“Learning to Have No Fear,” New Era, March 2016, 36–39
When I was called to Tahiti on my mission, I remember thinking, “What am I going to do there?”
I was a new member of the Church. I didn’t know a lot about the gospel. I hadn’t read the Book of Mormon cover to cover, though I knew it was true. And I would have to learn two languages: Tahitian and French.
I felt inadequate.
Thankfully, I had two things going for me: I knew how to work, and I knew how to obey. Knowing how to work came from my father; knowing how to obey came from the gospel.
So when I got to my mission, I worked hard and I obeyed. As a result, the Lord blessed me with some wonderful experiences, and He taught me to rely on the Spirit. In the process, He also taught me patience, because I was not the most patient missionary. If I had a senior companion who didn’t want to work hard, even though I was the junior companion, I would say, ‘C’mon, let’s go! We’ve got to work!’”
When I became a senior companion, I thought, “Finally, I’ve arrived. I can control the work now.”
But my mission president assigned me a companion who didn’t want to work. By that point in my mission, thankfully, I had learned enough that I knew I had to love my companion, be kind to him, and be patient with him. I knew I couldn’t push him.
One night in the little village of Fare on the island of Huahine, we were at an investigator’s home. Instead of teaching, my companion was playing a board game with a family member and I was sitting there alone, feeling that nobody wanted to listen to me. It was my first assignment as a senior companion, and I felt that I was failing.
As I was having these thoughts and feelings, an outpouring of the Spirit came into my heart. I knew I was not alone. That stayed with me the whole night—not just for a moment. When I awoke the next morning, the feeling was still with me. I knew Heavenly Father loved me. I knew He cared about me. I knew He was with me. Knowing that gave me the strength I needed.
That was a key experience for me. My mission president knew that I needed to have experiences that would humble me and help me recognize my dependence on the Spirit. From that point on I had an incredible mission.
In the islands of Tahiti, it’s difficult for the mission president to keep track of his missionaries all the time because he sends them to far-reaching islands. Missionaries were often left on their own, so our mission president needed to know he could trust them.
One experience that stands out to me occurred when the mission president called me into his office one day and said, “Elder Kacher, we have all these islands in the Marquesas where there are no members of the Church. I want you and your companion to get on the cargo ship that takes supplies to all the little islands. Then, when you stop at each port, I want you to go out for however long you have before the ship leaves and bear testimony of the Restoration of the gospel. I want you to do this for the next 30 days.”
The cargo ship would stop at two or three different ports on each island and stay there anywhere from half an hour to a day, depending on the size of the town. I was honored that my mission president would ask us to do that, but I remember getting to the first port and feeling fear, anxiety, and great responsibility. I wondered how we could do what he asked.
At first we kind of fumbled along. We were really unsure of how to proceed and didn’t do very well at the first port or two. But then we had a feeling that we should do something else. We felt inspired to use the notebook of pictures the Church had just introduced of the Restoration and other gospel topics.
As we would go to shore, my companion began opening his notebook of pictures. The Polynesians loved the pictures, and as they swarmed around him to look at them, we would teach and testify to them.
We did that for 30 days, village after village. I don’t know how many times we taught lessons and testified, but after those 30 days, I came to understand what it meant to be guided by the Spirit, and I no longer had any fear.
If somebody made fun of me—and many people did—it didn’t matter. I knew I was doing God’s work and that He was watching over us. My ability to feel and act under the influence of the Spirit grew, as did my confidence. I was never the same after this experience.
During those 30 days, we made several visits to the six habitable islands of the beautiful Marquesas. Today, where the Church once had no members, we have branches.
In a talk to mission presidents about obedience, Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (1928–2015), said: “Willing obedience is the foundation of trust. One trusted of the Lord has access to His inspiration to know what to do and, as needed, divine power or capacity to do it.”1
This is something we taught our missionaries when my wife, Pauline, and I presided over the Switzerland Geneva Mission from 2000 to 2003. And it’s something I have felt and experienced throughout my life—not just as a missionary.
When you understand the relationship between obedience and being trusted by the Lord, you can accomplish great things. And when you’ve earned the Lord’s trust, you can go forward with courage and confidence because His Spirit will be with you.
Obedience brings another blessing: safety. As President Boyd K. Packer (1924–2015), President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, declared, “We find safety and security … in honoring the covenants we have made and living up to the ordinary acts of obedience required of the followers of Christ.”2
Obedience helps keep you safe from the things of this world. Safety from the world coupled with trust from the Lord make a powerful combination for all of us—not just youth.