Subject: Nathan DeBeikes missionary homecoming talk Sunday July 12, 2015
Date: Sunday, Jul 12, 2015 at 9:45 AM
This is weird. It’s really good to be back to see you guys. There’s a lot of new faces here. But a lot of familiar ones. It’s great to see you all. I’ve only been home about four days now. And it’s been a strange adjustment definitely, but it’s been good. As you know, or as some of you may not know, I’ve just returned from the England Birmingham Mission and I had six different areas on my mission. And what I wanted to do today was to go through the main lessons that I learned from each area. Kind of break it down into I guess six of the main lessons that I learned that really changed my life forever. There’s billions of lessons that you learn as a missionary. So it’s hard to take it down to just six, but I wanted to do that today. Now, my first area was a place called Coventry, it’s pretty much in the middle of England. One of my favorite things about my mission was that in England, especially areas where there’s a University, it’s populated with people from all over the world. I had a chance to meet people from almost every country. It’s an incredible experience to just to see all these different cultures and all these different people.
One experience from Coventry was I was with my companion and we were street contacting. It was cold, it was raining, which was pretty much every day of my mission, and we were walking down the street that we street contact a lot and it led up to the University. So there’s a lot of students walking up and down. Students are generally a bit more interested than old English people, so we’d tend to try to talk to them. So my companion and I, we were walking down the road and there’s a Domino’s on the left and there’s a big advertisement, a personal pizza for one pound, and I thought this sounds really good right now. So we decide to go in just to warm up a bit. And we go in, we order a pizza just real quick and we ask how long wait will be and they say ten minutes. My companion and I look at each other and we decide to go out to talk to people while we have time to wait. So we go out and the first guy we see we talk to. He ends up being a guy from Romania named Luke (middle in photo below)
He looks at us and goes “Ah, Mormons”. And we go yea, yea, how’s it going, what do you know about us. And he goes, Well I know you guys are a cult and you guys worship a con man. Not quite. Maybe there’s a time when we can meet to actually tell you what we do believe and he’s like, sure, why not? So we end up meeting with him and Luke starts to progress really quickly. My companion, Luke, and I, were all nineteen years old at the time and born within a month of each other. And we became quite close and we became good friends. As he started to read the Book of Mormon and started to learn the truth, he was able to realize how wrong he was. His dad was a preacher for the Pentecostal Church, and he was not the biggest fan of our church. And so he kind of told Luke all these things about us that weren’t true, and as Luke came to church, and as he prayed, and as he read the Book of Mormon, he started to progress. And it came to a point where we were talking about baptism one day with him and he was really nervous about it, mainly because of his father. He was just scared, he was nervous, he knew that he wanted to be baptized, but he didn’t know if he could And there’s one experience, one night we’re at this house and we’re just talking about baptism with him, and we just told him, Luke , like, you know, you know that this is true. He had told us many times. And he knew that he needed to be baptized. And so we told him of a date we felt he’d be ready for, which was a few weeks later. He said I don’t think so, I don’t think I can do that.
And I’m like, Well, what if we knelt down together and prayed about it? And he was okay with that. So we knelt down and the three of us were kneeling in his main room, in his flat, and he asked if I’d say he prayer. And I prayed and I don’t remember exactly what I said, but it was along the lines of just praying to help Luke to know that this is something he should do and he would be comfortable with it. After my prayer he looked at us and he goes “Is it okay if I say a prayer in Romanian?” I don’t know if I mentioned he’s Romanian, but he’s from Romania. And so he asked if he could pray in Romanian and we said, yea, of course. So we knelt down and he started praying in Romanian, and that was a couple months into my mission, and throughout my whole mission, I don’t know if I did ever feel the Spirit as strongly as I did at that moment when he was praying in Romanian. I didn’t understand a word, but it was a powerful experience and it was almost as if I was looking at us three kneeling there.
After the prayer he looked at us and goes, “Okay, I’ll do it”. He ended up being baptized on that date. That was such a testimony builder to me that the power of prayer, and the power of the Spirit, is so real, and it can happen for anyone. And it’s an experience that I’ll never forget as long as I live. I’m so grateful for that experience. So that was, I guess, the main lesson, one of the lessons that I learned from Coventry. The power of prayer. The power of the Spirit has in converting.
