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.
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.”
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, gave some insightful advice for missionaries in his July 2012 message in the Ensign magazine. He said that if you act like every day is the middle of your mission, regardless of whether it is the first day or the last day, then you will approach the work with an optimal level of humility and confidence. Confidence because in the middle you’re not new and inexperienced, and humility because in the middle you still have much to learn and you rely on the Lord’s help.
Here’s how President Uchtdorf said it:
When I speak to our young missionaries, I often tell them they are in the middle of their missions. Whether they just arrived the day before or are to depart for home the day after, I ask them to think of themselves as always being in the middle.
New missionaries may feel they are too inexperienced to be effective, and so they delay speaking or acting with confidence and boldness. Seasoned missionaries who are close to completing their missions may feel sad their missions are coming to a close, or they may slow down as they contemplate what they will do after their missions.
Whatever the circumstances and wherever they serve, the truth is that the Lord’s missionaries are daily sowing countless seeds of good tidings. Thinking of themselves as always being in the middle of their missions will embolden and energize these faithful representatives of the Lord. As it is with full-time missionaries, so it is with all of us (Always in the Middle, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Ensign July 2012).
Our family just finished reading the Book of Mormon together. We read one column every night, and it took us about 3 1/2 years. We have five kids ranging from age 9 to age 11 months, and only two of them can read, but the other little ones like to repeat what we say so they can have a turn. We are trying to teach the children to be reverent, but our nightly scripture reading time is rarely calm. We are teaching them to follow along as others read, and we are helping them recognize and apply the principles taught in the scriptures. I know we are blessed for choosing to read the Book of Mormon together as a family.
There is power in the Book of Mormon. My husband, Jimmy, and I have had experiences teaching our little ones scripture stories in family home evening and morning devotional. The Holy Spirit touches their hearts and they want to hear more. In 1980, Marion G. Romney, a member of the First Presidency, promised this:
“If, in our homes, parents will read from the Book of Mormon prayerfully and regularly, both by themselves and with their children, the spirit of that great book will come to permeate our homes and all who dwell therein. The spirit of reverence will increase; mutual respect and consideration for each other will grow. The spirit of contention will depart. Parents will counsel their children in greater love and wisdom. Children will be more responsive and submissive to the counsel of their parents. Righteousness will increase. Faith, hope, and charity—the pure love of Christ—will abound in our homes and lives, bringing in their wake peace, joy, and happiness.” (The Book of Mormon, by Marion G. Romney, April 1980)
Question: Do you have a testimony of the Book of Mormon? Think back to when you first gained that testimony. What experiences have you had reading the Book of Mormon that have strengthened your testimony? Are there any specific scriptures or stories that helped you in a certain time of life? Record these experiences in your journal.
Challenge: Set a goal to strengthen your testimony of the Book of Mormon. Study it a little more every day, apply the principles taught in your life, memorize scriptures from it, tell a child one of your favorite scripture stories, or testify to others of its truthfulness. Choose something realistic. You will be blessed.
Funny stories and jokes from our living prophets and apostles from the April 2012 LDS General Conference in Salt Lake City Utah.
With the game on the line in the battle between Good and Evil, in the talk from October 2011 LDS General Conference, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland serves as a one-man recruiting station for the Lord and missionary work.
What are some of the devil’s tactics in this contest when eternal life is at stake? Here again the experience in the Sacred Grove is instructive. Joseph recorded that in an effort to oppose all that lay ahead, Lucifer exerted “such an astonishing influence over me as to bind my tongue so that I could not speak.”
As President Boyd K. Packer taught this morning, Satan cannot directly take a life. That is one of many things he cannot do. But apparently his effort to stop the work will be reasonably well served if he can just bind the tongue of the faithful. Brethren, if that is the case, I am looking tonight for men young and old who care enough about this battle between good and evil to sign on and speak up. We are at war, and for these next few minutes, I want to be a one-man recruiting station.
Do I need to hum a few bars of “We Are All Enlisted”? You know, the line about “We are waiting now for soldiers; who’ll volunteer?” Of course, the great thing about this call to arms is that we ask not for volunteers to fire a rifle or throw a hand grenade. No, we want battalions who will take as their weapons “every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God.” So I am looking tonight for missionaries who will not voluntarily bind their tongues but will, with the Spirit of the Lord and the power of their priesthood, open their mouths and speak miracles. Such speech, the early brethren taught, would be the means by which faith’s “mightiest works have been, and will be, performed.”
