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.

David O. McKay’s Life Long Example of Missionary Work

David O. McKay Childhood Home Huntsville UtahToday 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 [1956], 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

Whate’er Thou Art, Act Well Thy PartWhile 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 [1955], 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

David O. McKayOn 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]

Missionary Service Requires Sacrifice – The Sid Going Rugby Story

Also see the Mormon Messages for Youth video on Sid Going called Your Day for a Mission

Below is the transcript from Elder Neil L. Andersen’s April 2011 General Conference talk, Preparing the World for the Second Coming:

“Missionary service requires sacrifice. There will always be something you leave behind when you respond to the prophet’s call to serve.

“Those who follow the game of rugby know that the New Zealand All Blacks, a name given because of the color of their uniform, is the most celebrated rugby team ever. 3 To be selected for the All Blacks in New Zealand would be comparable to playing for a football Super Bowl team or a World Cup soccer team.

“In 1961, at age 18 and holding the Aaronic Priesthood, Sidney Going was becoming a star in New Zealand rugby. Because of his remarkable abilities, many thought he would be chosen the very next year for the national All Blacks rugby team.

“At age 19, in this critical moment of his ascending rugby career, Sid declared that he would forgo rugby to serve a mission. Some called him crazy. Others called him foolish. 4 They protested that his opportunity in rugby might never come again.

“For Sid it was not what he was leaving behind—it was the opportunity and responsibility ahead. He had a priesthood duty to offer two years of his life to declare the reality of the Lord Jesus Christ and His restored gospel. Nothing—not even a chance to play on the national team, with all the acclaim it would bring—would deter him from that duty.

“He was called by a prophet of God to serve in the Western Canadian Mission. Forty-eight years ago this month, 19-year-old Elder Sidney Going left New Zealand to serve as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“Sid told me of an experience he had on his mission. It was evening, and he and his companion were just about to return to their apartment. They decided to visit one more family. The father let them in. Elder Going and his companion testified of the Savior. The family accepted a Book of Mormon. The father read all night. In the next week and a half he read the entire Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. A few weeks later the family was baptized.

“A mission instead of a place on the New Zealand All Blacks team? Sid responded, “The blessing of [bringing others] into the gospel far outweighs anything [you] will ever sacrifice.”

“You’re probably wondering what happened to Sid Going following his mission. Most important: an eternal marriage to his sweetheart, Colleen; five noble children; and a generation of grandchildren. He has lived his life trusting in his Father in Heaven, keeping the commandments, and serving others.

“And rugby? After his mission Sid Going became one of the greatest halfbacks in All Blacks history, playing for 11 seasons and serving for many years as captain of the team.

“How good was Sid Going? He was so good that training and game schedules were changed because he would not play on Sunday. Sid was so good the Queen of England acknowledged his contribution to rugby. He was so good a book was written about him titled Super Sid.

“What if those honors had not come to Sid after his mission? One of the great miracles of missionary service in this Church is that Sid Going and thousands just like him have not asked, “What will I get from my mission?” but rather, “What can I give?”

“Your mission will be a sacred opportunity to bring others to Christ and help prepare for the Second Coming of the Savior.

“…Recently while I was visiting the Australia Sydney Mission, do you know whom I found? Elder Sidney Going—the New Zealand rugby legend. Now age 67, he is once again a missionary, but this time with a companion of his own choosing: Sister Colleen Going. He told me of a family they were able to teach. The parents were members but had been less active in the Church for many, many years. Elder and Sister Going helped rekindle the family’s faith. Elder Going told me of the power he felt while standing at the baptismal font next to the father of the family as the oldest son, now holding the priesthood, baptized his younger brother and sister. He expressed the joy of witnessing a united family pursuing eternal life together.

Funny Stories from General Conference April 2011

Funny stories and jokes from our living prophets and apostles from the April 2011 General Conference in Salt Lake City Utah.

