Patient endurance of hardship:
Persisting in a state of enterprise in spite of difficulties and discouragement.
“Let us run with patience the race that is set before us.”
So a bunch of us missionaries were on our way to leadership training in Lyon (very cooly referred to as Jedi Council by my mission president) when I receive a phone call from my mission president. We small-talk for a sec and then he asks me a question about a letter I shared with him a couple weeks back. It was a portion of my pep-talk letter to my brother, Connor, in which I shared my personal difficulties. Apparently he loved it and wanted me to read it at Jedi Council.
Even though I was slightly freaked out, I said yes cuz I didn’t want to decline and weird out his presentation. So I prayed about it that night and felt good, but that didn’t remove my nerves the next morning. This would open me up to huge vulnerability.
Well, at conference, President gets up to do his thing – an acronym (in French), PAPA – Pureté, Amour, Persévérer, Apostasie. He makes it through the first two points (Pureté and Amour), then gets to the 3rd – Persevere – and without any intro, he invites me up to read my thing. So I get up, I read the thing, became teary in the middle, but I got through it.
I read the following:
The work here is going nowhere. We have 2 Amis (investigators) – one who refuses to do anything and the other one is not reliable. We have loads of potential Amis, but none of them answer our calls. All the less-actives that we have been trying to contact for months answer the calls of the elders after one try. So now the elders have all of the less-actives to visit, and we literally have next-to-nothing to do.
It all hit me last night. The list of failures. It was a tough day. Week of tombezvous (appointments that fall through), day of losing less-actives to the elders, not being able to teach with members to reach the mission goal of teaching with 1000 members because we have NO ONE to teach.
I sat in my bunk, the lights were out, and I pled with the Lord. I reflected on my mission and all of the things that I had not accomplished. I have been on my mission for a year and have nothing to show for it. No one reactivated. No recent converts. No baptisms. No huge miracle tales. Nothing. Number wise, it is almost like I haven’t been serving a mission. I sat and talked with the Lord, venting all of my feelings, asking Him what more I could do. Was I a good missionary? Why am I even here? Am I accomplishing anything? I know He knows and loves the people here. Am I not trustworthy enough to take care of His children?
I fell down at the knees of my Father and sobbed. I poured out my heart and asked Him to tell me something, anything, to give me comfort.
And this is what He said to me: Lauren, I need you to be strong. I need you to keep trying. Keep smiling. Keep working. I need YOU. Don’t give up. Miracles will come.
The simple mention of my name brought me to tears again, but this time not tears of bitterness, but of gratitude.
God knows us individually. He knows you, Connor. And He loves you. He knows exactly what you are going through. He didn’t send you on a mission to fail. This is His fight, and He sent you to win. And you know what, it is going to be tough. You are going to get discouraged. You are going to be sad sometimes. You are going to feel a little tiny bit of what Christ felt in his effort to save our souls.
You are in the work of salvation, and it is a work that stings sometimes. But it is never a work that fails. You are a member of the winning army. You are gonna get wounded, that is what happens in war. But you will win. No matter what happens on your mission, your actions will be used by the Lord for good.
You may not always see the results, but they will always be used for good. This goes for your language-learning as well. No heart-filled effort is ever wasted. Give what you got, and let God do the rest. Take that step into the Red Sea. Watch the Lord part the waters.
I didn’t really want to look at anyone as I sat down, but Sister Brown (the mission president’s wife) said the air was pretty heavy and silent. Then President Brown gets up and only says, “Persévérer.”
Sure, I felt a little exposed, but because I know that struggle is something we all share, I think a reminder to persevere is something we all could benefit from – not just for missionary work, but with every good goal or worthy undertaking in life.
Now, since I wrote that letter to my brother a few weeks back, I am happy to report that there has been a significant upswing in our work here in Toulouse, France! And my brother, Connor, well, he hurdled over the first week language struggle and settled into a rhythm like a pro.
So I guess the message I want to share with you in this New Year is – whatever your endeavor, don’t quit before the blessing. Persevere!
Be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small and simple things proceedeth that which is great.
Doctrine and Covenants 64:33
May Great Things Come Your Way!
Soeur Lauren Nef
Posted also on Lauren’s missionary blogsite: sisternef.wordpress.com