Elder Richards has a incredible sense of humility about him. You could tell that he wanted us to feel comfortable, to feel like we were his friends. He of course asked where I fit in the Covey line. I told him that i was John Covey's grandson (usually when people ask i say Steve is my great uncle, but it seems like every general authority i have met knows Papa so i thought i would give it a shot.) He said that he knew John and that he has a story about him, that maybe even he (Papa) did not know. At the time Elder Richards was at Medical school at the U, was married with two young kids and was the Elders quorum president. He then started in a internship or residency (I can't remember which.) He said that his life was incredibly busy and was not sure if he physically had the time to be the Elders Quorum President. He prayed about it and felt like he did not get a answer. He talked to his bishop and the bishop said that it would probably be best to tell the Stake President that he can no longer be the Elders Quorum President. But he could not get himself to do it. He said he had done all he knew how to get a answer to his prayer but nothing came.
He then went to some meeting or leadership training in which Papa spoke. He said that John spoke about receiving answers to prayers and laid out the things we need to do to receive a answer and then Papa promised everyone that if they did all those things they would get an answer. Elder Richards thought to himself I have done all those things and still don't have an answer. He said that directly after that thought he received a very clear revelation that he was to remain Elders Quorum President. As a part of that it was revealed to him how he could be a effective Elders Quorum President with his tight schedule. He said that the revelation was very clear and direct. He then started to have very early morning meetings with the Elders Quorum presidency because that was the only time he could fit them in. He told me that, that time of his life really made him who he is. He learned to manage time, to work hard, and he learned that the Lord will make the impossible possible if we are serving him. He attributed much of who he has become and the life he has lived to that decision and that revelation. After he told the story he said "and then i knew him from the inside out" turns out he was Papa's surgeon once. After dinner we drove out to Bend for the first of three conferences for the mission tour.
The Monday and Tuesday were set up the same. We had 1 hour leadership meeting before the main conference started. The conference went from. We had lunch and then Elder Richards interviewed 5 missionaries each day. In the Leadership meeting Elder Richards talked about the three main things all leaders should do. They are To 1. Teach Truth 2. Invite and 3. Minister. He particularly focused on the inviting part. He taught how its very natural to try to force people to do things, or to give them specific challenges when we feel like they aren't doing all the could. He taught about the importance of inviting them, expressing your love and trust that they will do what is right. During the Conference he taught about sanctifying ourselves. He taught about Law and how there is a eternal law and when we abide by it we are blessed but when we cross the line by one inch we are in the devils power. He also taught us to teach simple. As missionaries we complicate things and teach way to much. He taught about teaching so a child could understand, cuz the people we teach have the spiritual understanding of about a nine year old. each Conference was different than the others. He is very much a go with spirit guy. A lesson i have learned on my mission is that in order to be able to teach by the spirit you have to be knowledgeable. When you have study and pondered and gain that knowledge the Lord can remind remind you of it when and where you need to share it. On Tuesday i got to be interviewed by Elder Richards.
The interview was wonderful he asked me about my plans for the future and gave wonderful advise. At the end he said he had been having the impression that i needed to address the missionaries in the final conference. He told me to not write a talk but to ponder and pray about what the Lord would have me share and then to go by the spirit. While i was thinking about what i would share my mind went to the story he told on Sunday. Not so much on the aspect of answered prayers, but how he said that, at that time in his life when he had no down time. When i am sure he had to give up some hobbies or passion. That is when he grew the most. That is time where he attributes much of the happiness he has been able to have. It really got me thinking of selfless service. Ever since he told the story i had been thinking about selfless service, I really feel the Lord is trying to teach me about it right now. Obviously the opposite of selfless service is selfishness. Selfishness is the cause for so much bad, but it is so hard because we are naturally very selfish. As i was thinking about it i realized that selfishness is misery disguised as happiness. When we do something selfish we think its going to make us happy, or make us feel good. That's where disobedience comes from we think it will be fun or make us happy but in the end it always turns into misery. This also got me thinking a lot about physical comfort. I think lots of the time we make selfish decisions because its more comfortable, its easier. Spiritual comfort brings peace and happiness, but physical comfort does not. I thought to myself what are examples of people who lived comfortable lives in the Book of Mormon. And what came to mind was King Noah and Laban. The heroes of the scriptures chose to not have much physical comfort. Lehi and his family traveled threw the wilderness. King Benjamin fight side by side with his people in war. Alma served a 13 year mission and later stepped down as chief judge so he could travel the land and preach. the examples are endless. I see it all the time with people i meet. Most of the miserable people i have met focus more on themselves and their comfort than anything else, they become lazy and it turns into self loathing. They think that more comfort or selfish living will make them happy, but time and time again it leaves them miserable. It made me think of something that i wrote in my study journal on September 7, 2011 (my second day in the field.)
There is a exercise in Preach my Gospel where you think of yourself at end of your mission and answer the question. What do want to say you have done as a missionary? I wrote "i want to say that every time i chose between the work of the Lord and my personal comfort, i chose the work of the Lord." I cant honestly say that i never chose my own comfort over the work. I am far from perfect, but i am so glad that, that is what my desire was and is. That phrase has been in the back of my mind for these past two years. The times on my mission where i have consistently gave up my comfort were the happiest times of my mission, and the times where i chose my comfort were the times i would like to forget. I cant imagine what my mission would have been if my sights would have been lower, if my goal was to just have a good time and get threw it. I am sure i would have been much more selfish and therefore much less happy. So all these thoughts i have been expressing is pretty much what i taught during the Conference today. I focused on the happiness that comes from selfless service. I am dead out of time, and i have more i wish i could say but i just can't. I love you all.
--Fearless Via Faith