I sat in an ancient teak paneled passenger car on a train from Bangkok down the Malaysian peninsula to Kuala Lumpur Malaysia. My visa was about to expire and I had been called into the mission office in Bangkok to take a train to Malaysia to have it renewed. I was traveling with 15 other 19 to 21 year old missionaries, half the mission, but I chose to sit by myself contemplating the past 3 months.
I had stepped off the plane in the Bangkok airport 3 months earlier. The air was hot and humid. Something I had never experienced before, having grown up in the western United States. The smells were definitely foreign and I didn’t understand a word being spoken. As we worked our way through customs and entered the main lobby of the airport my companion and I were met by the assistants to the mission president. They welcomed us then thrust a type written scavenger hunt list and a sealed envelope into our hands with the instructions to go into the city and buy everything on the list then make our way to the mission office before 5 pm. We were instructed not to open the envelope unless we absolutely could not find our way through the city to the office. In the envelope were written instructions to a taxi driver on where to deposit us. What a shock to a 19 year old farm boy who found Salt Lake City a bit overwhelming, let alone a city in a foreign land teaming with 18 million people. There were less than 1 million in the entire state of Idaho when I left.
The train jostled my body as I stared out the window. The thick vegetation broken by rice fields, then small villages, then stretches of jungle glided by, but my mind was on other things. For 3 months I had struggled to learn the language, I could not seem to memorize the required discussions necessary to become a senior companion and I struggles with thoughts of failure. I had thought being out in the mission field serving 24/7 that everything would fall into place, but I found myself struggling with the same weaknesses, having even greater trials heaped upon me. I was discouraged and depressed. I contemplated going home, quitting, saving my parents and myself the sacrifice of precious funds that could be better used to sustain our large family. Who was I kidding, I would never be a success here. I was just not smart enough to do all that was being required. It felt somehow comforting to wallow in my pity and wrap myself in my blanket of misery, not having to memorize or study for the time being.
As I sat, steeping in my self pity, I felt a quiet encouragement to open my scriptures and read. I don’t remember specifically the verses but I opened the Doctrine and Covenants and began to read. As I read of overcoming trials and the powers of heaven I became desirous to know what my Heavenly Father thought of me. In a way I wanted Him to tell me it was alright to quit and go home. I leaned back closing my eyes and asked, “Father, what should ‘I’ do? It’s hard, I can’t do it, I think I should go home.” Then I just sat and pondered. As I sat there on that train in the middle of South East Asia, something happened. A song started in my head with these words, “My Heavenly Father loves me. He wants me to obey. He wants me to be happy, and chose the righteous way. He wants me to be happy, and chose the righteous way.” The words and the melody pierced my heart and my mind. I felt a tangible presence and even a warm hand on my shoulder. I was filled with peace and know in my heart and mind that I was needed by my Heavenly Father, here, in Thailand. I looked up to see who was touching my shoulder. No one was there! Again the words and melody flooded my mind along with the tangible feelings of peace and the touch on my shoulder. Was I being ministered to by unseen angels? Yes, I knew it was true! For the next 30 minutes I was overcome by these feelings of peace, comfort and actual joy. The spirit instructed me in my heart and in my mind as we are told in the Doctrine and Covenants, section 8, verses 1-5 “1 …verily, verily, I say unto you, that assuredly as the Lord liveth, who is your God and your Redeemer, even so surely shall you receive a knowledge of whatsoever things you shall ask in faith, with an honest heart, believing that you shall receive a knowledge concerning the engravings of old records, which are ancient, which contain those parts of my scripture of which has been spoken by the manifestation of my Spirit. 2 Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart. 3 Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation; behold, this is the spirit by which Moses brought the children of Israel through the Red Sea on dry ground. 4 Therefore this is thy gift; apply unto it, and blessed art thou, for it shall deliver you out of the hands of your enemies, when, if it were not so, they would slay you and bring your soul to destruction. 5 Oh, remember these words, and keep my commandments. Remember, this is your gift.”
God spoke to me and all I did was pray with real intent. He can and does speak with me still. He can and will speak with you. Approach Him. Ask Him. Put Him to the test.
I would like to say that my mission was easier from this time forward but it wasn’t. Well, maybe it was because I did have this and other experiences to lift me up and carry me through. Just know that I still struggled with my weaknesses but I leaned on my Savior and my Father, and they brought me through. I love them and give them all the credit for anything I have done good or right.