|The Lake Outside the Missionary Apartment|
That being said, that doesn't mean that, after 21 and a half months of doing this, I'm still as full of energy and fire as when I started. I'd say that one of the hardest parts of being a missionary is simply finding how to pace yourself correctly so that you can make it through the 24 months. A lot like running that half-marathon almost two years ago, I've had to really focus on applying the right amount of energy. Of course, we want to give all that we have to the Lord, every day, but a missionary needs to know how to pace himself. Elder Holland says it really well in a quote I've been thinking a lot about lately: "To raise our families and serve faithfully in the Church [specifically, as missionaries, I add], all without running faster than we have strength, require wisdom, judgment, divine help—and inevitably some sacrifice."
Two weeks ago, my pace was a little off. I was pushing myself too hard and trying to do too much all at once, and, as a result, nothing was really coming to fruition because I just had too much on my plate. I would wake up to the alarm after what felt like only a few minutes of sleep and jump out of bed only to feel my feet still sore and achy from the day before, and I'd find myself getting frustrated with myself because I felt like I was working my hardest and it wasn't doing anything. I came to the realization that I was maybe trying a little too hard. So, this last week, I tried to correct myself and balance back out for the few months that lie ahead.
Unfortunately, as the week went on, we still weren't seeing any results. After a couple days of this, I realized that, although I felt much better physically, I was still spiritually low. I didn't feel like I was accomplishing my purpose, and this time, because I wasn't doing enough. I had grown complacent in just a few short days and I let myself slip into a state of "slothfulness" as the scriptures sometimes call it.
As I've studied Preach My Gospel over the course of my mission, one of the interesting things that has stuck out to me is that is never says that you need to work hard as a missionary, something which really surprised me at first. But, as I "age" and mature as a missionary, I really am coming to understand why the manual teaches to work effectively, and how our that is really the secret to pacing oneself throughout the mission.
This past Saturday, I had an exchange with Elder Blais, who, by my definition, is the image of effective missionary work. This exchange was really full of miracles, and it's something that I'll have to talk about more another time. But the primary miracle that came from it is the pace that Elder Blais was able to help me set. He really helped to show me how I can give all of my heart, might, mind, and strength without burning out or running on empty before the time the Lord has given me runs out. I'm looking forward to this week, and the rest of my mission thanks to the example of wisdom, judgement, and sacrifice that Elder Blais helped me to see.
Of course, as we go through life and apply this same principle to our families, there are going to be ups and downs, and we should expect that. And that's where the divine help that Elder Holland spoke of comes into play. It's really in the moments where we wonder if it's possible that we need our Heavenly Father the most, when we should pray the most. But, after we pray, it's up to us to do our part as well to overcome our trials. Président Babin told us recently "Pray like everything depends on God, and work like everything depends on you." It's this principle that can really help us to accomplish miracles in our lives.
I hope you guys have a great week, and wish Nana my best again (she had been in the hospital for a couple days but is doing better). Keep up all good work back home!