Dear Brother Albright,
One of our new North American elders wrote to me this week about how badly he felt because of the poverty of the people he is teaching. He said that he often wants to go out and give away all of his material possessions to the poor among the good people of Peru.
A recent New York Times article pointed out that although the economy is rapidly improving here, 78 percent of Peru’s indigenous children still live in poverty and a third of all rural children suffer from chronic malnutrition. The stark contrast between the missionary’s life back at home and the harsh realities of life in their assigned countries can often cause missionaries to suffer from a severe case of culture shock. Other contributing factors include different foods, a different language, and different customs.
But then our new missionary remembered a talk given by President Ezra Taft Benson, who taught that: “The Lord works from the inside out. The world works from the outside in. The world would take people out of the slums. Christ takes the slums out of people, and then they take themselves out of the slums. The world would mold men by changing their environment. Christ changes men, who then change their environment. The world would shape human behavior, but Christ can change human nature.” July 1989, Ensign.
Some non-believers may disagree with such inspired doctrine, but I have seen the changes wrought by the gospel of Jesus Christ in others and in myself. It is real. The transformation of a convert upon accepting the Gospel of Jesus Christ is marvelous to behold. It is wonderful to watch the miraculous changes which occur as investigators progress through the lessons and begin to grasp the significance of the Good News of the Restoration.
This mortal existence is a time for us to prepare to meet God. How? By service to others, not by what we say but by what we do to lift and help others. The culture shock suffered by new missionaries melts away as the missionary develops close relationships with the members and investigators and learns to communicate in their new mission language as they go about serving others.
We send our love to our family and friends at home. When you don’t have someone near you, you begin to understand how much they really mean to you.
President Richard Zobrist