We got to see conference in Versailles this last weekend. It was sooo good. I just love listening to the words of the prophet and the apostles. The Spirit is always so strong and there’s always a feeling of unity when we, as a world, come together to learn together. President Monson said:
“How blessed we are to have come to earth at such a time as this—a marvelous time in the long history of the world. We can’t all be together under one roof, but we now have the ability to partake of the proceedings of this conference through the wonders of television, radio, cable, satellite transmission, and the Internet—even on mobile devices. We come together as one, speaking many languages, living in many lands, but all of one faith and one doctrine and one purpose.”
That, of course, got me thinking of how far away I am from my family and friends back home! Just a year ago tomorrow, I sat in the living room surrounded by my entire family. We shared words and testimonies of the Church, missionary work and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. By the end of the next night, I was set apart as a full-time missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Two days later I said goodbye and entered the MTC.
Naturally, I’ve been thinking about those days leading up to my beginning as a missionary a lot! Not just because at the end of the week I’ll be hitting my year mark, but also because Elder Sorenson and I are training a new missionary who just started his mission! He’s visa waiting (he’s from Bordeaux and was called to the Utah Ogden Mission) and hasn’t yet gone into the MTC (Mission Training Center). He came to us nearly directly from his family. It’s interesting to see his beginning and contrast that with what was my own.
And so I’m left thinking about beginnings. Beginnings are tough and they always have been. But they’re composed of those initial steps that bring us closer to fulfilling our full potential.
And for me, these couple of weeks have been filled with new beginnings. In fact, to me the date, April 6, is symbolic of just that. Wasn’t this the day that the Church was restored on Earth? This was my new beginning as a missionary. And I even think back to President Hinckley’s wife who passed away on April 6, 2004–to which President Hinckley wrote, concerning death, “‘Tis not the end, but genesis / Of better worlds and greater light.”
Didn’t April 6 usher the Savior, Jesus Christ, into this world, beginning his mortal life and ministry? Even more so, April 6 falls on Easter weekend this year, the moment in which we remember Christ’s triumph over death and the new beginning and gift that is the Resurrection.
Yesterday, on our way to the mission home for some legality business, we passed by a huge church not far from Versailles. We recognized the church and we hopped out. We walked a little ways until we found ourselves at the edge of a huge hill. Running at the edge of the hill was an intricate iron fence. Beyond the fence was the Sein and beyond that, Paris. Yards from us was the Pavilion Henri IV. Here, Louis XIV, the Sun King, was born.
President Staheli had taken us here our first day in France. We, as missionaries, call it Consecration Hill. I recall beginning my mission in France on this hill and writing my thoughts and feelings down on a piece of paper. This was where I had truly started my mission last June. It was a funny chance to come back to the same spot when I was so close to my year mark. It was like renewing the promises I made to myself and the Lord when I first started my mission.
I can’t help but think of all these things, these new beginnings, as I approach April 6. The week has been tough. We lost nearly all of our investigators in one week. But we’re still excited to keep going. We’re starting over. We’ll find new people. And we’ll help them toward Christ. It’s our new beginning here in Mantes.
It’s true. Time is fast. I still have yet another year ahead of me. It’ll get faster. But this isn’t easy. It’s like every week proves to be harder. But I know this work is true and so that’s why I’m here.
Our message is one of hope through faith and repentance through Jesus Christ. It’s the message of Spring and Easter, of New Beginnings to “better worlds and greater light.”
“In this fast-paced life do we ever pause for moments of meditation—even thoughts of timeless truths?” President Thomas S. Monson.
Elder Saul Marquez