Giving to the LDS Missionary Fund

In last weekend’s General Conference, Church President Thomas S. Monson encouraged members to give to the LDS Church Missionary Fund. This is what he said:

“My brothers and sisters, I thank you for your faith and devotion to the gospel, for the love and care you show to one another, and for the service you provide in your wards and branches and stakes and districts. Thank you, as well, for your faithfulness in paying your tithes and offerings and for your generosity in contributing to the other funds of the Church.

As of the end of the year 2010, there were 52,225 missionaries serving in 340 missions throughout the world. Missionary work is the lifeblood of the kingdom. May I suggest that if you are able, you might consider making a contribution to the General Missionary Fund of the Church” (President Thomas S. Monson, It’s Conference Once Again, April 2011).

What is the LDS Church Missionary Fund?

Many years ago, even before my time on a mission, each missionary paid his or her own actual living expenses. So a mission to Japan, for example, would have been much more expensive than a mission to South America. But in 1990, a new program was introduced to equalize the financial responsibility for each missionary by setting up the Church Missionary Fund. Now, all young missionaries pay a flat monthly rate into that fund, and each missionary is then allocated from that fund what he or she needs for the expenses in their particular mission. This approach has reduced the potential burden on individual missionaries and their families who may have been assigned to work in more expensive areas of the world.

Helping Families Afford a Mission

The Church Missionary Fund is also used to help individuals with financial needs to be able to service a mission. From LDS Philanthropies’ Missionary Fund Donations page…

“There are more than 15,000 young men and women from international areas outside the United States who, at great personal sacrifice, are serving full-time missions in their own lands and in the U.S. Many of these missionaries come from homes where the total family income is less than $1,000 annually. Serving missions, therefore, puts a severe—if not impossible—strain on family finances. Along with family support, the Church expects their local wards and branches to pay what they can. If the family and local support is not sufficient, arrangements can be made for the General Missionary Fund to take care of the remaining expenses associated with missionary service.”

Giving to the LDS Church Missionary Fund

Donating to the Missionary Fund

To donate to the LDS Church Missionary Fund, go to LDS Philanthropies, click on Donate Online, fill out the amount you want to give, and fill out other required information. The website allows you to make payments through all major credit cards and PayPal.

Thank you.

“We Need More Missionaries” Says Elder Nelson


“From time to time we need to remind ourselves why we have missionaries. It is because of a commandment from the Lord, who said: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.”

“This commandment is one of many that have been renewed because the gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored in its fulness. Missionaries serve now just as they did in New Testament times. The book of Acts describes early missionary labors of the Apostles and other disciples following the Lord’s mortal ministry. There we read of the remarkable conversion and baptism of Saul of Tarsus, who had previously been “breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord” and persecuting members of the fledgling Church. From such beginnings, Saul became the converted Paul, one of the Lord’s greatest missionaries. The final 15 chapters of the book of Acts report the missionary labors of Paul and his companions.

“In a letter to one of his most trusted companions, Paul wrote to young Timothy, “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” That counsel is just as valid for us now as it was then. It applies to our full-time missionaries; it applies equally to each member of the Church. Whether full-time missionaries or members, we should all be good examples of the believers in Jesus Christ.

“Full-time missionaries, some 52,000 and more, serve in 340 missions around the world. They are believers and devoted servants of the Lord. Their purpose is to “invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.”

“Like Timothy, most full-time missionaries are young men. Some are sisters; some are senior missionaries. We love each one! Missionaries serve to make life better for God’s children. Heavenly Father loves every one of His children. After all, He is their Father. He wants to bless them with His greatest gift, that of eternal life. Missionaries so teach wherever they serve. They help people to develop faith in the Lord, repent, be baptized, receive the Holy Ghost, receive the ordinances of the temple, and endure faithfully to the end. God’s work and glory—“to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man”—is also the sacred work and glory of each missionary.

“We need more missionaries—more worthy missionaries. During His earthly ministry, the Lord told His disciples, “The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.”

