Mission Prep Quotes from April 2017 General Conference

Return and Receive by Elder M. Russell Ballard

It is good to have goals and plans for our careers, for our education, even for our golf game. It is also important to have goals for our marriages, our families, and our Church councils and callings; this is especially true for missionaries. But our greatest and most overriding goals should fit into Heavenly Father’s eternal plan. Jesus said, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.”(3 Nephi 13:33)

goals for missionaries ballard

Called to the Work by Elder David A. Bednar

The [mission call] letter is signed by the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the first two sentences read as follows: “You are hereby called to serve as a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You are assigned to labor in the ______ Mission.”

Please note that the first sentence is a call to serve as a full-time missionary in the Lord’s restored Church. The second sentence indicates an assignment to labor in a specific place and mission. The important distinction expressed in these two sentences is essential for all of us to understand.

In the culture of the Church, we often talk of being called to serve in a country such as Argentina, Poland, Korea, or the United States. But a missionary is not called to a place; rather, he or she is called to serve. As the Lord declared through the Prophet Joseph Smith in 1829, “If ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work.”(D&C 4:3)

…As missionaries strive to be ever more worthy and capable instruments in His hands and do their best to fulfill faithfully their duties, then with His help they “cannot go amiss” (D&C 80:3)—wherever they serve. Perhaps one of the lessons the Savior is teaching us in this revelation is that an assignment to labor in a specific place is essential and important but secondary to a call to the work.

assignment to labor secondary to call to work

…Three interrelated words define a pattern of preparation and progression for sons of God: priesthood, temple, mission. Sometimes as parents, friends, and Church members, we focus so extensively upon missionary preparation for young men that we may neglect to a degree the other vital steps along the covenant pathway that must be fulfilled before beginning full-time missionary service. Working as a missionary certainly is one but not the only important building block in the process of creating a strong foundation for a lifetime of spiritual growth and service. Priesthood and temple blessings, both of which precede arriving in an assigned field of labor, also are necessary to fortify and strengthen us spiritually throughout our entire lives.

…Young men, each of you is a missionary now. All around you, every day, are friends and neighbors “who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it.” As you are directed by the Spirit, you can share a thought, an invitation, a text or tweet that will introduce your friends to the truths of the restored gospel. You need not and should not wait for your official call to become anxiously engaged in missionary work.

young men each of you is a missionary now

…In our homes and at church, we should give balanced emphasis to all three elements of the Lord’s pattern of preparation and progression for faithful sons of God: priesthood, temple, mission. All three require us to love being and remaining worthy. Be worthy. Stay worthy.

Prepare the Way by Bishop Gérald Caussé

Allow me to share the true story of Alex, a quiet, thoughtful, and bright young priest. One Sunday, Alex’s bishop found him alone in a classroom in a state of great distress. The young man explained how painfully difficult it was for him to attend church without his father, who was not a member. Then he tearfully said it would probably be better for him to leave the Church.

With genuine concern for this young man, the bishop immediately mobilized the ward council to help Alex. His plan was simple: to keep Alex active and help him develop a heartfelt testimony of the gospel, they needed to “surround him with good people and give him important things to do.”

Quickly the priesthood brethren and all the ward members rallied around Alex and expressed their affection and support. The high priests group leader, a man of great faith and love, was chosen to be his home teaching companion. Members of the bishopric took him under their wings and made him their closest associate.

The bishop said: “We kept Alex busy. He ushered at weddings, ushered at funerals, assisted me at graveside dedications, baptized several new members, ordained young men to Aaronic Priesthood offices, taught youth lessons, taught with the missionaries, unlocked the building for conferences, and locked up the building late at night after conferences. He did service projects, accompanied me on visits to elderly members in hospices, gave talks in sacrament meeting, administered the sacrament to the sick in hospitals or in their homes, and became one of only a very small handful of people that I could totally rely on as bishop.”

Little by little, Alex changed. His faith in the Lord increased. He gained confidence in himself and in the power of the priesthood that he held. The bishop concluded: “Alex has been and will always be one of my greatest blessings in my time as bishop. What a privilege it has been to associate with him. I genuinely believe that no young man has ever gone into the mission field more prepared by his priesthood service.”

Let the Holy Spirit Guide by Elder Ronald A. Rasband

While serving as a mission president in New York City, I was with some of our missionaries in a restaurant in the Bronx. A young family came in and sat near us. They appeared golden for the gospel. I watched our missionaries as they continued to visit with me, then noticed as the family concluded their meal and slipped out the door. Then I said, “Elders, there’s a lesson here today. You saw a lovely family come into this restaurant. What should we have done?”

One of the elders spoke up quickly: “I thought about getting up and going over to talk to them. I felt the nudge, but I didn’t respond.”

“Elders,” I said, “we must always act on our first prompting. That nudge you felt was the Holy Ghost!”

To the Friends and Investigators of the Church by Elder Joaquin E. Costa

Today, I would like to share some lessons I learned on my path to baptism—lessons that I hope may help those of you listening who are not members of the Church yet.

…From my first lesson, I say to you friends and investigators of the Church: once you meet the missionaries, please take them seriously; they are giving up important years of their lives just for you.

…Let me put this lesson in one sentence: if you are confused, don’t worry—remember the feelings you have experienced; they come from God.

…the third lesson, in one sentence: when you receive these things—the Book of Mormon—and you are exhorted to read and ask God if they are true, please just do it!

…the last lesson, in one statement: experience repentance; nothing draws you closer to the Lord Jesus Christ than a desire to change.

…So please consider my experiences, and (1) take the missionaries very seriously, (2) go to church and remember spiritual feelings, (3) read the Book of Mormon and ask the Lord if it is true, and (4) experience repentance and be baptized.

lessons I learned on my path to baptism

How Does the Holy Ghost Help You? by Elder Gary E. Stevenson

During this time, I worked closely with President Reid Tateoka of the Japan Sendai Mission. As part of his usual mission routine, President Tateoka planned a meeting for missionary leaders in the southern portion of his mission. A few days prior to the meeting, President Tateoka had an impression, a feeling in his heart, to invite all missionaries of that zone to the leadership meeting, instead of the prescribed small number of elder and sister leaders.

When he announced his intention, he was reminded that this meeting was not designed for all missionaries but only for mission leaders. However, setting convention aside in order to follow the prompting he had received, he invited all missionaries serving in several coastal cities, including the city of Fukushima, to the meeting. On the appointed day, March 11, 2011, the missionaries gathered together for the expanded mission meeting in the inland city of Koriyama.

During this meeting a 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami struck the region of Japan where the Japan Sendai Mission is located. Tragically, many coastal cities—including those from which the missionaries had been gathered—were devastated and suffered great loss of life. And the city of Fukushima suffered a subsequent nuclear event.

Although the meetinghouse where the missionaries were meeting that day was damaged by the earthquake, through following the promptings of the Holy Ghost, President and Sister Tateoka and all missionaries were safely assembled. They were out of harm’s way and miles from the devastation of the tsunami and the nuclear fallout.

…In order to describe the valuable role of the Holy Ghost as witness, I will continue the story of Fernando and Bayley. If you remember, I shared that Fernando and his brother had been baptized, but his parents and three younger brothers had not. And, despite receiving numerous invitations to meet with the missionaries over the years, each time the family declined.

Upon the painful passing of Bayley and her baby daughter, Fernando’s family was inconsolable. Unlike Fernando and unlike Bayley’s family, they found no comfort or peace. They could not understand how their own son, along with Bayley’s family, could bear their heavy burden.

Eventually, they concluded that what their son possessed and they did not was the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and this must be his source of peace and comfort. Following this realization, they invited the missionaries to teach their family the gospel. As a result, they received their own witness and testimony of the great plan of happiness, which brought them the sweet peace and calming comfort they were desperately seeking.

Foundations of Faith by Elder Quentin L. Cook

An experience I had when I was 15 years old was foundational for me. My faithful mother had valiantly tried to help me establish the foundations of faith in my life. I attended sacrament meeting, Primary, then Young Men and seminary. I had read the Book of Mormon and had always prayed individually. At that time a dramatic event occurred in our family when my beloved older brother was considering a potential mission call. My wonderful father, a less-active Church member, wanted him to continue his education and not serve a mission. This became a point of contention.