I especially ask the young men of the Aaronic Priesthood to sit up and take notice. For you, let me mix in an athletic analogy. This is a life-and-death contest we are in, young men, so I am going to get in your face a little, nose to nose, with just enough fire in my voice to singe your eyebrows a little—the way coaches do when the game is close and victory means everything. And with the game on the line, what this coach is telling you is that to play in this match, some of you have to be more morally clean than you now are. In this battle between good and evil, you cannot play for the adversary whenever temptation comes along and then expect to suit up for the Savior at temple and mission time as if nothing has happened. That, my young friends, you cannot do. God will not be mocked.
So we have a dilemma tonight, you and I. It is that there are thousands of Aaronic Priesthood–age young men already on the records of this Church who constitute our pool of candidates for future missionary service. But the challenge is to have those deacons, teachers, and priests stay active enough and worthy enough to be ordained elders and serve as missionaries. So we need young men already on the team to stay on it and stop dribbling out of bounds just when we need you to get in the game and play your hearts out! In almost all athletic contests of which I know, there are lines drawn on the floor or the field within which every participant must stay in order to compete. Well, the Lord has drawn lines of worthiness for those called to labor with Him in this work. No missionary can be unrepentant of sexual transgression or profane language or pornographic indulgence and then expect to challenge others to repent of those very things! You can’t do that. The Spirit will not be with you, and the words will choke in your throat as you speak them. You cannot travel down what Lehi called “forbidden paths” and expect to guide others to the “strait and narrow” one—it can’t be done.
But there is an answer to this challenge for you every bit as much as there is for that investigator to whom you will go. Whoever you are and whatever you have done, you can be forgiven. Every one of you young men can leave behind any transgression with which you may struggle. It is the miracle of forgiveness; it is the miracle of the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ. But you cannot do it without an active commitment to the gospel, and you cannot do it without repentance where it is needed. I am asking you young men to be active and be clean. If required, I am asking you to get active and get clean.
Now, brethren, we speak boldly to you because anything more subtle doesn’t seem to work. We speak boldly because Satan is a real being set on destroying you, and you face his influence at a younger and younger age. So we grab you by the lapels and shout as forcefully as we know how: ‘Hark! the sound of battle sounding loudly and clear; Come join the ranks! Come join the ranks!’
My young friends, we need tens of thousands of more missionaries in the months and years that lie ahead. They must come from an increased percentage of the Aaronic Priesthood who will be ordained, active, clean, and worthy to serve.
We Are All Enlisted by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, LDS General Conference, October 2011
The following is one of my favorite stories from the recent October 2011 General Conference. It is about Peter Mourik speaking at the dedication of the Frankfurt Germany Temple and was related by President Thomas S. Monson during his Sunday morning talk called Stand in Holy Places.
I am always humbled and grateful when my Heavenly Father communicates with me through His inspiration. I have learned to recognize it, to trust it, and to follow it. Time and time again I have been the recipient of such inspiration. One rather dramatic experience took place in August of 1987 during the dedication of the Frankfurt Germany Temple. President Ezra Taft Benson had been with us for the first day or two of the dedication but had returned home, and so it became my opportunity to conduct the remaining sessions.
On Saturday we had a session for our Dutch members who were in the Frankfurt Temple district. I was well acquainted with one of our outstanding leaders from the Netherlands, Brother Peter Mourik. Just prior to the session, I had the distinct impression that Brother Mourik should be called upon to speak to his fellow Dutch members during the session and that, in fact, he should be the first speaker. Not having seen him in the temple that morning, I passed a note to Elder Carlos E. Asay, our Area President, asking whether Peter Mourik was in attendance at the session. Just prior to standing up to begin the session, I received a note back from Elder Asay indicating that Brother Mourik was actually not in attendance, that he was involved elsewhere, and that he was planning to attend the dedicatory session in the temple the following day with the servicemen stakes.
