Missionary Farewell Feature is Back

pulpit in mormon chapelWe have big news today. The Missionary Farewell feature is back. This was a very popular feature years ago. But in 2013, when I revamped the site, the feature broke and I never got it working again, until now.

The Missionary Farewell feature is designed to allow missionaries to tell us about their mission call. They simply fill out the mission farewell form with their name, name of the mission they are called to, their testimony and some other information. Then the information is posted on the Mormon Mission Prep site to share the good news with all site visitors.

[one_half last=”no”] Submit a Missionary Farewell[/one_half][one_half last=”yes”] Read Missionary Farewells[/one_half]


James, Lost Boy of Sudan

[one_half last=”no”]Summary: James Manyok Ayuen, one of the Lost Boys of Sudan, endured trials that most of us can’t even imagine. Yet he remained faithful to his Christian faith and after migrating to the U.S., met the Mormon missionaries, and eventually joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This is a brief version of his story.[/one_half][one_half last=”yes”][colored_box color=”blue”]The Lost Boys of Sudan
Lost Boys of Sudan Wikipedia Entry
Video: The Lost Boys, Part 1, CBS News 20/20 Special
Video: The Lost Boys, Part 2, CBS News 20/20 Special
The Good Lie: a recent movie about the Lost Boys[/colored_box][/one_half] lost boys of sudanA couple of weeks ago, I was privileged to hear a talk by James Manyok Ayuen, one of the Lost Boys of Sudan. He gave a fascinating account of himself and thousands of other young people who had been forced out of the Sudan during that country’s civil war which began in 1983. James and the other youths walked over a thousand miles from Sudan to a refugee camp in Ethiopia. During the journey, nearly half of the group, and almost all of the girls, died from malnutrition and exposure. It was at this point that this group of thousands of displaced young men were given the name, the Lost Boys of Sudan.

A few years later, the Lost Boys again found themselves unwanted and were forced to make another trek of more than 1,000 miles, this time to a refugee camp in Kenya. Once again, they had very little food or other supplies, and many were naked, without even a shirt or pants. Youths who lagged behind or strayed from the road, looking for food, often fell prey to the lions and other wild animals in the area.

James was only a young boy when he made these journeys. He survived these difficult circumstances with a positive attitude, a fierce determination, and the wisdom and maturity of someone much older. James had the attitude that if the taller, older boys could do something, he could do it too. When the group was crossing a river in Sudan, many boys drowned when they climbed onto the shoulders of one another because they didn’t know how to swim. James seeing this disaster, wisely waited until no other boys were around to cross, so they wouldn’t trample and kill him. Though smaller than most of the others, James was able to stay with the group, by running to the front, then resting for several hours, as the group continued to go by. Then he’d get up and race to the front again, thus he was able to stay with the group and not fall behind and risk death.

These young men had been raised by good Christian parents, and according to James, most were Episcopalian. In their refugee camps, they did their best to educate one another in reading, math, and faith. Without paper, pencils, or other supplies, school work was done by writing with fingers in the dirt. Though poor as to worldly things, James was not poor in spirit and maintained his faith in God. During these difficult times, James often prayed for three things:

  1. A good education
  2. Clothes: a simple pair of pants and a shirt
  3. A bike

James AyuenEventually, through some UN and US intervention, James and many of the Lost Boys of the Sudan were able to come to the United States. Selection to come to the United States, though, was not automatic and James had to be interviewed on and off for five years before he was brought to the US with some of the other lost boys. With no good birth records, the Lost Boys had to guess their age. James had heard that if he was over 18, he would have freedom to do whatever he wants in the US, though it also put him on his own rather than with a foster family. James choose the over-18 route, and was sent to the US with other Lost Boys, given a three-month supply of food, and from there he was on his own.

Soon after moving to the United States, James had gotten all three of those things he had prayed for, and he had them in abundance. He got his GED and was enrolled in college. People had given him more clothes than he could handle and had to turn much of it away. He was able to get a bike and then someone gave him a second bike. He felt God had heard and answered all his prayers.

Meeting the Mormons

James was living in a Philadelphia apartment with four other Lost Boys, when he met the Mormon missionaries. He was glad to talk with them, though he was not initially interested in learning what they wanted to teach him. James was firm in his faith in God and in fact thought he could teach the missionaries more about God than they could teach him. He heard some of the missionary discussions, but did not have a desire to get baptized.