“At this morning’s session of general conference, our beloved President Thomas S. Monson made an impassioned plea for each young man of this Church to prepare for missionary service. I hope his entire message will be heeded in every home of the Church.

“To President Monson’s wise counsel, I add my witness. In my family, I have observed the blessings that come to each missionary. Thus far, the number of our children, grandchildren, and their spouses called to serve as full-time missionaries is 49, and that number will continue to increase. In each instance, I have seen the growth in wisdom, maturity in judgment, and flowering of faith that developed in each missionary. They, just as many generations before them, embarked in the service of God to “serve him with all [their] heart, might, mind and strength.” Missionary service has helped to shape their divine destiny.”

(From Be Thou an Example of the Believers, by Elder Russell M. Nelson, October 2010 General Conference)

“Many More” Missionaries: A Plea from President Monson

“May I mention a matter close to my heart and which deserves our serious attention. I speak of missionary work.

“First, to young men of the Aaronic Priesthood and to you young men who are becoming elders: I repeat what prophets have long taught—that every worthy, able young man should prepare to serve a mission. Missionary service is a priesthood duty—an obligation the Lord expects of us who have been given so very much. Young men, I admonish you to prepare for service as a missionary. Keep yourselves clean and pure and worthy to represent the Lord. Maintain your health and strength. Study the scriptures. Where such is available, participate in seminary or institute. Familiarize yourself with the missionary handbook Preach My Gospel.

“A word to you young sisters: while you do not have the same priesthood responsibility as do the young men to serve as full-time missionaries, you also make a valuable contribution as missionaries, and we welcome your service.

“And now to you mature brothers and sisters: we need many, many more senior couples. To the faithful couples now serving or who have served in the past, we thank you for your faith and devotion to the gospel of Jesus Christ. You serve willingly and well and accomplish great good.

“To those of you who are not yet to the season of life when you might serve a couples mission, I urge you to prepare now for the day when you and your spouse might do so. As your circumstances allow, as you are eligible for retirement, and as your health permits, make yourselves available to leave home and give full-time missionary service. There are few times in your lives when you will enjoy the sweet spirit and satisfaction that come from giving full-time service together in the work of the Master.”

From October 2010 General Conference, Saturday Morning Session, As We Meet Together Again by President Thomas S. Monson.

Sharing the Gospel Online

A couple of years ago, Elder M. Russell Ballard gave a landmark address called Sharing the Gospel Using the Internet.  In the spirit of that address, I am announcing the launch of a new section of Mormon Mission Prep that I’m calling Mormon Share. In Mormon Share (under “Share” in the site top navigation), you will find tools to help you share the restored gospel of Jesus Christ on your Web site, Facebook, a blog or elsewhere.  You will find widgets, badges, code, and other tools to help you quickly and easily begin sharing the gospel online. There is much there now, and in the future I’ll be adding even more.

And while we are on the subject of sharing the gospel online.  Here are some of my favorite excerpts from Elder Ballard’s talk:

The Internet: A Modern Printing Press

“For many of you, if you read newspapers, the chances are you read them on the Internet. Ours is the world of cyberspace, cell phones that capture video, video and music downloads, social networks, text messaging and blogs, handhelds and podcasts.”

“The Lord, over the centuries, has had a hand in inspiring people to invent tools that facilitate the spreading of the gospel. The Church has adopted and embraced those tools, including print, broadcast media, and the Internet.”

Join the Conversation Online

“There are conversations going on about the Church constantly. Those conversations will continue whether or not we choose to participate in them. But we cannot stand on the sidelines while others, including our critics, attempt to define what the Church teaches. While some conversations have audiences in the thousands or even millions, most are much, much smaller. But all conversations have an impact on those who participate in them. Perceptions of the Church are established one conversation at a time.”sharing-the-gospel-online

“Now, may I ask that you join the conversation by participating on the Internet to share the gospel and to explain in simple and clear terms the message of the Restoration. Most of you already know that if you have access to the Internet you can start a blog in minutes and begin sharing what you know to be true. You can download videos from Church and other appropriate sites, including newsroom.lds.org, and send them to your friends. You can write to media sites on the Internet that report on the Church and voice your views as to the accuracy of the reports. This, of course, requires that you understand the basic principles of the gospel. It is essential that you are able to offer a clear and correct witness of gospel truths. It is also important that you and the people to whom you testify understand that you do not speak for the Church as a whole. You speak as one member—but you testify of the truths you have come to know.”