In a remarkable discussion with my brother, who was five years older and led the discussion, we concluded that his decision on whether to serve a mission depended on three issues: (1) Was Jesus Christ divine? (2) Was the Book of Mormon true? (3) Was Joseph Smith the prophet of the Restoration?

As I prayed sincerely that night, the Spirit confirmed to me the truth of all three questions. I also came to understand that almost every decision I would make for the rest of my life would be based on the answers to those three questions. I particularly realized that faith in the Lord Jesus Christ was essential. In looking back, I recognize that, primarily because of my mother, the foundations were in place for me to receive the spiritual confirmation that evening. My brother, who already had a testimony, made the decision to serve a mission and ultimately won our father’s support.

Mission Prep Quotes from Oct 2016 Gen Conf

The Perfect Path to Happiness By President Thomas S. Monson

Our Father’s plan for our happiness and our salvation is shared by our missionaries throughout the world. Not all who hear this divine message accept and embrace it. However, men and women everywhere, just like my young friend at the New York World’s Fair, recognize its truths, and they plant their feet on the path that will lead them safely home. Their lives are forever changed.

Fourth Floor, Last Door by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

missionaries fourth floor last door uchtdorfFaith comes to the humble, the diligent, the enduring. It comes to those who pay the price of faithfulness. This truth is illustrated in the experience of two young missionaries serving in Europe, in an area where there were few convert baptisms. I suppose it would have been understandable for them to think that what they did wouldn’t make much of a difference. But these two missionaries had faith, and they were committed. They had the attitude that if no one listened to their message, it would not be because they had not given their best effort.

One day they had the feeling to approach the residents of a well-kept four-story apartment building. They started on the first floor and knocked on each door, presenting their saving message of Jesus Christ and the Restoration of His Church. No one on the first floor would listen to them. How easy it would have been to say, “We tried. Let’s stop right here. Let’s go and try another building.”

But these two missionaries had faith and they were willing to work, and so they knocked on every door on the second floor. Again, no one would listen. The third floor was the same. And so was the fourth—that is, until they knocked on the last door of the fourth floor. When that door opened, a young girl smiled at them and asked them to wait while she spoke with her mother.

Her mother was only 36 years old, had recently lost her husband, and was in no mood to talk with Mormon missionaries. So she told her daughter to send them away. But the daughter pleaded with her. These young men were so nice, she said. And it would take only a few minutes. So, reluctantly, the mother agreed. The missionaries delivered their message and handed a book to the mother to read—the Book of Mormon.

After they left, the mother decided she would read at least a few pages. She finished the entire book within a few days. Not long after, this wonderful single-parent family entered the waters of baptism. When the small family attended their local branch in Frankfurt, Germany, a young deacon noticed the beauty of one of the daughters and thought to himself, “These missionaries are doing a great job!”

That young deacon’s name was Dieter Uchtdorf. And the charming young woman—the one who had pleaded with her mother to listen to the missionaries—has the beautiful name of Harriet. She is loved by all who meet her as she accompanies me in my travels. She has blessed the lives of many people through her love for the gospel and her sparkling personality. She truly is the sunshine of my life.

How often have I lifted my heart in gratitude for the two missionaries who did not stop at the first floor! How often my heart reaches out in appreciation for their faith and work. How often have I given thanks that they kept going—even to the fourth floor, last door.

“Come, Follow Me” by Practicing Christian Love and Service By Elder Robert D. Hales

missionaries grow faithfully living consecrated lifeYouth, you are some of our most effective gospel teachers. You come to church to learn so that you can go home to teach and serve your family, neighbors, and friends. Don’t be afraid. Have faith to testify of what you know to be true. Think how full-time missionaries grow because they are faithfully living a consecrated life—using their time and talents and bearing testimony to serve and bless others. As you share your testimony of the gospel, your faith will grow and your confidence will increase!

A Witness of God By Elder Neil L. Andersen

Be open about your faith in Christ. When the occasion presents itself, speak of His life, His teachings, and His incomparable gift to all mankind. Share His powerful truths from the Book of Mormon. He has given us this promise: “Whosoever … shall confess me before men, him will I confess … before my Father … in heaven.”10 I promise you that as you pray often and sincerely for opportunities to “stand as a witness of God,” those opportunities will come, and those who seek more light and knowledge will be put before you. As you respond to spiritual promptings, the Holy Ghost will carry your words to the heart of another, and one day the Savior will confess you before His Father.

missionaries timing conversion not up to youThe spiritual work of helping someone come into the kingdom of God is a group effort. Enlist the missionaries as soon as you can, and pray for heavenly help. But remember, the timing of another’s conversion is not fully up to you.

Kamla Persand was from the Mauritius island, attending medical school in Bordeaux, France, when we met her in February of 1991. We had prayed as a family to be able to share the gospel with someone who was seeking the truth, and we taught her in our home. I was privileged to perform her baptism, but we were not the most significant influences in Kamla joining the Church. Friends, missionaries, and even family members had been “witnesses of God” in her home country, and one day in France, when the time was right for Kamla, she made the decision to be baptized. Now, 25 years later, the blessings of that decision are all around her, and her son is a missionary in Madagascar.

Be Ambitious for Christ by Elder Kazuhiko Yamashita

mormon missionaries ambitious for ChristWhat does it mean to “be ambitious for Christ”? Being ambitious for Christ means being motivated, focused, and dedicated to His work. Being ambitious for Christ will seldom mean that we are singled out for public honor. Being ambitious for Christ means that we serve faithfully and diligently in our wards and branches without complaint and with joyful hearts.

Our missionaries serving throughout the world are beautiful examples of those who are truly ambitious for Christ. …I am proud not only of Elder Cowan but also of all the missionaries throughout the world who serve willingly without murmuring or complaining. Thank you, elders and sisters, for your faith, your focus, and your strong ambition for Christ.

…My dear brothers and sisters, we are ambitious for Christ when we serve faithfully, accept humbly, endure nobly, pray fervently, and partake worthily. May we be ambitious for Christ as we accept our difficulties and trials with patience and faith and find joy in our covenant path.

Sharing the Restored Gospel by Elder Dallin H. Oaks

Nearing the end of His earthly ministry, our Savior, Jesus Christ, commanded His disciples: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations” (Matthew 28:19) and “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). All Christians are under these commands to share the gospel with everyone. Many call this the “great commission.”

…Today we have many resources to share the gospel that were not available in earlier generations. We have TV, the internet, and social media channels. We have many valuable messages to introduce the restored gospel. We have the prominence of the Church in many nations. We have a greatly increased number of missionaries. But are we using all these resources to maximum effect? I believe most of us would say no. We desire to be more effective in fulfilling our divinely appointed responsibility to proclaim the restored gospel in all the world.

…Sharing the restored gospel is our lifelong Christian duty and privilege. Elder Quentin L. Cook reminds us, “Missionary work is not just one of the 88 keys on a piano that is occasionally played; it is a major chord in a compelling melody that needs to be played continuously throughout our lives if we are to remain in harmony with our commitment to Christianity and the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

…we can pray for inspiration on what we can do in our individual circumstances to share the gospel with others. This is different than praying for the missionaries or praying for what others can do. We should pray for what we can do personally. When we pray, we should remember that prayers for this kind of inspiration will be answered if accompanied by a commitment—something the scriptures call “real intent” or “full purpose of heart.” Pray with a commitment to act upon the inspiration you receive, promising the Lord that if He will inspire you to speak to someone about the gospel, you will do it. …As we demonstrate our faith, these opportunities will come without any “forced or … contrived response. They will flow as a natural result of our love for our brothers and sisters.”

…Our efforts to share the gospel should not be limited to our circle of friends and associates. During the Olympics we learned of an LDS taxi driver in Rio de Janeiro who carried copies of the Book of Mormon in seven different languages and gave one to whoever would receive them. He called himself the “cab driving missionary.” He said, “The streets of Rio de Janeiro … are [my] mission field.”

…Sharing the gospel is not a burden but a joy. What we call “member missionary work” is not a program but an attitude of love and outreach to help those around us. It is also an opportunity to witness how we feel about the restored gospel of our Savior.

Joy and Spiritual Survival By President Russell M. Nelson

That is why our missionaries leave their homes to preach His gospel. Their goal is not to increase the number of Church members. Rather, our missionaries teach and baptize to bring joy to the people of the world!