James did, though, offer to help the missionaries in any way he could, including giving them rides to their other teaching appointments. James would give the missionaries a ride and then would often stay and listen to their non-member discussions with other investigators. Soon he heard the missionaries talk about the doctrine of baptism for the dead and that was a turning point for him.

James had often wondered why his grandfather, who never had a chance to even hear about Jesus Christ, would be denied salvation because he wasn’t baptized. The Mormon missionaries teachings that the living could be baptized on behalf of their deceased ancestors, thus giving the dead the opportunity to accept Jesus and receive saving ordinances, made perfect sense to James. Other teachings like sealing families for eternity added new knowledge to the testimony James already had of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Nothing taught by the missionaries seemed to detract from the gospel or contradict what he understood to be true, it only added new light and understanding.

James Ayuen at workAs James described his conversion to the Mormon faith, a quote from President Joseph F. Smith about spirit memories came to my mind: “All those salient truths which come home so forcibly to the head and heart seem but the awakening of the memories of the spirit. Can we know anything here that we did not know before we came?” (Gospel Doctrine, 13).

Soon, James was converted and baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Now James is a student at Brigham Young University, and he works at the Global Service Center for the Church. I am amazed at James’ example of perseverance and faith, and I am grateful to call him a brother in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.

LDS Church Digital Universe

While I was creating the list of public LDS Church websites, mobile apps, and social media accounts, I thought it might help to visually represent this universe of LDS Church digital content. So here it is…
lds church digital universe
Go to the interactive graphic of the LDS Church Digital Universe

The above is a picture of an interactive graphic I created with Prezi. If you go to the Prezi file with the button above, you can zoom in and out to see detail or the big picture. All the website addresses in the interactive graphic are live, and if clicked will take you to the respective website.

Enjoy this interactive graphic. I hope it helps you make a little more sense of the LDS Church digital universe. And as with the list of websites, if you notice something is missing, please let me know and I will add it. Thanks.

List of LDS Church Websites and Social Media

[two_third last=”no”]Not too long ago, my stake president asked me to put together a presentation on the LDS Church’s use of technology including all the different official Church websites that are out there. His fear, and I think it’s accurate, is that many people don’t utilize all the websites the Church has simply because they don’t know about them. I guess you could say there are many “who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it” (D&C 123:12).

I scoured the internet, as well as internal Church resources that I have access to, and was not able to find a comprehensive list of LDS Church websites. I found two good resources:–one was the LDS Media Talk list of LDS Church websites, and the other was the LDS Tech list of Church websites–but I found neither to be complete or fully up-to-date. Therefore, I decided to create my own list of LDS Church websites.[/two_third] [one_third last=”yes”]Here’s the presentation:
The LDS Church Use of Technology

This list is a Google Doc/Excel file of the list of web properties that is available to download:
Download the List of LDS Church Digital Properties[/one_third]

This list below is my best shot at listing all the official LDS Church digital properties including public websites, social media accounts, and mobile applications of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. By my count, there’s 231 of them. Though it’s my best effort, I’m sure it is still incomplete and of course it will need to be updated as the Church launches new websites or major new sections of websites in the future. Also be aware that I do list major sections within large sites like LDS.org, and there is some subjectivity in what constitutes a large enough section to list separately. If you think something is missing and needs to be added to the list, please let me know. Thanks.


