Letters from the field – Cleave unto Charity- Week 4 at the MTC with Elder Washburn

October 31, 2018

Jaxon Washburn was a previous guest on the Latter-day Saint MissionCast (click here to listen). He was called to serve in Armenia and will share his letters from serving in the Mission Field each week. Subscribe to our blog to get every letter.


Hello friends and family, and a very Happy Halloween I might add!

Another week has passed at basic training…. er… I mean the Missionary Training Center here in Provo. As of today, I have experienced my first month, more or less, of missionary life, with only twenty-three or so more to go! I hope that all of you had happy and fruitful weeks, for myself, it was yet another week in paradise. ?

I bring glad tidings from the soccer field. Our conglomerate forces of Slavic, Baltic, and Caucasian states triumphed over those of the Scandinavians last Saturday. ‘Twas most glorious and my peoples, the Armenians, played a crucial role in establishing a victory and routing the opposition. Not only did my companion, Elder Gooch, score the winning goal, but our other elders engaged the Scandinavians with such fierceness that they could never get much ground. In the rare case that the Scandinavians did make it within shooting proximity of our goal, our team of former-Soviet nations formed a virtually unstoppable wall around it that we referred to as “The Iron Curtain”. We succeeded in never letting them score.

Unfortunately, the game was played somewhat as a tribute for missionaries in our zone who would be leaving that Tuesday. We lost a lot of good Russians, but we honored them by winning and know that they are departing to serve in a greater ministry.

On Sunday, several missionaries in my district, including myself, performed a special musical number during our zone-wide sacrament meeting. Along with four other elders, I sang “Joseph Smith’s First Prayer”, as one of our sister missionaries played the violin and another elder, Elder Gunter, played the piano. It went well, especially considering that the foremost musical experience that I have is in singing George Michael’s “Careless Whisper” in the car. The rest of our sacrament meetings regularly involve 1) several hymns sung by everyone simultaneously in their mission languages (Latvian, Armenian, Russian, Ukrainian, Lithuanian, Georgian, etc), 2) the blessing and partaking of the Lord’s Supper (typically carried out in Russian), 3) several talks given by two missionaries, an elder and a sister, in their mission language (it has been Russian as well these past few weeks), 4) a special musical number, and 5) a talk given by a member of our branch presidency in English. Given my Russian vocabulary is fewer than twenty words, the majority of the worship service is spoken in a way that I might not understand audibly but that I appreciate and feel uplifted by spiritually.

The language continues to go well, we had another TRC last Thursday where my companion and I taught another two twenty-minute lessons to Armenian-speaking volunteers. This time they went exceptionally better than the time before to the point where we were hardly struggling at all to share our message, although our comprehension skills could stand to have another two years of improvement. We are focusing a lot on tenses and moods, as well as in expanding our vocabulary. I am pretty sure that Armenian is the most fun language that I have ever studied. We all joke and say that most of the time it sounds like we are casting Harry Potter spells at each other. In terms of grammar and spelling, Armenian is far simpler than English. Most of it is just a matter of memorization and practice, but it continues to come quickly.

One of the highlights of my week happened last Wednesday after I had already sent out my mass P-Day email. My companion, Elder Gooch, had to take a trip to the podiatrist, so for the first time since arriving here, we both rode in a car provided by the MTC and entered the world. After he was done with his appointment, we had to wait outside for the MTC shuttle service to pick us up again. As we were waiting, it struck both of us that “Hey! We are missionaries now! Why don’t we do some missionary things???” Thus, we decided to strike up conversation with a man and I ended up extending my first challenge of my entire mission. I bore testimony to him of serving others and asked if he would seek out an act of service to perform for someone in his life that day. He accepted and said he would. I look forward to extending that same invitation as often as I can throughout my mission.

Also last week I received several care packages from my “corporate sponsorship”. I am joking of course but do want to send a shoutout to the Morgans who run “Beyond Glaze” Donuts in Draper, UT for sending me a delicious dozen donuts. If ever you find yourself craving an array of high-end, exceptionally delicious, and unique donuts, give them a visit. Their various frostings and ingredients are produced fresh daily. 10/10 would recommend. I also received a tremendous care package from my friend Stephen Smoot and others at Book of Mormon Central. They sent a large amount of candy, chips and salsa, and close to 180 short scholarly articles on the Book of Mormon that my entire district has greatly enjoyed reading. They publish these articles regularly at bookofmormoncentral.org along with other great devotional and academic content. I would definitely recommend checking them out as well.

