Elder True DeMille

Elder True DeMille

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Go It Not Alone

What's up ladies and gentlemen??! 

I've gotta say, these week was pretty different. Not in the fact that we really did anything different, (other than go to the bathhouse for P-day, which was ultra nice)- but more that a lot went on around me, it was pretty cool.

..That's probably really confusing. ..Haha, let's just say I figured a few things out this week, and want to share a few special experiences that you may not usually hear from missionaries (especially me). These relate to trials missionaries often have, and some that I had a while ago, that I was able to overcome by understanding who really is most important among this whole wild ride. 

This comes from a letter written in 1994 to a certain "Elder Clarke", by a man named (at the time) Elder Danny Q. Humphrey. He served in Italy, and his words have been an inspiration to me since the time I served with Elder Connor ("Fade Away") Ellsworth. 

"One of the most challenging elements of the entire mission experience is how to judge whether you are a good missionary or not. Is it baptisms? Is it the number of lessons you teach? There are missions in the world where a missionary after 2 years experiences no baptisms. There are also missionaries who find a family of 12 on their doorstep asking to be baptized (think South America).

The dilemma of new missionaries is to learn some way of gauging effectiveness and success. It is natural to use the number of baptisms as the gauge of success. While number of baptisms is important, there is a far better more valuable gauge: Obedience. I knew of missionaries in my mission who did not live mission rules, were not as committed as I think the lord desired, yet they baptized.

I really struggled with that because when I left the MTC it was my firm understanding that only obedient missionaries baptize. When I saw disobedient missionaries having baptisms, I began to con myself into thinking that getting up on time; reading scriptures, and other seemingly trite "white bible rules" didn't necessarily correlate with baptisms. I began to perceive that it would be easier to relax and baptize then to work so darn hard, be so disciplined, and not baptize.
Every missionary goes through a drought period in their mission life. A period of time where they are fighting homesickness, praying harder than they ever have, are living more righteously than they ever have in their lives up to this point in time, and no one seems interested in hearing the gospel. It is at this time that the Lord tests you as a missionary. The reason, I have always believed, is to see if you can be trusted. Father in Heaven has an incredible work to do to prepare the earth for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. The mission field has a dual purpose to bring souls unto Christ, and to sift us as missionaries into the parts we will play throughout our lifetime in building the Lord's kingdom - to prepare us for "leading" OR prepare us for "following". Both are important, but what are followers without leaders? The missionaries who recognize the drought and remain strong to the higher law of missionary work (absolute obedience) end up converting the most critical investigator of them all... themselves. You will be your greatest conversion in the mission field. In D&C 18:15-16 it says: And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father! And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me!
I contend that the "one soul" is you. Imagine the insanity of sending 19 [now 18] to 21 year old young people all over the world to be ambassadors of something as critical as the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. Frankly, it sounds crazy. But factor in a couple of things. Do most missionaries enter into the mission field converted? I can only speak for me. I wasn't. I had good feelings about the church, seminary, Joseph Smith, the Gospel, etc, but converted? Not to the degree the Lord desires. That is the beauty of the mission experience, the Lord entrusts us to dispense his critically important message, knowing full well that in the process of delivering that message an unusual process occurs where the teacher of the message and the hearer of the message are both becoming converted AT THE SAME TIME. Not every hearer will be baptized, even though they feel the spirit, not every teacher will become converted. But here is what I do know, if you are absolutely obedient to the mission rules, YOU will become converted, and at that point you have accomplished what should be the greatest result of your missionary service. At the same time you have the opportunity to bring others along the conversion path smack in the middle of your own conversion. That is why mission success CAN ONLY HAVE ONCE GAUGE, YOUR PERSONAL CONVERSION. This only comes from one attitude, that of absolute obedience. Baptisms happen or don't happen. Teaching opportunities can happen or don't happen. The blessings of the converted missionary last far beyond the mission experience. Learn this critical principle, all you need to do for 2 years is make sure that nothing but the truth comes out of your mouth to every single person you can possibly speak to. Leave the conversion part to the spirit, but your own conversion comes from that type of focus. Baptisms or not."
I think it takes a long time to realize that we  as missionaries are our most important investigator. That we, too, still need to be converted! A little while back, I was going through a pretty tough time, and wrote this poem to kind of express what I was feeling. To give a bit of introduction, I've had insomnia and night-terrors basically my whole life, and ..to be honest, am most of the time very afraid to go to sleep. Throughout my mission thus far, I rarely experience these symptoms, but during a time that they came back, I thought I couldn't carry on. And so, this was a product of that trial. My "drought" period as a missionary, where I simply thought I couldn't make it.