As I stood at the pulpit to welcome the people and to outline the program, I received unmistakable inspiration once again that I was to announce Peter Mourik as the first speaker. This was counter to all my instincts, for I had just heard from Elder Asay that Brother Mourik was definitely not in the temple. Trusting in the inspiration, however, I announced the choir presentation and the prayer and then indicated that our first speaker would be Brother Peter Mourik.
As I returned to my seat, I glanced toward Elder Asay; I saw on his face a look of alarm. He later told me that when I had announced Brother Mourik as the first speaker, he couldn’t believe his ears. He said he knew that I had received his note and that I indeed had read it, and he couldn’t fathom why I would then announce Brother Mourik as a speaker, knowing he wasn’t anywhere in the temple.
During the time all of this was taking place, Peter Mourik was in a meeting at the area offices in Porthstrasse. As his meeting was going forward, he suddenly turned to Elder Thomas A. Hawkes Jr., who was then the regional representative, and asked, “How fast can you get me to the temple?”
Elder Hawkes, who was known to drive rather rapidly in his small sports car, answered, “I can have you there in 10 minutes! But why do you need to go to the temple?”
Brother Mourik admitted he did not know why he needed to go to the temple but that he knew he had to get there. The two of them set out for the temple immediately.
During the magnificent choir number, I glanced around, thinking that at any moment I would see Peter Mourik. I did not. Remarkably, however, I felt no alarm. I had a sweet, undeniable assurance that all would be well.
Brother Mourik entered the front door of the temple just as the opening prayer was concluding, still not knowing why he was there. As he hurried down the hall, he saw my image on the monitor and heard me announce, “We will now hear from Brother Peter Mourik.”
To the astonishment of Elder Asay, Peter Mourik immediately walked into the room and took his place at the podium.
Following the session, Brother Mourik and I discussed that which had taken place prior to his opportunity to speak. I have pondered the inspiration which came that day not only to me but also to Peter Mourik. That remarkable experience has provided an undeniable witness to me of the importance of being worthy to receive such inspiration and then trusting it—and following it—when it comes. I know without question that the Lord intended for those who were present at that session of the Frankfurt Temple dedication to hear the powerful, touching testimony of His servant Brother Peter Mourik.
My beloved brothers and sisters, communication with our Father in Heaven—including our prayers to Him and His inspiration to us—is necessary in order for us to weather the storms and trials of life.
Counseling With Our Councils: Learning to Minister Together in the Church and in the Family by Elder M. Russell Ballard is one of the great Church books I’ve read. Though it’s not directly related to mission prep, I wanted to share my thoughts about it with you anyway.
Leadership and Problem Solving Pattern
One of the most important things I learned from the book were principles of leadership and problem solving. As I analyzed several of the stories in the book, I discovered what appeared to be an effective pattern of problem solving advocated by Elder Ballard for use by Church councils (and elsewhere). To be clear, this pattern is not explicitly outlined in the book. This is my personal interpretation based on examples throughout the book. The steps in the pattern are:
- Problem Awareness: A feeling, data, or other symptoms of a problem are revealed.
- Problem Escalation: An event occurs (could be a superior telling you to do something or it could be realization of consequences) that drives you to address the problem.
- Problem Assignment: The appropriate people are assigned to investigate the problem.
- Problem Discussion: Open and honest conversation is held to get ideas out. Questions are asked, facts and opinions are considered.
- Problem Definition: The root problem is clearly articulated and outlined.
- Solution Alternatives: Brainstorm potential solutions that are specific and measurable. Discuss them. Evaluate them. Focus on desired results.
- Solution Determination: Decide on the best solution. Communicate the decision to and get buy in from people who will have to implement the solution.
- Solution Implementation: Do it.
- Results Analyzed: Return and report. Make sure the solution is solving the problem.
I have turned these steps into a PowerPoint presentation called Effective Problem Solving through Councils and posted it on SlideShare. Please go there to view or download it. Additionally below are some of my favorite quotes from the book:
How the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles Counsel Together
“During discussion, they do not push their own ideas but try to determine from the discussion what would be best for the kingdom.”
“They always work from an agenda. The agenda is distributed to each member of the Twelve the night before the meeting so that they have an opportunity to read, ponder, and consider each item in preparation for the meeting.” (p. 47)
“They are men of strong character, men from different backgrounds–they are certainly not “yes” men. They speak as they are moved by the Spirit.”
