Sunday, August 2, 2015

Elder Derek's Final Email August 2nd, 2015 "Small"


That's how I feel.

That's how this mission felt. So incredibly small.

I am down to my last few days as an authorized representative of Jesus Christ and His Restored Gospel. My last few days in Korea. The last few days before life gets a whole lot more complicated.

As I have thought about returning home this week, the lesson that the Spirit taught me is that I can't just go back to what I used to be. The skills, good habits, and testimonies I have obtained on my mission are a gift to me from Heavenly Father, and I cannot just set them aside and not make use of them. When God gives a gift, He also gives a command to go and use it. 

It will be hard. Harder than it was to leave my family for 2 years, dedicate all my time and attention to serving a people whose language I can barely speak and whose culture I am only beginning to understand. "Real Life" is going to be harder than that, but I have the help of an Almighty Loving God behind me. We read in 3 Nephi 13:33 that if we seek first the Kingdom of God, all the rest, the necessary stuff will be added unto us. In other words, When we are involved (deeply, with undivided attention and focus) in the Work of the Lord, the obstacles in front of us are never as great as the strength behind us.

I learned that lesson again this week through an unexpected miracle. If you've been following my mission emails, you may have noticed that I never talk about any baptisms. That's because I haven't been able to give any to my investigators yet. That was always a sore point for me, because I always thought I was coming out here to change people lives and baptism is a natural part of that. Plus, I knew that people at home would ask, "How many people did you baptize?"

I knew in my mind that serving God was all that mattered, not the numbers or stats. I came into Gangnam for my last 3 months, determined to be an instrument in the Lord's hand, and just to do whatever He needed done, no matter how mundane or small. I've been blessed with more miracles here than any other area, including companion and house member relationships, organizing life after the mission, my family being protected physically from harm, and greater humility and faith in Christ.

But I still wanted to Baptize.

I went through the first few weeks of this transfer with high hopes and high expectations, but when plans fell through, I resigned myself to the fact that I would go home without having helped anyone come unto Christ through Baptism. That all changed this last week.

Brother Shim, the husband of Sister Park, a member of our ward. She referred him to us and said to baptize him before I left. That was a month ago, and he didn't seem interested. He came to church a few times, at his wife's request, and the last time (last week sunday), we met him afterwards and had a Gospel lesson. He had changed! He was humble, ready and willing to be baptized. Also, thanks to 30 years spent married to an active member, he already knew and was keeping all of the commandments and the doctrines. We taught him 3 times that week, had the interview with our Zone Leaders, and had a baptism on Saturday, August 1st. Getting in the font with this man was an amazingly sweet experience, especially when he told me that he was getting "upgraded" through baptism. ^^

I was also able to confer the Gift of the Holy Ghost upon him the next day in Sacrament meeting. That was fun in Korean. First time doing that one, to! He is solidly set in the path, and he's started his Gospel journey with a wonderful wife to support and teach him, a loving ward, and now the constant help of the Holy Ghost.

We had no idea we would be baptizing this man. We didn't even have it down in our weekly goals. So, for the first time in my mission, I was able to write two 1's next to Baptisms and Confirmations in our weekly totals report.

What I learned from this is, again, that the most important thing is to be God's instrument and do what He wants done, no matter how small it may seem. The other thing I learned is that God truly does "add those things upon us" when our desires are righteous and we are dedicated to serve Him, regardless of the results.

This work, the Work of Salvation, is truly God's work. He is in control, and there is nothing you or I or anyone can do to hinder, stop, slow down, or speed up this work any different than how he wants it. The only thing we can do is take His invitation to participate, Be His Instrument, and let Him pour out the blessings on us and change us into a better, happier, more Christ-like person than we ever thought possible.

I bear you my testimony as a servant of the Lord that Christ Lives. He has restored His true gospel to the earth and shown us again the way to live to follow Him and be saved in His Kingdom. The past 2 years of sharing this message has changed my life, and I will take the things I have learned and NEVER STOP SERVING in the Work of Salvation. May we all do the same.

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Elder Derek James Wilcox, 선교사