"Come on! Let's go! Go get 'em!"
They all shout from the side -
But I don't think they understand,
I've lost both heart and mind.

It's harder now, than ever was
This talked-up, 'glorious' thing.
I sit here humming soul-less bars,
While melodies they sing. 

It's not that I've just given up,
I'm not that kind of guy,
Yet there is but one sound I hear,
The endless whisper   , "Why?"

Why do I feel inadequate? 
Alone and tossed aside?
Somehow I always fall back down,
No matter what I try.

I've gotten past the 'fresh new start',
Homesickness there resides-
It's not about me anyway,
They've stripped me well of pride.

Why then, is there much more to gain?
I cannot comprehend.
What am I supposed to do but
Try and try again?

I cannot win, it's not my choice - 
I'm human just like you.
I can't be any more than this,
And sadly - this is True.

Never in my whole lifetime, 
Have I felt this torn apart.
I've fallen so far back behind,
I know not where to start.

"Why are you here? Why you? Why now?
Why don't you go back home?
Why can't you see that you could never
Make it on your own?"

"Why do you try? What's there to prove?
Why can't you see it straight?
Why can't you seem to understand
it's you - yourself - you hate?"


But that's not true. It never was.
Not even from the start.
I've always had the strength
to conquer Satan's false remarks.

Out of those nights that covered me,
So black from pole to pole
I thanked my God for loving me
And rescuing my soul. 

But now things feel so different,
Like someone's left my side,
My thoughts now painted poisonous,
To heart, might, mind and rhymes. 

"Why can't you consecrate yourself?
And leave them all behind?
Why can't you close your eyes and sleep?
What's troubling your mind?"

Alas, another endless night
So caught up in my head.
I can't escape this misery,
I'll sleep when I am dead.

I've missed no chance to lie awake,
For more than 19 years
And though I plead but innocence,
It's whispering I hear.

I would that one might save my life,
To lift me from this grave
But there is no way out - it seems-
I am, to my mind, a slave.

The broken lights are beckoning, 
Those ashes in the sky,
I lay so still I cannot move-
The endless whisper,   "Why?"

I fear what others cannot see
It's in that realm I fight,
Reaching to grasp at anything
But shadows in the night.

They pull me in, they strip me down,
Until my soul is bare.
My body a contortionist,
My lungs devoid of air.

Alone there is no hope for me,
There's nothing I can do.
For every time that I cry out,
I hear them whisper too.

I know the answers in my head,
That I don't have to fear.
But having knowledge doesn't mean
My mind is very clear.

I wish that one could understand
While salty tears I cry,
Why is it only me they ask?
That endless whisper,  "Why?"

Of this I know no remedy,
A broken mind to mend,
As I lie drowning in cold sweat-
I know I've reached the end. 

My body battered, soul abused
at last I've found the light. 
It lies within the prayers I say
To make it through each night. 

So caught up in my wounds that I 
Forgot I am alive,
I pray His light to pierce the gloom
That I may see aright.

We are all blind until we see 
That in the human plan,
Nothing is worth the making if
It does not make the man.

Why build these worries multuous
If man unshackled grows?
In vain we chain ourselves unless
We go it not alone."

Don't go this alone. Remember who you are, and return with honor.

All the love,

Elder True DeMille!

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