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.

Gazano Branch: Dec 1995 to Apr 1996

In an effort to better tell the story of my mission and the wonderful experiences I had, for the benefit of my children and the audience of this website, I  thought it would be good to put together a one-pager on each one of my mission areas. This is the first such article, about the Gazano Branch in the city of Paraná Argentina, where I was serving from Dec. 27, 1995 to Apr. 2, 1996 in the Rosario Argentina Mission.

On a side note, I’m lucky to have any pictures from my first month in Argentina. My first roll of film on my mission, which consisted of probably a dozen photos from the MTC and a dozen from my first few weeks in Argentina, did not turn out. It was the first time in my life that I had my own camera and I must not have loaded the film correctly because all the pictures turned out blank. The pictures I do have from those first weeks in Argentina were donated by my first companion there, Elder Loesener. Thank you!

The Two-Day Trio: Elder Loesener, Ballou, and Smith

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This picture was taken on or around my first day in the mission field. When I arrived in my first assigned area, I was part of a trio instead of the normal two person companionship. This is a picture of the trio: Elder Loesener, Elder Ballou, and myself, Elder Smith.  It was taken in the kitchen of our apartment. Right behind us is the sink and stove. To our left is a cabinet we kept dishes and food in. To our right was a refrigerator. This was one of the few apartments I had during the mission that had a fridge. I didn’t realize at the time what a luxury it was. The photographer, most likely the owner of the home, was standing in the living room of the, obviously, small house. Off to the right of the house were three room, one bedroom from the owner, one bedroom for the missionaries, and a study room with a desk for the missionaries. The trio only lasted a day or two. Soon we got word from the zone leaders that Elder Ballou had been transferred and the next day he was gone.

Laundry Day on the Mission

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This was the back yard of the home where we had our apartment in Gazano. Every Monday, we washed our clothes in the sink, in the right of the photo, and then we hung them out to dry. In at least half of my areas in Argentina, there was a woman in the ward who would wash our clothes. Usually we would pay her about $20 each, which was decent income for them, and well worth it for us. Click here to see a video I made about doing laundry on my mission.

Outside View of Our Apartment in Paraná

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Here’s the outside front of the home where we had our apartment in the Gazano Branch in the city of Paraná. For our weekly service one week, we started building that fence off to the right. In the picture, behind our home, is another home of the Almada family. This family moved in about the same time Elder Loesener and I arrived in the city. We struck up a friendship with them and they were baptized a couple months later.

Our Neighborhood in Paraná

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This is a picture of the neighborhood where our apartment was located. Our home is there in the middle. The house was located on a bumpy dirt road, though you can see a paved road crossing on the right side of the photo. We were near the outskirts of the city Paraná. If you walked a few blocks toward the city, all the roads were paved. If you started walking away from the city, more and more of the roads were dirt. I’ve always remembered this bumpy dirt road by our apartment because in one of my first weeks there, I severely twisted my ankle, yet my body went unharmed. In the year previous to my mission I had had two severe ankle sprained that required me to use crutches. I feared that I would sprain my ankle on my mission and that would limit my mobility and the amount of work that I’d be able to do.

A Discussion with the Almada Family

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This is the Almada family: Fabian, the father, Silvina, the mother, and their four children. They were great. They were so friendly to us, and they embraced the restored gospel when we taught it to them. You can see the Books of Mormon on the table. We would sit around that table for all of the discussions. Elder Loesener did most of the teaching since I was new and my Spanish was horrible. Their home was so small for their family, though it was a very typical home. As I recall, they had this room where this picture was taken, which was the kitchen, dining room and living room combined. Then they had two bedrooms and a bathroom, and I think that’s it. Compared to US standards they were very poor, but they were happy and always generous in sharing what they had with us missionaries. Click here to read more about the Almadas and their conversion to the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.

Baptism of Hugo Correa

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This is the Correa family. The picture was taken at the baptism of Brother Hugo Correa. I believe Sister Correa had been baptized months, perhaps years, earlier. This family was very poor, even relative to Argentine norms. As I recall, they had a one room brick home with a dirt floor. The home was literally four walls and a ceiling, but at least they were brick walls. Later in my mission I was get to know people who had four walls made of sheet metal. Again, though poor, the Correa’s seemed happy. They had four little girls who were so cute. I remember being jealous of the speaking abilities of their two year old. I felt like this two-year spoke Spanish much better than I, so it motivated me to study and practice even harder. I believe this was my first time baptizing someone on my mission.

