|Life sized poster of Elder Phelps|
This was written by Austin to be shared at our ward Christmas Party where the theme was celebrating our missionaries and missionary work. He gave me permission to post it here:
I’ve found it quite difficult to love people out on my mission. It’s something that I’m trying to work on. It’s very easy to be annoyed or become angry with people we talk to who aren’t nice, or don’t say good things about us or our church. This has happened to me multiple times out on my mission. We can argue and argue and we will always come out of the conversation with feelings of anger and frustration.
When it’s all said and done, every religion has a gap, a loophole, or a blank spot, where things don’t add up, where things can’t be proven. These loopholes are bridged, covered or spanned by faith. Every person can be backed up against the wall of faith where all they can say is, “Based on my experiences and the faith that I have, I know that what I believe is true.” This is our (for lack of a better word) best weapon. Nobody can tell us what we do, or do not know. I’ve seen in almost every situation in which I have shared what I know, my testimony, people have respected that. Of course, there will be the select few who are still offensive and mean. This is where the love comes in. We need to have a love for them, and be able to say we respect them for what they believe.
I’ve come across many people who are very resistant to the message of our church. We just have to recognize what they believe, and praise them for the beliefs they have. In my mission, we have to do this every day. And, it’s really hard.
So, I’ve figured out there is more than one way to share the Gospel. We can do it many ways, but especially here in Romania, we look different. People ask us why we’re dressed up and look so official for being so young. Heck, people ask us why we’re smiling! Sharing the Gospel is sometimes as simple as putting a smile on someone’s face, helping someone carry bags or whatever, brightening someone’s day. Being an example is probably the thing that has brought me the most success. Being an example means being the best example of YOU that YOU can be . . . without worrying about what you haven’t done or what other people have done.
We are called on a mission to be us. We will change, but we need to be ourselves. Being someone you’re not isn’t a good way to go about doing missionary work. People can tell if you’re trying to be something you’re not. Sincerity and honesty matter the most. And, that’s the Gospel: loving everyone, being honest. If we do those things, we’ll be in good shape for the rest of the commandments.
The Church is true. We have a Brother who suffered for our sins and set the ultimate example for us to follow. If we hold firm to that, we will be blessed. But, at the same time, we need to be patient and faithful. It always pays off, but we don’t get to choose when the blessings come. They will come when the Lord sees fit. My commitment to all who are listening to this is, to find out how you can be a better person, to make the world a better place. Like President Uchtdorf said, “None of us is quite as Christ-like as we know we should be. My testimony is that we can all take advantage of the Atonement, to improve ourselves, and become better people, better examples. Once again the Church is true. We have a living prophet on the earth today.
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen
Elder Austin Phelps