Posts

I Hope They Call Me on a Mission

“I Hope They Call Me on a Mission” is a favorite Mormon missionary themed song for LDS children.

Lyrics to I Hope They Call Me on a Mission

1. I hope they call me on a mission
When I have grown a foot or two.
I hope by then I will be ready
To teach and preach and work as missionaries do.

2. I hope that I can share the gospel
With those who want to know the truth.
I want to be a missionary
And serve and help the Lord while I am in my youth.

Words and music: Newel Kay Brown, b. 1932. © 1969 IRI
Children’s Songbook of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 169

[one_third last=”no”] Download MP3 Vocals of  I Hope They Call Me on a Mission[/one_third][one_third last=”no”] Download MP3 of Music for I Hope They Call Me on a Mission[/one_third][one_third last=”yes”] Download Sheet Music of  I Hope They Call Me on a Mission[/one_third]

I hope they call me on a mission kids

10 Tips for Preparing Missionaries

young men preparing missionariesWhile the Lord expects each young person to do his or her own part to prepare spiritually, physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially for missionary service, preparing missionaries should also be a high priority for parents and Church leaders. Parents should give special attention to helping their boys prepare to serve a full-time mission. Bishops, youth leaders, and other Church members also have an important role in helping young men and women qualify for missionary service.

The following 10 tips will help give guidance to parents and Church leaders in preparing missionaries:

  1. Desire: Work with young men beginning at an early age to help them develop the desire to serve a mission. One of the best ways to do this is to help them gain a testimony of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Hearing mission stories, from your own life or the experiences of others, is another powerful way to bring the spirit of missionary work. See one of my many article on motivating missionaries or check out my presentation on Gaining a Desire to Serve a Mission.
  2. Worthiness: Help young men and women to always remain worthy to serve a mission. Help them to know the commandments and be committed to obeying them, and pay particular attention to the law of chastity. Also help them know that the Lord is very willing to forgive when we make mistakes, and help them to understand the repentance process.
  3. Expectations: Teach young people what will be expected of them when they serve missions. Teach them about the mission rules and the schedule missionaries keep. Teach them about mission life and help them understand the missionary guidelines regarding personal conduct, language, dress and grooming, media, and communications to family and friends.
  4. Purpose: Help future missionaries to understand the doctrinal basis of missionary work and what their purpose will be as missionaries. That purpose is to: “Invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.”
  5. Seminary: Encourage youth to attend seminary. Seminary is available in just about every corner of the globe and will teach our youth important basic doctrines of the restored gospel and help them develop their testimony of the Savior.
  6. Leaders: If you are a bishop or stake president, the handbook encourages your to call youth leaders who love missionary work and will help the youth learn to love it as well. It also says to invite returned missionaries to speak about missionary work often in sacrament meetings and on other occasions.
  7. Service and Teaching: Provide opportunities for prospective missionaries to serve others, including serving in Church callings. Young men should serve as home teachers. The new youth curriculum also gives young men and women many opportunities to teach which will help them become better missionaries.
  8. Mission Prep Class: If possible, have the youth take a missionary preparation class. Most wards and stakes offer this class, and it is also taught in Institute. The main source material for the mission prep class is the scriptures, the Missionary Handbook, and Preach My Gospel. Young men and women should study these materials thoroughly as they prepare for their missions.
  9. Scriptures: A large part of mission preparation includes studying the gospel and gaining a personal testimony. Young people should read the Bible, the Doctrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great price, and especially the Book of Mormon and have a testimony that these books contain the revealed word of God.
  10. Share: Encourage young people to share the gospel with their friends and family. As they open their mouth, share the gospel, and become missionaries in their everyday life, they will be blessed and see how the gospel blesses others. They will catch the spirit of missionary work and become great representatives of the Lord.

The Power of Everyday Missionaries

The Power of Everyday Missionaries is an excellent book by Clayton M. Christensen. Brother Christensen has served as a bishop, a counselor in the Massachusetts Boston Mission presidency, and an area seventy. He teaches at Harvard University, is a well-known management consultant, and has researched and written much on business innovation.

The Power of Everyday Missionaries teaches the what and how of sharing the gospel. It gives great insight and wonderful examples of how each member of the Church can use the opportunities in everyday life to share the restored gospel of Jesus Christ with our friends and neighbors. I highly recommend the book to all members. Though it focuses mostly on member-missionary efforts, the knowledge and techniques he discusses will also serve to help young people who are preparing for a full-time mission some day.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book:

Blessings of Missionary Work

  • introducing a friend to Jesus Christ“Every time you take someone figuratively by the hand and introduce him or her to Jesus Christ, you will feel how deeply our Savior loves you and loves the person whose hand is in yours.” (p. 1)
  • “Having the missionaries regularly help us as a family teach the gospel to new and old friends through the power of the Holy Ghost has profoundly affected the faith of our five children and brought the Spirit of God into our home.” (p. 6)
  • “Sharing the gospel doesn’t just require that we have the power of God unto the convincing of men. It gives us this power…It doesn’t just demand our purity. It will help us be pure.” (p. 10)

Many People Are Waiting and Ready to Receive the Gospel

  • “The Lord’s statement that the world is “white already to harvest” (D&C 4:4) doesn’t have an expiration date. The world is still ready.” (p. 3)
  • “There are a lot of people with questions. Most of them have given up on churches as a source of answers. As a consequence, we [mistakenly] categorize them as not interested in religion.” (p. 30)
  • “People will learn when they are ready to learn. Discovering what questions are on people’s minds about religion helps me to see that I actually am surrounded by many more people who are religious than I had imagined–because they have questions.” (p. 34)

Making the Gospel Part of Our Conversations

  • “Finding people for the missionaries to teach and helping them progress toward baptism can be easy and natural for all of us if we learn how to do this in ways that mirror the mind and the ways of God.” (p. 13)
  • “It is important to view normal conversations with people in probabilistic terms. If 5 percent of people have some latent interest in the LDS Church, and I open a conversational door about the church with twenty people, one of them will express interest–and I can’t judge who it will be. If we open a door to a hundred people, five of them will be interested. This is why it is so important to make the gospel a part of our conversation.” (p. 26)
  • “The Restoration of the gospel allows us to categorize things by ‘truth vs. falsehood’ instead of ‘science vs. religion.’ This has made me unafraid. It helps me to instinctively draw upon concepts from religion to solve problems in business and academia.” (p. 67)
  • coworkers using gospel to solve problems“Just as we have been taught to put footnotes in essays when we use an idea from another person, we should simply be sure that our coworkers understand where the principles came from as we use the gospel to solve problems.” (p. 68)

