard through the news, there were a few shootings in Paris this past week, after a controversial comic art piece was published that morning. I had left the Paris – St. Lazare for Caen a little after 12:30pm earlier that afternoon, for an exchange with the Zone Leaders there. As a missionary, we do not get the chance often to stay in touch with the news, or the latest sporting or Entertainment updates, simply because they do not usually affect the work that we do – sharing the gospel. However, after starting an exchange with Elder Dayley, the zone leader who I was on exchange with, the first ami that we went to visit immediately put us up to date. Over and over again, as we contacted people on the road, and during our lessons throughout the day, we found people were greatly affected by the event. That night, as I sat on the bus in the middle of the manifestation, asking Elder Dayley, “What is going on out there?” An older lady turned back to us, spoke in the best English that she could and informed us that the manifestation was indeed the result of the shootings that very day. We quickly switched to French so that she could articulate herself more clearly, and she started tearing, telling us how sad she was that one of her favorite economist writers had been killed. It was clear that there was great sorrow as her voice trembled, and the best thing that Elder Dayley and I could do was share with her why we chose to be here in France – to help people find happiness in their lives through the gospel of Jesus Christ.
We had a short conversation that very bus ride about the things that she was most grateful for in her life, and that seemed to help ease up the tension. Reflecting on it now, I realise how effective gratitude can be in helping us be happy in difficult times. Sure, the pain or the hardship does not go away, but we do gain the confidence to overcome and surmount the challenges in our lives. Is it no wonder then that we always begin our prayers by thanking our Heavenly Father for the blessings that we have in our lives? My dad once told me that if we began by counting our blessings in our prayers, we would get to a point where we would forget want we even wanted to ask our Heavenly Father for. I am grateful that I can be grateful.
In fact, being grateful was something that I have decided to set as a goal this week. I had many great expériences this week being led to people who needed a prayer and a gospel message, and also finding myself knocking doors and talking to people for hours without anyone really being ready to listen. In both times, my companions and I were able to find great joy in the work that we were doing because we were able to remain positive, find the good in the moment, and be happy and content knowing that we were simply doing our best. One of the greatest questions I kept asking myself was, “How can I be better? How can I overcome my weaknesses when there are many things that I am still not yet good at doing?” I found great solace just taking a step back and remembering how far I had come since the start of my mission. And just as President Dieter F Uchtdorf said, “Often, the answer to our prayer does not come while we’re on our knees, but while we’re on our feet serving the Lord and serving those around us.”
So remember how much you have been blessed this week. Remember how much God truly does love you. If only you knew how much He loves you. I know He does because I feel great love and concern for people I have not even met, because the Lord helps me understand His children as one of His servants today.
I know that the work I do is the greatest and most rewarding work in the world today. I know that I am truly called of God through His prophet to preach His gospel today.
Till next week,