A Century of Honor http://scouts100.lds.org
Addiction Recovery Program http://addictionrecovery.lds.org
American Sign Language https://www.lds.org/languages/ase
BeSmart.com http://www.besmart.com
Bible Videos https://www.lds.org/bible-videos
Broadcasts https://www.lds.org/broadcasts
BYU – Hawaii http://www.byuh.edu
BYU – Idaho http://www.byui.edu
BYU Broadcasting http://www.byub.org
BYU TV http://www.byutv.org
BYU.edu http://www.byu.edu
Callings https://www.lds.org/callings
Chat http://www.mormon.org/chat
Children Lesson Helps https://www.lds.org/children
Church Directory of Organizations and Leaders http://cdol.lds.org
Church History http://history.lds.org
Church History Library http://churchhistorycatalog.lds.org
Church Leaders https://www.lds.org/church/leaders
Church News https://www.lds.org/church/news
Come, Follow Me https://www.lds.org/youth/learn/
Create and Share Your Media Talents https://www.lds.org/topics/service/create
Daily Messages https://www.lds.org/daily-messages
Deseret Industries http://deseretindustries.org
Deseret News http://www.deseretnews.com
Disability Resources https://www.lds.org/topics/disability
Duty to God https://www.lds.org/young-men/duty-to-god
Education https://www.lds.org/topics/education
Encyclopedia of Mormonism http://eom.byu.edu
Ensign Magazine https://www.lds.org/ensign
Family History Research Wiki https://familysearch.org/learn/wiki
FamilySearch http://www.familysearch.org
FamilySearch Archives https://familysearch.org/archives
FamilySearch Community Trees http://histfam.familysearch.org
FamilySearch Developers https://familysearch.org/developers
FamilySearch Film Ordering https://familysearch.org/films
FamilySearch Help Center https://familysearch.org/ask
FamilySearch Labs http://labs.familysearch.org
FileSend https://filesend.ldschurch.org
Friend Magazine https://www.lds.org/friend
General Conference https://www.lds.org/general-conference
Gordon B. Hinckley http://www.gordonbhinckley.org
Gospel Topics https://www.lds.org/topics
Hastening the Work of Salvation https://www.lds.org/training/wwlt/2013/hastening/members-and-missionaries
Humanitarian Service https://www.lds.org/topics/humanitarian-service
I’m a Mormon http://www.mormon.org/people
Indexing – FamilySearch https://familysearch.org/indexing
International Art Competition https://apps.lds.org/artcomp
It’s About Love https://itsaboutlove.org
Jesus Christ, The Son of God http://jesuschrist.lds.org
Joseph Smith http://www.josephsmith.net
Joseph Smith Papers http://www.josephsmithpapers.org
LDS Account https://ldsaccount.lds.org
LDS Business College http://www.ldsbc.edu
LDS Charities http://ldscharities.org
LDS Church Casting Office http://ldsavdcasting.blogspot.com
LDS Church Internet learning system https://lds.netdimensions.com
LDS Church News http://www.deseretnews.com/faith/lds-church-news
LDS Employment Resource Services http://www.ldsjobs.org
LDS Family Services http://www.providentliving.org/lds-family-services
LDS Institute https://www.lds.org/si/institute
LDS Maps https://www.lds.org/maps
LDS Philanthropies http://www.ldsphilanthropies.org
LDS Scripture Citation Index http://scriptures.byu.edu
LDS Seminary https://www.lds.org/si/seminary
LDS Store http://store.lds.org
LDS Tech http://tech.lds.org
LDS Youth https://www.lds.org/youth
LDS.org http://www.lds.org
Leader and Clerk Resources https://www.lds.org/mls/mbr
Leadership and Teaching https://www.lds.org/callings/leadership-and-teaching
Leadership Training Library https://www.lds.org/service/leadership
Lesson Schedules https://www.lds.org/lesson
Liahona Magazine https://www.lds.org/liahona
Locations (Places to Visit) https://www.lds.org/locations
Manuals https://www.lds.org/manual
Maxwell Institute http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu
Media Library https://www.lds.org/media-library
Meet the Mormons http://meetthemormons.com
Missionary Online Recommendation System https://apps.lds.org/recentry
Mormon Channel http://www.mormonchannel.org
Mormon Newsroom http://www.mormonnewsroom.org
Mormon Tabernacle Choir http://www.mormontabernaclechoir.org
Mormon.org http://www.mormon.org
Mormons and China http://mormonsandchina.org
Music https://www.lds.org/music
Music and the Spoken Word http://www.musicandthespokenword.org
New Era Magazine https://www.lds.org/new-era
New FamilySearch http://new.familysearch.org
Newsletter https://www.lds.org/member-news
Official Communication Library https://letters.lds.org
Online Seminary https://silearn.lds.org
Overcoming Pornography http://overcomingpornography.org
Pageants https://www.lds.org/locations/pageants
Patriarchal Blessing Request https://apps.lds.org/pbrequest
Perpetual Education Fund http://pef.lds.org
Personal Video Conferencing http://pvc.lds.org
Pioneer Overland Travel http://history.lds.org/overlandtravels
Prophets and Apostles https://www.lds.org/prophets-and-apostles
Provident Living http://providentliving.lds.org
Provident Living http://www.providentliving.org
Provo MTC https://www.mtc.byu.edu
Public Affairs Network http://publicaffairs.lds.org
Record-Keeping and Technology Support https://www.lds.org/help/support
Recreation Camps https://www.lds.org/locations/camping
Referral Manager http://referrals.lds.org
Relief Society https://www.lds.org/callings/relief-society
Scripture Mastery Activities https://scripturemastery.lds.org
Scriptures https://www.lds.org/scriptures
Seminaries and Institutes http://si.lds.org
Share Goodness https://www.lds.org/church/share/goodness
Study Notebook https://www.lds.org/study-tools/folders
Temple Open House Reservations https://templeopenhouse.lds.org
Temple Square Events https://www.lds.org/church/events/temple-square-events
Temples https://www.lds.org/church/temples
volunteer.lds.org https://volunteer.lds.org
Thomas S. Monson http://www.thomassmonson.org
Ward and Stake Calendar https://lds.org/church-calendar
Ward and Stake Directory https://lds.org/directory
Welfare Operations Training https://apps.lds.org/welfareoperations
What Mormons Believe http://www.mormon.org/what-do-mormons-believe
Worship with Us http://www.mormon.org/worship
Young Women Callings https://www.lds.org/callings/young-women
Young Women Personal Progress https://www.lds.org/young-women/personal-progress


