Mission Prep from General Conference Oct 2013

Welcome to Conference – President Thomas S. Monson

I am happy to announce that two weeks ago, the membership of the Church reached 15 million. The Church continues to grow steadily and to change the lives of more and more people every year. It is spreading across the earth as our missionary force seeks out those who are searching for the truth.

It has scarcely been one year since I announced the lowering of the age of missionary service. Since that time the number of full-time missionaries serving has increased from 58,500 in October 2012 to 80,333 today. What a tremendous and inspiring response we have witnessed!

…To help maintain our ever-increasing missionary force, I have asked our members in the past to contribute, as they are able, to their ward missionary fund or to the General Missionary Fund of the Church. The response to that request has been gratifying and has helped support thousands of missionaries whose circumstances do not allow them to support themselves. I thank you for your generous contributions. The need for help is ongoing, that we might continue to assist those whose desire to serve is great but who do not, by themselves, have the means to do so.

Hastening the Lord’s Game Plan! – Elder S. Gifford Nielson

worn out missionary shoes bronzedI walked into the stake president’s office for the initial meeting that weekend, I noticed a pair of tattered-looking, bronzed shoes on the credenza behind his desk, accompanied by a scripture ending in an exclamation point. As I read it, I felt the Lord was aware of my study, had answered my prayers, and that He knew exactly what I needed to soothe my anxious heart. I asked the stake president to tell me the story of the shoes.

He said: “These are shoes of a young convert to the Church whose family situation was strained, yet he was determined to serve a successful mission and did so in Guatemala. Upon his return I met with him to extend an honorable release and saw his shoes were worn out. This young man had given his all to the Lord without much, if any, family support.

“He noticed I was staring at his shoes and asked me, ‘President, is anything wrong?’

“I responded, ‘No, Elder, everything is right! Can I have those shoes?’”

The stake president continued: “My respect and love for this returning missionary was overwhelming! I wanted to memorialize the experience, so I had his shoes bronzed. It is a reminder to me when I walk into this office of the effort we all must give regardless of our circumstances.

serve with enthusiasm alongside the full-time missionaries exclamation pointI know we each must develop and carry out our own personal game plan to serve with enthusiasm alongside the full-time missionaries—EXCLAMATION POINT!

Put Your Trust in the Lord – Elder M. Russell Ballard

Sister Ballard and I recently returned from an assignment to five countries in Europe. There we had the privilege of meeting with many of our missionaries, perhaps some of your sons and your daughters. Since President Thomas S. Monson’s announcement of the lowering of the age for our young men and our young women to serve, I have had the privilege of meeting with over 3,000 of them. The Light of Christ radiates in their faces, and they are eager to move the work forward—to find and teach, to baptize, to activate, and to strengthen and to build the kingdom of God. Meeting with them, one quickly comes to know, however, that they cannot do this work alone. Today I want to speak to all members of the Church, because there is an urgency for each one of us to be engaged in sharing the gospel.

…Brothers and sisters, fear will be replaced with faith and confidence when members and the full-time missionaries kneel in prayer and ask the Lord to bless them with missionary opportunities. Then, we must demonstrate our faith and watch for opportunities to introduce the gospel of Jesus Christ to our Heavenly Father’s children, and surely those opportunities will come. These opportunities will never require a forced or a contrived response. They will flow as a natural result of our love for our brothers and sisters. Just be positive, and those whom you speak with will feel your love. They will never forget that feeling, though the timing may not be right for them to embrace the gospel. That too may change in the future when their circumstances change.

reach out to just one between now and ChristmasPreach My Gospel reminds all of us that “nothing happens in missionary work until [we] find someone to teach. Talk with as many people as you can each day. It is natural to be somewhat apprehensive about talking to people, but you can pray for the faith and strength to be more bold in opening your mouth to proclaim the restored gospel” ([2004], 156–57). You full-time missionaries, if you want to teach more, you must talk to more people every day. This has always been what the Lord has sent missionaries forth to do.