Examples of What You Can Do

“A Church member living in the Midwest of the United States makes a concerted effort to share the gospel every day, in person. He then writes a blog about his daily endeavors to share the teachings of the Book of Mormon and to give pass-along cards to all he meets. His effort to share the gospel so diligently is admirable, and his further effort to write about it no doubt inspires many others to do the same.”

“Others have recorded and posted their testimonies of the Restoration, the teachings of the Book of Mormon, and other gospel subjects on popular video-sharing sites. You too can tell your story to nonmembers in this way. Use stories and words that they will understand. Talk honestly and sincerely about the impact the gospel has had in your life, about how it has helped you overcome weaknesses or challenges and helped define your values. The audiences for these and other new media tools may often be small, but the cumulative effect of thousands of such stories can be great. The combined effort is certainly worth the outcome if but a few are influenced by your words of faith and love of God and His Son, Jesus Christ.”blogging

“The Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ has no doubt had a powerful impact on your life. It has, in part, shaped who you are and what your future will be. Do not be afraid to share with others your experiences as a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. We all have interesting stories that have influenced our identity. Sharing those stories is a nonthreatening way to talk to others. Telling those stories can help demystify the Church. You could help overcome misperceptions through your own sphere of influence, which ought to include the Internet.”

No need to argue or contend

“As you participate in this conversation and utilize the tools of new media, remember who you are—Latter-day Saints. Remember, as the proverb states, that “a soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger” (Proverbs 15:1). And remember that contention is of the devil (see 3 Nephi 11:29). There is no need to argue or contend with others regarding our beliefs. There is no need to become defensive or belligerent. Our position is solid; the Church is true. We simply need to have a conversation, as friends in the same room would have, always guided by the prompting of the Spirit and constantly remembering the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ, which reminds us of how precious are the children of our Father in Heaven.”


“Let your voice be heard in this great cause of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”


The following is a the text of a talk I gave in Church today. It’s not extremely mission prep related, except inasmuch as missionaries’ work is to help establish Zion. But hopefully you’ll still enjoy it.

zion-city-of-enoch City of Enoch
I’d like to talk to you about the Zion society known as the City of Enoch. While Enoch and his people lived long ago, there times were not that different than our own today. The scripture says that at that time, “there were wars and bloodshed” all upon the earth, yet “the Lord came and dwelt with his people, and they dwelt in righteousness.” (Moses 7:16) It says that “so great was the faith of Enoch” and his people that “all nations feared greatly.” (v 13) It says that “the Lord blessed the land” where the people of Enoch lived, and they “did flourish.” (v 17)

Then we get to the familiar verse, Moses 7: 18, where it says “And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them.” Then, as we know, due to the faith and righteousness of Enoch and his people, “Zion was taken up into heaven.” (v 23) 

Collectively and individually, each of us can achieve the blessings of joy and happiness and prosperity, both spiritual and temporal, when we strive to achieve a Zion-like society. I see in the verse above, three things that lead to a Zion society:

  • Unity: “they were of one heart and one mind”
  • Righteous Living: they “dwelt in righteousness”
  • Caring for the Poor: “there was no poor among them”