Open Your Mouth

  • “(Satan) simply needs to convince the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that it is awkward and politically incorrect to talk about God’s plan with others at work.”(p. 53)
  • “Every time I have set a date–first to invite someone, and then to find someone who says yes, God has blessed me to intersect with someone who has accepted my invitation to come into our home to study with the missionaries. “(p. 77)
  • “In the equation that determines whether we can find people for the missionaries to teach, God’s role is constant, not variable. He always keeps His promises. The only variable is whether we have the faith that we will be blessed with miracles if we make commitments to God and then obediently do what we said we would do.” (p. 79)
  • “Each of these members and leaders [examples of successful member missionaries] were entrepreneurs in Zion. They rightly assumed that the power was in their hands to bring to pass much righteousness.” (p. 149)

Sharing the Gospel Online

  • “We realized only a handful of youth during their teenage years have regular opportunities to share their testimonies with nonmembers. We felt that asking them to serve as digital missionaries was a perfect way to help them have regular missionary opportunities and also to help them learn how to better articulate their beliefs.” (p. 86)
  • sharing gospel online youths native tongue“In many ways, the call to be online missionaries is a calling to share the gospel in their (the youth’s) native tongue.” (p. 86)

Helping Investigators Learn and Feel the Spirit

  • “Consider the difference made by a shift in approach. Phil had regularly commanded my dad to get off the porch when the proposal was “Phil, you need the Church.” But when the pitch was, “Phil, the Church needs you,” instantly he said yes.” (p. 37)
  • “Many of us misdiagnose the reason why so many investigators don’t follow through on their commitments to read and ponder the Book of Mormon, to pray to learn if it is true, and to attend church. When investigators repeatedly fail to keep these commitments, we and the missionaries are prone to conclude that the investigators really are not interested. But often investigators don’t do these things because they don’t know how.” (p. 91)
  • “We know that we learn much more when we teach a lesson than when we hear a lesson. We now know that the same principle applies to those who are learning about the restored gospel. They learn it far more deeply when we give them the chance to reach us.” (p. 106)
  • “We can schedule meetings with our investigators in a church building before they come to Sunday services. Given them a tour of the building and tell them what goes on in every (room). …We want them to feel that the church building is a sacred place because people like to return to places that they consider sacred, places where they know they will feel good.” (p. 109)
  • “When our friends are preparing for baptism we should expect temptation and deception to intensify. This means, consequently, that our job as missionaries is to teach our friends how to identify temptation and withstand it.” (p. 112)

Missionary Oriented Wards and Stakes

  • “Every ward in the Church can bring the Spirit into their meetings. But it helps if they know which investigators are coming and what each person needs.” (p. 110)
  • “God trusted the Weston Ward. He knew that when His children prayed to Him for help and guidance, if He could just guide them to the Weston Ward or one of its members, He could trust the members to take it from there.” (p. 140)
  • “Everyone in the branch was brought by a friend, and then they brought friends.They were given responsibility the day after baptism to be proselyting missionaries. …Predictably, not miraculously, hundreds of people accepted baptism, and most of these converts stayed committed to the faith.” (p. 147)
  • “A sense among some in the Church is that obedient Saints are those that follow the programs assiduously, and that innovation is a symptom of rebellion if it hasn’t been ‘approved.’ These Saints [examples of successful member missionaries] followed the Spirit in an unscripted way.” (p. 149)

 

Atonement of Christ

The Atonement of Jesus ChristYour purpose as a missionary is to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them accept the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement. If missionaries are to help other people take advantage of the Atonement of Christ, they first need to understand it themselves.

What is the Atonement of Jesus Christ?

I like this definition of the Atonement which is found in the Come Follow Me youth curriculum: “The Atonement is the sacrifice Jesus Christ made to help us overcome sin, adversity, and death. Jesus’s atoning sacrifice took place in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross at Calvary. He paid the price for our sins, took upon Himself death, and was resurrected. The Atonement is the supreme expression of the love of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.”

To atone means for one person to suffer the penalty of sin for another person, thereby removing the effects of sin from the repentant sinner. The Atonement allows men and women to be reconciled to God, and only Jesus Christ was capable of carrying out the Atonement. Because of Christ’s Atonement, all people will be resurrected and live forever, and those who obey His gospel will receive the greatest of all gifts, eternal life with God.

The Guide to the Scriptures entry on Atonement adds that Jesus’ Atonement was not complete until he was resurrected from the grave. “His atonement included his suffering for the sins of mankind in the Garden of Gethsemane, the shedding of his blood, and his death and subsequent resurrection from the grave (Isa. 53:3–12; Mosiah 3:5–11; Alma 7:10–13).”

The Atonement: the least understood of all our revealed truths

The Atonement is the most important event in the history of mankind, yet perhaps also the most difficult to comprehend. True understanding of the Atonement will only come after much study, meditation, and prayer. Elder Bruce R. McConkie said:

“The atonement of Christ is the most basic and fundamental doctrine of the gospel, and it is the least understood of all our revealed truths. Many of us have a superficial knowledge and rely upon the Lord and his goodness to see us through the trials and perils of life. But if we are to have faith like Enoch and Elijah we must believe what they believed, know what they knew, and live as they lived. May I invite you to join with me in gaining a sound and sure knowledge of the Atonement” (The Purifying Power of Gethsemane).

The Infinite Atonement

One of the reasons why the Atonement is difficult to be understood is that we are motal beings with finite thinking, yet the Atonment is infinite. Amulek, the missionary companion of the prophet Alma in the Book of Mormon, said: “there can be nothing which is short of an infinite atonement which will suffice for the sins of the world.” (Alma 34:12) The prophet Jacob, the brother of Nephi, in the Book of Mormon also spoke of the infinite atonement:

“For as death hath passed upon all men, to fulfil the merciful plan of the great Creator, there must needs be a power of resurrection, and the resurrection must needs come unto man by reason of the fall; and the fall came by reason of transgression; and because man became fallen they were cut off from the presence of the Lord. Wherefore, it must needs be an infinite atonement—save it should be an infinite atonement this corruption could not put on incorruption.” (2 Nephi 9:6-7)

What is the Gospel? The Good News of the Atonement

The full-time missionary guide is called Preach My Gospel which begs the question, what is the gospel of Jesus Christ? The LDS Bible Dictionary says that the word “gospel” means good news and the good news, specifically, is “that Jesus Christ has made a perfect atonement.”

3 Nephi 27: 13-14 gives a similar definition of the gospel: “And this is the gospel which I have given unto you—that I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me. And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me, that as I have been lifted up by men even so should men be lifted up by the Father.”