…We are not asking everyone to do everything. We are simply asking all members to pray, knowing that if every member, young and old, will reach out to just “one” between now and Christmas, millions will feel the love of the Lord Jesus Christ. And what a wonderful gift to the Savior.

The Doctrines and Principles Contained in the Articles of Faith – Elder L. Tom Perry

The tenth, eleventh, and twelfth articles of faith instruct us on how to conduct missionary work and share the gospel in a world of many nations and various laws. We learn about the gathering of Israel in preparation for the Second Coming of the Savior. We are instructed that men and women are agents unto themselves, and they can either accept or reject the word of God according to their own conscience. Finally, we learn as we spread the gospel of Jesus Christ to the four corners of the earth that we must respect the governments of each nation we enter.

Ye Are No More Strangers – Bishop Gérald Caussé

Because of the increased availability of transportation, speed of communication, and globalization of economies, the earth is becoming one large village where people and nations meet, connect, and intermingle like never before. These vast, worldwide changes serve the designs of Almighty God. The gathering of His elect from the four corners of the earth is taking place not only by sending missionaries to faraway countries but also with the arrival of people from other areas into our own cities and neighborhoods. Many, without knowing it, are being led by the Lord to places where they can hear the gospel and come into His fold.

Called of Him to Declare His Word – Elder Randy D. Funk

One of many outstanding missionaries with whom Sister Funk and I served was Elder Pokhrel from Nepal. After being a member of the Church for only two years, he was called to serve in the India Bangalore Mission, an English-speaking mission. He would tell you he was not well prepared. That was understandable. He had never seen a missionary until he was one, because no young missionaries serve in Nepal. He did not read English well enough to understand the instructions included with his call. When he reported to the missionary training center, instead of bringing nice slacks, white shirts, and ties, he packed, in his words, “five pairs of denim jeans, a couple of T-shirts, and a lot of hair gel.”

…Though missionary work was new and challenging for Elder Pokhrel, he served with great faith and faithfulness, seeking to understand and follow what he was learning from the scriptures, Preach My Gospel, and his mission leaders. He became a powerful teacher of the gospel—in English—and an excellent leader. After his mission and some time in Nepal, he returned to India to continue his education. Since January he has served as a branch president in New Delhi. Because of the real growth he experienced as a missionary, he continues to contribute to the real growth of the Church in India.

How did a young man who had never seen a missionary become one with such spiritual strength? How will you receive spiritual power as a missionary to open the doors, in-boxes, and hearts of those in the mission where you will serve? As usual, the answers are found in the scriptures and the words of living prophets and apostles.

…My young fellow servants, doors and hearts open daily to the gospel message—a message that brings hope and peace and joy to the children of God throughout the world. If you are humble and obedient and hearken to the voice of the Spirit, you will find great happiness in your service as a missionary.17 What a wonderful season it is to be a missionary—a time when the Lord is hastening His work!

Bind Up Their Wounds – President Henry B. Eyring

sister missionary treasure up the words of lifeIn your service as a full-time missionary, you will go to thousands of people in great spiritual need. Many, until you teach them, will not even know that they have spiritual wounds that, left untreated, will bring endless misery. You will go on the Lord’s errand to rescue them. Only the Lord can bind up their spiritual wounds as they accept the ordinances that lead to eternal life.

As a quorum member, as a home teacher, and as a missionary, you cannot help people repair spiritual damage unless your own faith is vibrant. That means far more than reading the scriptures regularly and praying over them. The prayer in the moment and quick glances in the scriptures are not preparation enough. The reassurance of what you will need comes with this counsel from the 84th section of the Doctrine and Covenants: “Neither take ye thought beforehand what ye shall say; but treasure up in your minds continually the words of life, and it shall be given you in the very hour that portion that shall be meted unto every man.”