Our Mission District of Gazano

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Our missionary district, as most in Argentina at that time, consisted of two companionships, me and Elder Loesener, plus Sister Matsen and Sister Gomez. We had district meeting once a week with them, plus we saw them at church on Sundays. Other than that, we didn’t see the sisters a whole lot. My companion was the district leader, so he called them every once in a while, at least weekly to get the stats on their work.

An Average Suburban Argentine Neighborhood

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This is a neighborhood not far from the one where we lived, maybe four or five blocks away as I recall. Notice the water tank on the top of each house. Water pressure was always an issue. At best water pressure was weak, at worse it was barely a trickle. To compensate, each home had a water tank on top that was constantly being filled. The house then drew its water from the tank, which gave the home consistently higher water pressure through the pipes. I can remember standing on one of these streets one night early in my mission. We were talking to someone in their front yard, trying to convince them to invite us over for a complete first discussion. The sun was setting as soon as the sun went down, the mosquitos came out in force. I couldn’t believe how bad the mosquitos got in an instant. But I digress. Anyway, this was a typical Argentina sub-development. The homes here are duplexes; two units per building. Each home was simple, likely with one of those rooms that combine the kitchen, dining room, and living room, a bathroom, and two or three bedrooms.

The Almada Family Baptism

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This is the baptism of the Almada Family. It was a wonderful event. This first photo right before the baptism, and the second photo was taken outside the church building just afterwards. Click here to read more about the Almadas and their conversion to the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.

Our Land Lord, Brother Cabrera, and Elder Loesener

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This is a picture of the home owner, landlord, and roommate of ours, Brother Cabrera, with my companion Elder Loesener. This picture was taken in the same room as picture 1, except it is looking in the opposite direction. You can see the cabinet in the left of this picture is the same as the one on the right side of photo 1. Brother Cabrera was always very nice to us and patient and had a good demeanor. I can remember him on the front row of church my first Sunday in Argentina. I was asked to give a five minute talk and he was coaching me through it and encouraging me. I felt sad for him that he lived in the home alone, except for the missionaries. I don’t recall the details of his family situation.

My Companion for a Day, Mario

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This is a young man in the Gazano branch named Mario. One day my companion had to go do something with the zone leaders. Instead of having me sit around the apartment all by my lonesome self all day, we arranged for Mario to go with me for part of the day. This was only a couple weeks into my mission, and my Spanish was still pretty bad so I was glad to have a native with me. But, as it turns out, Mario hardly said a word all day in speaking with people. We knocked doors, and talked to people on the street, and fulfilled other appointments and all the while I did most of the talking. Miraculously, I was able to get a couple of appointments for us to return for a full first discussion, which shows the blessings the God pours out upon missionaries if they will simply open their mouths. Click here to read more about my day with Mario.

Transfer Day

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This was the morning I was transferred out of Gazano. After three months together with my trainer, Elder Loesener and I parted ways. I know I didn’t fully appreciate him as a companion and trainer during the time I was with him, but since then I have grown to appreciate all he taught me. I’ll always have a special place in my heart for my trainer and first companion in Argentina, Elder Maximiliano Loesener. I didn’t see him again until almost two years later when I was on my way home and he met me at the Buenos Aires temple for an endowment session. I was so nervous about this transfer because I would have to travel by myself, first taking a taxi to the bus station, then buying a bus ticket and going to a different city. I got to the bus station, bought my ticket, and then waited, watching the bus like a hawk, because I was afraid I would miss the announcement to load when the time came. Miraculously, I made it to my new assignment in the city of Santa Fe without incident.