The good news of the gospel is that Jesus Christ died for us and atoned for our sins and has made it possible that we can repent and return to live with our Father in Heaven.

How the Atonement relates to missionary work

Atonement and Missionary Work Quotes from Hunter and NelsonElder Russell M. Nelson explained the relationship between understanding the Atonement and having a desire to serve a mission. “That is why we have missionaries; that is why we have temples—to bring the fullest blessings of the Atonement to faithful children of God. That is why we respond to our own calls from the Lord. When we comprehend His voluntary Atonement, any sense of sacrifice on our part becomes completely overshadowed by a profound sense of gratitude for the privilege of serving Him.” (The Atonement, Oct. 1996)

As your understanding of the Atonement of Jesus Christ grows, your desire to share the gospel will increase. You will feel, as Lehi did, the “great . . . importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth” (2 Nephi 2:8). Here are some examples of the natural desire to do missionary work growing as people come to understand the significance and blessings of the Atonement.

  • The Sons of Mosiah:  They desired to “go up to the land of Nephi that they might preach the things which they had heard, and that they might impart the word of God to their brethren, the Lamanites—That perhaps they might bring them to the knowledge of the Lord their God,…that they might also be brought to rejoice in the Lord their God, …Now they were desirous that salvation should be declared to every creature, for they could not bear that any human soul should perish.” (Mosiah 28: 1-3)
  • Lehi in his vision of the Tree of Life: “And it came to pass that I did go forth and partake of the fruit thereof; and I beheld that it was most sweet, above all that I ever before tasted. Yea, and I beheld that the fruit thereof was white, to exceed all the whiteness that I had ever seen. And as I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy; wherefore, I began to be desirous that my family should partake of it also.” (1 Nephi 8:11-12)
  • President Howard W. Hunter: “What does the Atonement have to do with missionary work? Any time we experience the blessings of the Atonement in our lives, we cannot help but have a concern for the welfare of others. . . . A great indicator of one’s personal conversion is the desire to share the gospel with others.” (“The Atonement and Missionary Work,” seminar for new mission presidents, 21 June 1994)

Greater love hath no man

Heavenly Father and Jesus showed their love for all of mankind through the mission and atonement of Jesus Christ. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

Charity is defined in the scriptures as the pure love of Christ. How was that loved manifested? The pure love of Christ is seen through the Savior’s willingness to pay the ultimate price and to make a selfless sacrifice to fulfill the Atonement.

I testify that the Christ lived on this earth and performed the great atoning sacrifice. I know that through faith in him and by following his ways, we can be cleansed of our sins. This is the greatest miracle of all of God’s miracles. That through faith, repentance, baptism, and the other ordinances and covenants of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, we can be made whole, worthy, and able to return to our Heavenly father’s presence and partake of the greatest gifts, exaltation and eternal life. I pray that all the young people reading this will study and pray and gain a testimony of the Atonement of Christ, and then show your love  and gratitude for the Lord by being a missionary and bringing souls unto Him.

Missionary Dress and Grooming Standards

Missionary Dress and Grooming StandardsThere has been a lot of buzz lately about the new, more up-to-date and modern, dress and grooming standards for Mormon missionaries that were published by the LDS Church in July 2013. Most notable is the lighter colored suits and slacks allowed for the young men: light gray and tan suits, along with khaki dress pants, are now permissible for Elders. Some major changes also took place with the Sister missionary wardrobe with the last couple of years, with nylons becoming optional and the minimum dress length going from mid-calf to the knee. For both men and women, lighter, brighter colors are now allowed.

Here are some news articles describing the changes:

The official LDS Church missionary dress and grooming standards are found on the Dress and Grooming section of the LDS.org page for missionaries. The new Church website has volumes of very detailed information, including hundreds of pictures, describing appropriate dress and grooming of missionaries. When you are ready to buy clothes for you mission, review the Church site on missionary dress and grooming, following the missionary clothing list you’ll get in your call packet, also be aware of the area specific information you will get from your mission president.

Sister Missionary Dress and Grooming Standards

  • Sister Missionary Dress StandardsPersonal Grooming: “Be neat and clean. Keep your clothes clean, mended, and pressed. Bathe daily, use deodorant, and wash your hair frequently. If you choose to wear perfume or scented lotion, make sure it is not distracting or overpowering.”
  • Hair: “The style, color, and length of your hair should be attractive and easy to manage and should not draw attention. The color of your hair should look natural and conservative.”
  • Modesty: “Maintain a high standard of modesty…You should present a dignified, clean, well-groomed appearance and be feminine and professional in style.”
  • Outfits: “Because of budget and luggage restrictions and limited closet space, you should plan and purchase your clothing carefully…Choose colors and patterns that you can mix and match with a variety of outfits.”
  • Underclothing: “Choose bras that are white or cream colored, durable, comfortable, and modest. Make sure you have slips that coordinate with the color and length of your skirts…Patterned nylons or tights should be subtle and simple in design and should not be made of any kind of mesh, fishnet, or lace material.”
  • Fabrics and Care: “Your clothing should be made of materials that are durable and easy to care for…A durable weave of cotton, wool, or polyester blends will wear well. Do not wear denim, corduroy, [or] leather.”
  • Shoes: “Shoes and boots should be practical, comfortable, attractive, and appropriate for the climate…Shoes with low heels are preferred…You may use shoe inserts to increase comfort and support. Wear a dressy pair of shoes for Sunday meetings.”
  • Accessories: “Handbags, jewelry, and other accessories should be simple and conservative…Earrings should not hang longer than approximately one inch below the earlobe. Do not wear more than one earring in each ear…Choose belts that are simple and conservative in color and design.”
  • See Female Missionary Dress and Grooming Guidelines for more details.