True Shepherds – President Thomas S. Monson

The bishop of each ward in the Church oversees the assigning of priesthood holders as home teachers to visit the homes of members every month. They go in pairs. Where possible, a young man who is a priest or a teacher in the Aaronic Priesthood accompanies an adult holding the Melchizedek Priesthood. As they go into the homes of those for whom they are responsible, the Aaronic Priesthood holder should take part in the teaching which takes place. Such an assignment will help to prepare these young men for missions as well as for a lifetime of priesthood service.

Power in the Priesthood – Elder Neil L. Andersen

Sincerely asking for and listening to the thoughts and concerns voiced by women is vital in life, in marriage, and in building the kingdom of God. Twenty years ago in general conference, Elder M. Russell Ballard related a conversation he had with the general president of the Relief Society. There was a question raised about strengthening the worthiness of youth preparing to serve missions. Sister Elaine Jack said with a smile, “You know, Elder Ballard, the [women] of the Church may have some good suggestions … if they [are] asked. After all, … we are their mothers!”

The Work of Salvation Broadcast: Two Big Announcements on Facebook and Tours of Church Buildings

missionary in front of lds church buildingYesterday’s “The Work of Salvation” broadcast by the LDS Church included a renewed emphasis on member-missionary work, as well as two big announcements for full-time missionaries: Missionaries will use Facebook and other online proselyting tools during slow times, and our church buildings will now be opened to investigators for guided tours by the missionaries.

Both announcements came during Elder L. Tom Perry’s talk:

“During less-productive times of the day—chiefly in the mornings—missionaries will use computers in meetinghouses and other Church facilities to contact investigators and members, work with local priesthood leaders and missionary leaders, receive and contact referrals, follow up on commitments, confirm appointments, and teach principles from [the missionary guide] Preach My Gospel using Mormon.org, Facebook, blogs, email, and text messages.”

“As missionaries enter this new age where they will use computers in the work of the Lord, we invite the young and the old, the adults, the young adults, the youth, and the children everywhere to join with us in this exciting new work by becoming Facebook friends with the missionaries in your area on your own computers and sharing their gospel messages online and by becoming involved in missionary work yourselves.”

Elder Perry also touched on a subject that I think is long overdue regarding our church buildings. I have often thought it a bit strange that our houses of worship say “visitors welcome” on the front, but they are empty most days and many nights and there is no formal way to receive visitors. Elder Perry confirmed that a complaint often received from people interested in the Church is they build up courage to stop by an LDS meetinghouse only to find it locked and empty. He said that LDS Church meetinghouses will now begin to be opened for guided tours by our missionaries. I think this is a wonderful and inspired move that is sure to build good will and lead to growth in the Church.

Funny Moments from General Conf. April 2013

Funny stories and jokes from the Lord’s living prophets and apostles during the April 2013 LDS General Conference, including President Monson’s story about taking matches and burning the weeds, an event which taught him the importance of obedience.

Mission Prep from General Conference April 2013

Welcome to Conference, by President Thomas S. Monson

“With the young men now being able to serve at age 18 and the young women at 19, the response of our young people has been remarkable and inspiring. As of April 4—two days ago—we have 65,634 full-time missionaries serving, with over 20,000 more who have received their calls but who have not yet entered a missionary training center and over 6,000 more in the interview process with their bishops and stake presidents. It has been necessary for us to create 58 new missions to accommodate the increased numbers of missionaries.

“To help maintain this missionary force, and because many of our missionaries come from modest circumstances, we invite you, as you are able, to contribute generously to the General Missionary Fund of the Church.”

For Peace at Home, by Elder Richard G. Scott

“You children in the Primary, you young men and women in youth programs, and you stalwart missionaries now serving are doing many things more effectively than I was able to do at your age. In the premortal life you proved to be valiant, obedient, and pure. There you worked hard to develop talents and capacities to prepare yourselves to face mortality with courage, dignity, honor, and success.”

