Words, talks, discourses, and quotes from the prophets and apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints related to missionary work and mission preparation.

Forgiving: The Crowning Expression of Christ’s Love

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

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

The world’s definition of love

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

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

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

God’s definition of love

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

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

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

The Pure Love of Christ

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christ’s Example of Forgiving Others

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Power of Forgiving

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

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

A Thief in the Night

Charles writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Teaching Forgiveness to Our Children

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I brought these for Tad,” I said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Testimony of Forgiving with Christlike Love

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

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

Funny Stories from General Conference April 2014

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

Mission Prep Quotes From General Conference April 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 I Have Given You an Example – Richard G. Scott

marry returned missionary temple

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

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

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

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

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

What Manner of Men? – Donald L. Hallstrom

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

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

The Choice Generation – Randall L. Ridd

how could he not serve a mission

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

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

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

Following Up – M. Russell Ballard

inviting someone taught missionaries

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

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

Live True to the Faith – William R. Walker

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

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

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

Funny Stories from General Conf. – Oct. 2013

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

Mission Prep from General Conference Oct 2013

Welcome to Conference – President Thomas S. Monson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ye Are No More Strangers – Bishop Gérald Caussé

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bind Up Their Wounds – President Henry B. Eyring

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

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

True Shepherds – President Thomas S. Monson

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

Power in the Priesthood – Elder Neil L. Andersen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Funny Moments from General Conf. April 2013

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

Mission Prep from General Conference April 2013

Welcome to Conference, by President Thomas S. Monson

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

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

For Peace at Home, by Elder Richard G. Scott

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

Catch the Wave, by Elder Russell M. Nelson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s a Miracle, by Neil L. Andersen

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

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

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

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

Funny Moments from General Conf. October 2012

Mission Prep from General Conference October 2012

Welcome to Conference By President Thomas S. Monson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The First Great Commandment By Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

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

Consider the Blessings By President Thomas S. Monson

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

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

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

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