The Great Plan of Redemption By Linda S. Reeves

When I served with my husband as he presided over a mission, we went to the airport to pick up a large group of missionaries one morning. One particular young man caught our eye. He seemed sad, weighed down, almost distraught. We watched him carefully that afternoon. By evening, this young man made a belated confession, and his leaders determined that he needed to return home. Although we were very sad that he had been dishonest and had not repented before coming on his mission, on the way to the airport we sincerely and lovingly praised him for having the courage to come forward, and we pledged to stay in close contact with him.

This great young man was blessed to have wonderful parents, great priesthood leaders, and a supportive, loving ward. After a year of working hard to fully repent and partake of the Savior’s Atonement, he was able to return to our mission. It is difficult for me to describe the feelings of joy we felt as we picked up this young man from the airport. He was full of the Spirit, happy, confident before the Lord, and anxious to fulfill a faithful mission. He became an outstanding missionary, and later my husband and I had the privilege of attending his temple sealing.

By contrast, I’m aware of another missionary who, knowing her unconfessed sin from before her mission would surely cause her to be sent home early, made her own plan to work extra hard during her mission and confess to the mission president just days before completing her mission. She lacked godly sorrow and tried to circumvent the plan that our loving Savior has offered each one of us.

During our mission, I once accompanied my husband when he went to interview a man for baptism. While my husband conducted the interview, I waited outside with the sister missionaries who had taught this man. When the interview was finished, my husband informed the missionaries that the man would be able to be baptized. This dear man wept and wept as he explained that he had been certain that the serious sins he had committed in his life would prevent him from being able to be baptized. I have seldom witnessed the joy and happiness of someone coming out of the darkness and into the light equal to what I witnessed that day.

Mission Prep Quotes from April 2016 Gen Conf

Trust in That Spirit Which Leadeth to Do Good, by President Henry B. Eyring

go and serve“The first thing you must commit to do is to go and serve, knowing that you do not go alone. When you go to comfort and serve anyone for the Savior, He prepares the way before you. Now, as the returned missionaries here tonight will tell you, that doesn’t mean that every person behind every door is prepared to welcome you or that every person you try to serve will thank you. But the Lord will go before your face to prepare the way.”

Where Are the Keys and Authority of the Priesthood? by Elder Gary E. Stevenson

“My young brothers and sisters, you may not realize it, but the keys of the gathering of Israel, restored by Moses, enable missionary work in our dispensation. Consider the full-time missionary force of approximately 75,000 laboring in the field under the direction of these keys. With this in mind, remember it is never too early for you to prepare for missionary service. In For the Strength of Youth, we read, “Young men of the Aaronic Priesthood, … work diligently to prepare yourself to represent the Lord as a missionary.” Young women can prepare also, but you “are not under the same mandate to serve.” All of your preparation, however, whether you serve as a full-time missionary or not, will accrue lifelong benefits to you as a member missionary.”

Standing with the Leaders of the Church by Elder Ronald A. Rasband

come serve amission“You too will have your many moments to respond to frequent invitations to “come unto Christ.” Isn’t that what this mortal life is all about? The call may be to come rescue a family member; come serve a mission; come back to church; come to the holy temple; and, as we have recently heard from our wonderful youth in the Face to Face event, come, please help me answer my question. In due time, each one of us will hear the call “Come home.””

The Greatest Leaders Are the Greatest Followers by Stephen W. Owen

“Isn’t it inspiring to see how a seemingly ordinary young man can accomplish great things through priesthood service, even when he feels inadequate? I recently learned that this young elder has received a mission call and will enter the missionary training center next month. I believe he will lead many souls to Christ because he has learned how to follow Christ in his priesthood service.”

find, teach, and baptize familiesEternal Families by President Henry B. Eyring
“What can the young elder do to help in the creation of eternal families? He may be about to go into the mission field. He can pray with all his heart that he will be able to find, teach, and baptize families.”

The Holy Ghost by Elder Robert D. Hales

“The Holy Ghost provides personal revelation to help us make major life decisions about such things as education, missions, careers, marriage, children, where we will live with our families, and so on. In these matters, Heavenly Father expects us to use our agency, study the situation out in our minds according to gospel principles, and bring a decision to Him in prayer.”

“In early 2005, I was guided to prepare a general conference message about senior missionary couples. Following the conference, a brother recounted: “As we listened to conference, … immediately the Spirit of the Lord touched my very soul. … There was no mistaking the message for me and for my sweetheart. We were to serve a mission, and the time was now. When I … looked at my wife, I realized that she had received the very same impressions from the Spirit.” What had brought this strong simultaneous response? The Holy Ghost.”

Opposition in All Things by Elder Dallin H. Oaks

“God rarely infringes on the agency of any of His children by intervening against some for the relief of others. But He does ease the burdens of our afflictions and strengthen us to bear them, as He did for Alma’s people in the land of Helam (see Mosiah 24:13–15). He does not prevent all disasters, but He does answer our prayers to turn them aside, as He did with the uniquely powerful cyclone that threatened to prevent the dedication of the temple in Fiji; or He does blunt their effects, as He did with the terrorist bombing that took so many lives in the Brussels airport but only injured our four missionaries.”

The Power of Godliness by Elder Kent F. Richards

“In many temples, temple presidents are welcoming newly called and endowed missionaries, young men and women, to serve for just a short time as ordinance workers before going to the MTC. These young people are not only blessed to serve, but “they enhance the beauty and spirit for all serving in the temple.””

Tomorrow the Lord Will Do Wonders among You by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

“The author of Hebrews warned us of this when he wrote, “Call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions.” That post-illumination affliction can come in many ways, and it can come to all of us. Surely every missionary who has ever served soon realized that life in the field wasn’t going to be quite like the rarefied atmosphere of the missionary training center.”

Mission Prep Quotes from Gen Conf April 2015

The Parable of the Sower By Elder Dallin H. Oaks

Those “who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness,” but because they “have no root in themselves, … when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended” (Mark 4:16–17). What causes hearers to “have no root in themselves”? This is the circumstance of new members who are merely converted to the missionaries or to the many attractive characteristics of the Church or to the many great fruits of Church membership. Not being rooted in the word, they can be scorched and wither away when opposition arises.

Latter-day Saints Keep on Trying By Elder Dale G. Renlund

compared to me you arent all that differentSome years ago a wonderful young man named Curtis was called to serve a mission. He was the kind of missionary every mission president prays for. He was focused and worked hard. At one point he was assigned a missionary companion who was immature, socially awkward, and not particularly enthusiastic about getting the work done.

One day, while they were riding their bicycles, Curtis looked back and saw that his companion had inexplicably gotten off his bike and was walking. Silently, Curtis expressed his frustration to God; what a chore it was to be saddled with a companion he had to drag around in order to accomplish anything. Moments later, Curtis had a profound impression, as if God were saying to him, “You know, Curtis, compared to me, the two of you aren’t all that different.” Curtis learned that he needed to be patient with an imperfect companion who nonetheless was trying in his own way.

My invitation to all of us is to evaluate our lives, repent, and keep on trying. If we don’t try, we’re just latter-day sinners; if we don’t persevere, we’re latter-day quitters; and if we don’t allow others to try, we’re just latter-day hypocrites.

Truly Good and without Guile By Elder Michael T. Ringwood

Unfortunately, there was a time in my life when I was motivated by titles and authority. It really began innocently. As I was preparing to serve a full-time mission, my older brother was made a zone leader in his mission. I heard so many positive things said about him that I couldn’t help but want those things said about me. I hoped for and may have even prayed for a similar position. Thankfully, as I served my mission, I learned a powerful lesson. Last conference I was reminded of that lesson.

too focused on titles…Perhaps my first lesson about truly good Saints without guile was learned when I was a young missionary. I moved into an area with an elder I didn’t know. I had heard other missionaries talk about how he had never received any leadership assignments and how he struggled with the Korean language despite having been in the country a long time. But as I got to know this elder, I found he was one of the most obedient and faithful missionaries I had known. He studied when it was time to study; he worked when it was time to work. He left the apartment on time and returned on time. He was diligent in studying Korean even though the language was especially difficult for him.