Elder Dallin H. Oaks 1. Unity

“We sometimes hear the words “celebrate diversity” as if diversity were an ultimate goal,” said Elder Dallin H. Oaks. Yet “Jesus did not pray that His followers would be “diverse.” He prayed that they would be “one” (John 17:21–22). Modern revelation does not say, “Be diverse.” …It says, “Be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine” (D&C 38:27)… Our Church has an approach to the obvious cultural and ethnic diversities among our members. We teach that what unites us is far more important than what differentiates us. Consequently, our members are asked to concentrate their efforts to strengthen our unity… We seek to establish a community of Saints—“one body,” the Apostle Paul called it (1 Cor. 12:13)—where everyone feels needed and wanted and where all can pursue the eternal goals we share.” (Dallin H. Oaks, “Weightier Matters,” Ensign, Jan 2001, 13)

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf Stand Close Together and Lift Where You Stand

In his talk about a year ago, President Uchtdorf taught of the need for unity among the saints when he urged us to “stand close together and lift where you stand.” Said he, “a group of brethren was asked to move a grand piano from the chapel to the adjoining cultural hall, where it was needed for a musical event. None were professional movers, and the task of getting that gravity-friendly instrument through the chapel and into the cultural hall seemed nearly impossible. Everybody knew that this task required not only physical strength but also careful coordination. There were plenty of ideas, but not one could keep the piano balanced correctly. They repositioned the brethren by strength, height, and age over and over again—nothing worked. As they stood around the piano, uncertain of what to do next, a good friend of mine, Brother Hanno Luschin, spoke up. He said, “Brethren, stand close together and lift where you stand.” It seemed too simple. Nevertheless, each lifted where he stood, and the piano rose from the ground and moved into the cultural hall as if on its own power. That was the answer to the challenge. They merely needed to stand close together and lift where they stood.” (President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Lift Where You Stand,” Ensign, Nov 2007)

2. Righteous Living

Like the people of the city of Enoch, we live in times of many “wars and bloodshed,” yet we can, like they, “flourish” by living “in righteousness.” Enoch saw in vision a view of the world after his city was taken up into Heaven. He saw that Satan “veiled the whole face of the earth with darkness” and that this wickedness caused the Lord to weep. The Lord explained that wickedness caused misery and doom, and that it saddened him to see the “workmanship” of his own hands make such poor choices. The Book of Mormon prophet Alma expressed this concept well when he told his son “wickedness never was happiness.” (Alma 41:10) Righteous living is an indispensible component for all people in a Zion society.

spencer w kimballSelf-Reliance

A major part of righteous living of gospel principles is work and self-reliance. I found it interesting what the First Presidency said in 1936 about the establishment of the Church welfare program. They said, “Our primary purpose was to set up, in so far as it might be possible, a system under which the curse of idleness would be done away with…The aim of the Church is to help the people to help themselves. Work is to be reenthroned as the ruling principle of the lives of our Church membership.” (First Presidency, General Conference, October 1936.) 

Righteous living means obeying the Lord’s commandments. The first and great is to “love the Lord thy God” Matt 22:37, “And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” Matt 22:39 The Savior taught that loving and serving others was the basis for all the other gospel commandments. The prophet Spence W. Kimball said that “we can see that Welfare Services is not a program, but the essence of the gospel. It is the gospel in action.” (Spencer W. Kimball, Ensign, Dec 1984, 2) 

3. Caring for the Poor

Righteous living naturally leads to the third component of a Zion society, caring for the poor. King Benjamin that, benevolent prophet king in the Book of Mormon, taught that by caring for the poor and needy, we help keep ourselves unspotted from sin. Said he, “for the sake of retaining a remission of your sins from day to day, that ye may walk guiltless before God—I would that ye should impart of your substance to the poor, every man according to that which he hath, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and administering to their relief, both spiritually and temporally, according to their wants.” (Mosiah 4:26.)

president thomas s monsonPresident Monson’s Example

President Monson’s compassion for and caring of the poor and needy throughout his life is an example we should all know and emulate. It has been written many times about the 85 widows that lived in his ward when he was a young bishop. “At Christmastime he called personally at the home of each widow, leaving a gift and his blessing,” and continued that even after his release as bishop. (see President Thomas S. Monson). At the First Presidency Christmas devotional last month, President Monson said, “real joy comes as we show the love and compassion inspired by the Savior of the world, who said, ‘Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these, ye have done it unto me.’” (First Presidency Gives 2009 Christmas Message)