Other Memories of My Time in Gazano

  • “Vamos por la sombra” (Let’s walk in the shade) is something Elder Loesener would say often indicating that we should walk on the sidewalk on the side of the street where there was shade, rather than direct sunlight. I was in this area during the heat of summer, as you can tell by the extra tan skin on my face, so seeking shade whenever we could was a necessity.
  • Getting home at about 10:25PM, with just enough time to get in bed by our 10:30 curfew. We found that one of the best times to go contacting was after 8pm when people would sit out in front of their homes and sip mate. This provided a great opportunity for us missionaries to walk through the neighborhood and strike up conversations with people. If we happened to find someone interested in our gospel message then we could easily get caught up in a discussion that would go past 10PM and we’d have to hustle back to our apartment to keep our missionary schedule.
  • Making pizza in our apartment. We would buy a pizza crust, tomato puree, and queso cremoso (literally “cream cheese” but different than cream cheese in the U.S. It was more like mozarella). Add some spices and after a few minutes in the oven, we had a delicious pizza.
  • Pancakes and french toast for breakfast. Bread was inexpensive and we would often have plenty of it. So I’d crack a few eggs in the morning, dip the bread in it, and fry up some french toast. I would also often make pancakes and put Dulce de Leche (kind of like caramel, but a little different) on it. They didn’t have maple syrup, but the dulce de leche was so good, I didn’t even miss it.

Timeline and History of Blacks Receiving the Priesthood in the LDS Church

The subject of blacks receiving the priesthood in the LDS Church is somewhat of a weighty matter, but one that most missionaries will have to deal with. The following is a timeline of major events leading up to the 1978 Revelation on the Priesthood granting black Africans who are worthy the ability to be ordained to the priesthood and receive temple ordinances. This is largely a summary of a BYU Studies article called Spencer W. Kimball and the Revelation on Priesthood by his son Edward L. Kimball.

As I read and re-read Brother Kimball’s article, I was fascinated by the process in which this revelation was sought and received. I have a testimony that the revelation came forth in the manner and according to the timing of the Lord. I know we have living prophets on the earth today and that they lead and guide this Church in a manner pleasing unto the Lord. I know the 1978 revelation granting priesthood and temple privileges to all people, regardless of race or color or ancestry, came from God and was His will. Here is some history and events leading up to that revelation:

PDF: Timeline and History of Blacks Receiving the Priesthood in the LDS Church

Elijah Abel baptism certificate 18321836: “Elijah Abel, an early black convert, pioneer, and missionary, was ordained an elder on March 3, 1836.”

“African-Americans in small numbers had been members of the Church from its days in Nauvoo. At least two black men, Walker Lewis, an elder, and Elijah Abel, a seventy, were ordained to the priesthood during Joseph Smith’s lifetime. …Elijah Abel continued his activity in the Church in Utah, even though ordination of other blacks ceased.”

1849: “The first known direct statement by a Church President that blacks were denied the priesthood came from Brigham Young in February 1849 when he said of “the Africans”: ‘The curse remained upon them because Cain cut off the lives of Abel. . . . The Lord had cursed Cain’s seed with blackness and prohibited them the Priesthood.’”

1852: “Wilford Woodruff reported that Brigham Young, speaking to the Utah territorial legislature, took personal responsibility for articulating the restriction: “Any man having one drop of the seed of Cane [sic] in him Cannot hold the priesthood & if no other Prophet ever spake it Before I will say it now in the name of Jesus Christ. I know it is true & they know it.”

1854: “Brigham Young said the curse would be removed from the posterity of Cain after all others had been redeemed and resurrected.”

1879: “Joseph F. Smith noted that Elijah Abel had two certificates identifying him as a seventy, one of them issued in Utah.”

1908: “Joseph F. Smith stated his understanding that Joseph Smith himself declared Abel’s ordination null and void. …President Smith offered no basis for that assertion. Abel did not believe that his ordination had ever been nullified.”

1931: “[Joseph Fielding Smith] said that the Bible cannot answer the question about why Negro men cannot have the priesthood, but that the Pearl of Great Price and the teachings of early Church leaders offer some information.”

1947: The First Presidency wrote: “From the days of the Prophet Joseph even until now, it has been the doctrine of the Church, never questioned by any of the Church leaders, that the Negroes are not entitled to the full blessings of the Gospel.” Further, summarizes Edward Kimball, “Its explanation, they said, was to be found in the premortal existence.”

1948: “During the George Albert Smith administration, priesthood leaders in the Philippines were authorized by the First Presidency to ordain Negrito men to the priesthood. These were native men with black skin who had no known African ancestry. Descent from black Africans only—not skin color or other racial characteristics—became the disqualifying factor.”

1949: “For Church leaders, the issue was not whether, but when. A First Presidency statement in 1949 quoted Wilford Woodruff as having made the following statement: ‘The day will come when all that race will be redeemed and possess all the blessings which we now have.’”

