Well, Anna, who I talked about last week, referred her friend to us, Mohammed.(and wow!) Never have I met an eighteen year old boy so spiritually in tune and mature. Mohammed is from Bosaso, Somalia and has been looking for the truth his entire life. He is the sort of person who is just naturally good. You can see his soul. It isn’t hidden under layers of worldly debris. It is right there in his eyes. He has had a life with more tragedies and hardships than I could ever empathise with, and yet, despite the miles he has walked, the suffering he has experienced, he is such a good human being; the definition of pure in heart.
The first time we met with him was at a lesson with Anna. We gave him the Book of Mormon and that night he read it for hours without stopping. He could not put it down. He was filled with a light and warmth he never knew could be felt. He has grown up with zero knowledge of Christian beliefs so we are starting with the absolute basics, and he just drinks it all up. He wants to be baptised on the 27th of this month and he has a lot to learn before then, but he can. He is sincere. He is addicted to praying. He cries in every lesson. He bears testimony of every principle we teach him. Honestly, he just fell in our lap….which got me thinking; how is this fair? There have been weeks I worked until I was grounded down to a stubble and could not find a single soul interested in our message, while this week we had four new investigators just come to us. Yes, we worked hard, but I know there are missionaries who are working just as hard and not getting the same miracles. My flaw in this questioning of God’s dealings with his missionaries is misunderstanding on the word success. We humans see success in the physical world, seeing as we can only comprehend physical things. We weigh success in numbers and positive reactions from others to our actions. “What fools these mortals be!”
Success in the eyes of God is not measured in statistics and appraisal. If that was the case, I am positive Jesus would not have been born in a stable, raised by a carpenter and proselyted for the most part in the small town of Galilee. I suppose the simplest way to explain it is we need to measure our worth as Hufflepuffs, not Slytherins. (Harry Potter reference) You see, Hufflepuffs were not the top in the school simply because they valued more important things than world glory. They valued Kindness, Friendship, Humility far more than Ambition, Praise and Success of the world. Of course, there are plenty of Hufflepuffs who are very successful. The Tri-Wizard tournament was a tie between a Gryffindor and a Hufflepuff. But, the difference is a Hufflepuff is driven to their success by far nobler and gospel centred means than self. It is fine to be a Slytherin as long as you do all you can to adopt this simple prospective from Hufflepuffs; measure value by something more than you can hold. C.S. Lewis, as always, put it perfectly when he simply said, “Don’t let your happiness depend on something you may lose.”
If, as a missionary, you view success as number of lessons taught, number of people contacted, number of baptisms, you will find it most frustrating when work ethic and desired numbers do not always correlate; for the most part they do. Most often hard work produces desired results but it is possible to work your heart out, to be the best missionary ever, and not find a single soul open to the gospel for months on end. Likewise, you can be lazy and disobedient and apathetic and have someone come to you and get baptised because they were ready for it, despite your inability to give your full self.
Ambition is a very dangerous word, the sort that can be good in the smallest, most contained of spaces. It is essential to bring good things, but one drop too much and you are falling into the perilous chasm of selfishness and pride. It is possible to do good things for the wrong reasons, you know. As Russell M. Nelson once said, “Some well-meaning Saints even do the right things for the wrong reasons, if they narrowly centre on the percentages they report rather than the precious people they save.” So, where ought we to find measure our success? I believe we can measure it by how we are growing in our Christlike attributes. A mastering of those is what makes a good missionary. One can work super hard, but your work can only be reckless shotgun fire if you lack love and charity. One can be the greatest people person ever, making everyone feel like they are worth the universe, but be rubbish at actually going out and working diligently.
The attributes given in Preach My Gospel are 1. Faith in Jesus Christ 2. Hope 3. Charity and Love 4. Virtue 5. Knowledge 6. Patience 7.Humility 8. Diligence 9. Obedience. Growth in these nine attributes is the proper measurement of your success, not just one or two of them alone. We do not get to pick and choose which ones fit you from the smörgåsbord. We need to develop all of them, and that is success… that is the Hufflepuff view, the Christlike view…I could do with being a little more Hufflepuff. A little more Christlike. There are plenty of pros to being a Gryffindor but loads of cons as well. By the end of my life, I hope to have become a Hufflepuff. We should all want to be Hufflepuffs as J.K. Rowling said herself, and yes, Harry Potter does relate to the gospel very well.
Things here in Göteborg are just grand. I love this city. We have eight solid investigators that keep us very busy, several making their way towards baptism, hopefully a baptism in a few weeks, and most importantly, hopefully some growth in Christlike attributes.
Love you all to bits and pieces,