Catch the Wave, by Elder Russell M. Nelson

Catch the Wave: Missionary Work“Dear brothers and sisters, I add my voice to that of President Thomas S. Monson and others in praising those who have responded to a prophet’s call for more worthy missionaries. Now an unprecedented wave of enthusiasm for missionary work is sweeping the entire earth. Since President Monson’s historic announcement last October, thousands of elders, sisters, and couples have been called, and many more are preparing.1 Now we get questions like “What are you going to do with all these missionaries?” The answer is simple. They will do what missionaries have always done. They will preach the gospel! They will bless the children of Almighty God!

“More of you young men and women will catch this wave as you strive to be worthy of mission calls. You see this as a wave of truth and righteousness. You see your opportunity to be on the crest of that wave.

“…Young men and women, your education is ever important—to us, to you, and to God. Where feasible, if you wish to attend a college or university after your mission, we encourage you to apply to your institution of choice before beginning your mission. Many institutions of higher learning will grant an 18- to 30-month deferral to prospective missionaries. This will enable you elders and sisters to serve without worrying about where you will begin your advanced education.”

Send your dollars on a mission“…You adults, catch the wave with help for the spiritual, physical, and financial preparation of future missionaries. Pinching pennies for piggy banks becomes part of your practice. You senior couples, you plan for the day when you can go on your mission. We will be most grateful for your service. Until then, perhaps some of you could send your dollars on missions by contributing to the General Missionary Fund, as suggested by President Monson again this morning”

The Power of the Priesthood in the Boy, by Elder Tad Callister

“While serving as a mission president, I observed that there was a dramatic increase in the spirituality and leadership skills of young men during their mission years. If we could somehow quantify these qualities over their Aaronic Priesthood and mission years, perhaps they would look something like the line you see on this graph. In my mind there are at least three key factors that contribute to such dramatic growth in the mission years: (1) we trust these young men as never before, (2) we have high but loving expectations of them, and (3) we train and retrain them so they can fulfill those expectations with excellence.”

Come, All Ye Sons of God, by President Thomas S. Monson

“This divine command, coupled with its glorious promise, is our watchword today as it was in the meridian of time. Missionary work is an identifying feature of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Always has it been; ever shall it be. As the Prophet Joseph Smith declared, “After all that has been said, the greatest and most important duty is to preach the Gospel.”

“Within two short years, all of the full-time missionaries currently serving in this royal army of God will have concluded their labors and will have returned to their homes and loved ones. For the elders, their replacements are found tonight in the ranks of the Aaronic Priesthood of the Church. Young men, are you ready to respond? Are you willing to work? Are you prepared to serve?

“At best, missionary work necessitates drastic adjustment to one’s pattern of living. It requires long hours and great devotion, selfless sacrifice and fervent prayer. As a result, dedicated missionary service returns a dividend of eternal joy which extends throughout mortality and into eternity.”

“…Preparation for a mission begins early. In addition to spiritual preparation, a wise parent will provide the means whereby a young son might commence his personal missionary fund. He may well be encouraged as the years go by to study a foreign language so that, if necessary, his language skills could be utilized. Eventually there comes that glorious day when the bishop and stake president invite the young man in for a visit. Worthiness is ascertained; a missionary recommendation is completed.

“During no other time does the entire family so anxiously watch and wait for the mailman and the letter which contains the return address 47 East South Temple, Salt Lake City, Utah. The letter arrives; the suspense is overwhelming; the call is read. Often the assigned field of labor is far away from home. Regardless of the location, however, the response of the prepared and obedient missionary is the same: “I will serve.”

A mission is a family affair“Preparations for departure begin. Young men, I hope you appreciate the sacrifices which your parents so willingly make in order for you to serve. Their labors will sustain you, their faith encourage you, their prayers uphold you. A mission is a family affair. Though the expanse of continents or oceans may separate, hearts are as one.”

