Ephemerality

One of my favorite persons ever, Shane Wood, opens up about his missionary experiences. He is an example to me because he is so funny and kind to everyone. He serves and truly loves to serve. He is sincere and geniune. Here’s his story he wrote to me:

Question: What is a personal/favorite memory you have from your mission?

“I have a string of moments that I hold dear from my mission. There were hundreds of moments, quiet ones, that happened throughout my mission as I walked or as I drove. It was always in the ‘magical hour,’ that time when the sun was going down but wasn’t quite gone yet. In the last ten or so minutes, before the sun was gone, rich yellows, oranges, and reds would stretch across to meet deep blues and violets. Gigantic, majestic clouds would always appear out of nowhere and enjoy it with me, taking and reflecting the warm colors. The moments’ delicate ephemerality made them all the more precious. I absolutely loved every single one.”

Question: What did you learn from this experience?

“I love teaching and I love the people I served, and served with, in Montana but I am an introvert at my core and I loved those quiet moments. It was a natural, compulsory action to thank God under my breath for letting me see that sight that day. I felt like that was just for me and nobody else. I felt so strongly that God loved me just because He let me see something so beautiful. I loved those moments, when it was just me and Him.”

Question: What is it like to be a missionary for a day?

“The way a day felt, for me, was different depending on what time you asked me on my mission. In the beginning of my mission service a day felt like a long time, studies were dry and monotonous, I was always tired and I felt that if I just kept putting one foot in front of the other I would eventually make it out of Montana and be home one day. A little while later I had an epiphany, a realization, about what my purpose was while I was there. From then on it was awesome to be a missionary, errday. By ‘awesome’ I mean that in a purely eternal, spiritual sense. Our area at the time had little to no progressing investigators, had the highest stabbings per capita in the state, sold so much beer one year that the Budweiser Clydesdales paraded through town, and had water that was barely legally potable. But you know what? That remains one of the most treasured times I have yet to experience on this Earth. I would wake up, workout, eat breakfast and get ready. I would have my personal studies, which were my solace by this point, and then my companion and I would have companionship study. Then we would confirm plans for the day and head out. I felt like to a lot of people we were a symbol of consistency. People we talked to sometimes weren’t sure what they were doing in their lives, who they really were, what they were doing here on Earth; but they knew that we knew what we were doing here. I think that even though they didn’t know exactly what they were doing here the fact that we did gave them a little bit of hope, even if they didn’t accept what we wanted to share with them. I never had a clearer sense of purpose in my life than while serving a mission. I always knew exactly what I was doing and what I was. I knew secularly and I knew spiritually; a blessing that sometimes eludes me today in one form or another.”

Question: What advice would you give future missionaries?

“One piece of advice is learn to love people. Knowledge, scriptures references, doctrine, quotes are great but their efficacy is greatly reduced when people don’t feel that you love and care about them as you teach them. And some people are honestly really, really hard to love, but that’s okay, because you weren’t ever meant to love them on your own. Be a conduit for Christ’s love, as you purify yourself you become a clearer channel for people to see and hear what God wants them to experience. Also, become familiar with Preach My Gospel. There isn’t a question that anyone could ask that can’t be answered by Preach My Gospel. I thought everything in it seemed rudimentary, but trust me, it can answer everything from a deep question from a scholarly investigator to how to conduct an effective district discussion. All the answers are in there, you just have to look for them.”

Question: What are some reasons that people should go on missions?

“I think the Savior answered this nicely on the Sermon on the Mount. Said he, ‘…seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you’ (Matt. 6:33). We know that when preparing to serve a mission we need to have ‘faith, hope, charity, and love, with an eye single to the glory of God’ (D&C 4:5). When we do this we can truly fulfill the first great commandment to ‘love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.’ And as we do that we can carry on with the second great commandment; that being to ‘love thy neighbor as thyself’ (Matt 22:36-40). We can show this love as we share and show them Christ’s love and teachings. I think that submission to do the will of the Father and a pure desire to build His kingdom and help others should be the core reason that people serve missions; but I also understand, all too well, that we are imperfect and our motivations for service continually need to be refined and checked.”

Question: Why should everyone be a missionary?

“Because we all need the help offered to us through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We all need to be reminded of our accountability and our potential. There are so many people that want something more, they can feel it but they don’t quite know what it is. Others don’t even know they want it until they feel it. So much work needs to be done, so much personal refinement needs to take place. And a fantastic way to fulfill both of those needs is missionary service.”

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“Ephemerality” ~ Shane Wood

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