When I realized the comments I had heard were untrue, I felt like this missionary was being misjudged as unsuccessful. I wanted to tell the whole mission what I had discovered about this elder. I shared with my mission president my desire to correct this misunderstanding. His response was, “Heavenly Father knows this young man is a successful missionary, and so do I.” He added, “And now you know too, so who else really matters?” This wise mission president taught me what was important in service, and it wasn’t praise, position, power, honor, or authority. This was a great lesson for a young missionary who was too focused on titles.

The Greatest Generation of Young Adults By Elder M. Russell Ballard

vibrant thinking passionate missionariesDuring the October 2002 general priesthood meeting, I challenged bishops, parents, and prospective missionaries to “raise the bar” for full-time missionary service. I then said that “what we need … is the greatest generation of missionaries in the history of the Church. We need worthy, qualified, spiritually energized missionaries. …“We need your whole heart and soul. We need vibrant, thinking, passionate missionaries who know how to listen to and respond to the whisperings of the Holy Spirit.”

…In the early days of the Church, missionaries were interviewed by a General Authority before they went on their missions. These days you are interviewed to serve as missionaries by your bishops and stake presidents, and most of you will go through your entire lives without being interviewed by a General Authority.

…With that in mind, I would like those of you preparing to serve missions, those who have returned, and all of you young adults to spend a few minutes with me as though we were having a personal video chat right now. Please look at me for a few minutes as though you and I were the only ones in the room, wherever you are tonight.

For my part, I will imagine that I am looking into your eyes and listening carefully to your responses to a few questions that I believe will tell me a lot about the depth of your testimony and your devotion to God. If I may paraphrase what I said to missionaries 13 years ago, what we need now is the greatest generation of young adults in the history of the Church. We need your whole heart and soul. We need vibrant, thinking, passionate young adults who know how to listen and respond to the whisperings of the Holy Spirit as you make your way through the daily trials and temptations of being a young, contemporary Latter-day Saint.

In other words, it’s time to raise the bar not only for missionaries but also for returned missionaries and for your entire generation. To that end, please ponder in your heart your answers to these questions:

1. Do you search the scriptures regularly?
2. Do you kneel in prayer to talk with your Heavenly Father each morning and each night?
3. Do you fast and donate a fast offering each month—even if you are a poor, struggling student who can’t afford to donate much?
4. Do you think deeply about the Savior and His atoning sacrifice for you when you are asked to prepare, bless, pass, or partake of the sacrament?
5. Do you attend your meetings and strive to keep the Sabbath day holy?
6. Are you honest at home, school, church, and work?
7. Are you mentally and spiritually clean? Do you avoid viewing pornography or looking at websites, magazines, movies, or apps, including Tinder and Snapchat photos, that would embarrass you if your parents, Church leaders, or the Savior Himself saw you?
8. Are you careful with your time—avoiding inappropriate technology and social media, including video games, which can dull your spiritual sensitivity?
9. Is there anything in your life you need to change and fix, beginning tonight?

…I remind you returned missionaries that your preparation for life and for a family should be continuous. “RM” doesn’t mean “retired Mormon”! As a returned missionary, you “should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of [your] own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness.”

Please use the skills you learned on your mission to bless the lives of people around you every day. Do not shift your focus from serving others to focusing exclusively on school, work, or social activities. Instead, balance your life with spiritual experiences that remind and prepare you for continued, daily ministering to others.

Yes, We Can and Will Win! By Elder Ulisses Soares

confirming power coming from the Holy GhostI learned this principle when I served as a young missionary. My companion and I were serving in a very small and faraway branch of the Church. We tried to speak with every person in the city. They received us very well, but they liked to debate the scriptures and asked us for concrete evidence regarding the truthfulness of what we were teaching.

I recall that each time my companion and I set out to try to prove something to people, the Spirit of God left us and we felt totally lost and confused. We felt that we should more strongly align our testimonies with the truths of the gospel we were teaching. From that time on, I remember that when we bore a testimony with all our hearts, a silent confirming power coming from the Holy Ghost filled the room, and there was no space for confusion or discussion. I learned that no evil forces exist that are capable of confusing, deceiving, or subverting the power of a sincere testimony of a true disciple of Jesus Christ.

Fatherhood—Our Eternal Destiny By Larry M. Gibson

“Dad, that was the hardest thing I have ever done, and I never want to do it again.” I wasn’t about to tell him that I would never do it again either. Instead, I told him how proud I was that he had accomplished such a hard thing. I knew it would prepare him for other hard things he would face in his future. With that thought, I said, “Son, let me make you this promise. When you go on your mission, you will never have to walk 50 miles in one day.” “Good, Dad! Then I’m going.” Those simple words filled my soul with gratitude and joy.

The Priesthood—a Sacred Gift By President Thomas S. Monson

I was ordained an elder, and on the day of my departure for active duty with the navy, a member of my ward bishopric joined my family and friends at the train station to bid me farewell. Just before train time, he placed in my hand a small volume titled Missionary Handbook. I laughed and commented that I wasn’t going on a mission. He answered, “Take it anyway. It may come in handy.”

It did. I needed a hard, rectangular object to place in the bottom of my seabag so that my clothing would stay more firm and would thus be less wrinkled. The Missionary Handbook was just what I needed, and it served well in my seabag for 12 weeks.

The night before our Christmas leave, our thoughts were of home. The barracks were quiet, but then the silence was broken by my buddy in the adjoining bunk—a Mormon boy, Leland Merrill—who began to moan in pain. I inquired concerning the reason, and he said he felt really sick. He did not want to go to the base dispensary, for he knew that doing such would prevent his going home the following day. He seemed to grow worse as the hours passed. Finally, knowing that I was an elder, he asked me to give him a priesthood blessing.

I had never before given a priesthood blessing, I had never received a blessing, and I had never witnessed a blessing being given. As I prayed silently for help, I remembered the Missionary Handbook in the bottom of my seabag. I quickly emptied the bag and took the book to the night-light. There I read how one blesses the sick. With many curious sailors looking on, I proceeded with the blessing. Before I could put everything back into my bag, Leland Merrill was sleeping like a child. He awakened the following morning feeling fine. The gratitude each of us felt for the power of the priesthood was immense.

Blessings of the Temple By President Thomas S. Monson

I recently learned firsthand of a young man who attended the temple with a heart pleading for help. …He became discouraged, however, because of negative experiences he had with missionaries who seemed to him to be more interested in having a good time than in sharing the gospel. A few short months later this young man suffered a very serious health challenge which left him partially paralyzed, and so he was sent home on a medical leave.

Some months later the young man had healed completely, and his paralysis had disappeared. He was informed that he would once again be able to serve as a missionary, a blessing for which he had prayed daily. The only disappointing news was that he would return to the same mission which he had left, where he felt the behaviors and attitudes of some missionaries were less than they should be.

He had come to the temple to seek comfort and a confirmation that he could have a good experience as a missionary. His parents also had prayed that this temple visit would provide the help their son needed. As the young man entered the celestial room following the session, he sat in a chair and began to pray for guidance from his Heavenly Father.

Another who entered the celestial room shortly afterward was a young man whose name is Landon. As he walked into the room, his gaze was immediately drawn to the young man sitting on the chair, eyes closed and obviously praying. Landon received an unmistakable prompting that he should speak with the young man. Hesitant to interrupt, however, he decided to wait. After several minutes had gone by, the young man was still praying. Landon knew he could no longer postpone the prompting. He approached the young man and gently touched his shoulder. The young man opened his eyes, startled that he had been disturbed. Landon said quietly, “I have felt impressed that I need to talk with you, although I am not certain why.”

As they began to converse, the young man poured out his heart to Landon, explaining his circumstances and ending with his desire to receive some comfort and encouragement concerning his mission. Landon, who had returned from a successful mission just a year earlier, told of his own mission experiences, the challenges and concerns he had faced, the manner in which he had turned to the Lord for help, and the blessings he had received. His words were comforting and reassuring, and his enthusiasm for his mission was contagious. Eventually, as the young man’s fears subsided, a feeling of peace came to him. He felt deep gratitude as he realized his prayer had been answered.

