Once there was a missionary who was struggling to find joy and fulfillment during his mission. He complained about his apartment. He complained about the number of missionaries in their apartment. He complained about the heat. He complained about the food. Then his missionary companion suffered an injury and needed help with something as simple as putting on his shirt and doing his laundry. Without hesitation, this missionary helped his companion get dressed every day and did his laundry every week. When he freely gave this caring service to his companion, he found joy and fulfillment. That feeling changed him and reminded him of one of his favorite scriptures and one of the main reasons he came on his mission: “Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God…” (Doctrine and Covenants 18:10.)
The introduction of Adjusting to Missionary Life says “Much of the secret to dealing with the discouragement and stress that are common to missionary service [and in life] is to renew with the Lord our decision to serve.” It tells the story of President Gordon B. Hinckley as a young missionary when he became sick and discouraged. Among the lessons he learned included the following: 1) “Whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it.” (Mark 8:35), 2) the best antidote for worry is work, 3) the best medicine for despair is service, and 4) the best cure for weariness is the challenge of helping someone who is even more tired.
In Adjusting to Missionary Life, pages 18, 20, 36, 38, 52 it reminds us:
- Focus on the needs of those you are serving. Think about what you can do to bless the investigators you are teaching and the members you are serving. Seek inspiration on how you can serve them and strengthen their faith.
- Help someone else. Refocus your energy by serving someone else. Smile at people, help them out, and offer service. (See Preach My Gospel, 168–69.)
- Focus on helping and ministering to others. As you turn your attention to others’ needs, you will feel less self-conscious about your own needs or inadequacies (see Mosiah 2:17).
- Try to do something nice for your companion every day. Fix lunch, listen, shine shoes, smile, hang up towels, put away dishes, write a thank-you note to his or her parents, iron a shirt, compliment him or her.
- Serve Church members, friends of the church1757, and others. Ask them questions about their lives, beliefs, and experiences until their behavior makes more sense to you.
- Find ways to serve others. Missionary work is a call to service. Focus on looking outside of your own feelings of discomfort to minister to those who are in need of a kind word, an act of charity, or friendship. (See Preach My Gospel, 168–69.)
President Hinckley covenanted with the Lord to forget himself and lose himself in the Lord’s service. He said, “That July day in 1933 was my day of decision. A new light came into my life and a new joy into my heart. The fog of England seemed to lift, and I saw the sunlight. I had a rich and wonderful mission experience, for which I shall ever be grateful” (Ensign, July 1987).
May the Lord continue to bless us to find joy as we serve.
[Please note: The ideas contained in these articles are tools and suggestions for self-care, but they are not intended as a substitute for consultation with a qualified mental health professional. In addition, if you are experiencing thoughts of self-harm or suicide, please seek medical or mental health assistance immediately. In the U.S., call or text 988 to reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Or use the Lifeline Chat at 988lifeline.org/chat/. Services are free and confidential.]