There's No Gold Here!
While giving two years of their lives, missionaries are put in an environment where rapid personal growth and development can be achieved. As young people, they learn to live away from home, with complete strangers in a foreign place, and are expected to perform and achieve under a high workload. The missionaries are able to mature and learn how to live a respectable life, and gain many qualities and habits that will be of benefit for the rest of their lives. There's no wonder why many people would say that two years on a mission, is worth ten years back in normal life.
This week has definitely been one of learning for me. As a result of all that has been happening, I was caused to reflect on some historical events that interested me; and by doing so I was able to draw some important lessons from it.
On January 24, 1848, James W. Marshall found Gold at Sutter's Mill in Coloma, California. News of this discovery spread rapidly, and over 300,000 people flocked to the west coasts of America searching for a chance at wealth and riches. Many left home and house, and trekked with their families across the continent, others sold all they had just for a chance at gaining this wealth.
While most of these 300,000 were Americans, many people also came from Australia, Asia, Latin America and Europe. Hardships were very common, and many people became discouraged as the gold nuggets that had been so highly sought after, quickly disappeared. In order to keep finding gold, small flecks of this precious metal would have to be panned out of the streams and rivers. Not all understood what needed to be done, and many gave up the chase and returned home empty handed. Disappointment and resentment struck the hearts of many.
One prospector in particular sold everything he had and travelled across the country in search of gold. After days and weeks of searching, he didn't find a single gold nugget. Endless days of panning in the river only resulted in little flecks of gold. But this wasn't what he had in mind. He came for big nuggets! Discouraged and resentful, he yelled, "There's no Gold here!". He was about to give up and go home, when an old prospector came along and pointed out that he was completely missing the point. In order for great wealth to be achieved, he needed to be patient and collect all those little flecks of gold. Over time, they would build up and be worth just as much as a big nugget of gold.
I've been on my mission for 8 months now, and looking back, I realised at times I was much like this prospector. Often I became disheartened and frustrated because I had found no nuggets. I had been working so hard, and didn't have much to show for my efforts. Am I not good enough? Why do I keep trying? What am I doing wrong?
This week, I received an email from one of my best friends who is serving a mission in California. A few days earlier, I had expressed my disappointment of all that had been happening, and how it just didn't seem to be working out. In her reply, she too expressed her frustration as she had tried just as hard to do what was expected of her. Long days, and a lack of results had got her down. But in all this, she was able to have hope and faith by relating it to the Prophet Ammon, in The Book of Mormon. He served for 14 years, and that whole time he was probably thinking some of the same things. But through patience and Christlike humility, he endured and brought to pass so much good.
Are we like this prospector, or are we more like Ammon. Do we often get angry and give up as we face our trials, or do we patiently endure, hoping in a better day? I know that God is our loving Heavenly Father. He loves us and wants to see us succeed. I have learnt, that as we put our trust and faith in Him, He can deliver us from our trials and afflictions. Although we may be doing all we can, we don't always see the results. But as we continue in faith, one day we will get our reward. My hope is that all may be able to enjoy the blessings of this gospel, and that all can find the truth for themselves. This is what God intended for each and every one of us.