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Finding Ways to Share the Gospel as a Return Missionary

From November 1998 to October 2000 I served as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in the Ohio Cleveland Mission, fondly referred to in the Doctrine & Covenants as “the Ohio.” My mission was a roller coaster of an experience. There were good times and bad times, success and failure, obedience and slothfulness. I developed a love for some of the areas I served in, made a lot of memories and had a lot of faith-building experiences.?

In looking back on the time I spent in northern Ohio I will openly admit that I could have done better; but, more often than not we did the work, the Spirit converted individuals, people were baptized (in a fairly difficult mission), and the field was harvested.

As I am sure most return missionaries can attest to, after being home for an entire decade my mind begins to wonder how will my time as a missionary be looked at by the Lord? I know could have worked harder, been a little more obedient, and a little more faithful in the Lord and his timetable.

But I was a naïve 19 year old kid who thought I knew the Gospel, and thought I could go teach the whole world, and thought that everyone would jump at the opportunity to hear about the restored gospel and join the Church. At least that was my impression coming out of the Missionary Training Center. After two years in a fairly difficult land trying to teach the gospel, having more negative experiences than positive, yet developing as a person, both spiritually and physically, I returned home and moved on in life.

However, I have found it increasingly difficult since that time as an ordained minister of the Lord to talk to complete strangers about the Gospel, and verses like this don’t seem to add to my self-confidence:

2 But with some I am not well pleased, for they will not open their mouths, but they hide the talent which I have given unto them, because of the fear of man. Wo unto such, for mine anger is kindled against them.

3 And it shall come to pass, if they are not more faithful unto me, it shall be taken away, even that which they have.

D&C 60:2-3

The pass along cards that the Church has created are a wonderful tool, and I have a ton of them in my shoulder bag I sometimes take to work. The problem is trying to figure out a way to work them into a conversation with success. I don’t have a problem explaining fundamental principles of the Gospel to people, it’s just taking that first step in getting them into a conversation that I find difficult.

Are you a return missionary? Have you found success in spreading the Gospel with strangers on the street since you’ve been home? Do you have a method to re-develop ‘talents’ to Open Your Mouth? I’d like to know your thoughts or hear about some successful experiences, as I’m sure thousands of other return missionaries would.

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