Very early in my mission, around two or three months into it, my trainer, Sister Dyer, and I had been transferred into a new area together, meaning, of course, that neither of us had been there before. Neither of us knew the area. I was just starting to get the hang of missionary life, but it was still weird since I was now in a brand-new area, and Sister Dyer and I had to start from scratch.
Something that I have always struggled with is recognizing the spirit. All of us go through that as we grow and start trying to develop more trust in Heavenly Father. I was pretty much learning how to do it in the beginning of my mission. I was really trying to follow the spirit; I just didn’t know how to recognize promptings.
Sister Dyer was amazing. She was so in tune with the spirit and was so great at following promptings, she provided a wonderful example for me to learn from.
Linda K. Burton, Relief Society General President, speaking at a CES Devotional for Young Adults at Brigham Young University–Idaho in March of 2014, said,” Why does discerning the whisperings of the Spirit seem so difficult? Perhaps one reason is that the Spirit communicates both to our minds and to our hearts. In learning the language of the Spirit, we sometimes confuse our own thoughts and our own emotions with the promptings of the Spirit. Another reason is that discerning the Spirit is a gift of the Spirit. Just as learning a language comes easily to some and not to others, so does the ability to understand the whisperings of the Spirit. Most often, learning an instrument or language takes a great deal of effort, including practicing and sometimes making mistakes. So it is with the process of learning the language of the Spirit'.(“Tuning Our Hearts to the Voice of the Spirit,' Linda K. Burton.)
This is the story of how, by paying attention to my feelings and following my trainer’s example, those struggles began to change for me.
One day, not long after we had arrived in the area, we had plans to go tract a certain street. We never got there, though. We started walking in the direction of the street we wanted to tract, but Sister Dyer suggested we stop and knock on a few doors.
So, we did and had a good conversation with a lady. Sister Dyer made the comment that maybe we were sent that way to plant a seed in her heart, even though she didn't want us to come back. We started walking again and randomly Sister Dyer would have a thought to turn somewhere.
Eventually, we got to a street that we felt pretty good about and Sister Dyer said, “Okay, we are going to tract those five houses up to the house with the big red truck.” In my mind, I had the thought come that no one but the person who owns the red truck would open their door.
So, we started tracting the street, and, as I had thought, nobody was home except the person who owned the big red truck. His name was Doug. He came out, and he was like, 'Why are you here? What are you doing?'
We started to explain, but he stopped us and said, “Hold on.” He went inside, and then came back out with his shoes on and sat down and started asking us questions for the next hour about what we teach, he was really interested!
It was a great learning moment for me about the power of following the spirit.
Some days later, we were walking along, and again, we had plans to tract a certain street, but I just didn't feel right about it. I felt like we needed to see Doug, but I didn't feel right about going in the direction of his house. I felt that we should go in the direction we intended, but that we shouldn't tract the street we had planned to. I was very confused as to what the spirit was trying to tell me and didn’t see how we’d see Doug by heading in this direction.
We decided to just go in the direction of the street we wanted to tract, along the way, we ended up walking along the main road in the area.
Well, as we were walking, a big red truck passed us and started honking at us. For a moment, we were both confused, and then remembered that Doug had a big red truck. We looked again. It was Doug!
So, we saw Doug and didn't end up tracting the street we had headed for. Everything made sense as to why I had the promptings I did.
Matthew Holland, son of Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, taught that, …“Sometimes in response to prayers, the Lord may guide us down what seems to be the wrong road—or at least a road we don’t understand—so, in due time, He can get us firmly and without question on the right road. Of course, He would never lead us down a path of sin, but He might lead us down a road of valuable experience.”…(Matthew Holland, “Wrong Roads and Revelation”)
I think the biggest thing I learned was that if we are willing to do the work, Heavenly Father will lead us to those who are prepared, even if it’s in a way we weren’t expecting it to be. That experience really helped me to be able to recognize promptings better and it happened in a very cool way.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland testified, “I have absolute, certain knowledge, perfect knowledge, that God loves us. He is good. He is our Father, and He expects us to pray and trust and be believing and not give up and not panic and not retreat and not jump ship when something doesn’t seem to be going just right. We stay in. We keep working. We keep believing.
Keep trusting, following that same path, and we will live to fall in His arms and feel His embrace and hear Him say, ‘I told you it’d be OK. I told you it’d be all right.’” (Jeffrey R. Holland, “Wrong Roads,”)
Doug was so busy with work, that it never worked out to see him again, but I know that we planted a seed that wasn't there before, and I'm grateful for the lesson I was taught in following the spirit.