“When the President of the Twleve senses a unity taking place concerning the item on the agenda,he may ask for a recommendation …[which] summarizes the feelings of the total Council.” (p. 48)
Local Presiding Councils
“Generally, Church leaders teach principles, not practices. Inspired stake, ward, and family council members learn to convert principles into appropriate practices through the whisperings of the Holy Ghost.” (p. 59)
“Functioning successfully as a council doesn’t mean making group decisions. It simply means the council leader draws from the various abilities, insights, experiences, and inspiration of council members to help make good decisions under the influence of the Spirit. While we seek unanimity, the final decision is always up to the council leader.” (p. 68)
“One young bishop I know was taught this important concept…We had lots of great activities, and our meetings were always well planned and executed…but we didn’t seem to be accomplishing anything of real, lasting significance in the lives of the members of our ward. We were so busy being busy.” (p. 71)
“The principle thing that should matter most to all Church councils:bringing souls to Christ and securing them with spiritual witness and testimony.” (p. 75)
“Councils are for counsel and the exchange of ideas, not just reports and lectures. Free and open discussion is critical…Leaders should work to establish a climate conducive to such openness where every person and group is important and every opinion is valuable.” (p. 112)
Women’s Involvement in Councils
“A wise stake president or bishop will see his auxiliary presidents as spiritual leaders rather than as organizers and party planners. Too many women leaders are underutilized and unappreciated, at times because priesthood leaders don’t have a clear understanding or an enlightened view of the significant contribution the sisters can make.” (p. 92)
“In one such meeting when we were talking about the worthiness of youth to serve missions, President Elaine Jack, then serving as the Relief Society general president, said, ‘You know, Elder Ballard, the sisters of the Church may have some good suggestions on how to better prepare the youth for missions if they were just asked. After all, you know, we are their mothers!'” (p. 94)
Specific Measurable Outcomes
In Elder Ballard’s section on holding effective meetings and he talked about the need to focus on “specific, measurable” outcomes. He said, “ when an assignment is delegated, it should normally be communicated in terms of ‘what’ rather than ‘how’; that is, the person receiving it should be accountable for the result to be achieved rather than the specific methods used. This allows him or her to seek inspiration and to exercise creativity…in accomplishing the task that has been delegated.” P. 125
“Family rules and procedures are more likely to be accepted and followed if all family members have been given the opportunity to participate in the discussions and agree to the rules” (p. 155)
In “the family council, the things that really matter are loving motivations, an atmosphere that encourages free and open discussion, and a willingness to listen to the honest input of all council members–as well as to the whisperings of the Holy Spirit as it comes to confirm truth and direction.” (p. 157)
“Governance through councils is more than just a good idea; it is God’s plan.” (p. 169)
Thomas S. Monson: Dare to Stand Alone
“Once we have a testimony, it is incumbent upon us to share that testimony with others. Many of you brethren have served as missionaries throughout the world. Many of you young men will yet serve. Prepare yourselves now for that opportunity. Make certain you are worthy to serve.”
“May we ever be courageous and prepared to stand for what we believe, and if we must stand alone in the process, may we do so courageously, strengthened by the knowledge that in reality we are never alone when we stand with our Father in Heaven.”
L. Tom Perry: Perfect Love Casteth Out Fear
“Speak up about the Church. In the course of our everyday lives, we are blessed with many opportunities to share our beliefs with others. When our professional and personal associates inquire about our religious beliefs, they are inviting us to share who we are and what we believe.”
“Today’s “manner of conversation” seems to involve the Internet more and more. We encourage people, young and old, to use the Internet and the social media to reach out and share their religious beliefs.”
“I promise you that if you will respond to the invitation to share your beliefs and feelings about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, a spirit of love and a spirit of courage will be your constant companion, for “perfect love casteth out fear” (1 John 4:18). This is the time of expanding opportunities to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with others. May we prepare ourselves to take advantage of the opportunities given to us to share our beliefs.”
Russell M. Nelson: Covenants
“Ours is the seed foreordained and prepared to bless all people of the world. That is why priesthood duty includes missionary work. After some 4,000 years of anticipation and preparation, this is the appointed day when the gospel is to be taken to the kindreds of the earth. This is the time of the promised gathering of Israel. And we get to participate! Isn’t that exciting? The Lord is counting on us and our sons—and He is profoundly grateful for our daughters—who worthily serve as missionaries in this great time of the gathering of Israel.”