Social Media Properties

Bonnie L. Oscarson https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bonnie-L-Oscarson/313906125417067
Boyd K. Packer https://www.facebook.com/lds.boyd.k.packer
Carol F. McConkie https://www.facebook.com/pages/Carol-F-Mcconkie/532607226827664
Carole M. Stephens https://www.facebook.com/lds.carole.m.stephens
Cheryl A. Esplin https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cheryl-A-Esplin/489926257772413
Church History – Twitter https://twitter.com/churchhistory
Church History Daily – Twitter http://twitter.com/ldshistorydaily
Church History Library https://www.facebook.com/churchhistorylibrary
Church History Museum https://www.facebook.com/churchhistorymuseum
Church Service Missions https://www.facebook.com/LDSChurchServiceMissionaries
Craig C. Christensen https://www.facebook.com/pages/Craig-C-Christensen/412581138865458
Create LDS Media https://www.facebook.com/CreateLDSMedia
D. Todd Christofferson https://www.facebook.com/lds.d.todd.christofferson
Dallin H. Oaks https://www.facebook.com/lds.dallin.h.oaks
David A. Bednar https://www.facebook.com/lds.david.a.bednar
David L. Beck https://www.facebook.com/pages/David-L-Beck/1424087297814477
Dean M. Davies https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dean-M-Davies/743409372342011
Deseret Industries https://www.facebook.com/deseretindustriesthrift
Dieter F. Uchtdorf https://www.facebook.com/lds.dieter.f.uchtdorf
Donald L. Hallstrom https://www.facebook.com/pages/Donald-L-Hallstrom/585973151438615
Ensign Magazine https://www.facebook.com/ensign.magazine
Family History Library https://www.facebook.com/familyhistorylibrary
FamilySearch – Facebook https://www.facebook.com/familysearch
FamilySearch – Google+ https://plus.google.com/communities/117125677663304442240
FamilySearch – Twitter https://twitter.com/FamilySearch
FamilySearch – YouTube https://www.youtube.com/FamilySearch
FamilySearch Indexing https://www.facebook.com/familysearchindexing
Friend Magazine – Facebook https://www.facebook.com/friend.magazine
Friend Magazine – Twitter http://twitter.com/friendlds
Gary E. Stevenson https://www.facebook.com/pages/Gary-E-Stevenson/740400659319647
Gérald Caussé https://www.facebook.com/pages/G%C3%A9rald-Causs%C3%A9/641475455883235
Helping in The Vineyard https://www.facebook.com/HelpingInTheVineyard
Henry B. Eyring https://www.facebook.com/lds.henry.b.eyring
Jean A. Stevens https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jean-A-Stevens/624368380959041
Jeffrey R. Holland https://www.facebook.com/lds.jeffrey.r.holland
Jesus the Christ https://www.facebook.com/ChristJesusSavior
Joseph Smith Papers https://www.facebook.com/JosephSmithPapers
Joseph Smith, The Prophet https://www.facebook.com/josephsmith
L. Tom Perry https://www.facebook.com/lds.l.tom.perry
Larry M. Gibson https://www.facebook.com/pages/Larry-M-Gibson/175608625961781
LDS Church Employment https://www.facebook.com/ChurchEmployment
LDS Church History – YouTube https://www.youtube.com/LDSChurchHistory
LDS General Conference – Youtube https://www.youtube.com/LDSGeneralConference
LDS Institute – Facebook https://www.facebook.com/ldsinstitute
LDS Institute – Twitter https://twitter.com/LDSInstitute
LDS Messages – Twitter http://twitter.com/LDSMessages
LDS Mobile Applications https://www.facebook.com/ldsmobile
LDS Seminary – Facebook https://www.facebook.com/ldsseminary
LDS Seminary – Twitter https://twitter.com/LDSSeminary
LDS Tech – Facebook https://www.facebook.com/ldstech
LDS Tech – YouTube http://www.youtube.com/ldstech
LDS Youth https://www.facebook.com/ldsyouth