My Dad’s Example with Sister Funderburk

My father provided a great example to me of caring for the poor and needy. When I was a young teenager, I was my father’s home teaching companion. One of the families we visited on a regular basis were the Funderburks. Sister Funderburk was an older lady who lived in extremely impoverished conditions. She had no husband (not that lived with her anyway). Sister Funderburk always had a foster child living with her. I believe this was her only means of income, as the government would pay her a small stipend in return for housing and caring for a foster child. She lived in a very old trailer/mobile home, with plastic sheeting on many of the walls and windows and in general need of serious repairs.

The plumbing in Sister Funderburk’s home was a frequent object of our attention as home teachers. My dad and I were no plumbers, but the plumbing needed attention, so we rolled up our sleeves and worked on it many times. I remember one winter, the mountains of northern Georgia got pretty cold and her pipes froze, leaving her without running water. We went, the following Saturday, and worked the entire day to insulate and bury the pipes in the ground.

Sister Funderburk had no telephone, so my dad and I simply dropped in on her a couple times a month to make sure everything was ok. I remember one night we stopped by and found they had no food in their house. My dad immediate made a run to the grocery store, which was probably a ten to fifteen mile drive each way, since she lived out in the country, as did we. My dad bought milk, bread, and other essentials. The Spirit had prompted him to stop by and ask if she had any needs, and it was at just the right time as Sister Funderburk was, no doubt, praying for help.

james walker and jimmy smith familyWorking with James Walker

Years later, when my wife and I were living in Memphis Tennessee, I met a member of the Church in similar impoverished circumstances. His name was James Walker. James was an older gentleman, perhaps 65 years old. The missionaries had recently baptized him. James lived alone, aside from the hand full of chickens he raised, which as far as I could tell was his only source of income. I had met James when he got baptized, but I really didn’t get to know him until our bishop asked me to work with James and teach him how to read and write. In working with James, as I did over the next couple of years, I was no doubt prepared by the great example of my father.

While James was very poor in terms of material possessions, I never felt my purpose in working with him was to give him financial assistance as much as it was just to be his friend. I was aware of the many generous Church members who gave freely to help James, as did we from time to time. But James needed friends as much as anything. He needed people in his life who had love and confidence in him. Working with James in this literacy program allowed me to help and support him in all those ways. And though we live 2,000 miles apart now, James and I still talk on the phone from time to time.

hurricane katrina relief waveland 2 Hurricane Katrina Relief Efforts

In the late summer of 2005, we were living in Memphis Tennessee, just 6 hours north of New Orleans, when Hurricane Katrina struck. Within days, if not hours, our Church and many others organizations were on the ground helping those peoples whose lives and property had been destroyed. A couple of weeks after the storm, in Church one Sunday, we got a request like I’ve never had before or since as a Church member. They asked us, particularly the brethren, though a number of sisters went as well, to go to New Orleans to help with the relief efforts. They asked us to leave Friday afternoon, drive down to New Orleans, sleep in the Stake Center or its parking lot, work all day Saturday, then work half the day Sunday and then drive home Sunday evening. This schedule allowed us to put in a day and a half of labor and not miss any of our normal Monday through Friday jobs.

hurricane katrina relief wavelandFor me this seemed like a once in a lifetime opportunity to help and I jumped at the chance. If you remember the photos and videos of the destruction of Hurricane Katrina, seeing it in person trumped it all. Photos and videos just can’t completely convey the horrible scene of destruction. Over the next months, I made three of these weekend trips down to New Orleans for relief, recovery, and rebuilding. The brethren from our stake and many others were there every weekend for months and we helps thousands of people. 