“George Albert Smith’s administration began sending out a consistent statement in response to inquiries: ‘It is not a matter of the declaration of a policy but of direct commandment from the Lord, on which is founded the doctrine of the Church from the days of its organization, to the effect that Negroes . . . are not entitled to the priesthood at the present time [based on] some eternal law with which man is yet unfamiliar.”

1954: “President McKay is said to have appointed a special committee of the Twelve to study the issue. They concluded that the priesthood ban had no clear basis in scripture but that Church members were not prepared for change.” Further, “President McKay had prayed for change ‘without result and finally concluded the time was not yet ripe.'”

1958: “[President McKay] authorized Church leaders to ordain Fijian men to the priesthood based on his understanding that, despite their blackness, they were not related to Africans.

1960: “Glen G. Fisher, newly released president of the South African Mission, stopped in Nigeria to visit groups that were using the Church’s name. He reported to the First Presidency that their faith was genuine. He urged sending missionaries to baptize believers and to organize branches.”

1961: “LaMar Williams, who as secretary to the Church Missionary Committee answered letters that came from Africa, was sent to Nigeria in 1961. He was met at the airport by ten pastors he had been corresponding with and discovered that they were unaware of one another. Williams returned with the names of fifteen thousand unbaptized converts who were waiting for the Church to come to them.”

1962: “Protest against the Church policy took many forms—rejection of missionaries, public demonstrations, even sabotage. In 1962, a small bomb damaged the east doors of the Salt Lake Temple and blew out some windows.”

1963: Elder [Joseph Fielding] Smith said, “you do not have to believe that Negroes are denied the priesthood because of the pre-existence. I have always assumed that because it was what I was taught, and it made sense, but you don’t have to believe it to be in good standing, because it is not definitely stated in the scriptures. And I have received no revelation on the matter.”

“The First Presidency felt keenly that they could not deny the Restoration message to those openly yearning for it. In early 1963, President McKay called LaMar and Nyal B. Williams and four other couples to serve missions in Nigeria. He set Williams apart as presiding elder of Nigeria with tentative plans to establish Sunday Schools headed by Nigerians but supervised by white missionaries who would teach and administer ordinances.”

1965: The “principle of assuming a male convert qualified to receive the priesthood unless there was evidence to the contrary was applied specifically in Brazil and soon afterward applied generally. Candidates were no longer required to provide pedigrees.”

1968: “Between 1968 and 1970 at least a dozen demonstrations or violent acts occurred when BYU athletic teams played other schools. Opposing players refused to participate or wore black armbands. One spectator threw acid, and another threw a Molotov cocktail that failed to ignite. Stanford severed athletic relations with BYU.”

1970: “The full First Presidency and Twelve jointly signed the statement and released it publicly on January 10, 1970, just a week before President McKay’s death. Like the 1949 statement, it attributed the policy to Joseph Smith and explained that the reason for the exclusion ‘antedates man’s mortal existence.’ Both statements also asserted that the ban would someday be terminated. But while the 1949 statement said that blacks would receive the priesthood “when all the rest of the children [of God] have received their blessings in the holy priesthood,” the 1969 statement omitted this idea and pointed out that the Church is founded in “the principle of continuous revelation” that could change the policy. The 1949 statement referred to a “curse on the seed of Cain,” while the 1969 statement said only that the restriction was “for reasons which we believe are known to God, but which He has not made fully known to man.”

1971: “Three black Mormons in Salt Lake City, Ruffin Bridgeforth, Darius Gray (featured in the video below), and Eugene Orr, petitioned the Church for help in keeping and reactivating the relatively small number of black members in the city. A committee of three Apostles, Elders Gordon B. Hinckley, Thomas S. Monson, and Boyd K. Packer, met with them a number of times. They suggested organizing an auxiliary unit, assigned to the Salt Lake Liberty Stake. In October, Bridgeforth, a member for eighteen years, was set apart as the president of the Genesis Group, with Gray and Orr as his counselors. Genesis members attended sacrament meeting in their geographical wards but met together monthly to hear speakers and bear testimony and weekly for Relief Society, Primary, and youth meetings.”

1972: Harold B. Lee, soon after becoming the 11th President of the Church, said: “For those who don’t believe in modern revelation there is no adequate explanation. Those who do understand revelation stand by and wait until the Lord speaks.” A few months later he said: “It’s only a matter of time before the black achieves full status in the Church. We must believe in the justice of God. The black will achieve full status, we’re just waiting for that time.”

