So this last week I went on 2 exchanges, and 1 of them was with Elder Evans in Machias. Now I knew Elder Evans from before in Lawrence - he was there during my first transfer as a District Leader. And before, I had found it difficult in some areas to work with him, but after this last exchange I found I had a closer friend than I realized. Elder Evans and I had SO MUCH fun together, and the best part was that amidst all this fun we were fully engaged in the work. He and I really connected, because he is from Dixon California, and we are both into rock climbing (we've even gone to the same gyms!) and a lot of other stuff that I'm into. I found that he had changed from being a bit arrogant and aggressive to a more humble, and fun-loving missionary, meanwhile remaining diligent and obedient. He had brought this up and how he had changed and it really strengthened my testimony of the Atonement and our ability to change and become who God needs us to be. I was so proud of Elder Evans, and so happy to see how he is doing now, and I'm so glad to have a really close friend here in the Bangor Zone :)
Also on that exchange, I met and worked a lot with Brother Brown. He's a member there whom the missionaries help out, and he's the Elder's Quorum President and Branch Mission Leader in Machias. Brother Brown does and says a lot of funny things, and often times acts a little crazy, and while this made the day all more fun/funny, it really got me thinking. There were times when I would look at Brother Brown and I would realize just how innocent and sweet he is, and I felt something really special that I hadn't felt as strong for a while. As I thought about it throughout the day, I realized that The Spirit was teaching me to have charity through Brother Brown. That night, as Elder Evans and I were discussing how I felt, I found myself speechless and he said, "I know what it is, you saw your heavenly brother." And it was true. It's a feeling I had the strongest just out of the MTC as I was reaching the mission field, and I remember being in the airport - talking to mom on the phone - and I looked around and everyone I saw wasn't just a stranger or passerby anymore; I had a new set of eyes - ones that allowed me to see everyone as who they really are - my heavenly brothers and sisters. I'm happy to say that this week I feel as though I have received a new set of eyes again, and ever since that exchange I have looked at others with so much more Charity and Love. I look at the example my Best Friend, Chelsie, has set and how she exemplifies Charity so much by truly listening to people, and then caring about their lives and concerns more than her own; as I have applied those things this week, with a humble heart, I have found much more success when teaching investigators, working with members, and even when knocking on doors :)
I have found that the happiest moments on my mission are when I am focused on loving people with Christlike Charity; and I find the most energy towards this work when I can see people for who they really are - my heavenly brothers and sisters. I am so grateful for those in my life, before and during my mission, who have helped me develop Charity; and I'm so happy to once again see through a new set of eyes.
From New England with Love,
Elder Dustin Carr