I think what I learned from being in Turkey was from seeing the landscape and also the huge cities and theatres that they built. First of all that it is no small chore to get from place to place. Paul traveled all over Turkey and did most of it by foot or by boat. We were on the bus for many hours just trying to get to the cities that he visited, and he took the same routes but it took much longer. Secondly, I noticed what a hard chore it must have been to get these people that had been worshipping Greek Gods and statues to put away their foolish traditions. They had to change their whole lifestyle and learn what God is and that he is our father. So many of them were so worldly and loved the large statues and Gods that they thought gave them success and money. It would have been really hard to get them to change their worldly lifestyles. But he did it because of his faith and dedication to the Savior. “Neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.”
Some spiritual principles that I learned is how to seriously turn everything over to the Lord and make your whole life dedicated to his work and his will. He is such a great example of a true missionary that gave everything to do what the Lord commanded him to do – Preach the gospel to all, Jew and Gentile alike.
A scripture that helped me understand this story and gave me additional insight is found in Moroni 9:6. “And now, my beloved son, notwithstanding their hardness, let us labor diligently; for if we should cease to labor, we should be brought under condemnation; for we have a labor to perform whilst in this tabernacle of clay, that we may conquer the enemy of all righteousness and rest our souls in the kingdom of God.” I love this scripture because it is between a father and his son that were separated but both watching their people get destroyed by wickedness. They probably thought there was nothing they could do to help. But even when it is hard, like Mormon said, we can’t stop working. We can never give up, even if we feel like no one is benefiting from our words. There will always be a greater reward for those who never give up.
My younger brother Danner and I had overlapping missions. I remember when he started the mission and was struggling with being a new missionary I was also struggling with the transition I was going to have to make when I went home. We made a motto for ourselves. It was Never Ever Give Up!! This scripture in Moroni was our motto scripture and it helped us those days that we thought we would never find someone who wanted to listen. The Lord’s work is not always easy and smooth and the people don’t always want to listen to our wonderful message of happiness. But I know that if we do what Paul did and work so that we can say, “I am pure from the blood of all men,” we will be blessed and have our reward in the end. Even though we may feel that we are not doing much or not affecting too many lives. We will see the repercussions later, maybe not until we are with God. I have learned much from the faith and hard work that Paul showed, his whole life was make sure that everyone knew wherever he went that Christ is our Savior. I hope to be like him someday.