There I stood, in the heart of London as a foreigner among immigrants being passed by people that would forever change my life in ways I never realized.
I served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in London for two years. Each and every day, no matter the weather, I wondered the streets of England’s capital and other surrounding cities like Cambridge looking for opportunities to share aspects about my faith.
To some, this message was interesting and something they found of value, but for the majority of people, not so much. As I came to know these strangers, I learned their stories and developed relationships with them. There were aspects about them and their cultures that amazed me.
As I taught others about the Mormon church, little did I know I was being taught by them at same time. These were lessons that not many people my age had learned yet.
Emmanuel and Maria Nwosu, native Nigerians, found themselves living in London after they left family and friends behind to start a new life. Though I was never told why they left Nigeria, I knew they sought a new beginning.
The humble abode in which they lived was shared among a group of people. The Nwosus’ home was similar to a college dorm: small, barren and crowded. Yet, they were happy.
Though money always appeared to be a struggle for the Nwosus, they never held back when it came to giving to others. There was a time when they had invited my companion and me over for dinner and the kitchen table was covered in food to the point where you could not see any part of the table.
I knew this was a meal that had cost the Nwosus a good amount of money; it was a selfless sacrifice. To them, learning about God and being fed spiritually was worth much more than money itself. They knew, that we as missionaries had been sacrificing our time to share our faith and to them, this meal was saying thank you.
College students, though poor, may think they can never offer such a kind gesture or take care of others in the way the Nwosus did for me, but if they came to understand that this life is about serving others, they’ll find their life to be a lot happier.
Upon returning home from my mission, I have striven to do them same to others as the Nwosus did for me. My wife and I seek to feed the missionaries whenever we possibly can. I had been shown selflessness by those with very little and now that we don’t have very much, we too seek to be selfless.
Wear your religion on your sleeve
Pakistan is a country where 97 percent of the population belongs to the Islamic faith. Many of these people demonstrate their faith by participating in prayer and wearing traditional garb on a daily basis.
They are literally willing to show the world what they believe no matter how they are viewed.
As I walked the streets of my mission, I constantly met people from Pakistan. As I sought to share my religion with them, I came to know of theirs. I saw a passion, dedication and a love for religion that I had rarely seen before.
The way they lived their lives testified of their firm belief in Allah and their Prophet Muhammad and they too wanted others to know of their faith.
As I came to understand what these people were all about and why they lived the way they did, it taught me that I too should live with my beliefs on my sleeve, while being proud to do so. Even though I am not a missionary now, I look for every opportunity I can take to talk about the church, whether that be at work or at school.
This is a practice I would say not many millennials do today.
Thirst for Knowledge
Ying Zhang and Kaiyuan Xiao, both from mainland China, were two university students I met during my time on the outskirts of London.They were attending Brunel University to gain a college education and figure out what life was all about.
As my friendship grew with them, I came to understand these two special individuals sought to gain as much knowledge as they could get. My companion and me met them multiple times per week, always teaching them new content. At each and every lesson they baffled at how much they didn’t know when it come to worshiping God.
Their love for knowledge has even got to the point that Kaiyuan also wanted to be a missionary so he could share the things he had learned.
We as millennials should have this longing thirst for knowledge too. We get so caught up in seeking to do the bare minimum that we actually miss out on a lot of opportunities to learn. How many times do we fail to read the whole chapter within a text book, but simply skim over definitions and subject headings? Do we ever take time to learn new hobbies or life skills like being able fix a car or put together a kitchen chair?
I would never trade my time spent in London for anything in the whole world. These lessons are valuable, yet simple and I think every millennial would be better off if they were to learn these lessons sooner rather than later.