1974: “In his first press conference, held immediately after his ordination, President Kimball faced a number of predictable questions. In response to the restriction on priesthood for blacks, he answered straightforwardly:

[I have given it] a great deal of thought, a great deal of prayer. The day might come when they would be given the priesthood, but that day has not come yet. Should the day come it will be a matter of revelation. Before changing any important policy, it has to be through a revelation from the Lord. But we believe in revelation. We believe there are yet many more things to be revealed from the Lord. . . . We are open to the Father on every suggestion that he gives us, to every direction he gives us, to every revelation of desire for change.

12 apostles revelation blacks priesthood1975: “President Kimball referred to his counselors various statements by early Church leaders about blacks and the priesthood and asked for their reactions. Wary of ways in which the question had been divisive during the McKay administration, he asked the Apostles to join him as colleagues in extended study and supplication.”

1977: “[President] Spencer [W. Kimball] invited at least three General Authorities to give him memos on the implications of the subject. Elder McConkie wrote a long memorandum concluding that there was no scriptural barrier to a change in policy that would give priesthood to black men.”

1978: “Dallin H. Oaks, president of BYU in 1978, recalled this time of inquiry: “[President Kimball] asked me what I thought were the reasons. He talked to dozens of people, maybe hundreds of people . . . about why, why do we have this.”

“Elder James E. Faust, head of the International Mission, which included nearly all of Africa, conferred with President Kimball a number of times in early 1978 about the priesthood issue. At one meeting, Elder Faust displayed a stack of letters received from Africa during just the previous month.”

“During the months leading up to June 1978, President Kimball spoke with the Twelve repeatedly about the question, asking them to speak freely. He invited associates who had not expressed themselves in the group setting to talk with him in private. He seemed so intent on solving the problem that others worried about him. A neighbor of the Kimballs, Richard Vernon, had noticed that Spencer seemed somewhat withdrawn. Normally relaxed and comfortable with friends in his ward, Spencer responded to one inquiry that he was not feeling well and changed the topic. Many in the ward had noticed the difference and felt concerned. Many also noticed that Camilla was anxious and worried about Spencer. Elder Packer, concerned at President Kimball’s inability to let the matter rest, said, “Why don’t you forget this?” Then Elder Packer answered his own question, “Because you can’t. The Lord won’t let you.”

Feb 1978: “On returning from the airport in February 1978 after one of his trips, Spencer asked the driver to let him off at the temple and sent Camilla home alone. “I want to go to the temple for a while,” he said. “I’ll get a way home.” Some days he went more than once, often alone. Sometimes he changed into temple clothing; he always took off his shoes. He obtained a key that gave him access to the temple night or day without having to involve anyone else. Few knew, except the security men who watched over him. One of them mentioned it to President Kimball’s neighbor, who told Camilla. So she knew that much, but she had no idea what problem so occupied Spencer.”

March 9, 1978: “As the First Presidency and Twelve met in the temple, the Apostles unanimously expressed their feeling that if the policy were to change, any change must be based on revelation received and announced by the prophet. President Kimball then urged a concerted effort from all of them to learn the will of the Lord. He suggested they engage in concerted individual fasting and prayer. …In spite of his preconceptions and his allegiance to the past, a swelling certainty grew that a change in policy was what the Lord wanted. “There grew slowly a deep, abiding impression to go forward with the change.”

March 23, 1978: “Spencer reported to his counselors that he had spent much of the night in reflection and his impression then was to lift the restriction on blacks. His counselors said they were prepared to sustain him if that were his decision. They went on to discuss the impact of such a change in policy on the members and decided there was no need for prompt action; they would discuss it again with the Twelve before a final decision.”

April 20, 1978: “President Kimball asked the Twelve to join the Presidency in praying that God would give them an answer. Thereafter he talked with the Twelve individually and continued to spend many hours alone in prayer and meditation in the Holy of Holies, often after hours when the temple was still.”

May 30, 1978: “Spencer read his counselors a tentative statement in longhand removing racial restrictions on priesthood and said he had a “good, warm feeling” about it. They reviewed past statements and decided to ask G. Homer Durham, a Seventy supervising the Historical Department, to research the matter further. They also concluded to alter the pattern of their next Thursday morning meeting with the Twelve by canceling the traditional luncheon in the temple and asking the council members to continue their fasting.”

