Question: What is conversion?

Answer: Conversion is something hard for me to define. That’s in part because it’s not a single event or process; it is woven into the seams of every waking moment of our existence, and it is unique to each individual who undergoes it. What I do know about conversion is this: God tell us His work and His glory is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man (Moses 1:39)—so even in the moments where we think or do nothing, He is at work in our lives, inviting us to come closer to Him so that we can partake of that same work and glory. Isn’t rewarding to know that we’re that important to Him? Doesn’t realizing this is true for all human beings change our perspective of humanity in general?

Question: Why must one have a change of heart?

Answer: Having a change of heart is necessary because it is at the root of our lives here on earth. If we didn’t need to progress or change, than there would be no need to come here. No one besides Christ will be perfect during this life, but we have a commission to get as close as we can—and that is the great thing—because of Him, we can. There is no better way to thank the Savior, who died that we might change, than to take advantage of His Atonement. And frankly, we owe it to the spirit child inside us that misses Heavenly Father desperately and longs, more than anything, to be back in His presence. I find that the closer we become to our Savior, the more we desire this change of heart. Repentance ceases to be a punishment and burden. It becomes a tender mercy, the sweetest of blessings.

Question: What is the hardest/most rewarding thing about serving a mission?

Answer: The most rewarding part about a mission is that it’s hard. I know that sounds counterintuitive, but a mission is like its own mini life, and the things in life that require work and suffering at our hands mean the most. Overcoming challenges with Christ’s grace and establishing a pattern of daily repentance were some of my most cherished achievements from the mission. Being a part of God’s work in a very literal sense does something wonderful to you. Seeing a small part of how He views His children opens your eyes and working with them to get back to Him . . . it transformed every thought I had about the purpose of this life completely. It changed every thought I had about our relationship with God.

Question: Do you believe you have changed since serving a mission?

Answer: Sometimes people ask me, “How did you change on the mission?” It’s a common question, and an excellent one, but I think a better one is, “How didn’t you change on the mission?” RMs always talk about how much they changed on their missions, and there’s a reason for that. Here’s the thing—Ether 12:27—“when men come unto me, I will show them their weakness”. Every step closer to Christ, whether for yourself or alongside someone else, inevitably changes you. John 3:5 explains that eternal life is to know God and Jesus Christ. How can you know someone without being like them? Think of the people you love best in the world: family, friends, what have you. Are these not the people you resemble? Can you not point out a character trait or funny catch phrase you have borrowed from those close around you? We cannot come closer to our divine family without first changing to be more like them. Because the purpose of missionary work as a whole is the invitation to come unto Christ, to be like Him, to partake of all He has, than change plays an integral role in the lives of every missionary.

“Every Step Closer” ~ with Kristin Stiles

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