Now, my second area was a place in Wales, called Llanelli. A lot of people ask me to say that twice, so I’ll say it again, Llanelli. Wales is a crazy place. But, I was there for my first winter, for four months. From December to the beginning of April. It rained, and it rained and rained some more, every single day (photo below from Wales).
And in the winter in Britain it gets dark around 4pm. The suns just completely down. Street contacting in Llanelli didn’t really exist. So we tracted. We tracted a lot in the cold and in the dark. I had a companion who, we were different, we were very different. It was tough, it was really tough.
My mission, it was the first time I had really been away from home for more than two weeks. So I had a really hard time with that. I just remember nights praying for a while, for a long time, and prayed harder that I had ever prayed in my life. Just to have comfort to know that I can get through it, just to be able to get through one day at a time. I guess what I felt was the power and the comfort of the Holy Ghost. And I really knew the Holy Ghost was carrying me through each day. It’s a humbling experience. But something I’m so grateful for to see the hand of God in my life. To know that He knows each and every one of us individually and personally. And He knows each and every one of our challenges. It was a great lesson to learn, that God knew me, and that He was there with me. All the way.
From there I went to a place called Loughbrough. And in Loughbrough I had a personal study. Where, I was, coming from Llanelli where I was a bit sad and I felt like i didn’t have any success. I felt like all I did was knock doors in the rain and nobody wanted to talk. I was pretty down on myself. When I was in Loughbrough, I had a person study where I was reading out of the Book of First Nephi. In chapter sixteen it talks about the story where Nephi and his brothers, they’re in the wilderness and they go out to hunt, they need food. Nephi’s bow ends up breaking and everyone’s scared of how they’re going to be able to get food. In verse twenty of the sixteenth chapter it says, “And it came to pass that Laman and Lemuel and the sons of Ishmael did begin to murmur exceedingly because of their sufferings and afflictions in the wilderness; and also my father began to murmur against the Lord his God; yea, and they were all exceedingly sorrowful, even that they did murmur against the Lord.” And if you think, Lehi, a prophet of the Lord, murmured, you know it’s pretty serious. Then you have Nephi, in verse twenty three, it says ” And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did make out of wood a bow, and out of a straight stick, an arrow; wherefore, I did arm myself with a bow and arrow, with a sign and with stones. And I said unto my father: Whither shall I go to obtain food?” (Loughborough photo below)
Now that personal study, that scripture changed my mission, changed my life forever. While a lot of people might murmur, a lot of people might be down on themselves and just complain and think, why me? Why is this happening? I realized that we shouldn’t be those people, we should be Nephi, and we should go make our own bow. I was very fortunate to learn this lesson early on in my time in Loughborough, because I set a lot of goals after I read that scripture and I realized that I needed to just stop complaining. I needed to just go out and get to work and make my own bow. I wish I had time to tell you all these experiences I had in Loughborough and in my areas. Those experiences that I had changed my life and it wouldn’t have happened if I would have just kept sitting back feeling bad. I know that we need to work and it’s by the sweat of our brow that we will be able to obtain blessings for ourselves.
From Loughborough I went to Nottingham. In Nottingham, I was there for seven months. It was my longest area and I had so many incredible experiences there. One of which my companion and I were, it was transfer day, we had a lot of things to do to help out the zone. We were trying to just figure out how we were going to manage all of our time and we didn’t think we’d have enough time. It turns out that we were able to make a bit of time, about twenty to thirty minutes, to go street contacting. I mean we didn’t exactly feel like it, we were quite busy, and we felt we had a lot of other stuff to do. But we tried to make time just for those twenty minutes. So we went out and started talking to people and within the first few minutes, we talked to a girl named Ariel (middle below photo).
She’s from inTobago, and a long story short, we ended up teaching her and becoming best friends with her, and she was able to be baptized. She’s someone that I love and I cherish that friendship. And it’s a bit scary to me, thinking about, what if we didn’t make time? What if we didn’t end up finding her. We wouldn’t have that friendship. We wouldn’t have that relationship that was created through the gospel. And it taught me that when we give our time to the Lord he will bless us so much. When we try to follow the Spirit, when we do what we know is right, He will be there and He will help us and He will guide us. We weren’t doing anything special, we weren’t doing anything different than what we usually did in the street contact, we were just doing it. I know that when we give a steady consistent effort, even if it seems like nothing good will ever happen, eventually God will bless us. I know that for a fact.
