Hey everyone! I hope all's well back home.
Today I wanted to share an experience I had with a guy we met out on the streets. We were walking to one of our appointments, and some guy called out from his car "Hey Elders!" So we turned around to see this Hawaiian guy stumbling out of his car with a beer in one hand, and a cigarette in the other. He came up to us and said "I went to the most Mormon high school in the entire state. Kahuku." Then he went on to tell us how almost all of his friends were Mormon and how he knew a lot about our church. He told us he'd even studied with the missionaries before.
Then he told us about how a bunch of his Mormon friends would always ask him to buy their beer for them and ask him where the big party was that weekend. Then he told us about how he respected what we were doing, because all of his friends told him they didn't want to go on a mission and they were only doing it to please their parents. He basically told us that there was no need for baptism, because he could already live that kind of life without being a Mormon.
For me, it was just really sad to see the negative effect that his friends' example had on his life. Especially if you look at it from the opposite point of view, where if his friends had been excited about going to church and on a mission. If they would have tried to bring him to the gospel, instead of him bringing them to parties. If they would have lived the kind of lives they should have been living, then this guy probably would have joined the church and been living a completely different kind of life than he was now.
Just imagine in the next life his friends having to face him. Having to face the fact that they're the reason he didn't find the truth and happiness he was looking for in this life.
This whole being an example thing makes me think of something that Elder Holland told all of us missionaries when he came to Hawaii. He was talking about continuing to be an example once we're home from our missions. He said that, as a returned missionary, you'll be the idol of every younger child you come across. And that if you return home and go back to doing stupid stuff, everyone aspiring to be like you will just think that they can live that kind of life without serving a mission. I swear I could see fire coming out of his eyes when he told us "You don't have that right. Those are my grandchildren, the future of this church, and you don't have the right to be anything except the perfect example".
So far on my mission, I've seen the best things and worst things come out of the examples of others. Especially in Hawaii I'd say the youth have the hardest time with this. When there's one of our youth that are strong no matter what and always a good example, they help bring a lot of people into the gospel. But when there's a youth that's not so strong, that's willing to bend, it causes people to not want to listen to us.
Jesus told us "be thou an example". So I'd challenge all of you to do the same. You never know when someone might be watching, but be an example of standing as a witness of Christ at all times, and in all things, and in all places.
Elder Sammy Merrill