It was the evening of August 17, 1990 just outside of Ludwigsburg, Germany. I was a young missionary on my way from Tamm to Freiberg on my bike with my companion. A member in our local church had invited us to dinner and we had decided to take a shortcut on a dirt road through many fields. Because of the rains, the dirt roads had apparently become muddier than we had expected as the stuff immediately built up on our tires and fenders to the point where it had become impossible to pedal any farther.
We got off our bikes and tried almost in vain to push our bikes through the deep, slippery mud. My shoes began to feel as if they weighed a ton as the mud built up on them, it had gotten so bad. I had to pick up my bike, lift it in the air and set it down a foot or two ahead of me and take a few steps just to move forward. This process lasted about a half hour. We finally made it down the hill under a twilight sky. Dark clouds raced along as we began to take as much mud off as humanly possible with a stick. After another fifteen minutes, we took off and reached a paved road where there were puddles of water. I took advantage of them by riding slowly to remove as much extra mud as possible.
We arrived at Br. Burger’s home where we enjoyed his hospitality and a nice meal while he sprayed our bikes down in his yard until almost all the mud was gone. That was a very nice gesture, which I had not expected, but welcomed it gladly. After enjoying an evening with his family, we took our leave and raced on our bikes through more fields, but this time on paved roads until we arrived home about twenty minutes later.
There are many roads in life and depending on the choices we make, we can find ourselves stained from the filthy things of the world. Along the way, we learn from our mistakes and we can try to remove those stains ourselves, but there is One who can completely wipe away all of them until we are clean. With Him we can find shelter. When we partake of what He nourishes us with, we will never hunger or thirst again.
A friend shared with me one of his own experiences as missionary, which he has allowed me to share here, which is relevant to the theme of this entry:
“When I started my own journey it was partially motivated by my desire to simply have the Spirit with me more fully. I kept thinking back to my mission and longing for the days that the Spirit was my constant companion. As a result I started by taking a look at the mission rules, incorporating them into my life, then moving forward from there. While this certainly helped something was still missing. After some prayerful pondering I remembered how diligent I had been when it came to service. I took advantage of every opportunity to serve, whether it was my companion, my neighbor or some stranger on the street. I did it with gratitude in my heart, without complaining, even finding similarities between my service and the atonement.
For example. I had a comp that never did his dishes. It drove the rest of us crazy. One day while I was praying I felt prompted to start doing his dishes for him, so I did. The next day, I did the same, simply being obedient to the Spirit. By the end of a week I was getting a little frustrated and I thought, “This guy keeps using the same stuff, getting it dirty everyday, then I clean it. If I keep doing his dishes, he’ll never do them. He has to learn.” As soon as the thought came the Spirit revealed to me the lesson. We are all like the dirty dishes. The moment the Savior cleanses us, we just get dirty all over again. But does He complain or does he simply wash the dishes again? In that moment I learned one of the most poignant lessons of my entire mission, simply by washing dishes.
Anyway, back to service. Surely it should be much easier to serve family and friends rather than some guy you got stuck with for a couple of months! As I have tried to incorporate this back into my life I have felt that this is a vital step in the process. But a warning, if you pray for opportunities to serve, they will most certainly come! Be prepared! But I can honestly say that the selfless act of serving others with a humble and willing heart is one of the most Christlike things we can do in this life.”
Note: My dear wife asked me to state that the above picture is not from our kitchen.