President Hinckley’s Comments on Church’s Katrina Relief

President Hinckley spoke of these relief efforts in the Priesthood Session of General Conference in October 20005. “Great numbers of our men have traveled considerable distances, bringing with them tools and tents and radiant hope. Men of the priesthood have given thousands upon thousands of hours in the work of rehabilitation. There have been three and four thousand at a time. There are some there tonight. We cannot say enough of thanks to them…hurricane katrina relief waveland 3

“Two of our Area Seventies, Brother John Anderson, who resides in Florida, and Brother Stanley Ellis, who lives in Texas, have directed much of this effort. But they would be the first to say that the credit belongs to the great numbers of men and boys who have given assistance. Many have worn shirts that say “Mormon Helping Hands.” They have won the love and respect of those they have assisted. Their assistance has gone not only to members of the Church in trouble, but to great numbers of those concerning whom no religious affiliation has been made. 

“They have followed the pattern of the Nephites as recorded in the book of Alma: “They did not send away any who were naked, or that were hungry, or that were athirst, or that were sick, or that had not been nourished; and they did not set their hearts upon riches; therefore they were liberal to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, whether out of the church or in the church, having no respect to persons as to those who stood in need” (Alma 1:30).

hurricane katrina relief waveland buildingListening to Pres Hinckley from Waveland Mississippi Building

I heard this talk of Presidents Hinckley’s live from that storm battered LDS Church building in Waveland Mississippi. The walls and carpet of that building had been ripped out, but there was still a roof over head so it was serving as a sort-of rescue and relief headquarters, with tons of tools, supplies and willing helpers. I remember sitting in these circumstances, in filthy clothing from a hard days work, with dozens of other brothers and sisters, huddled around a little television set in that gutted building. I remember the sense of pride, and accomplishment, and joy in having helped others.  In some respects, of course, it was a sacrifice to go there, but the rewards of serving others far outweighed that in my mind.

I uploaded to my Flckr account all the photos I have of my trips to the gulf coast in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina:


As I said at the beginning, each of us will enjoy that truest form of joy and we will have an abundance of spiritual and temporal prosperity when we strive to achieve a Zion-like society through:

  • Unity: “they were of one heart and one mind”
  • Righteous Living: they “dwelt in righteousness”
  • Caring for the Poor: “there was no poor among them”

Then we, like the Zion society established by the Savior in the Americas, it may be said of us, “surely there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God.” (4 Ne. 1:16)

I Love Loud Boys

Here is a video excerpt from another good talk from October 2009 General Conference on the subject missionary preparation.  This one is from Elder Yoon Hwan Choi of the Seventy and his talk is called I Love Loud Boys.  Elder Choi has a thick accent and can be difficult to understand at times, but his message is very relevant to young men and their leaders, so please read along with the transcript of the talk below if necessary.

“I would like to tell you about a group of loud young men who came into my life when I was a young bishop in Seoul, Korea, many years ago. These were boys who lived in the neighborhood. Only one or two of them were members of the Church at the time. The boys who were members were the only members in their family. They were all friends, and they came to the church to play and to be together. They liked to play Ping-Pong during the weekdays, and they liked to have fun activities on Saturdays. Most of them were not good students in school and were considered by many to be troublemakers.

“I was a young father of two sons, who were seven and nine years old at the time. I did not know what I could do for these young men. They were so rowdy that once my wife, Bon-Kyoung, asked me if we could move to another ward so that our sons could see good examples from other young men. I pondered and prayed to Heavenly Father to help me to find the way to help these young men. Finally I made the decision to try and teach them how they could change their lives.

“A vision came upon my mind very clearly. I felt that if they were to become missionaries, their lives would be changed. From that moment on, I became very excited, and I tried to spend as much time as possible with them, teaching them the importance of missionary service and how to prepare for a mission.