Elder Missionary Dress and Grooming Standards

  • Elder Missionary Dress StandardsPersonal Grooming: “Be neat and clean. Keep your clothes clean, mended, and pressed. Do not wear clothing that is casual, wrinkled, or sloppy. Bathe, shave, and brush your teeth each day…Your appearance should never distract from your message.”
  • Hair: “Always maintain a conservative hairstyle. Keep your hair relatively short and evenly tapered on the top, back, and sides…Unacceptable hairstyles include faux hawks, crew cuts, mullets, and styles that are spikey, messy, or permed.”
  • Clothing: “In general, your missionary wardrobe will consist of business-style suits, white dress shirts, ties, slacks, shoes, socks, and belts…You are not required to wear a suit during regular everyday proselyting activities. On these occasions, wear a white shirt, tie, durable and comfortable dress shoes, and professional dress slacks.”
  • Suits: “Wear business-style suits in conservative colors. If you wear lighter-colored suits, choose shades of grey or brown… Suits with pinstripes or patterns should be simple and subtle in design. Do not wear sports coats or slim-style suits.”
  • Shirts and Ties: “Wear only white, conservative-style dress shirts…Ties should be simple in color and design and professional in style…String, bow, skinny, or wide ties are not acceptable.”
  • Shoes: “Shoes should fit well and be comfortable, breathable, and durable. Choose polishable shoes in conservative colors. Do not wear casual or trendy shoes or shoes made of suede, canvas, or other soft materials… Do not wear cowboy boots or hiking boots.”
  • Accessories and Belts: “Accessories should be simple and conservative and should not attract attention…You may wear one simple ring and an inexpensive, conservative-style watch…Belts should be simple and should match the color of your shoes. Do not wear large belt buckles or buckles with logos or caricatures.”
  • Outerwear: “Staying dry and warm while proselyting in wet and cold climates is very important. During regular proselyting activities you may add any of the following layers over your white shirt and tie as needed: Sweater, Suit coat, Rainwear, Winter coat…Coats, jackets, and sweaters should be in solid, conservative colors and be business professional in appearance. Do not wear hoodies [or] sweatshirts.”
  • See the Male Missionary Dress and Grooming General Guidelines for more details.

Senior Missionary Dress and Grooming Standards

Standards for dress and groom of older missionaries are relatively the same as those for younger missionaries. For specific senior missionary dress and grooming guidelines, visit the Provo MTC website.

An Ambassador of the Lord

As a missionary, you are an ambassador, or representative of the Lord Jesus Christ. The dress and grooming guidelines websites reminds future missionaries that “as an ambassador of the Lord you are to wear professional, conservative clothing that is consistent with your sacred calling and that will clearly identify you as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” To sister missionaries, Thomas S. Monson once said, “You can dress attractively without being immodest. Within the Lord’s guidelines, there is room for you to be lively, vibrant, and beautiful both in your dress and in your actions.” Elder Jeffrey R. Holland reminds us, “we have always been invited to present our best selves. … We should be recognizable in appearance as well as in behavior that we truly are disciples of Christ.” I pray that all LDS missionaries will do this, and that through their appearance, example, and teachings, more of God’s children will desire to follow Jesus Christ and come unto Him.

Missionary Schedule

Missionary Studying ScripturesMormon missionaries are expected to work hard, be obedient, and keep a strict schedule. As I have discussed previously, following the missionary’s daily schedule as prescribed in the Missionary Handbook is an important aspect of being in the right place at the right time. This schedule is a major part of mission rules and obeying these rules will keep you safe and blessed. Abiding by the schedule will help you to do the things you are supposed to do at the times you are supposed to do them. Here’s a quick overview of the daily routine:

  • 6:30 a.m. Wake up, pray, exercise, and do other preparation for the day.
  • 7:30 a.m. Breakfast.
  • 8:00 a.m. Personal study: the Book of Mormon, other scriptures, chapters from Preach My Gospel, etc. with an emphasis on the doctrines of the missionary lessons.
  • 9:00 a.m. Companion study: share what you have learned during personal study, prepare to teach, and confirm plans for the day.
  • 10:00 a.m. Language study for 30 to 60 minutes, if necessary and approved by your mission president.
  • 10:00 a.m. Begin proselyting: teaching appointments, finding people to teach, open your mouth, etc.
  • Lunch and Dinner: You may take an hour for lunch and an hour for dinner at times that fit best with proselyting. Normally, dinner should be finished no later than 6:00 p.m.
  • 9:00 – 9:30 p.m. Return to the apartment and plan the next day’s activities. Write in journal, prepare for bed, pray.
  • 10:30 p.m. Go to bed.
  • This schedule may vary a little in some countries and missions. For example, in the Rosario Argentina mission, where I served from 1995 to 1997, we were expected to be out proselytizing by 9am and we had our companionship study after lunch when the rest of the country was taking a ciesta.

Even when it is hot, or snowy, or rainy, or cold, it is important for missionaries to keep this schedule. As you do so, the Lord will bless you, for God “doth require that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately bless you” (Mosiah 2:24).

It is important to be out of your apartment, meeting people, and sharing your testimony at the most opportune times. If it is mid-morning, 10:30-ish, and you are still in your apartment, then you are not where you are supposed to be. But if, at that time, you are knocking doors, meeting people, and sharing your testimony, then the Lord will bless your efforts and help you find people he has chosen to hear the message.

If you have been lingering at a member’s home after a dinner appointment and you have been there for over an hour, then you are not keeping the missionary schedule. If, rather, you keep your dinner appointment to under an hour, thank the members for their hospitality, and get on your way to your next teaching appointment, then you are working hard and being obedient and the Lord will bless you and you will be a better instrument in His hands.

Finding Juan Carlos Lopez by Keeping the Schedule

I know that had I not been obedient to the missionary daily schedule then I would have missed out on many opportunities to meet families and eventually see them join the true Church of Jesus Christ. Once, when I had just been transferred, I arrived in my new area around 8:30 in the morning. It would have been easy to justify lingering longer in the apartment to unpack my suitcases, but by 9am we knew we were supposed to be out working, so we hit the pavement. It just so happened that within minutes of leaving the apartment, my companion and I first met Juan Carlos Lopez, who eventually got baptized. Had we chosen to disobey the rules and not keep the missionary schedule, then we may never had met Juan Carlos.

As you are obedient to the mission rules you are asked to live by, including the daily schedule, you will have the Spirit in greater measure. You will be guided by God and be more successful in your missionary labors.

Being in the Right Place at the Right Time

Summary: When missionaries are in the right place at the right time, they will have the Spirit of the Lord with them which will bear testimony that what they are teaching is true, a crucial element of the conversion process.

Mormon Missionaries Knocking Door

Photo Credit: Tyler McFarland

The principle of being in the right place at the right time applies to all of us. It means to do what the Lord expects you to do at the time the Lord expects you to do it. It applies to missions, temple marriage, and everyday opportunities to serve our fellow beings. For today, I’d like to focus on what it means for young men and all missionaries to be in the right place at the right time.

The Right Place for Young Men is on a Mission

First of all, for young men in their late teens or early twenties, the right place to be at that time in your life is on a mission. The prophets have long taught that every young man should serve a mission. Recently, at the October 2012 General Conference, President Thomas S. Monson said, “We affirm that missionary work is a priesthood duty—and we encourage all young men who are worthy and who are physically able and mentally capable to respond to the call to serve.”