The two young men prayed together, and then Landon prepared to leave, happy that he had listened to the inspiration which had come to him. As he stood to go, the young man asked Landon, “Where did you serve your mission?” To this point, neither of them had mentioned to the other the name of the mission in which he had served. When Landon replied with the name of his mission, tears welled up in the eyes of the young man. Landon had served in the very mission to which the young man would be returning!

In a recent letter to me, Landon shared with me the young man’s parting words to him: “I had faith Heavenly Father would bless me, but I never could have imagined that He would send someone to help me who had served in my own mission. I know now that all will be well.” The humble prayer of a sincere heart had been heard and answered.

Preserving Agency, Protecting Religious Freedom By Elder Robert D. Hales

missionaries rely on religious freedomThe second cornerstone of religious liberty is the freedom to share our faith and our beliefs with others. The Lord commands us, “Ye shall teach [the gospel to] your children … when thou sittest in thine house.” He also said to His disciples, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” As parents, full-time missionaries, and member missionaries, we rely on religious freedom in order to teach the Lord’s doctrine in our families and throughout the world.

Stay by the Tree By Elder Kevin W. Pearson

To all missionaries past and present: Elders and sisters, you simply cannot return from your mission, do a swan dive back into Babylon, and spend endless hours scoring meaningless points on pointless video games without falling into a deep spiritual sleep. Nor can you indulge in online pornography and ignore virtue and chastity without dire spiritual consequences. If you lose the Spirit, you are lost. Don’t be distracted and deceived.

…Several years ago, Sister Pearson and I were called to preside over the Washington Tacoma Mission. The call was a complete surprise. With some trepidation I met with the chairman and the CEO of the company where I was employed and informed them of my mission call. They were visibly upset with my decision to leave the firm. “When did you make this decision, and why didn’t you discuss it with us earlier?” they demanded.

In a moment of clarity, a profound answer came into my mind. I said, “I made this decision as a 19-year-old boy, when I made sacred covenants with God in the temple to follow the Savior. I’ve built my entire life on those covenants, and I fully intend to keep them now.”

If You Will Be Responsible By Elder Jorge F. Zeballos

I was only 12 years old when the missionaries arrived for the first time to preach in the city where I was born in northern Chile. One Sunday, after I had been attending the small branch for six months, a missionary offered me the bread as he was passing the sacrament. I looked at him and softly said, “I can’t.”

“Why not?” he replied. I told him, “Because I am not a member of the Church.” The missionary couldn’t believe it. His eyes were shining. I suppose he thought, “But this young man is in every single meeting! How can he not be a member of the Church?”

The following day, the missionaries were in my home, and they did everything they could to teach my whole family. But since my family was not interested, it was only my weekly Church attendance for more than six months that made the missionaries feel confident enough to continue. Finally, the great moment I had been waiting for came when they invited me to become a member of the Church of Jesus Christ. The missionaries explained to me that since I was a minor, I would need my parents’ permission. I went with the missionaries to see my father, thinking that his loving answer would be “Son, when you are of legal age, you will be able to make your own decisions.”

While the missionaries spoke with him, I prayed fervently for his heart to be touched so he would give me the permission I wanted. His answer to the missionaries was the following: “Elders, over the past six months, I have seen my son Jorge get up early every Sunday morning, put on his best clothes, and walk to church. I have seen only a good influence from the Church in his life.” Then, addressing me, he surprised me by saying, “Son, if you will be responsible for this decision, then you have my permission to be baptized.” I hugged my father, gave him a kiss, and thanked him for what he was doing. The next day I was baptized. Last week was the 47th anniversary of that important moment in my life.

Funny Stories from General Conference – Oct. 2014

Funny stories and jokes from the Lord’s living prophets and apostles during the October 2014 LDS General Conference, with segments from Elder Christofferson, President Uchtdorf, Elder Oaks, Brother Callister, President Eyring, Elder Packer, and Elder Bednar.

Mission Prep Quotes from General Conference Oct 2014

Welcome to Conference – President Thomas S. Monson

“The Church continues to grow. We are now more than 15 million strong and increasing in numbers. Our missionary efforts are going forward unhindered. We have over 88,000 missionaries serving, sharing the gospel message the world over. We reaffirm that missionary work is a priesthood duty, and we encourage all worthy and able young men to serve. We are very grateful for the young women who also serve. They make a significant contribution, although they are not under the same mandate to serve as are the young men.”

The Reason for Our Hope – President Boyd K. Packer

“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was restored to move throughout the world the knowledge of the life and teachings of the Savior. This great conference is being broadcast in 94 languages by satellite to 102 countries but is also available on the Internet to every nation where the Church is present. We have over 3,000 stakes. Our full-time missionary force exceeds 88,000, and total Church membership has passed 15 million. These numbers serve as evidence that the “stone which is cut out of the mountain without hands” continues to roll forth and will eventually fill “the whole earth” (D&C 65:2).

spiritual strength of membersBut no matter how large the organization of the Church becomes or how many millions of members join our ranks, no matter how many continents and countries our missionaries enter or how many different languages we speak, the true success of the gospel of Jesus Christ will be measured by the spiritual strength of its individual members. We need the strength of conviction that is found in the heart of every loyal disciple of Christ.”

Which Way Do You Face? – Elder Lynn G. Robbins

“When this fear of men tempts us to condone sin, it becomes a “snare” according to the book of Proverbs (see Proverbs 29:25). The snare may be cleverly baited to appeal to our compassionate side to tolerate or even approve of something that has been condemned by God. For the weak of faith, it can be a major stumbling block. For example, some young missionaries carry this fear of men into the mission field and fail to report the flagrant disobedience of a companion to their mission president because they don’t want to offend their wayward companion. Decisions of character are made by remembering the right order of the first and second great commandments (see Matthew 22:37–39). When these confused missionaries realize they are accountable to God and not to their companion, it should give them courage to do an about-face.”

Rescue in Unity – Elder Chi Hong (Sam) Wong

“With so many more full-time missionaries now available in each Church unit, it will be wise for bishops and branch presidents to make better use of their ward and branch councils. The bishop can invite each member of the ward council to come with a list of names of those who may need assistance. Members of the ward council will counsel together carefully on how they might best help. Bishops will listen attentively to the ideas and make assignments.

Full-time missionaries are great resources to the wards in these rescue efforts. They are young and full of energy. They love to have a list of specific names of people to work with. They enjoy working together with ward members. They know these are great finding opportunities for them. They are devoted to establishing the Lord’s kingdom. They have a strong testimony that they will become more Christlike as they participate in these rescuing efforts.”

Joseph Smith – Elder Neil L. Andersen

testimony of joseph smith“To the youth listening today or reading these words in the days ahead, I give a specific challenge: Gain a personal witness of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Let your voice help fulfill Moroni’s prophetic words to speak good of the Prophet. Here are two ideas: First, find scriptures in the Book of Mormon that you feel and know are absolutely true. Then share them with family and friends in family home evening, seminary, and your Young Men and Young Women classes, acknowledging that Joseph was an instrument in God’s hands. Next, read the testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith in the Pearl of Great Price or in this pamphlet, now in 158 languages. You can find it online at LDS.org or with the missionaries. This is Joseph’s own testimony of what actually occurred. Read it often. Consider recording the testimony of Joseph Smith in your own voice, listening to it regularly, and sharing it with friends. Listening to the Prophet’s testimony in your own voice will help bring the witness you seek.”

Choose Wisely – Elder Quentin L. Cook

“We need unequivocal commitment to the commandments and strict adherence to sacred covenants. When we allow rationalizations to prevent us from temple endowments, worthy missions, and temple marriage, they are particularly harmful. It is heartbreaking when we profess belief in these goals yet neglect the everyday conduct required to achieve them.”

emissaries of Jesus Christ“I recently met a fine teenage young man. His goals were to go on a mission, obtain an education, marry in the temple, and have a faithful happy family. I was very pleased with his goals. But during further conversation, it became evident that his conduct and the choices he was making were not consistent with his goals. I felt he genuinely wanted to go on a mission and was avoiding serious transgressions that would prohibit a mission, but his day-to-day conduct was not preparing him for the physical, emotional, social, intellectual, and spiritual challenges he would face. He had not learned to work hard. He was not serious about school or seminary. He attended church, but he had not read the Book of Mormon. He was spending a large amount of time on video games and social media. He seemed to think that showing up for his mission would be sufficient. Young men, please recommit to worthy conduct and serious preparation to be emissaries of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.”