“At that time Elder Seo, a full-time missionary, was transferred to our ward. He was one who had grown up in the Church and as an Aaronic Priesthood youth had participated in a young men’s singing group with his friends. He met those boisterous boys in our ward. Elder Seo taught those who were not members the missionary discussions, and he also taught them the songs he used to sing. He made a triple quartet with those loud boys and named them the Hanaro Quartet, which means “be as one.” They were happy to sing together, but we all needed “big” patience when we listened to their singing.

“Our home was open to the members anytime they wanted to visit. The boys visited our home almost every weekend and even on some weekdays. We fed them and taught them. We taught them the principles of the gospel as well as the application of the gospel in their lives. We tried to give them a vision of their future life.

“They sang together every time they came to our home. Their loud sound hurt our ears. But we always praised them because listening to them sing was far more enjoyable than seeing them get into trouble.

“Through the years these activities continued. Most of these young men matured in the gospel, and a miracle happened. Over time nine of the boys who were not members were baptized. They changed from loud, rowdy boys into valiant stripling warriors.

“They served missions, met beautiful young sisters in the Church, and married in the temple. Of course, there were different challenges for each of them as they served missions, attended school, and got married, but they all stayed faithful because they wanted to obey their leaders and please the Lord. Now they have happy families with children born in the covenant.

“Nine loud boys have become 45 active members in the Lord’s kingdom, including their wives and children. They are now leaders in their wards and stakes. One is a bishop, two serve in bishoprics, one is serving on the high council, and two are Young Men presidents. There is a ward mission leader, an executive secretary, and a seminary teacher. As a group, they still sing together, and the other miracle—they actually sound good! …

“Dear young men, let us obey the leaders of the Church and be like Adam, who didn’t always have to know the reason why but was just happy to be obedient. And please faithfully attend your Church meetings. If you do this, you will learn how to prepare for your future, and you will be successful. To young boys who were born in the Church and also to those who have joined the Church, you are the army of the Lord. You will become wonderful missionaries and righteous fathers to your families. Heavenly Father will bless you to have a happy family. You have a bright future in the gospel, and like the sons of Helaman, you will bring eternal joy to all of us.”

Teaching Helps Save Lives

Here is some good mission prep counsel from Russell T. Osguthorpe, Sunday School General President.  This is an excerpt from his October 2009 General Conference talk, Teaching Helps Save Lives.

“When I was in my teens, a recently returned missionary named Brother Peterson taught our Sunday School class. Every week he would draw a large arrow from the lower left-hand corner of the blackboard pointing to the upper right-hand corner. Then he would write at the top of the blackboard, “Aim High.”

“Whatever doctrine he was teaching, he would ask us to stretch ourselves, to reach a little higher than we thought was possible. The arrow and those two words, aim high, were a constant invitation throughout the lesson. Brother Peterson made me want to serve a good mission, to do better in school, to set my sights higher for my career.

“Brother Peterson had a work for us to do. His goal was to help us “think about, feel about, and then do something about living gospel principles.” His teaching helped save my life.

“At the age of 19, I was called to serve a mission in Tahiti, where I had to learn two foreign languages—French and Tahitian. Early in my mission, I became very discouraged at my lack of progress in either language. Every time I tried to speak French, people responded in Tahitian. When I tried to speak Tahitian, they answered in French. I was on the verge of giving up.

“Then one day, as I was walking past the laundry room at the mission home, I heard a voice calling me. I turned around and saw a gray-haired Tahitian woman standing in the doorway motioning for me to come back. Her name was Tuputeata Moo. She spoke only Tahitian. And I spoke only English. I missed much of what she was trying to tell me, but I did understand that she wanted me to return to the laundry room every day so she could help me learn Tahitian.

“I stopped by daily to practice with her while she ironed clothes. At first I wondered if our meetings would be of any help, but gradually I began to understand her. Each time we met, she communicated to me her complete confidence that I could learn both languages.

“Sister Moo helped me learn Tahitian. But she helped me learn much more than that. She was really teaching me the first principle of the gospel—faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. She taught me that if I relied on the Lord, He would help me do something I thought was impossible. She not only helped save my mission—she helped save my life.”