Have I Done Any Good?

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

 Well shucks,

We meet again. How're you my friend? All is well I hope? As for myself, you could say life is but a dream, 'cause we are just rowing gently and merrily down the heavenly stream of the Lord's work. 

I love my companion Elder Yonk. We teach with power and we laugh A LOT. Whoever said that you can't work hard and have fun at the same time just didn't have a very good companion. As human beings, it is essential for each of us to have associations with others in our lives. Some of the greatest that I've had in my life, are those I've had on my mission! I know now that this is because there is no cause more joyful to be united in than the cause of Christ! (Alma 46:14-16)

I had some pretty amazing experiences serving others this week. I know now more firmly than ever that, "when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God" (Mosiah 2:17). We experience the deepest joys of this life when we serve our fellow beings and our creator. This is because it is in these moments that we come closest to following the example of our Redeemer, thus fulfilling our purpose as Sons and Daughters of God (Abraham 3:25; Matthew 22:36-40; Galatians 5:13).

I will relay one such experience that impressed deeply upon my soul this week. A man in the mental health unit of the local VA, who I will call Dan, reached out to us this week via his mother, and requested that we give him a Priesthood blessing. After a rigorous and fairly complex process strictly regulated by his physicians and the department, we finally managed to schedule a time to meet with him. Upon arrival at the facility, Elder Yonk and I could feel the despair of that place fall and rest upon us, almost as if a physical weight (3 Nephi 8:20).

As we met Dan, we took some time to get to know him. He recounted his experience serving in the military, which was very positive, until a close friend tragically chose to take their life. Devastated by the grief of loss, he turned to alcohol to numb his pain and quickly became addicted. This in turn caused him to be discharged from the military. Now stripped of productivity, his addictions multiplied and worsened to include hard drugs. Fortunately, he eventually found his way into a program at the VA to help him overcome his dependencies and depression.

He then explained that throughout his life, in his darkest moments, he would always turn to prayer and without fail, feel the calming presence of the Lord nearby. Lately however, even in his most fervent times of prayer he could not feel the presence of the Lord. So, with faith in the consoling power of the Priesthood, he reached out to us. As he finished his story, we opened the scriptures with him and taught of the great price paid by Jesus Christ to ensure that we would never be alone, especially in our challenges (1 Peter 1:18-19; Alma 7:11-12; John 14:18).

We then, as requested, administered our Priesthood on his behalf. At the conclusion of the blessings, after a moment of silence, I asked, "Dan, how do you feel?" He closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and replied, "I feel Him." He told us through teary eyes that his sorrow had immediately diminished from a crippling 8/10 to a virtually unnoticeable 1/10. Together we glorified God for His power and mercy. 

Then, after retrieving some copies of the scriptures for him to read, we departed. As we walked away the words of James echoed through my mind, "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction…" (James 1:27). This was pure religion.

True religion, true Christianity, as taught by Jesus Christ, is about bearing one another's burdens, mourning with those who mourn, and comforting those who stand in need of comfort (Mosiah 18:8-10). It is about serving our God, by serving our fellow beings. Sometimes we may feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of that charge, but let us take courage in knowing that to show compassion in the Savior's way, we need only serve one by one (3 Nephi 11:15, 17:21). Let us rise up knowing that the Lord has called, "the weak things of the world, those who are unlearned and despised, to thresh the nations by the power of [His] Spirit" (D&C 35:13) and that we, "can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth [us]" (Philippians 4:13). As our beloved prophet, Russell M. Nelson has recently taught, "we can literally change the world—one person and one interaction at a time" (Peacemakers Needed, Apr. 2023). 

Let us fulfill the measure of our creation by being quick to observe the needs of others around us and by ministering to them with tenderness, love, and compassion—in the Savior's way. As we do so, I promise that He will help us! He will qualify the unqualified, give strength to the weary, and make powerful the weak in order to accomplish His great and merciful purposes through us, His disciples.

I have faith in you! I love you!

Elder Winegar


Cannibal Queen—Miniature Tigers

Uptown Girl—Scary Pockets

Friends Kiss Too—Danny and Alex

Dang!—Mac Miller

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