Liahona Magazine https://www.facebook.com/liahona.magazine
Linda K. Burton https://www.facebook.com/lds.linda.k.burton
Linda S. Reeves https://www.facebook.com/lds.linda.s.reeves
M. Russell Ballard https://www.facebook.com/lds.m.russell.ballard
Mormon Channel – Facebook https://www.facebook.com/mormonchannel
Mormon Channel – Twitter http://twitter.com/mormonchannel
Mormon Channel – YouTube http://www.youtube.com/MormonMessages
Mormon Messages https://www.facebook.com/mormonmessages
Mormon Messages – Twitter http://twitter.com/mormonmessages
Mormon Newsroom – Facebook https://www.facebook.com/LDSNewsroom
Mormon Newsroom – Google+ http://plus.google.com/u/0/101264060152105540821/posts
Mormon Newsroom – Twitter http://twitter.com/MormonNewsroom
Mormon Newsroom – YouTube http://www.youtube.com/LDSPublicAffairs
Mormon Tabernacle Choir https://www.facebook.com/MormonTabernacleChoir
Mormon Tabernacle Choir – Twitter http://twitter.com/MormonTabChoir
Mormon Tabernacle Choir – YouTube http://www.youtube.com/MormonTabChoir
Mormon.org – Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Mormon
Mormon.org – Google+ http://plus.google.com/u/0/111098575968372675699/posts
Mormon.org – Twitter http://twitter.com/mormonorg
Mormon.org – YouTube http://www.youtube.com/Mormon
Neil L. Andersen https://www.facebook.com/lds.neil.l.andersen
Neill F. Marriott https://www.facebook.com/pages/Neill-F-Marriott/170476179819854
New Era Magazine – facebook https://www.facebook.com/newera.magazine
New Era Magazine – YouTube http://www.youtube.com/MormonNewEraMessages
Quentin L. Cook https://www.facebook.com/lds.quentin.l.cook
Randall L. Ridd https://www.facebook.com/pages/Randall-L-Ridd/681801288499285
Richard G. Scott https://www.facebook.com/lds.richard.g.scott
Richard J. Maynes https://www.facebook.com/pages/Richard-J-Maynes/202378933278195
Robert D. Hales https://www.facebook.com/lds.robert.d.hales
Ronald A. Rasband https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ronald-A-Rasband/167753940093818
Rosemary M. Wixom https://www.facebook.com/pages/Rosemary-M-Wixom/421361901301593
Russell M. Nelson https://www.facebook.com/lds.russell.m.nelson
Tad R. Callister https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tad-R-Callister/241755192639634
Temple Square https://www.facebook.com/templesquare
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – Facebook https://www.facebook.com/lds
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – Twitter http://twitter.com/ldschurch
Thomas S. Monson https://www.facebook.com/lds.thomas.s.monson
Ulisses Soares https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ulisses-Soares/441929079259539
Whitney L. Clayton https://www.facebook.com/pages/L-Whitney-Clayton/209445142559731


Mobile Apps

Bible Videos https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.lds.biblevideos
Book of Mormon https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.lds.bom
FamilySearch Memories https://familysearch.orgmobile/memories
FamilySearch Tree https://familysearch.orgmobile/tree
Gospel Library https://market.android.com/details?id=org.lds.ldssa
LDS Music http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/lds-music/id463553380?mt=8
LDS Scripture Mastery https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.lds.sm
LDS Tools https://market.android.com/details?id=org.lds.ldstools
LDS Youth https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.lds.yth
Mormon Channel https://market.android.com/details?id=org.lds.mormonchannel.client.android


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.”