It was in that same talk that President Monson announced the reduced age for missionary service for young men to be 18 years old. Said Pres. Monson, “I am not suggesting that all young men will—or should—serve at this earlier age. Rather, based on individual circumstances as well as upon a determination by priesthood leaders, this option is now available.” The prophet has never said that young men need to leave on their mission right at age 18. He gives young men the flexibility to find a good time to go, to wrap up school or work or athletics, and then go on a mission. But certainly by the time that young men reach their early twenties, if they are going to school or working or involved in athletics instead of being out in the mission field, they are not in the right place at that time in their life. The age limit for men to serve a mission is 25, so for young men in their early 20s, the right place to be at that time of life is on a full-time mission.

Following the Missionary Daily Schedule

The second aspect of being in the right place at the right time that I would like to discuss is about mission life, obeying mission rules, and doing the things you are supposed to do at the times you are supposed to do them. Mormon missionaries are expected to work hard, be obedient, and keep a strict schedule. Here’s a quick overview of the daily routine:

  • 6:30 a.m. Wake up, pray, exercise, eat breakfast, and do other preparation for the day.
  • 8:00 a.m. Personal study: the Book of Mormon, other scriptures, chapters from Preach My Gospel, etc.
  • 9:00 a.m. Companion study: share what you have learned during personal study and prepare to teach.
  • 10:00 a.m. Begin proselyting: teaching appointments, finding people to teach, etc.
  • Lunch and Dinner: You may take an hour for lunch and an hour for dinner at times that fit best with proselyting.
  • 9:00 – 9:30 p.m. Return to the apartment and plan the next day’s activities. Write in journal, prepare for bed, pray.
  • 10:30 p.m. Go to bed.
  • This schedule may vary a little in some countries and missions. For example, in the Rosario Argentina mission, where I served from 1995 to 1997, we were expected to be out proselytizing by 9am and we had our companionship study after lunch.
Mormon Missionaries in the Rain

Photo Credit: Tyler McFarland

Even when it is hot, or snowy, or rainy, or cold, it is important for missionaries to keep this schedule. The schedule helps you as a missionary be in the right place at the right time, and as you do so, the Lord will bless you. It is important to be out of your apartment, meeting people, and sharing your testimony at the most opportune times. If it is mid-morning, 10:30-ish, and you are still in your apartment, then you are not in the right place at the time time. If it is mid-morning and you are knocking doors, meeting people, and sharing your testimony, then you are in the right place at the right time. If you have been lingering at a member’s home after a dinner appointment and you have been there for over an hour, then you are not in the right place at the right time. If you keep your dinner appointment to under an hour, thank the members for their hospitality, and then you get on your way to your next teaching appointment, then you are in the right place at the right time.

You get the point. Keeping this schedule is an important component of being obedient to the mission rules. And as you are obedient to the rules you are asked to live by, you will have the Spirit in greater measure. You will be guided by God and be more successful in your missionary labors.

Examples of Missionary Success By Being in the Right Place at the Right Time

Virtually every family I taught and baptized was a result of being in the right place at the right time. I know that had I not been obedient to the missionary daily schedule, then I would have missed out on many opportunities to meet families, and eventually see them join the true Church of Jesus Christ. Here are some examples:

  • Finding Juan Carlos Lopez. I had just been transferred to the area and it would have been easy to justify lingering longer in the apartment to unpack my suitcases. But it was 9am, and we knew we were supposed to be out working. And it was that morning that my companion and I ran into Juan Carlos Lopez, who eventually got baptized.
  • Reconnecting with a Family in Rosario. We had taught a family in the city of Rosario and they had been progressing well, when all of a sudden they lost interest in meeting with us. We didn’t see them for a few weeks, but one day when we were out working, we happen to run into them on the sidewalk and we resumed the discussions. They got baptized soon thereafter, and this wouldn’t have happened if we hadn’t been out working at the appropriate time.
  • Finding teaching and baptizing the Lescano Family wouldn’t have happened if we hadn’t been in the right place at the right time.
  • Also, meeting and getting an appointment with the Godoy family is another example to led to a family being baptized.
  • The examples could go on and on.

“I, the Lord, have suffered you to come unto this place…for the salvation of souls”

The Lord spoke to the prophet Joseph Smith about being in the right place at the right time in order to bring about the salvation of souls. In D&C 100: 4- 8, the Savior says, “Therefore, I, the Lord, have suffered you to come unto this place; for thus it was expedient in me for the salvation of souls. Therefore, verily I say unto you, lift up your voices unto this people; speak the thoughts that I shall put into your hearts, and you shall not be confounded before men; For it shall be given you in the very hour, yea, in the very moment, what ye shall say. But a commandment I give unto you, that ye shall declare whatsoever thing ye declare in my name, in solemnity of heart, in the spirit of meekness, in all things. And I give unto you this promise, that inasmuch as ye do this the Holy Ghost shall be shed forth in bearing record unto all things whatsoever ye shall say.”

Future missionaries, you will be called by God as a missionary and sent to the place where the Lord would have you serve. There are people in that area that need the gospel and need you to bring it to them. Please be in the right place at the right time in order to do the work and bring the blessings of the gospel to the people of the world according to your call from God. Be where you are supposed to be. Do what you are supposed to do. Open your mouth, preach the gospel, bear testimony of the Savior, and teach by the Holy Ghost. The Spirit will testify to the hearts of the people that what you are teaching is true and you will have more power to convert. I know that as you do this you will be blessed and you will be an instrument in the hands of the Lord in bringing to pass much righteousness.

Joseph Smith’s First Vision

I was in a recent stake conference priesthood leadership meeting where Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve presided and spoke. He opened up the meeting to questions, and one brother asked for his advice in preparing young people for a mission. Elder Nelson gave two pieces of advice: one, study the word of the Lord in the scriptures, and two, gain a testimony of the prophet Joseph Smith. I’d like to focus on the latter today, particularly on Joseph Smith’s First Vision.

Joseph Smith's First VisionMany of the important gospel truths that LDS missionaries teach were restored through Joseph Smith–that we lived with God before our birth, the importance of gospel ordinances, the necessity of priesthood authority,  that families can be together forever, and much added depth of understanding of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. One of the most profound truths restored through Joseph the Prophet was about the nature of God and Jesus, and much of that was learned in the First Vision.

Summary of Joseph Smith’s First Vision

In the spring of 1820, after much meditation and studying of the bible, 14-year-old Joseph Smith followed the counsel in James 1:5 that “if any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God.” Joseph desired guidance in his life, he wanted to know which church was correct, and he desired to be cleansed from his sins. He left his home one morning and found seclusion in a grove of trees and prayed. In response to this prayer, God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, appeared to Joseph Smith. This sacred experience was the beginning of the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It led to other visitations by angelic messengers, to the coming forth of new scriptures such as the Book of Mormon, and to the establishment of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with priesthood authority from God.