Spencer W Kimball walking in snowJune 1, 1978: “On this first Thursday of the month, the First Presidency, Twelve, and Seventies met in their regularly scheduled monthly temple meeting at 9:00 a.m., fasting. There they bore testimony, partook of the sacrament, and participated in a prayer circle. The meeting lasted the usual three and a half hours and was not notably different from other such meetings until the conclusion, when President Kimball asked the Twelve to remain.

“…He outlined to them the direction his thoughts had carried him—the fading of his reluctance, the disappearance of objections, the growing assurance he had received, the tentative decision he had reached, and his desire for a clear answer. Once more he asked the Twelve to speak. …Eight of the ten [present Apostles] volunteered their views, all favorable. President Kimball called on the other two, and they also spoke in favor. Discussion continued for two hours. …The decision process bonded them in unity.

“They then sought divine confirmation. President Kimball asked, “Do you mind if I lead you in prayer?” There were things he wanted to say to the Lord. He had reached a decision after great struggle, and he wanted the Lord’s confirmation, if it would come. They surrounded the altar in a prayer circle. President Kimball told the Lord at length that if extending the priesthood was not right, if the Lord did not want this change to come in the Church, he would fight the world’s opposition.”

“Elder McConkie later recounted, ‘The Lord took over and President Kimball was inspired in his prayer, asking the right questions, and he asked for a manifestation.’ During that prayer, those present felt something powerful, unifying, ineffable. Those who tried to describe it struggled to find words.”

Elder McConkie said: “All of the Brethren at once knew and felt in their souls what the answer to the importuning petition of President Kimball was. . . . Some of the Brethren were weeping. All were sober and somewhat overcome. When President Kimball stood up, several of the Brethren, in turn, threw their arms around him.”

Elder L. Tom Perry recalled: “While he was praying we had a marvelous experience. We had just a unity of feeling. The nearest I can describe it is that it was much like what has been recounted as happening at the dedication of the Kirtland Temple. I felt something like the rushing of wind. There was a feeling that came over the whole group. When President Kimball got up he was visibly relieved and overjoyed.”

President Kimball also later said, “I felt an overwhelming spirit there, a rushing flood of unity such as we had never had before.” And he knew that the fully sufficient answer had come.

June 7, 1978: “President Kimball advised his counselors in their meeting that he had decided the time had come to announce the removal of priesthood restrictions on black male members and that he had asked three of the Twelve to propose drafts of an announcement. Francis Gibbons had constructed from the three memoranda a composite draft. The First Presidency revised this draft, spending a good deal of time on the exact wording.”

June 8, 1978: “The Presidency presented to the Twelve the proposed announcement. All of the Twelve present had a chance to comment, and minor editorial changes were made. They discussed timing. Some thought it best to wait for October general conference. Others suggested making the announcement at the mission presidents’ seminar the next week. But Elder McConkie urged immediate release: “It will leak, and we have to beat Satan. He’ll do something between now and then to make it appear that we’re being forced into it.” Despite tight security, employees at the Church Office Building sensed that something important was afoot, though no one knew exactly what. Rumors had already begun to spread.”

“On the afternoon of June 8, the First Quorum of the Seventy held its regular monthly meeting. President Kimball sent a message that the First Presidency wanted to meet with all available General Authorities the next morning in the Salt Lake Temple’s fourth-floor council room, and all were to come fasting.”

June 9, 1978: “A vote [of the Seventies] approved the decision unanimously. Spencer put his hand on President Tanner’s knee and said, “Eldon, go tell the world.” President Tanner left to deliver the announcement to Heber Wolsey, managing director of Public Communications, who was standing by. President Tanner returned in a few moments and reported: “It’s done.”

“Without addressing questions of history or justification, the announcement said simply God had revealed that the day had come for granting priesthood and temple blessings to all who are worthy. The final text [was] canonized as Official Declaration–2 in the Doctrine and Covenants.”


Here is a video by Darius Gray in which he presents similar information as I have above outlining the history of blacks and the LDS Priesthood. It’s well worth a watch.

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

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.

The LDS Church Use of Technology Presentation Download the List of LDS Church Digital Properties

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. 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.

Websites

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 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