Arrival of Baby #6

I haven’t been posting lately because life has gotten really busy with the birth of our sixth baby a few weeks ago. This was my wife Heather’s sixth c-section. She is a brave woman of great faith and she did great throughout the trials of pregnancy, delivery, and recovery. We are so grateful for competent and caring doctors and nurses and the watchful care of the Lord over our family.

We named the baby Scotland Charles Smith. Scotland after my many Scottish ancestors, several of whom were pioneers in joining the Church. Charles is a family name on my wife’s side, and I just thought he looked like a Charles. We may be predestining him to serve a mission in Scotland some day, but that wouldn’t be so bad.

Mother and baby are both doing very well. Here are some pics.

scotty and daddy

scotty and mommy

smith family aug 2014

Missionary Farewell Talks

Mormon Missionaries Elder Smith and Lopez in Rosario Argentina SmilingWhen I left for my mission to Rosario Argentina in 1995, on the Sunday before I left there was held a farewell sacrament meeting for me. My grandma spoke, either my father or mother (or both) spoke, and I spoke. I rememeber my grandma and my father commenting on my good smile. I suppose if I had nothing else going for me in terms of missionary skills (Spanish language skills, gospel teaching skills, etc.) at least I had a good smile 🙂

While I believe my farewell sacrament meeting was completely appropriate, at this time period, back in the 1990s, not all missionary farewells were appropriate. In some instances, the entire sacrament meeting was virtually turned over to the family to do as they pleased, including at times, lengthy talks and elaborate musical numbers. Some families would send out invitations and hold reception lines at the church or do other things that would detract from the sacred nature of a mission call.

In October 2002, President Gordon B. Hinckley put that practice of missionary farewells to rest. Said he:

“Now we have an interesting custom in the Church. Departing missionaries are accorded a farewell. In some wards this has become a problem. Between outgoing missionaries and returning missionaries, most sacrament meetings are devoted to farewells and homecomings.

No one else in the Church has a farewell when entering a particular service. We never have a special farewell-type meeting for a newly called bishop, for a stake president, for a Relief Society president, for a General Authority, or anyone else of whom I can think. Why should we have missionary farewells?

The First Presidency and the Twelve, after most prayerful and careful consideration, have reached the decision that the present program of missionary farewells should be modified.

The departing missionary will be given opportunity to speak in a sacrament meeting for 15 or 20 minutes. But parents and siblings will not be invited to do so. There might be two or more departing missionaries who speak in the same service. The meeting will be entirely in the hands of the bishop and will not be arranged by the family.

…We are convinced that when all aspects of the situation are considered, this is a wise decision. Please accept it, my dear brethren. I extend this plea also to the sisters, particularly the mothers.

We hope also that holding elaborate open houses after the sacrament meeting at which the missionary speaks will not prevail. Members of the family may wish to get together. We have no objection to this. However, we ask that there be no public reception to which large numbers are invited.

Missionary service is such a wonderful experience that it brings with it its own generous reward. And when a missionary returns to his family and his ward, he may again be given opportunity to speak in a sacrament meeting.” (To Men of the Priesthood, General Conference, October 2002)

sacrament meeting speakerSince that time, newly called missionaries have continued to be, as they should be, invited to speak in sacrament meeting a week or two before they depart. And while the sacrament program is not a farewell meeting, it is still the missionary’s farewell talk and most people still refer to it as the missionary farewell.

Priesthood leaders and missionaries should remember the following guideline with regard to missionary farewells:

  • It is a regular sacrament meeting, not a missionary farewell meeting.
  • The bishopric will plan and conduct this meeting, including assigning topics and musical numbers, as they normally do, making sure they are worshipful, faith promoting, and gospel oriented.
  • Family members and friends of the missionary should not be invited to speak so people don’t get the impression that the meeting is a missionary farewell.
  • If there are other departing or returning missionaries around the same time, they can and should be invited to speak in the same sacrament meeting.
  • Missionary talks should not dominate the sacrament meeting schedule to the exclusion of other valuable subjects and speakers.
  • The regular time of the sacrament meeting should not be extended.
  • Members should avoid holding open houses for missionaries (except for family gatherings).