Four Accounts of the First Vision

Some young people are surprised to learn that Joseph Smith wrote, or dictated, his First Vision experience four times. Each account of the First Vision was written in response to different needs and addressed different audiences. The four accounts were written in 1832, 1835, 1838, and 1842 respectively. Critics of the Church like to focus on the differences in these tellings of the First Vision and use such differences as they can find to attack Joseph Smith. But I have found that the four accounts of the First Vision are rather complementary of each other, and come together in beautiful harmony. Each emphasizes different aspects of his experience, and gives different insights about Joseph and his interaction with Diety.

  • 1832 Account: Though it was written twelve years after the experience, this is the first written account we have. It was part of Joseph’s autobiography and emphasized his search for religious truth and his desire to be forgiven of his sins.
  • 1835 Account: This one comes from a conversation Joseph Smith had with a visitor to Kirtland, Ohio and was recorded in his diary by one of his scribes. One detail unique to the 1835 account is Joseph’s statement that in addition to two personages, he saw many angels.
  • 1838 AccountThis is the version found in LDS scriptures, in the Pearl of Great Price. It is clear that the Prophet Joseph more carefully prepared this account and intended it to be the primary one used in the telling of the history of the Church. The emphasis of this description of the First Vision is Joseph’s initial confusion regarding the various religions and God’s declaration regarding the true Church.
  • 1842 Account: The fourth account by Joseph Smith was included in a letter he wrote in 1842 to a newspaper editor named John Wentworth. In this account, Joseph included a statement implied in the other accounts but not specifically stated—that he was told “that the fulness of the gospel should at some future time be made known unto me.”

For more information, please refer to the gospel topic article called Accounts of the First Vision on LDS.org or the article appearing in the Ensign magazine in January 1985 called Joseph Smith’s Recitals of the First Vision.

The First Visitation

Though we call it a “vision”, the Mormon scholar Truman G. Madsen liked to refer to it as a “visitation” to emphasize that it wasn’t just a dream that Joseph made up in his mind, but that he was truly visited by heavenly beings. Furthermore, we call Joseph’s experience the First Vision, because it was the first in a series of heavenly visions, revelations, and visitations. But to Joseph Smith at the time it was not the First Vision. It was an answer to his prayer. It was a message of forgiveness and it gave direction to his life. Joseph said his “soul was filled with love and for many days I could rejoice with great Joy and the Lord was with me.”

Another LDS scholar named Richard Lyman Bushman noted in his book, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling, that at the time of the First Vision, Joseph didn’t tell many people, not even is family initially,  much about the experience. He seems to have viewed it as a personal religious experience. The day of the event, Joseph only reported, “I went home. And as I leaned up to the fireplace, mother inquired what the matter was. I replied, ‘Never mind, all is well—I am well enough off.’ I then said to my mother, ‘I have learned for myself that Presbyterianism is not true.'” (JSH 1:20)

I was in a meeting once where Elder David A. Bednar spoke. He mentioned the scripture above and pointed out that a key doctrine in that verse is that Joseph Smith learned the truth for himself. Learning the truth for ourselves is something we all must do. Missionaries especially must gain their own testimony that Joseph Smith was the prophet of the Restoration, that the Book of Mormon is true, and that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer.

My Testimony of the First Vision

During my two years in Rosario Argentina as a missionary, I bore my testimony countless times of the Prophet Joseph Smith and of the truthfulness of his First Vision. I had the following scripture memorized from the frequent telling of the experience:

“I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me…When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!” (JSH 1:16-17)

I knew it then and my testimony is even stronger now. I know that this event really happened. Joseph was personally visited and called by God to be a prophet and to be the instrument in the Lord’s hand in restoring the full gospel of Jesus Christ to the earth.

I highly recommend that all future missionaries memorize this verse now. As you do so, your testimony will grow. Your purpose as a missionary is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ as restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith. The Book of Mormon is powerful convincing evidence that Jesus Christ lives and loves us, that Joseph Smith is a true prophet, and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is God’s true church. I pray that you can develop your own testimony of these things and “learn for yourself.” The gospel will bless individuals and families, it will help meet their spiritual needs, and it will help them gain their deepest, truest desires in this life and in the eternities. And as a missionary you will have the pleasure of being an instrument in the Lord’s hands to deliver those blessings. 

The “Why” of Keeping the Law of Chastity

Summary: Understanding why keeping the law of chastity is important will help young people see the divine purpose behind this commandment and inspire them to live it.

In the April 2012 General Conference, in a talk called The Why of Priesthood Service, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf said “Understanding the why of the gospel and the why of the priesthood will help us to see the divine purpose of all of this. It will give us motivation and strength to do the right things, even when they are hard… [The what] teaches us what to do. The why inspires our souls. The what informs, but the why transforms.”

Keeping the Law of Chastity

Why is the law of chastity so important?

In his April 2013 General Conference talk titled, We Believe in Being Chaste, Elder David A. Bednar posed the question: “Why is the law of chastity so important?” His answer had several components:

  • It is part of Heavenly Father’s Plan of Happiness. “The eternal importance of chastity can only be understood within the overarching context of our Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness for His children…The Father’s plan enables His spirit sons and daughters to obtain physical bodies, to gain mortal experience, and to progress toward exaltation.”
  • Physical limitations prepare us for eternity. “Our relationships with other people, our capacity to recognize and act in accordance with truth, and our ability to obey the principles and ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ are amplified through our physical bodies…Simply stated, there are lessons we must learn and experiences we must have, as the scriptures describe, “according to the flesh” (1 Nephi 19:6Alma 7:12–13).
  • The power of procreation is divine. “Marriage between a man and a woman is the authorized channel through which premortal spirits enter mortality. Complete sexual abstinence before marriage and total fidelity within marriage protect the sanctity of this sacred channel…Specific guidelines for the proper use of the ability to create life are vital elements in the Father’s plan. How we feel about and use that supernal power will determine in large measure our happiness in mortality and our destiny in eternity.”
  • We are on earth to be tested. “The precise nature of the test of mortality, then, can be summarized in the following question: Will I respond to the inclinations of the natural man, or will I yield to the enticings of the Holy Spirit and put off the natural man and become a saint through the Atonement of Christ the Lord (see Mosiah 3:19)? That is the test. Every appetite, desire, propensity, and impulse of the natural man may be overcome by and through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.”
  • Being chaste brings blessings. “Alma counseled his son Shiblon to “bridle all [of his] passions, that [he] may be filled with love” (Alma 38:12). Significantly, disciplining the natural man in each of us makes possible a richer, a deeper, and a more enduring love of God and of His children. Love increases through righteous restraint and decreases through impulsive indulgence…Obedience to the law of chastity will increase our happiness in mortality and make possible our progress in eternity…Chastity and virtue are now, always have been, and always will be “most dear and precious above all things” (Moroni 9:9).

