It was a special mission conference: our president was being released, and he was sharing his testimony with us for the last time.
We felt a little sad in bidding this man good-bye. He had worked arduously to do the will of the Lord, and the years weighed upon him; but in spite of his weariness, he spoke with great assurance and enthusiasm.
In his talk, he shared a story with us that has since caused me to reflect many times on my service in the Church. He said that while returning from a conference in the city of Salto, Uruguay, he began wondering whether he had done all that the Lord had desired of him.
As he was meditating, he suddenly felt as if the Lord had placed a hand upon his shoulder and said to him: “My son, you have done all that I have commanded you to do. Return to your home in peace; you have been faithful, and I am pleased with your labors.” This brought him great relief and joy, for he had worried about his standing before God.
After a pause, he said, “The best missionaries are not the ones who have had the greatest number of baptisms, or who have given the most discussions, or who know the most doctrine; the best missionaries are those who, when they have finished their missions, feel as though the Lord could put his hand on their shoulders and say, ‘My son, you have done all that I have commanded you to do. I am pleased with your labors.’”
A number of weeks later, we had another conference, this time with our new mission president, Elder Gene R. Cook. In my interview with him, he told me he felt that I had a good spirit and that God expected much of me. He also said he knew I could do more and be a better missionary.
I thought deeply about his words, and about those left us by our former mission president. I sought the inspiration of the Spirit and told the Lord that I would work hard during the rest of my mission to bring souls unto him. I dedicated my efforts to fulfilling the mission that God had given me. I worked hard. Even so, as my mission neared its end, I had not yet felt what my first mission president had felt: confirmation from God that my work had been accepted.
I continued to work hard, and on the last day of my mission—our preparation day—my companion and I baptized a special young family.
When I returned to the mission home in Montevideo, President Cook interviewed me for the last time. After we prayed together, he asked me if I had anything I wanted to discuss with him.
I thought about it, but decided not to burden him with my desire for a confirmation from the Lord that my work had been accepted. Then, as if he read my thoughts, he looked me in the eyes and said, “Elder Acosta, the Spirit tells me that the Lord is pleased with you because of your labors, and I feel that you may return home reassured. I feel that this is troubling you.”
With tears in my eyes, I told him that it was and that now I could go home happy because I knew the Lord was pleased with my missionary labors. An inner peace came over me, confirming that it was so.
A number of years have passed since that day, and I have related these experiences many times so others may understand that we can receive the Lord’s approval of our labors. I believe having this feeling permits us to evaluate our efforts, determine if we are doing what is right, correct our errors, and thus keep progressing throughout our lives.
Perhaps Paul felt something akin to this feeling when he said, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
“Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day.” (2 Tim. 4:7–8.)
May we so live to enjoy that day when the Lord may say to us, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” (Matt. 25:21.)