Jeffrey R. Holland: We Are All Enlisted
“I am looking tonight for missionaries who will not voluntarily bind their tongues but will, with the Spirit of the Lord and the power of their priesthood, open their mouths and speak miracles.”
“In this battle between good and evil, you cannot play for the adversary whenever temptation comes along and then expect to suit up for the Savior at temple and mission time as if nothing has happened. That, my young friends, you cannot do. God will not be mocked.”
“The Lord has drawn lines of worthiness for those called to labor with Him in this work. No missionary can be unrepentant of sexual transgression or profane language or pornographic indulgence and then expect to challenge others to repent of those very things!”
“My young friends, we need tens of thousands of more missionaries in the months and years that lie ahead. They must come from an increased percentage of the Aaronic Priesthood who will be ordained, active, clean, and worthy to serve.”
“We need thousands of more couples serving in the missions of the Church. Every mission president pleads for them. Everywhere they serve, our couples bring a maturity to the work that no number of 19-year-olds, however good they are, can provide.”
“What greater gift could grandparents give their posterity than to say by deed as well as word, “In this family we serve missions!””
W. Christopher Waddell: The Opportunity of a Lifetime
“Prophets, seers, and revelators assign missionaries under the direction and influence of the Holy Ghost. Inspired mission presidents direct transfers every six weeks and quickly learn that the Lord knows exactly where He wants each missionary to serve.”
“Through your devoted service and willing sacrifice, your mission will become holy ground to you. You will witness the miracle of conversion as the Spirit works through you to touch the hearts of those you teach.”
“Arrive on your mission with your own testimony of the Book of Mormon, obtained through study and prayer…Arrive on your mission worthy of the companionship of the Holy Ghost…Arrive on your mission ready to work.”
Kazuhiko Yamashita: Missionaries Are a Treasure of the Church
“I would like to express my sincere love, respect, and feeling of thankfulness for all the returned missionaries who have served around the world. I am sure that those you helped convert have not forgotten you…I am one of those converts. I was converted at 17, when I was a high school student…When I was 17, I didn’t really have a good understanding of the messages that the missionaries had been teaching me. However, I had a special feeling about the missionaries, and I wanted to become like them. And I felt their deep and abiding love.”
“I would now like to say a few words to the missionaries currently serving missions around the world. Your attitudes and the love that you show toward others are very significant messages. Even though I didn’t immediately grasp all the doctrines that the missionaries taught me, I felt of their great love, and their many acts of kindness taught me important lessons. Your message is a message of love, a message of hope, and a message of faith. Your attitude and your actions invite the Spirit, and the Spirit enables us to understand the things that are important. What I want to convey to you is that through your love, you are imparting the love of God. You are a treasure of this Church. I am so very thankful to all of you for your sacrifice and your dedication.”
“I also would like to talk to you future missionaries… It is necessary to bring three things with you on your mission: 1. A desire to preach the gospel. The Lord wants you to search for His sheep and seek them out. People all over the world are waiting for you. Please go quickly to where they are. No one strives harder than missionaries to go to the rescue of others. I am one of those rescued. 2. Develop your testimony. The Lord requires your “heart and a willing mind.” 3. Love others, just like Elder Swan, who brought his father’s coat and his father’s love for Japan and its people with him on his mission.”
“And for those of you who don’t know how to prepare to serve a mission, please go and see your bishop. I know that he will help you.”
Today I visited Huntsville, Utah and the childhood home of our ninth LDS Church President in these latter days, David O. McKay. While there, we read a little bit about his life and teachings, and I was struck by the great example of missionary work that he exhibited throughout his life.
Age 8: Helped His Family While His Father Served a Mission
“When [David O. McKay] was eight years of age, his father received a call to go on a mission. To accept such a call for two or three years away from home was no easy decision to make. Another baby was on its way, and plans had been made to enlarge the house and furnishings. The responsibilities of running the farm were too great to be left to his wife, so when David showed the letter calling him to a mission, he said: ‘Of course it is impossible for me to go.’ Jennette read the letter, looked at her husband, and said decisively: ‘Of course you must accept; you need not worry about me. David O. and I will manage things nicely!’ . . .In the absence of his father, the boy David quickly redirected his energies to chores and farm work. Circumstances thus helped to produce a maturity beyond his physical years” (Llewelyn R. McKay, Home Memories of President David O.Young David O. McKay, about age five McKay , 5–6).