Stay in the Boat and Hold On! – Elder M. Russell Ballard

“Recently, I spoke at the new mission presidents’ seminar and counseled these leaders: ‘Keep the eyes of the mission on the leaders of the Church. … We will not and … cannot lead [you] astray. And as you teach your missionaries to focus their eyes on us, teach them to never follow those who think they know more about how to administer the affairs of the Church than … Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ do’ through the priesthood leaders who have the keys to preside.”

Come and See – Elder David A. Bednar

“Devoted disciples of Jesus Christ always have been and always will be valiant missionaries. A missionary is a follower of Christ who testifies of Him as the Redeemer and proclaims the truths of His gospel. The Church of Jesus Christ always has been and always will be a missionary church. The individual members of the Savior’s Church have accepted the solemn obligation to assist in fulfilling the divine commission given by the Lord to His Apostles, as recorded in the New Testament: ‘Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.'”

“When we invite you to attend church with us or to learn with the full-time missionaries, we are not trying to sell you a product. As members of the Church, we do not receive prizes or bonus points in a heavenly contest. We are not seeking simply to increase the numerical size of the Church. And most importantly, we are not attempting to coerce you to believe as we do. We are inviting you to hear the restored truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ so you can study, ponder, pray, and come to know for yourself if the things we are sharing with you are true.”

“We feel a solemn responsibility to carry this message to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. And that is precisely what we are doing with a force today of more than 88,000 full-time missionaries laboring in over 150 sovereign states around the world. These remarkable men and women help the members of our Church fulfill the divinely appointed and individual responsibility each of us has to proclaim the everlasting gospel of Jesus Christ (see D&C 68:1).”

“…Why did that little boy do what he did? Please note that he immediately and intuitively wanted to give to his friends the very thing that had helped him when he was hurt. That little boy did not have to be urged, challenged, prompted, or goaded to act. His desire to share was the natural consequence of a most helpful and beneficial personal experience.

sharing matters of spiritual importanceMany of us as adults behave in precisely the same way when we find a treatment or medication that alleviates pain with which we have long suffered, or we receive counsel that enables us to face challenges with courage and perplexities with patience. Sharing with other people things that are most meaningful to us or have helped us is not unusual at all.

This same pattern is especially evident in matters of great spiritual importance and consequence. For example, an account in a volume of scripture known as the Book of Mormon highlights a dream received by an ancient prophet-leader named Lehi. The central feature in Lehi’s dream is the tree of life—which is a representation of “the love of God” that is “most desirable above all things” and “most joyous to the soul” (1 Nephi 11:22–23; see also 1 Nephi 8:12, 15).”

Covenant Daughters of God – Jean A. Stevens

“My parents’ lives together began in an unusual way. It was 1936. They were dating seriously and were planning to marry when my dad received a letter inviting him to serve as a full-time missionary in South Africa. The letter said that if he was worthy and willing to serve, he was to contact his bishop. You can quickly see that the process of being called as a missionary was very different in those days! Dad showed the letter to his sweetheart, Helen, and they determined without question he would serve.”

Sharing Your Light – Neill F. Marriott

gospel light sharing with others“Tonight I would like to consider two important responsibilities we carry: first, consistently adding gospel light and truth to our lives, and second, sharing that light and truth with others.

Do you know how important you are? Every one of you—right now—is valuable and essential in Heavenly Father’s plan of salvation. We have a work to do. We know the truth of the restored gospel. Are we ready to defend that truth? We need to live it; we need to share it. We must stand firm in our faith and lift our voices to proclaim true doctrine.”

Forgiving: The Crowning Expression of Christ’s Love

[colored_box color=”blue”]Below is the text of a talk I am giving tomorrow, May 11, 2014. It’s not strictly mission prep related, but I thought you’d still enjoy it. [/colored_box]

The bishop called me early last week and asked me to speak on love. As I was doing my research for the talk, the theme of forgiving others as an expression of Christlike love surfaced again and again. I hope that if you take away anything from this talk it is that we must love and forgive others as Christ loves and forgives us in order to return to God’s presence.

The world’s definition of love

I thought I’d start with a little compare and contrast of the world’s definition of love to the Lord’s definition. I Googled “definition of love” and this is what I got: “1. an intense feeling of deep affection. 2. to feel a deep romantic attachment to someone.”

Further research of the world’s definition of love revealed that the Greeks are said to have four categories of love. Agape, which is unconditional or spiritual love. Philia, which means affectionate regard or friendship. Storge is the word for familial love and affection. And eros is romantic love.

None of these definitions of love are bad per se, but let’s look at how the word love is used in the scriptures.

God’s definition of love

Listen to these scriptural uses of the word love. As you do so, think in your mind how the scriptural definition of love compares to the popular way in which the world defines love.

  • “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
  • “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13
  • “The Lord hath redeemed my soul from hell; I have beheld his glory, and I am encircled about eternally in the arms of his love.” 2 Nephi 1:15
  • “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.” 1 Jn. 4:20–21
  • “For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them… But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest.” Luke 6: 32, 35
  • “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation (i.e. atonement) for our sins.” 1 John 4:10
  • “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” John 13:34
  • “Thou shalt live together in love.” D&C 42:45
  • “We love him, because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19
  • “Jesus wept. Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him!” John 11:35-36
  • “Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Rom. 8:39
  • “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear” 1 John 4:18
  • “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.” 1 John 3: 16-18

I could go on and on. There are dozens of more scriptures about love, and particularly God’s love for us. There is no one, singular definition of love in the scriptures, but I think you get the picture.

The Pure Love of Christ

Most of us are familiar with Mormon’s declaration that “charity is the pure love of Christ” (Moroni 7:47). I’d like to examine that statement more closely. What is the pure love of Christ?

The footnote on love in that verse takes you to Ether 12:33-34: “And again, I remember that thou hast said that thou hast loved the world, even unto the laying down of thy life for the world, that thou mightest take it again to prepare a place for the children of men. And now I know that this love which thou hast had for the children of men is charity; wherefore, except men shall have charity they cannot inherit that place which thou hast prepared in the mansions of thy Father.”

Two things stand out to me about this verse. First, it defines for us what the pure love of Christ means by explaining how Christ loved the world. Jesus laid down his life and took it up again. He performed the great atoning sacrifice. Second, it highlights the fact that each one of us must love the same way that Christ has loved in order to inherit the mansions of Heaven prepared for us. Through the power of the resurrection and redemption, Heavenly Father has prepared a place for each of us in the celestial mansions above, if we will but follow the Savior’s example of charity.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said that pure Christlike love can change the world. In his April 2014 General Conference talk he said:

“At the zenith of His mortal ministry, Jesus said, “Love one another, as I have loved you.” To make certain they understood exactly what kind of love that was, He said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” … Christlike love is the greatest need we have on this planet in part because righteousness was always supposed to accompany it. So if love is to be our watchword, as it must be, then by the word of Him who is love personified, we must forsake transgression and any hint of advocacy for it in others. …Pure Christlike love flowing from true righteousness can change the world.” (The Cost—and Blessings—of Discipleship by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, General Conference, April 2014)

President Thomas S. Monson has said that “we cannot truly love God if we do not love our fellow travelers on this mortal journey.” In his April 2014 General Conference talk he said:

“Love is the very essence of the gospel, and Jesus Christ is our Exemplar. His life was a legacy of love. The sick He healed; the downtrodden He lifted; the sinner He saved. At the end the angry mob took His life. And yet there rings from Golgotha’s hill the words: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do”—a crowning expression in mortality of compassion and love.”

He continued. “Forgiveness should go hand in hand with love. In our families, as well as with our friends, there can be hurt feelings and disagreements. Again, it doesn’t really matter how small the issue was. It cannot and should not be left to canker, to fester, and ultimately to destroy. Blame keeps wounds open. Only forgiveness heals.” (Love—the Essence of the Gospel by President Thomas S. Monson, General Conference, April 2014)

Christ’s Example of Forgiving Others

I’d like to take the next few moments and talk about President Monson’s statement that the Savior’s capacity to forgive is the crowning expression of his love.

During the Savior’s mortal ministry, we learn of this exchange in Matthew 18:21-22. “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.”