My companion’s family sent our whole district individual copies of “Saints” which is the new church-produced history book covering the years from the Church’s founding to when the first Latter-day Saint pioneers began their long exodus to the Rocky Mountains. Everyone has been enjoying them and we’ve had some great conversations on subjects that have been areas of potential concern or misunderstanding for individuals in the past. My view on approaching the realm of faith and history is that we should always strive to maintain attitudes of openness, transparency, and honesty, that we should recognize shared humanity across decades and centuries, that we should understand that the past is a foreign country that we are but travelers in, that much of history will be lost, obscured, or strange to us, and that often, understanding grows with time. That being said, members of the Church are living at a time where our understanding of our own history is progressing and being made more commonplace at a rate and level we have never before seen manifested. We should take full advantage of such resources as they’ll only serve to benefit and educate us. If you haven’t, the Church has a variety of education resources including the Gospel Topics Essays, Saints and its companion essays, The Joseph Smith Papers, The Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, and the Church Historian’s Press. I invite you to check them out, beginning with the Gospel Topics Essays and Saints. Accessible here:

Gospel Topics Essays

Moving on, last week one of the sisters in my district fell suddenly and seriously ill. She asked my companion and I to perform a priesthood blessing on her. I was the one who gave it and it was my first time doing so. I can definitely say that it was a special moment where I felt prompted to bless her with specific things that she needed in the moment which provided her with comfort enough until she was able to receive medical care. She has since recovered for the most part, but it was another opportunity that the mission has presented me to minister to others, whether in a spiritual or physical way. Today I’ll be visiting the Provo temple and I look forward to the time for further spiritual meditation and contemplation that I’ll experience there as I assist in performing sacred ordinances and blessings on the behalf of my ancestors. Thank you to my Grandma Washburn for sending me some family names.

Last week, I finished the Book of Mormon since starting it in arriving. I was once more moved by the text and its spiritual, moral, and ethical teachings. In an epistle written to his son Moroni, the prophet Mormon (from whom the larger text derives its name) speaks on the subjects of faith, hope, and charity, finding parallels with 1 Corinthians 13:1-13. In Moroni 7, verses 40-47, he says:

40 And again, my beloved brethren, I would speak unto you concerning hope.
How is it that ye can attain unto faith, save ye shall have hope?

41 And what is it that ye shall hope for?
Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope
through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection,
to be raised unto life eternal,
and this because of your faith in him according to the promise.

42 Wherefore, if a man have faith he must needs have hope;
for without faith there cannot be any hope.

43 And again, behold I say unto you that he cannot have faith and hope,
save he shall be meek, and lowly of heart.

44 If so, his faith and hope is vain,
for none is acceptable before God,
save the meek and lowly in heart;

and if a man be meek and lowly in heart,
and confesses by the power of the Holy Ghost
that Jesus is the Christ,
he must needs have charity;
for if he have not charity he is nothing;
wherefore he must needs have charity.

45 And charity suffereth long,
and is kind, and envieth not,
and is not puffed up,
seeketh not her own,
 is not easily provoked,
thinketh no evil,
and rejoiceth not in iniquity
but rejoiceth in the truth,
beareth all things,
believeth all things,
hopeth all things,
endureth all things.

46 Wherefore, my beloved brethren,
if ye have not charity, ye are nothing,
for charity never faileth.
Wherefore, cleave unto charity,
which is the greatest of all,
for all things must fail—

47 But charity is the pure love of Christ,
and it endureth forever;
and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day,
it shall be well with him.

As a missionary of Jesus Christ, I can bear testimony of the power of service and charity. When I read of the life of Christ as recorded through various scriptural texts in the early Christian and Latter-day Saint traditions, I see an individual who possess qualities and attributes that I desire to emulate and believe represent the ideals that humanity should strive after. I have felt blessed by the rich collections of moral, ethical, and spiritual wisdom that I have found in my faith community, and in finishing reading the Book of Mormon last night, I felt a witness of the Spirit that the text truly testifies of Christ, has the potential to bring happiness into our lives, and can bring us into a closer relationship with our Heavenly Parents. Like the Book of Mormon, I can testify that the principle of charity, of loving and serving without condition, will never faith to bring about powerful personal and societal transformation. Charity, the love of Christ, is something we should all seek after daily.

I want to close by extending the same invitation that I extended last week to the man outside the podiatrist. Today, I challenge you all to consider a way that you can serve someone, and then go and do it. Afterwards, tell me about it and what feelings you experienced as a result. I figure that with several hundred people on my email list, if most of you accept, that would be a lot of good brought into the world in just one day. I know that if you’ll seek to serve others, not only will you bless their lives, you’ll find your own life enriched and enhanced.

I love you all. Send me your experiences and let me know what is going on in your lives, I’d love to hear from you.

In Christ and until next week,

Elder Washburn

Comments are closed.