Age 23: Mission to Scotland
When he was 21, David O. McKay entered the University of Utah where he debated, played the piano in a musical group, and played on the football team. There he Emma Ray Riggs, whom he later married. He graduated in 1897 as president and valedictorian of his class and was offered a teaching position. He also, at that time, received a call to serve a mission. The call of the Lord to serve as a missionary may have came at an inconvenient time, but he left all that was dear to him and went to his ancestral Scotland.
Whate’er Thou Art, Act Well Thy Part
While serving in Stirling, Scotland, David O. McKay had an experience that affected the remainder of his life. He and his companion had been in the town for a few weeks, but had had little success. They spent part of a day walking around Stirling Castle and Elder McKay was feeling homesick. He later recalled: “As we returned to the town, I saw an unfinished building standing back from the sidewalk several yards. Over the front door was a stone arch, something unusual in a residence, and what was still more unusual, I could see from the sidewalk that there was an inscription chiseled in that arch. I said to my companion: ‘That’s unusual! I am going to see what the inscription is.’ When I approached near enough, this message came to me, not only in stone, but as if it came from One in whose service we were engaged: ‘Whate’er Thou Art, Act Well Thy Part.’ “I turned and walked thoughtfully away, and when I reached my companion I repeated the message to him. “That was a message to me that morning to act my part well as a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is merely another way of saying . . . ‘Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.’ (Matt. 7:21.)” (Cherished Experiences from the Writings of David O. McKay, comp. Clare Middlemiss , 174–75).
He resolved that he would act well the part of a committed missionary. The stone was later acquired by the Church and is now in the David O. McKay exhibit in the Museum of History and Art next to Temple Square.
Age 47: Missionary Travels Around the World
In December 1920, Elder David O. McKay left on a world tour that helped shape his experience and prepared him to preside over unprecedented growth in Church membership. “Presidents Heber J. Grant, Anthon H. Lund, and Charles W. Penrose, and several of the Apostles laid their hands upon President McKay’s head and blessed him and set him apart as ‘a missionary to travel around the world’ and promised him that he should be ‘warned of dangers seen and unseen, and be given wisdom and inspiration from God to avoid all the snares and the pitfalls that may be laid for his feet’; that he should also ‘go forth in peace, in pleasure and happiness and to return in safety to his loved ones and to the body of the Church,’ he has experienced the protecting care of our Heavenly Father in all his global ministry” (Clare Middlemiss, comp., in McKay, Cherished Experiences, 37).
Age 77: Sustained as President of the Church
On April 9th, 1951, David O. McKay was sustained as the ninth President of the Church during general conference. On that day, he said: “It is just one week ago today that the realization came to me that this responsibility of leadership would probably fall upon my shoulders. . . “When that reality came, as I tell you, I was deeply moved. And I am today, and pray that I may, even though inadequately, be able to tell you how weighty this responsibility seems.” Soon after being called as the prophet, he set out on a tour of missions around the world. He eventually traveled over a million miles, traversing the earth like a modern Paul. Missionary work accelerated as every member was encouraged to participate in missionary efforts.
Age 85: Every Member a Missionary
In the April General Conference of 1959, President McKay said: “In 1923 in the British Mission there was a general instruction sent out to the members of the Church advocating… ‘Throw the responsibility of the Church that in the coming year of 1923 every member will be a missionary. Every member a missionary. You may bring your mother into the Church, or it may be your father; perhaps your fellow companion in the workshop. Somebody will hear the good message of the truth through you.’ And that is the message today,” President McKay said, extending the challenge to that 1959 audience. “Every member—a million and a half—a missionary!” (Conference Report, Apr. 1959, 122.)
May we all follow the example of this great modern day prophet. Be willing to sacrifice all that is necessary to serve a full-time mission. Be a member missionary and dedicate our lives to the building up of the kingdom of God.
Here are a couple of good videos on the life of President David O. McKay:[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yo39QrcafjA[/youtube] [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o8iHsl-blrY[/youtube]