Jesus Christ ministeringTo the man sick with palsy, confined to a bed, Jesus said, “Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.” Then, to answer the murmurings of the doubting scribes who witnessed the event, the Savior drove the point home saying, “But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins…Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house. And he arose, and departed to his house.” (Matt 9:2-7)

To the woman taken in adultery, “Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.” John 8:11.

Through the Book of Mormon prophet Alma, the Lord said, “as often as my people repent will I forgive them their trespasses against me.” Truly the Lord’s capacity to forgive is infinite, and his examples and teachings are clear on the subject. We must follow the Savior’s example of love in order to inherit the celestial glory, and that means we much forgive as Christ forgives.

If we fail to forgive others, we are not following Christ. Perhaps this is why the Lord called not forgiving others “the greater sin.” In Doctrine and Covenants 64:9 the Lord says, “I say unto you, that ye ought to forgive one another; for he that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin.”

The Power of Forgiving

Great power comes to us, truly the power of God, when we forgive others their trespasses against us. Nephi experienced this power. His brothers, Laman and Lemuel, in one of their many rebellions, tied up Nephi and planned to destroy him. Nephi prayed in faith for deliverance, and the “bands were loosed” from off his hands and feet and he stood before his brethren. They were probably terrified and the scriptures tell us that pled with Nephi that he would forgive them. In 1 Nephi 7:21 it says that Nephi “did frankly forgive them all that they had done, and I did exhort them that they would pray unto the Lord their God for forgiveness.” Nephi was a man of great spiritual strength. No doubt this was due to his ability to follow the example of the Savior in love, compassion, and forgiving.

My friend, the author Charles R. Hobbs, a great church leader and a patriarch in one of the stakes north of here, wrote a wonderful book on blessings of forgiving others called The Healing Power of Forgiving. In that book, he tells a couple of stories I’d like to share.

A Thief in the Night

Charles writes:

I grew up in Preston, Idaho. When I was six years old, my father, Milo, put me to work bagging candy in the grocery store. I earned ten cents a day. By the time I was a teenager, Dad had his own grocery business, and I was stocking shelves at twenty-five cents an hour.

…Late one night our telephone rang. It was the police. The officer said, “Milo, a thief is breaking into your store through the back entrance. I am ready to apprehend him.” As Dad was beginning to pull on his trousers, he said, “Officer, let me take care of this. I will be there shortly. Watch him till I get there, then quietly drive away.” Concerned for my father’s safety, the officer nevertheless complied.

When my dad pulled up to the back of the store, he saw the door open. Now out of his car, he came face to face with the thief, who was carrying an armful of groceries to his old clunker.

Recognizing the man Dad called out, “Burt, why are you doing this?” Embarrassed and with bowed head, Burt answered, “My family is hungry, and I have no money to buy food for them.”

My father said, “Here, let me help you.” They put the stolen groceries in the car. Then my father said, “Now let’s go get some more. You have a large family.”

Once the car was filled with food, my father said, “Burt, I think it’s time you and I have a talk. It’s wrong to steal anything from anybody, even when in desperate need. It can get you and your family in a lot of trouble. The next time you are in need, come to me. I will do what I can to help you.”

To sincerely forgive an offender by showing mercy and compassion is truly an act of spiritual nobility. And, if done in the right way, it will lift both wrongdoer and forgiver closer to the joy of Christ’s pure love. (The Healing Power of Forgiving, Charles R. Hobbs)

Teaching Forgiveness to Our Children

Another lesson on forgiveness Charles wrote about in his book involved his grandmother, Marinda Skidmore, who went by the nickname “Rinda.”

Rinda [was] persecuted by bullies at school. She was small and easy to pick on. However, being a studious pupil, she rapidly advanced ahead of older and larger students. The school bullies called her the “teacher’s pet.” The ringleader of the persecutors lived in a little shack. Her name was Tad B. She was 14 and “the biggest girl in the school.”

One time bullies at school hoisted Rinda at half-mast on a flag pole. She said, “A man passing by saved me from injury that time.”

Suffering much physical and mental torment, Rinda wrote: “The seeds of hate were sown in my heart, germinated, and grew especially toward Tad B.”

One summer day, one of Tad B.’s legs was severely injured at her father’s sawmill when she fell onto a big, moving saw. Rinda wrote:

My mother [Ellen Persson-Monson] displayed great sympathy as she told me about the accident. I shrugged my shoulders and said with a disdainful sneer, “Wish her leg was cut clean off.” Mother was horrified. “You wicked little girl,” she said. “You surely don’t mean that.”

“I hate Tad, and I do mean that. I wouldn’t care if both her legs were cut off.”

I started to run away, but mother caught my arm and held me. . . . She told me to go away and think about it. When mother had a few moments to spare she called me to her, and she talked to me of Jesus and the example of forgiveness he set for us. She cried as she talked, but still it did not interest me. I hated Tad and that was that.

Again she sent me away. No girl of hers could be so unforgiving. I was so miserable that I lay for a long time in my playhouse. Then mother called me. She handed me a quart cup and told me to go out and pick raspberries. . . . I picked about one pint. . . . She told me to take the berries over to Tad. I refused and went out again. Mother did not call me to [lunch].

After the men were gone, I went in and offered to help wash the dishes. She refused my proffered help; such a girl as I was not fit to help her, she told me. I was heart broken.

At three o’clock that afternoon, I told mother I was ready to take the berries over to Tad. Slowly, I walked until I reached the shack where Tad lived. There were two doors on the shack, and I knocked on the one where there were no steps. I did not intend to go into the house. Tad’s mother opened the door.

“I brought these for Tad,” I said.

“Come in. Come here. Put your foot up high, and I will give you a lift.”

She caught my hand while she spoke and almost dragged me into the house.

“Look,” she said to Tad who was lying facing the wall. “Rinda brought you these.”

“Not Rinda, not her! I’ve been meaner to her than anybody I know,” she said.

“Why Tad, how could you be mean to her? She’s such a little girl, and you are so big!”

Then Tad blurted out in a way that I understood, “Rinda’s got everything. I ain’t got nothin’. Even the teacher likes her best.” Tad was jealous of me.

My heart was touched at the sight of her pale face, her body shaking with sobs. I put my hand on her shoulder and said softly, “I forgive.”

Then I ran home as fast as I could go, rushed up to mother, slipped my arm about mothers neck, and said happily, “Mother, I forgived.”

Tad B. and Rinda were the best of friends from that day on.

Testimony of Forgiving with Christlike Love

I know that the Savior’s capacity to forgive is the crowning expression of his love. I know that if we are to follow Christ, as all of us who are baptized have covenanted to do (2Ne 31:13), we must follow his example of forgiving and obey his teaching to forgive unconditionally (D&C 64:10). When we do so, we will experience a change of heart and we will have Christ’s image in our countenance.

It is no wonder that Moroni, in some of his final words in The Book of Mormon, included an injunction to “pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure.” (Moroni 7:48) Then we will be worthy to dwell with God in the celestial glory. This is my testimony.

Funny Stories from General Conference April 2014

Funny Stories from General Conference April 2014 including President Monson’s comment to President Uchtdorf “Don’t even think about it” and Elder Bednar’s story that if the couple bought a truck they wouldn’t have money for milk. Also stories from Elder Andersen, Elder Scott, Elder Ballard, and Elder Zwick’s story about his wife jumping out of the cab of a big rig while it was still moving with their baby in her arms.

Mission Prep Quotes From General Conference April 2014

two sister missionaries smilingDaughters in the Covenant – President Henry B. Eyring

In missions across the earth, sisters are being called to serve as leaders. The Lord created the need for their service by touching the hearts of sisters in greater numbers to serve. More than a few mission presidents have seen the sister missionaries become ever more powerful as proselyters and particularly as nurturing leaders.

The Cost—and Blessings—of Discipleship – Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

With admiration and encouragement for everyone who will need to remain steadfast in these latter days, I say to all and especially the youth of the Church that if you haven’t already, you will one day find yourself called upon to defend your faith or perhaps even endure some personal abuse simply because you are a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Such moments will require both courage and courtesy on your part.