Related Article: How to Write a Talk

The Role of Women in the LDS Church

With the role of women in the Church and in the priesthood being an ongoing issue in the news, it is likely that missionaries will get asked difficult questions on this topic. Therefore, I thought it wise to prepare future Mormon missionaries for the questions they might get on the subject.

Women and Men Alike are Invited to Come Unto Christ

First, let’s review a couple of statements from the scriptures. The ancient American prophet Nephi said that the Lord invites all people alike, men and women, to come unto Him. Nephi said “he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God” (2 Nephi 26:33).

Women and Men Need Each Other for Salvation

The great New Testament missionary Paul taught the Corinthians of the mutual need women and men have for each other, not just in this life, but in the eternities. He said, “neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord” (Corinthians 11:11).

The prophet Joseph Smith further taught this principal when he explained that Celestial marriage in the temple is essential in order for both men and women to receive exaltation in the highest degree of heaven. He taught: “In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees; And in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood [meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage]; And if he does not, he cannot obtain it. He may enter into the other, but that is the end of his kingdom; he cannot have an increase” (D&C 131: 1-4).

Equal Partners with Different Responsibilities

smith family with quote from proclamationMen and women have different but equally important roles and responsibilities in the home and as members and leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church or Mormon Church). In The Family: A Proclamation to the World, the Church has stated:

“All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.

“…By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners.”

Understanding Women’s Unique Role

Julie B. Beck, former General President of the Relief Society, the oldest and largest women’s organization in the world, has said:

“Knowing and defending the divine roles of women is so important in a world where women are bombarded with false messages about their identity. …The only place Latter-day Saint women will learn the whole and complete truth about their indispensable role in the plan of happiness is in this Church and its doctrine. We know that in the great premortal conflict we sided with our Savior, Jesus Christ, to preserve our potential to belong to eternal families. We know we are daughters of God, and we know what we are to do. Women find true happiness when they understand and delight in their unique role within the plan of salvation. The things women can and should do very best are championed and taught without apology here. We believe in the formation of eternal families. That means we believe in getting married. We know that the commandment to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force. That means we believe in having children. We have faith that with the Lord’s help we can be successful in rearing and teaching children. These are vital responsibilities in the plan of happiness, and when women embrace those roles with all their hearts, they are happy! Knowing and defending the truth about families is the privilege of every sister in this Church” (What Latter-day Saint Women Do Best: Stand Strong and Immovable).

Women Play a Vital Part in Establishing Zion

women church missionary workIn addition to responsibilities in the family, LDS women serve in some of the highest councils of the Church. They serve as full-time missionaries, presidents of organizations, and as members of committees at nearly every level of the Church. “They serve the Church faithfully and ably. They teach in the organizations. They stand as officers” (The Women in Our Lives, President Gordon B. Hinckley).

“Through serving in the Relief Society, Young Women, and Primary organizations—not to mention their private acts of love and service—women have always played and will always play an important part in helping “bring forth and establish the cause of Zion” (D&C 6:6). They care for the poor and the sick; serve proselytizing, welfare, humanitarian, and other missions; teach children, youth, and adults; and contribute to the temporal and spiritual welfare of the Saints in many other ways” (The Influence of Righteous Women, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf).

It Takes Men and Women to Carry out the Work of the Lord

M. Russell Ballard, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the LDS Church, gave a seminal address on the topic of LDS womens’ role in the Church in which he said:

“Men and women have different gifts, different strengths, and different points of view and inclinations. That is one of the fundamental reasons why we need each other. It takes a man and a woman to create a family, and it takes men and women to carry out the work of the Lord in the Church. A husband and wife righteously working together complete each other. Let us be careful that we do not attempt to tamper with our Heavenly Father’s plan and purposes in our lives.”

“…I acknowledge that there are some men, including some priesthood leaders, who have not yet seen the light and who still do not include our sister leaders in full partnership in ward and stake councils. I also acknowledge that there are some men who oppress women and in some rare circumstances are guilty of abusing women. This is abhorrent in the eyes of God. I feel certain that men who in any way demean women will answer to God for their actions. And let me add that any priesthood leader who does not involve his sister leaders with full respect and inclusion is not honoring and magnifying the keys he has been given. His power and influence will be diminished until he learns the ways of the Lord” (Let Us Think Straight, 20 August 2013, BYU Campus Education Week Devotional).