Discussing “the why” of keeping the law of chastity is a topic Elder Bednar has also spoke about in years past. In his June 1998 Education Week talk titled Teach Them to UnderstandElder Bednar spoke about the importance of understanding “the why” of gospel commandments.

“In the times in which we live, only the restored gospel of Jesus Christ has the answers to the why questions that matter the most…It concerns me as I see young people in our Church who know all the correct things they should do and do not have a clue as to why. They have a check-list mentality. “Say my prayers morning and night. Read the scriptures.” Why do they do these things? “Because I am supposed to. Because the prophet said. Because my mom and dad will jump my case if I don’t.” …[But] do we understand why? If we do not understand the why, then the power available to us through the doctrine of Christ will not be evident in our lives.”

“This is particularly true with young people pertaining to the law of chastity. They know they shouldn’t, but do they know why they shouldn’t?…I do not know a young person who truly understands the doctrine related to “the seed of Abraham” who would violate the law of chastity. We were foreordained in the premortal existence to the blessings associated with birth through a particular lineage, even the chosen lineage of Abraham–not because we are better, not because we are more special, but because we have particular responsibilities that we covenanted we would fulfill. Therefore we came to the earth through a lineage with the birthright blessing of the priesthood. Every man who holds the priesthood was foreordained to that very responsibility in the premortal existence. Does a young man who understands that doctrine have a choice to go on a mission? He made that choice before he was ever born.”

“…As I have opportunities to visit with young people, I like to talk about what it means to be the “seed of Abraham.” Hoping that the Spirit of the Lord will touch their hearts, I highlight the story of Jacob and Esau. Esau gave up his birthright blessing for a bowl of red bean soup. Now a question directed to the young people: Would you really want to forfeit your birthright as the seed of Abraham–foreordained in the premortal existence, living on the earth at this particular time to bless the families of the earth, the most glorious spiritually destiny you could ever hope for? Do you really want to give up those blessings and opportunities for a few minutes of messing around? If we understand the doctrine of who we are and why we are here, then that understanding changes the way we do things.”

I pray that all future missionaries will study, ponder, and prayer about why this commandment is so important and the ways in which keeping the law of chastity will bless their lives. Understanding these things will give them added strength in fighting the many temptations that bombard our youth today.

Parley P. Pratt’s Conversion Story

Parley P. Pratt was a great missionary for the LDS Church in it’s early days. He was one of the original members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in these later days. Due to his extensive missionary travels and voluminous writings in the early days of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ, Parley P. Pratt has often been called “the Apostle Paul of Mormonism.” His conversion story is an inspiring tale one of diligently seeking for the truth and embracing the gospel once found.

Interest in Religion from an Early Age

Parley P. Pratt was born in Burlington, New York, April 12, 1807. From an early age, Parley had a keen interest in religion. Early in his autobiography he made note of conversation where he asked his father why modern churches were so different than the church established by the Savior and his apostles when they were on the earth. “To these inquiries my father could give no satisfactory answer; but observed that times and circumstances had changed. With this I was not satisfied, of course; for who had a right to change the ordinances, transgress the law, or break the covenant of the everlasting gospel? Such were my thoughts.”

“I still continued to ponder upon these things, and to search the Scriptures to learn how to be saved. I found the same principles and practice throughout [the Scriptures]… all were baptized when they believed in Jesus Christ and repented of their sins; and this as an ordinance connected with remission of their sins and the gift of the Holy Ghost. What, then, should I do? Where find one who was commissioned from heaven, and would administer salvation to me?”

A Holy Retreat: Winter Alone Reading the Scriptures

During the winter of 1826 to 1827, Parley had a profound spiritual experience studying the scriptures. He was 19 years old and he had left his friends and family to go west. He had used most of his money to buy a small pocket Bible, so he made his way west by walking or working on a steam ship. Eventually he made it to a small settlement 30 miles west of Cleveland, Ohio where he stopped for the winter. This is what he records next in his journal:

“Alone in a land of strangers, without home or money, and not yet twenty years of age, I became discouraged, and concluded to stop for the winter; I procured a gun from one of the neighbors; worked and earned an axe, some breadstuff and other little extras, and retired two miles into a dense forest and prepared a small hut, or cabin, for the winter. Some leaves and straw in my cabin served for my lodging, and a good fire kept me warm. A stream near my door quenched my thirst; and fat venison, with a little bread from the settlements, sustained me for food. The storms of winter raged around me; the wind shook the forest, the wolf howled in the distance, and the owl chimed in harshly to complete the doleful music which seemed to soothe me, or bid me welcome to this holy retreat. But in my little cabin the fire blazed pleasantly, and the Holy Scriptures and a few other books occupied my hours of solitude.”

Marriage to Thankful Halsey

At the end of the winter, Parley decided to go back to his native land where he grew up. For, said, he, “There was one there whom my heart had long loved, and from whom I would not have been so long separated, except by misfortune.” When he got back to his home town in New York, he went straight to the home of his childhood sweetheart, Thankful Halsey. “With a quick step, a beating heart, and an intense, indescribable feeling of joy, sorrow, hope, despondency and happiness, I approached the door of Mr. Halsey, and knocked.”

“I spent the day and evening with her; explained to her all my losses, my poverty and prospects, and the lone retreat where I had spent the previous winter; and the preparations I had made for a future home. I also opened my religious views to her, and my desire, which I sometimes had, to try and teach the red man. “In view of all these things,” said I to her, “If you still love me and desire to share my fortune you are worthy to be my wife. If not, we will agree to be friends forever; but part to meet no more in time.” “I have loved you during three years’ absence,” said she, “and I never can be happy without you.”

Sidney Rigdon

Parley and Thankful were married a short time later.

Meeting Sidney Rigdon and Joining the Reformed Baptists

Parley and Thankful returned to where Parley had spent the previous winter and made a home for themselves there. The cabin was replaced with a frame house. They planted a garden, an orchard of apple and peach trees, and vast fields of grain. About this time, reports Parley, “one Mr. Sidney Rigdon came into the neighborhood as a preacher, and it was rumored that he was a kind of Reformed Baptist… At length I went to hear him, and what was my astonishment when I found he preached faith in Jesus Christ, repentance towards God, and baptism for remission of sins, with the promise of the gift of the Holy Ghost to all who would come forward.” Though Sidney Rigdon had yet to learn about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, like Parley, he was searching.