“…The final point in our formula is to serve the Lord with love. There is no substitute for love. Successful missionaries love their companions, their mission leaders, and the precious persons whom they teach.”

It’s a Miracle, by Neil L. Andersen

“Brothers and sisters, as surely as the Lord has inspired more missionaries to serve, He is also awakening the minds and opening the hearts of more good and honest people to receive His missionaries. You already know them or will know them. They are in your family and live in your neighborhood. They walk past you on the street, sit by you in school, and connect with you online. You too are an important part of this unfolding miracle.

“If you’re not a full-time missionary with a missionary badge pinned on your coat, now is the time to paint one on your heart—painted, as Paul said, “not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God.”13 And returned missionaries, find your old missionary tag. Don’t wear it, but put it where you can see it. The Lord needs you now more than ever to be an instrument in His hands. All of us have a contribution to make to this miracle.”

“…To share the gospel, young members in Boston started several blogs. Those who joined the Church began their learning online, followed by discussions with the missionaries. This experience also helped the youth have greater faith in talking about the gospel in person. One of them said, “This isn’t missionary work. This is missionary fun.”

“We are all in this together. With fellow ward members and missionaries, we plan and pray and help one another. Please keep the full-time missionaries in your thoughts and prayers. Trust them with your family and friends. The Lord trusts them and has called them to teach and bless those who seek Him.”

Mission Prep from General Conference October 2012

Welcome to Conference By President Thomas S. Monson

“I am pleased to announce that effective immediately all worthy and able young men who have graduated from high school or its equivalent, regardless of where they live, will have the option of being recommended for missionary service beginning at the age of 18, instead of age 19…Today I am pleased to announce that able, worthy young women who have the desire to serve may be recommended for missionary service beginning at age 19, instead of age 21.”

Click here to see President Monson’s full announcement of the new lower age requirement for missionaries.

Can Ye Feel So Now? By Elder Quentin L. Cook

“President Monson, we love, honor, and sustain you! This historically significant announcement with respect to missionary service is inspiring. I can remember the excitement in 1960 when the age for young men serving was reduced from 20 years of age to 19. I arrived in the British Mission as a newly called 20-year-old. The first 19-year-old in our mission was Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, an incredible addition. He was a few months shy of being 20. Then over the course of a year, many more 19-year-olds arrived. They were obedient and faithful missionaries, and the work progressed. I am confident that an even greater harvest will be achieved now as righteous, committed missionaries fulfill the Savior’s commandment to preach His gospel.”

“…As our youth follow President Monson’s counsel by preparing to serve missions, and as we all live the principles the Savior taught and prepare to meet God, we win a much more important race. We will have the Holy Ghost as our guide for spiritual direction. For any whose lives are not in order, remember, it is never too late to make the Savior’s Atonement the foundation of our faith and lives.”

Ask the Missionaries! They Can Help You! By Elder Russell M. Nelson

“Some of you are members but not presently participating. You love the Lord and often think of returning to His fold. But you don’t know how to start. I suggest that you ask the missionaries!10 They can help you! They can also help by teaching your loved ones. We and the missionaries love you and desire to bring joy and the light of the gospel back into your lives.”

“…Some of you may feel that life is busy and frenetic, yet down deep in your heart you feel a gnawing emptiness, without direction or purpose. Ask the missionaries! They can help you! They can help you to learn more about the true purpose of life—why you are here on earth and where you are going after death. You can learn how the restored gospel of Jesus Christ will bless your life beyond anything you can presently even imagine.

If you have concerns about your family, ask the missionaries! They can help you! Strengthening marriages and families is of utmost importance to Latter-day Saints. Families can be together forever. Ask the missionaries to teach you how this is possible for your family.”

“…We stress the importance of understanding sacred scriptures. An independent study recently found that Latter-day Saints were the most knowledgeable about Christianity and the Bible.13 If you want to understand the Bible better, to understand the Book of Mormon better, and gain a broader comprehension of the brotherhood of man and the fatherhood of God, ask the missionaries! They can help you!”