One of Women’s Most Sacred Roles: Creation of Life

Elder D. Todd Christofferson, another member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, has also spoken on what he called one of the most sacred roles of women:

“Most sacred is a woman’s role in the creation of life. We know that our physical bodies have a divine origin and that we must experience both a physical birth and a spiritual rebirth to reach the highest realms in God’s celestial kingdom. Thus, women play an integral part (sometimes at the risk of their own lives) in God’s work and glory “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.”

“…A pernicious philosophy that undermines women’s moral influence is the devaluation of marriage and of motherhood and homemaking as a career. Some view homemaking with outright contempt, arguing it demeans women and that the relentless demands of raising children are a form of exploitation. They ridicule what they call “the mommy track” as a career. This is not fair or right. We do not diminish the value of what women or men achieve in any worthy endeavor or career—we all benefit from those achievements—but we still recognize there is not a higher good than motherhood and fatherhood in marriage. There is no superior career, and no amount of money, authority, or public acclaim can exceed the ultimate rewards of family. Whatever else a woman may accomplish, her moral influence is no more optimally employed than here” (The Moral Force of Women, General Conference October 2013).

Equally Glorious Women and Men Comprise the Noble and Great Ones

In conclusion, I’ll quote from Elder Bruce R. McConkie, a former apostle and noted scriptorian, who used words of great strength and power to describe mother Eve and by extension the potential of all women. “There is no language that can do credit to our glorious mother, Eve,” he says. “Eve—a daughter of God, one of the spirit offspring of the Almighty Elohim—was among the noble and great in [premortal] existence. She ranked in spiritual stature, in faith and devotion, in conformity to eternal law with Michael”. In fact, added McConkie, “Christ and Mary, Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, and a host of mighty men and equally glorious women comprised that group of “the noble and great ones,” to whom the Lord Jesus said: “We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell.”( Bruce R McConkie, “Eve and the Fall,” Woman, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1979, p. 68.)

Young Men Must be 18 to Receive the Priesthood

young men - future missionariesI would like to revisit the subject regarding the age in which young men may be given the Melchizedek Priesthood and ordained to the office of an Elder. This issue arises because many young men would like to begin their missions on the day they turn 18, since 18 is the age requirement.

I have, on occasion, been asked: “If a 17 year old has received his mission call to begin serving shortly after turning 18, can he be ordained an Elder prior to his 18th birthday?” The answer from the First Presidency is no. Young Men must be 18 years old to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood.

This policy comes in a letter, dated February 14, 2013, from the First Presidency of the Church. It states:

“With the recent change in policy regarding young men entering full-time missionary service at age 18, some young men will receive their mission calls while still attending high school, secondary schooling, or the equivalent. However, in no case may prospective missionaries be endowed while still attending these secondary schools. Bishops and stake presidents should ensure that all worthy men receive the Melchizedek Priesthood prior to being endowed. A young man must be at least 18 years of age to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood even if he has received a mission call.” (Signed Thomas S. Monson, Henry B. Eyring, and Deiter F. Uchtdorf)

This policy was reiterated in another First Presidency letter dated November 10, 2014:

“Some young men are now receiving mission calls before they are 18 years old. However, bishops and stake presidents are to ensure that all worthy men have reached their 18th birthday before they receive the Melchizedek Priesthood. Eighteen-year-old young men may receive the Melchizedek Priesthood while in high school or another secondary school, but they should not receive their temple endowment while attending such a school.” (Signed Thomas S. Monson, Henry B. Eyring, and Deiter F. Uchtdorf)

Now, the question still remains about what to do about ordaining a young man to the Melchizedek Priesthood and getting his endowment when he is to begin his missionary service on or soon after his 18th birthday. I think the answer is clear that you wait until the young man has turned 18, even if that means getting the priesthood, the temple endowment, and entering the MTC all on the same day. I think it is safe to assume, though, that that won’t be necessary. The Church will generally give young men a mission report date that builds in sufficient time after their 18th birthday to get the priesthood and go through the temple before reporting to the MTC. So young men, if it is your desire to start your mission on your 18th birthday, that probably won’t happen, but a couple weeks after you turn 18 is still very realistic.

So to summarize:

  • Missionaries must receive the temple endowment before starting their missionary service.
  • Young men must be ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood before receiving their temple endowment.
  • Young men cannot be ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood until they are 18 years old.
  • A missionary starting his mission on his 18th birthday is highly unlikely, but a couple weeks later is very possible.