“After hearing Mr. Rigdon several times, I came out, with a number of others, and embraced the truths which he taught. We were organized into a society, and frequently met for public worship. About this time I took it upon me to impart to my neighbors, from time to time, both in public and in private, the light I had received from the Scriptures concerning the gospel, and also concerning the fulfilment of the things spoken by the holy prophets. I did not claim any authority as a minister; I felt the lack in this respect; but I felt in duty bound to enlighten mankind, so far as God had enlightened me.”

Meeting His Brother and Leaving on a Mission

About this time when the spirit of missionary work and a desire the share the gospel had descended upon Parley P. Pratt, he heard that his long lost brother William might be living nearby “residing about ten miles from me. On hearing this I ran nearly the whole distance on foot, and in about two hours had him by the hand.”

This was a joyful and unexpected meeting of two brothers. He immediately accompanied me home, and was introduced to my wife and our little farm in the wilderness, where we spent some days together. He admired my wife; but above all my farm. “Brother Parley,” said he, “how have you done all this? When we were last together you had no wife, no farm, no house, no orchard, and now you are here with everything smiling around you.” I replied that hard work had accomplished it all.”

Parley explained to William that though he was prospering from a material standpoint, he felt inspired by the Spirit of the Lord to leave it all behind and go preach the gospel. Parley “told him that the spirit of these things had wrought so powerfully on my mind of late that I could not rest; that I could no longer be contented to dwell in quiet and retirement on my farm, while I had light to impart to mankind.”

Parley reports “In August, 1830, I had closed my business, completed my arrangements, and we bid adieu to our wilderness home and never saw it afterwards. On settling up, at a great sacrifice of property, we had about ten dollars left in cash. With this small sum, we launched forth into the wide world, determining first to visit our native place, on our mission, and then such other places as I might be led to by the Holy Spirit.”

Discovering The Book of Mormon

Old Book of MormonWhen Parley and Thankful arrived in Rochester, New York, Parley felt inspired to linger longer. He sent his wife ahead and said to her, “I will come soon, but how soon I know not; for I have a work to do in this region of country, and what it is, or how long it will take to perform it, I know not; but I will come when it is performed.” Parley didn’t know it at the time, but he was about to encounter a life changing book, The Book of Mormon.

A man named Hamlin “began to tell of a book, a STRANGE BOOK, a VERY STRANGE BOOK! in his possession, which had been just published. This book, he said, purported to have been originally written on plates either of gold or brass, by a branch of the tribes of Israel; and to have been discovered and translated by a young man near Palmyra, in the State of New York, by the aid of visions, or the ministry of angels. I inquired of him how or where the book was to be obtained. He promised me the perusal of it, at his house the next day, if I would call. I felt a strange interest in the book. …Next morning I called at his house, where, for the first time, my eyes beheld the “BOOK OF MORMON” that book of books-that record which reveals the antiquities of the “New World” back to the remotest ages, and which unfolds the destiny of its people and the world for all time to come; that Book which contains the fulness of the gospel of a crucified and risen Redeemer; that Book which reveals a lost remnant of Joseph, and which was the principal means, in the hands of God, of directing the entire course of my future life.

“I opened it with eagerness, and read its title page. I then read the testimony of several witnesses in relation to the manner of its being found and translated. After this I commenced its contents by course. I read all day; eating was a burden, I had no desire for food; sleep was a burden when the night came, for I preferred reading to sleep.

“As I read, the spirit of the Lord was upon me, and I knew and comprehended that the book was true, as plainly and manifestly as a man comprehends and knows that he exists. My joy was now full, as it were, and I rejoiced sufficiently to more than pay me for all the sorrows, sacrifices and toils of my life. I soon determined to see the young man who had been the instrument of its discovery and translation.”

Meeting Hyrum Smith

Parley went immediately to Palmyra, New York to find Joseph Smith. When he arrived he spoke with Hyrum Smith, who informed him that Joseph was away in Pennsylvania.

“I informed him of the interest I felt in the Book, and of my desire to learn more about it. He welcomed me to his house, and we spent the night together; for neither of us felt disposed to sleep. We conversed most of the night…He also unfolded to me the particulars of the discovery of the Book; its translation; the rise of the Church of Latter-day Saints, and the commission of his brother Joseph, and others, by revelation and the ministering of angels, by which the apostleship and authority had been again restored to the earth. After duly weighing the whole matter in my mind I saw clearly that these things were true; and that myself and the whole world were without baptism, and without the ministry and ordinances of God; and that the whole world had been in this condition since the days that inspiration and revelation had ceased–in short, that this was a new dispensation or commission, in fulfillment of prophecy, and for the restoration of Israel, and to prepare the way before the second coming of the Lord.”

Of the Book of Mormon, Parley P. Pratt said, “This discovery greatly enlarged my heart, and filled my soul with joy and gladness. I esteemed the Book, or the information contained in it, more than all the riches of the world. Yes; I verily believe that I would not at that time have exchanged the knowledge I then possessed, for a legal title to all the beautiful farms, houses, villages and property” in the whole state of New York.

Baptism of Parley P. Pratt

Parley demanded that Hyrum Smith baptism him, so the next day they walked 25 miles to the Whitmer residence where they received “a most welcome reception.” The Whitmer family had been instrumental in supporting Joseph Smith in the translation and publishing of the Book of Mormon.

“We rested that night, and on the next day, being about the 1st of September, 1830, I was baptized by the hand of an Apostle of the Church of Jesus Christ, by the name of Oliver Cowdery. This took place in Seneca Lake, a beautiful and transparent sheet of water in Western New York.

“A meeting was held the same evening, and after singing a hymn and prayer, Elder Cowdery and others proceeded to lay their hands upon my head in the name of Jesus, for the gift of the Holy Ghost. After which I was ordained to the office of an Elder in the Church, which included authority to preach, baptize, and minister the sacrament, administer the Holy Spirit, by the laying on of hands in the name of Jesus Christ and to take the lead of meetings of worship.

“I now felt that I had authority in the ministry.”

Immediately, Parley P. Pratt became a zealous missionary for the newly restored Church of Jesus Christ. On the day after his baptism, he preached to a large group of people (investigators, we might call them today), teaching by the Spirit. Said Parley, “The Holy Ghost came upon me mightily. I spoke the word of God with power, reasoning out of the Scriptures and the Book of Mormon. The people were convinced, overwhelmed in tears, and four heads of families came forward expressing their faith, and were baptized.”

May each of us be as diligent as Parley P. Pratt in seeking out the truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ. And my we all catch the vision of the purpose of missionary work as he did, and do our best to share the light of the gospel with others.