From there I went to Swansea, which is in Wales again. The missionaries, for about a week before I got there, had been teaching a couple and the guy, Sean, was less active. His girlfriend, Caitlin, wasn’t a member. Sean was baptized when he was twelve and after a few years he stopped coming to church and he started doing a lot of things that he ended up regretting later in life. The missionaries street contacted him and they just talked to him, and at first he said ‘ I don’t want to talk to you guys’ . I’ve been there, I’ve done that. They just persisted and his girlfriend, Caitlin, ended up being the one to say ‘okay, yeah, you can come over’. Sean and Caitlin are two of the most amazing people (photo below).
Caitlin, they ended up getting married, about a month ago so that they could live together. She ended up getting baptized about a week after I left the area. I was only there for six weeks. It was really too bad, but I saw that the power of invitation is incredible. We don’t know who’s waiting or who needs the gospel or who needs a helping hand in their life. But when we try to follow the Spirit, when we just ask people, when we invite, that is when God is able to help us and help them to the Spirit, to know that we can help them. And so I learned that there are always people out there and all we need to do is invite them. It’s nothing special.
I went to my last area called Lincoln, England. It’s there that I learned that the best relationships, and the best friendships, are those created through the Lord. I was in Lincoln, England for three months and I made some of the best friends of my life. One of which was a guy named Kevin Wong (below).
He’s a Chinese student and when Chinese people come over to England, they pick their own English name. He’s an amazing guy, I love him. He’s the biggest Chinese guy you’ll ever meet. He loves American football. He plays lineman for the American football team at the University. It’s a very strange thing to think a Chinese person coming to England to play American football. He’s great. We became very close. And to see a guy, from coming to not knowing anything about God, not knowing anything about the life of Jesus Christ, to being able to teach him about God, who he is, how he’s their father, to feeling the Spirit. To teaching him how to pray, he’d never said a prayer in his life. He was able to pray and just feel the Spirit immediately and know that this is something good. As he continued to come to church and to read the Book of Mormon, he was able to learn more and to feel the Spirit. He was able to have a desire to follow God. It’s a huge testimony of the Lord to me to know that, that friendship is something that will last forever because of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
I’m running out of time. Those are just a few experiences that I had that have shaped my life, that have changed me. I’m so grateful for my mission. I mean, it really means everything to me. I shared this earlier this morning that Jeffrey R Holland came to our mission last month and he talked about how a lot of missionaries talk about how they can’t wait to get back to real life, they can’t wait to go back to doing things that they love. He stopped right there and he pounded the pulpit and he goes ‘ this is a real as life is ever going to get, this is as real as it’s ever going to be. I don’t want you to ever, ever , ever say that.’ I’ve been home for four days now but it’s enough time to realize that there’s nothing more meaningful than helping others come to Jesus Christ. I love that about my mission. I love that for two years you have consecrated time 24/7, your purpose is to help others to come unto Christ. Now, I hope to still be able to do that, but obviously not as much as I was able to do on my mission. I’ve really to know that God lives. I really know that he loves us. I know that Jesus Christ is His Son. That he is the Savior and Redeemer of the world. And we rely on the power of the Atonement. We can overcome any difficulty, any challenge, that we ever go through. I know that He knows us on such a deep personal level that we can’t even comprehend. I’ve come to know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. Every person that has kept their commitments to read the Book of Mormon, as much as we ask them, has come to know that it’s true. I know that anybody with a sincere desire to know that the Book of Mormon is true will be able to find out that it is true, and that Joseph Smith indeed did translate it, and that he was the Prophet of the Restoration. I wish I had time to tell you all, all these experiences and how much my mission means to me, but we’d all be dead by that time. I really, really, really, really, love my mission. It means the world to me. I love, I love you guys. I felt your love and I felt your support and your prayers the whole two years. I thank you so much for that. I leave these things with you in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.