“…If you want to know more about life after death, about heaven, about God’s plan for you; if you want to know more about the Lord Jesus Christ, His Atonement, and the Restoration of His Church as it was originally established, ask the missionaries! They can help you!”

Brethren, We Have Work to Do By Elder D. Todd Christofferson

“Consider missionary work. Young men, you have no time to waste. You can’t wait to get serious about preparing until you are 17 or 18. Aaronic Priesthood quorums can help their members understand the oath and covenant of the priesthood and get ready for ordination as elders, they can help them understand and prepare for the ordinances of the temple, and they can help them get ready for successful missions. Melchizedek Priesthood quorums and the Relief Society can help parents prepare missionaries who know the Book of Mormon and who will go into the field fully committed. And in each ward and branch, these same quorums can lead out in an effective collaboration with the full-time missionaries who are serving there.”

See Others as They May Become By President Thomas S. Monson

“Back in the year 1961, a worldwide conference was held for mission presidents, and every mission president in the Church was brought to Salt Lake City for those meetings. I came to Salt Lake City from my mission in Toronto, Canada.

In one particular meeting, N. Eldon Tanner, who was then an Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve, had just returned from his initial experience of presiding over the missions in Great Britain and western Europe. He told of a missionary who had been the most successful missionary whom he had met in all of the interviews he had conducted. He said that as he interviewed that missionary, he said to him, “I suppose that all of the people whom you baptized came into the Church by way of referrals.”

The young man answered, “No, we found them all by tracting.”

Brother Tanner asked him what was different about his approach—why he had such phenomenal success when others didn’t. The young man said that he attempted to baptize every person whom he met. He said that if he knocked on the door and saw a man smoking a cigar and dressed in old clothes and seemingly uninterested in anything—particularly religion—the missionary would picture in his own mind what that man would look like under a different set of circumstances. In his mind he would look at him as clean-shaven and wearing a white shirt and white trousers. And the missionary could see himself leading that man into the waters of baptism. He said, “When I look at someone that way, I have the capacity to bear my testimony to him in a way that can touch his heart.”

“…Missionary work is an identifying feature of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Always has it been; ever shall it be. As the Prophet Joseph Smith declared, “After all that has been said, the greatest and most important duty is to preach the Gospel.”7

Within two short years, all of the full-time missionaries currently serving in this royal army of God will have concluded their full-time labors and will have returned to their homes and loved ones. Their replacements are found tonight in the ranks of the Aaronic Priesthood of the Church. Young men, are you ready to respond? Are you willing to work? Are you prepared to serve?”

The First Great Commandment By Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

“To the youth of the Church rising up to missions and temples and marriage, we say: “Love God and remain clean from the blood and sins of this generation. You have a monumental work to do, underscored by that marvelous announcement President Thomas S. Monson made yesterday morning. Your Father in Heaven expects your loyalty and your love at every stage of your life.”

Consider the Blessings By President Thomas S. Monson

“This kind young man drove us back to our Midway home. I attempted to reimburse him for his services, but he graciously declined. He indicated that he was a Boy Scout and wanted to do a good turn. I identified myself to him, and he expressed his appreciation for the privilege to be of help. Assuming that he was about missionary age, I asked him if he had plans to serve a mission. He indicated he was not certain just what he wanted to do.

On the following Monday morning, I wrote a letter to this young man and thanked him for his kindness. In the letter I encouraged him to serve a full-time mission. I enclosed a copy of one of my books and underscored the chapters on missionary service.