For example, a sister missionary recently wrote to me: “My companion and I saw a man sitting on a bench in the town square eating his lunch. As we drew near, he looked up and saw our missionary name tags. With a terrible look in his eye, he jumped up and raised his hand to hit me. I ducked just in time, only to have him spit his food all over me and start swearing the most horrible things at us. We walked away saying nothing. I tried to wipe the food off of my face, only to feel a clump of mashed potato hit me in the back of the head. Sometimes it is hard being a missionary because right then I wanted to go back, grab that little man, and say, ‘EXCUSE ME!’ But I didn’t.”

To this devoted missionary I say, dear child, you have in your own humble way stepped into a circle of very distinguished women and men who have, as the Book of Mormon prophet Jacob said, “view[ed Christ’s] death, and suffer[ed] his cross and [borne] the shame of the world.”

Indeed, of Jesus Himself, Jacob’s brother Nephi wrote: “And the world, because of their iniquity, shall judge him to be a thing of naught; wherefore they scourge him, and he suffereth it; and they smite him, and he suffereth it. Yea, they spit upon him, and he suffereth it, because of his loving kindness and his long-suffering towards the children of men.”

In keeping with the Savior’s own experience, there has been a long history of rejection and a painfully high price paid by prophets and apostles, missionaries and members in every generation—all those who have tried to honor God’s call to lift the human family to “a more excellent way.”

A Priceless Heritage of Hope – Pres. Henry B. Eyring

I owe much of my happiness in life to a man I never met in mortal life. He was an orphan who became one of my great-grandparents. He left me a priceless heritage of hope. Let me tell you some of the part he played in creating that inheritance for me. His name was Heinrich Eyring…

It was that Spirit that sustained him on the mission to which he was called only a few months after accepting the baptismal covenant. He left as his heritage his example of staying faithful to his mission for six years in what was then called the Indian Territories. To receive his release from his mission, he walked from Oklahoma to Salt Lake City, a distance of approximately 1,100 miles (1,770 km).

Soon thereafter he was called by the prophet of God to move to southern Utah. From there he answered another call to serve a mission in his native Germany. He then accepted the invitation of an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ to help build up the Latter-day Saint colonies in northern Mexico. From there he was called to Mexico City as a full-time missionary again. He honored those calls. He lies buried in a small cemetery in Colonia Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico.

I recite these facts not to claim greatness for him or for what he did or for his descendants. I recite those facts to honor him for the example of faith and hope that was in his heart.

 I Have Given You an Example – Richard G. Scott

marry returned missionary temple

As I was about to graduate from the university, I fell in love with a beautiful young woman named Jeanene Watkins. I thought she was beginning to have some deep feelings for me also. One night when we were talking about the future, she carefully wove into the discussion a statement that changed my life forever. She said, “When I marry, it will be to a faithful returned missionary in the temple.”

I hadn’t thought much about a mission before then. That night my motivation to consider missionary service changed dramatically. I went home, and I could think of nothing else. I was awake all night long. I was completely distracted from my studies the next day. After many prayers I made the decision to meet with my bishop and begin my missionary application.

Jeanene never asked me to serve a mission for her. She loved me enough to share her conviction and then gave me the opportunity to work out the direction of my own life. We both served missions and later were sealed in the temple. Jeanene’s courage and commitment to her faith have made all the difference in our lives together. I am certain we would not have found the happiness we enjoy without her strong faith in the principle of serving the Lord first. She is a wonderful, righteous example!

The Keys and Authority of the Priesthood – Dallin H. Oaks

We are not accustomed to speaking of women having the authority of the priesthood in their Church callings, but what other authority can it be? When a woman—young or old—is set apart to preach the gospel as a full-time missionary, she is given priesthood authority to perform a priesthood function. The same is true when a woman is set apart to function as an officer or teacher in a Church organization under the direction of one who holds the keys of the priesthood. Whoever functions in an office or calling received from one who holds priesthood keys exercises priesthood authority in performing her or his assigned duties.

What Manner of Men? – Donald L. Hallstrom

If you think your challenges are insurmountable, let me tell you of a man we met in a small village outside of Hyderabad, India, in 2006. This man exemplified a willingness to change. Appa Rao Nulu was born in rural India. When he was three years old, he contracted polio and was left physically disabled. His society taught him that his potential was severely limited. However, as a young adult he met our missionaries. They taught him of a greater potential, both in this life and in the eternity to come. He was baptized and confirmed a member of the Church. With a significantly raised vision, he set a goal to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood and to serve a full-time mission. In 1986 he was ordained an elder and called to serve in India. Walking was not easy—he did his best, using a cane in each hand, and he fell often—but quitting was never an option. He made a commitment to honorably and devotedly serve a mission, and he did.

When we met Brother Nulu, nearly 20 years after his mission, he cheerfully greeted us where the road ended and led us down an uneven dirt path to the two-room home he shared with his wife and three children. It was an extremely hot and uncomfortable day. He still walked with great difficulty, but there was no self-pity. Through personal diligence, he has become a teacher, providing schooling for the village children. When we entered his modest house, he immediately took me to a corner and pulled out a box that contained his most important possessions. He wanted me to see a piece of paper. It read, “With good wishes and blessings to Elder Nulu, a courageous and happy missionary; [dated] June 25, 1987; [signed] Boyd K. Packer.” On that occasion, when then-Elder Packer visited India and spoke to a group of missionaries, he affirmed to Elder Nulu his potential. In essence, what Brother Nulu was telling me that day in 2006 was that the gospel had changed him—permanently!

The Choice Generation – Randall L. Ridd

how could he not serve a mission

Knowing Who You Really Are Makes Decisions Easier. I have a friend who learned this truth in a very personal way. His son was raised in the gospel, but he seemed to be wandering spiritually. He frequently declined opportunities to exercise the priesthood. His parents were disappointed when he declared that he had decided not to serve a mission. My friend prayed earnestly for his son, hoping that he would have a change of heart. Those hopes were dashed when his son announced that he was engaged to be married. The father pleaded with his son to get his patriarchal blessing. The son finally agreed but insisted on visiting the patriarch alone.

When he returned after the blessing, he was very emotional. He took his girlfriend outside, where he could talk to her privately. The father peeked out the window to see the young couple wiping away each other’s tears.

Later the son shared with his father what had happened. With great emotion he explained that during the blessing, he had a glimpse of who he was in the premortal world. He saw how valiant and influential he was in persuading others to follow Christ. Knowing who he really was, how could he not serve a mission? Young men, remember who you really are. Remember that you hold the holy priesthood. This will inspire you to make correct choices.

Following Up – M. Russell Ballard

inviting someone taught missionaries

In the spirit of Peter’s example, may I suggest that we can all be more consistently involved in missionary work by replacing our fear with real faith, inviting someone at least once a quarter—or four times every year—to be taught by the full-time missionaries. They are prepared to teach by the Spirit, with sincere and heartfelt inspiration from the Lord. Together we can follow up on our invitations, take others by the hand, lift them up, and walk with them on their spiritual journey.

To help you in this process, I invite all members, regardless of your current calling or level of activity in the Church, to obtain a copy of Preach My Gospel. It is available through our distribution centers and also online. The online version can be read or downloaded at no cost. It is a guidebook for missionary work—which means it is a guidebook for all of us. Read it, study it, and then apply what you learn to help you understand how to bring souls to Christ through invitation and follow-up. As President Thomas S. Monson has said, “Now is the time for members and missionaries to come together, to work together, to labor in the Lord’s vineyard to bring souls unto Him.”

Live True to the Faith – William R. Walker

My great-great-grandmother Hannah Maria Eagles Harris was one of the first to listen to Wilford Woodruff. She informed her husband, Robert Harris Jr., that she had heard the word of God and that she intended to be baptized. Robert was not pleased to hear his wife’s report. He told her he would accompany her to the next sermon given by the Mormon missionary, and he would straighten him out.

Sitting near the front of the assembly, with a firm resolve to not be swayed, and perhaps to heckle the visiting preacher, Robert was immediately touched by the Spirit, just as his wife had been. He knew the message of the Restoration was true, and he and his wife were baptized.

Their story of faith and devotion is similar to thousands of others: when they heard the gospel message, they knew it was true! As the Lord says, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27).

Funny Stories from General Conf. – Oct. 2013

Funny stories and jokes from the Lord’s living prophets and apostles during the October 2013 LDS General Conference, including President Uchtdorf’s story about skiing: “I’d fallen and I couldn’t get up.”