About a week later the young man’s mother telephoned and advised that her son was an outstanding young man but that because of certain influences in his life, his long-held desire to serve a mission had diminished. She indicated she and his father had fasted and prayed that his heart would be changed. They had placed his name on the prayer roll of the Provo Utah Temple. They hoped that somehow, in some way, his heart would be touched for good and he would return to his desire to fill a mission and to serve the Lord faithfully. The mother wanted me to know that she looked upon the events of that cold evening as an answer to their prayers in his behalf. I said, “I agree with you.”

After several months and more communication with this young man, Sister Monson and I were overjoyed to attend his missionary farewell prior to his departure for the Canada Vancouver Mission.”

 

Always in the Middle of Your Mission

Dieter F. UchtdorfPresident Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, gave some insightful advice for missionaries in his July 2012 message in the Ensign magazine. He said that if you act like every day is the middle of your mission, regardless of whether it is the first day or the last day, then you will approach the work with an optimal level of humility and confidence. Confidence because in the middle you’re not new and inexperienced, and humility because in the middle you still have much to learn and you rely on the Lord’s help.

Here’s how President Uchtdorf said it:

When I speak to our young missionaries, I often tell them they are in the middle of their missions. Whether they just arrived the day before or are to depart for home the day after, I ask them to think of themselves as always being in the middle.

New missionaries may feel they are too inexperienced to be effective, and so they delay speaking or acting with confidence and boldness. Seasoned missionaries who are close to completing their missions may feel sad their missions are coming to a close, or they may slow down as they contemplate what they will do after their missions.

Whatever the circumstances and wherever they serve, the truth is that the Lord’s missionaries are daily sowing countless seeds of good tidings. Thinking of themselves as always being in the middle of their missions will embolden and energize these faithful representatives of the Lord. As it is with full-time missionaries, so it is with all of us (Always in the Middle, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Ensign July 2012).

Reading the Book of Mormon as a Family

Smith family finished reading book of mormonOur family just finished reading the Book of Mormon together. We read one column every night, and it took us about 3 1/2 years.  We have five kids ranging from age 9 to age 11 months, and only two of them can read, but the other little ones like to repeat what we say so they can have a turn. We are trying to teach the children to be reverent, but our nightly scripture reading time is rarely calm. We are teaching them to follow along as others read, and we are helping them recognize and apply the principles taught in the scriptures. I know we are blessed for choosing to read the Book of Mormon together as a family.

There is power in the Book of Mormon. My husband, Jimmy, and I have had experiences teaching our little ones scripture stories in family home evening and morning devotional. The Holy Spirit touches their hearts and they want to hear more. In 1980, Marion G. Romney, a member of the First Presidency, promised this:

Book of Mormon Promise. Marion G. Romney“If, in our homes, parents will read from the Book of Mormon prayerfully and regularly, both by themselves and with their children, the spirit of that great book will come to permeate our homes and all who dwell therein. The spirit of reverence will increase; mutual respect and consideration for each other will grow. The spirit of contention will depart. Parents will counsel their children in greater love and wisdom. Children will be more responsive and submissive to the counsel of their parents. Righteousness will increase. Faith, hope, and charity—the pure love of Christ—will abound in our homes and lives, bringing in their wake peace, joy, and happiness.” (The Book of Mormon, by Marion G. Romney, April 1980)

Book of Mormon Vision of Missionaries Benson
Question: Do you have a testimony of the Book of Mormon? Think back to when you first gained that testimony. What experiences have you had reading the Book of Mormon that have strengthened your testimony? Are there any specific scriptures or stories that helped you in a certain time of life? Record these experiences in your journal.

Book of Mormon Keystone Benson
Challenge: Set a goal to strengthen your testimony of the Book of Mormon. Study it a little more every day, apply the principles taught in your life, memorize scriptures from it, tell a child one of your favorite scripture stories, or testify to others of its truthfulness. Choose something realistic. You will be blessed.

Funny Stories from General Conference April 2012

Funny stories and jokes from our living prophets and apostles from the April 2012 LDS General Conference in Salt Lake City Utah.

Recruiting for the Lord in the Battle between Good and Evil

With the game on the line in the battle between Good and Evil, in the talk from October 2011 LDS General Conference, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland serves as a one-man recruiting station for the Lord and missionary work.

What are some of the devil’s tactics in this contest when eternal life is at stake? Here again the experience in the Sacred Grove is instructive. Joseph recorded that in an effort to oppose all that lay ahead, Lucifer exerted “such an astonishing influence over me as to bind my tongue so that I could not speak.”

As President Boyd K. Packer taught this morning, Satan cannot directly take a life. That is one of many things he cannot do. But apparently his effort to stop the work will be reasonably well served if he can just bind the tongue of the faithful. Brethren, if that is the case, I am looking tonight for men young and old who care enough about this battle between good and evil to sign on and speak up. We are at war, and for these next few minutes, I want to be a one-man recruiting station.

Do I need to hum a few bars of “We Are All Enlisted”? You know, the line about “We are waiting now for soldiers; who’ll volunteer?” Of course, the great thing about this call to arms is that we ask not for volunteers to fire a rifle or throw a hand grenade. No, we want battalions who will take as their weapons “every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God.” So I am looking tonight for missionaries who will not voluntarily bind their tongues but will, with the Spirit of the Lord and the power of their priesthood, open their mouths and speak miracles. Such speech, the early brethren taught, would be the means by which faith’s “mightiest works have been, and will be, performed.”

I especially ask the young men of the Aaronic Priesthood to sit up and take notice. For you, let me mix in an athletic analogy. This is a life-and-death contest we are in, young men, so I am going to get in your face a little, nose to nose, with just enough fire in my voice to singe your eyebrows a little—the way coaches do when the game is close and victory means everything. And with the game on the line, what this coach is telling you is that to play in this match, some of you have to be more morally clean than you now are. In this battle between good and evil, you cannot play for the adversary whenever temptation comes along and then expect to suit up for the Savior at temple and mission time as if nothing has happened. That, my young friends, you cannot do. God will not be mocked.

So we have a dilemma tonight, you and I. It is that there are thousands of Aaronic Priesthood–age young men already on the records of this Church who constitute our pool of candidates for future missionary service. But the challenge is to have those deacons, teachers, and priests stay active enough and worthy enough to be ordained elders and serve as missionaries. So we need young men already on the team to stay on it and stop dribbling out of bounds just when we need you to get in the game and play your hearts out! In almost all athletic contests of which I know, there are lines drawn on the floor or the field within which every participant must stay in order to compete. Well, the Lord has drawn lines of worthiness for those called to labor with Him in this work. No missionary can be unrepentant of sexual transgression or profane language or pornographic indulgence and then expect to challenge others to repent of those very things! You can’t do that. The Spirit will not be with you, and the words will choke in your throat as you speak them. You cannot travel down what Lehi called “forbidden paths” and expect to guide others to the “strait and narrow” one—it can’t be done.

But there is an answer to this challenge for you every bit as much as there is for that investigator to whom you will go. Whoever you are and whatever you have done, you can be forgiven. Every one of you young men can leave behind any transgression with which you may struggle. It is the miracle of forgiveness; it is the miracle of the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ. But you cannot do it without an active commitment to the gospel, and you cannot do it without repentance where it is needed. I am asking you young men to be active and be clean. If required, I am asking you to get active and get clean.

Now, brethren, we speak boldly to you because anything more subtle doesn’t seem to work. We speak boldly because Satan is a real being set on destroying you, and you face his influence at a younger and younger age. So we grab you by the lapels and shout as forcefully as we know how: ‘Hark! the sound of battle sounding loudly and clear; Come join the ranks! Come join the ranks!’

My young friends, we need tens of thousands of more missionaries in the months and years that lie ahead. They must come from an increased percentage of the Aaronic Priesthood who will be ordained, active, clean, and worthy to serve.

We Are All Enlisted by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, LDS General Conference, October 2011