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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!”

Mission Prep from General Conference April 2009

As I listened to the General Conference talks last weekend, I paid particular attention to messages that would be of benefit for young men and women preparing to go on a mission.  Below are a few mission-prep-related excerpts from the April 2009 conference talks:

Revealed Quorum Principles by Michael A. Neider

“The quorum assists you in strengthening and preparing God’s sons” for missions, marriage, etc.  “We should be earnest students of revealed priesthood and quorum principles. Our goal is to correctly use inspired direction from God and His prophets to maximize the virtues and blessings of the quorum and strengthen young men and their families. The work of the quorum is to increase faith in Christ, prepare and save young men, and eliminate mistakes and sloth in implementing God’s will. As we seek wisdom from God, let us also be students of revealed quorum principles.”

Learning the Lessons of the Past by Elder M. Russell Ballard

Elder M. Russell Ballard“Learn from the experience of others. Many professions require internships, during which aspiring professionals shadow seasoned veterans to learn from their years of experience and accumulated wisdom. Rookies in professional sports are often expected to sit on the bench and learn by watching experienced players. New missionaries are assigned to work with a senior companion whose experience helps the new missionary learn the right way to effectively serve the Lord.”

Counsel to Young Men by President Boyd K. Packer

President Boyd K. Packer“You young men should not complain about schooling. Do not immerse yourself so much in the technical that you fail to learn things that are practical. Everything you can learn that is practical—in the house, in the kitchen cooking, in the yard—will be of benefit to you” now, on your mission and throughout your life.

“Four young men, all grandsons, came to visit us. Three of them had young ladies on their arms—one to talk about his coming wedding, two of them to announce their engagements, and the stray to talk about his mission call to Japan. We talked to them about the fact that one day each of you will take a pure and precious daughter of our Heavenly Father to the temple to be sealed for time and for all eternity. These young grandsons must know what Alma taught: that the gospel plan is “the great plan of happiness” and that happiness is the end of our existence.”

We Are Doing a Great Work and Cannot Come Down by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf“In response to every temptation to lose focus or lower our standards—the standards of God, we responded, “I am doing a great work and cannot come down.””

The Lord seeks “those who, when faced with opposition and temptation, say in their hearts, “I am doing a great work and cannot come down.””

“When faced with trial and suffering, they respond, “I am doing a great work and cannot come down.”  When faced with ridicule and reproach, they proclaim, “I am doing a great work and cannot come down.””

Our Heavenly Father “seeks those who will not allow the attraction of ease or the traps of the adversary to distract them from the work He has given them to perform. He seeks those whose actions conform to their words—those who say with conviction, “I am doing a great work and cannot come down.”

Be Your Best Self by President Thomas S. Monson

President Thomas S. Monson“This is not a time for fear, brethren, but rather a time for faith—a time for each of us who holds the priesthood to be his best self. Although our journey through mortality will at times place us in harm’s way, may I offer you tonight three suggestions.”

  1. Study diligently. “Every holder of the priesthood should participate in daily scripture study. Crash courses are not nearly so effective as the day-to-day reading and application of the scriptures in our lives.”
  2. Pray fervently. “With God, all things are possible. Men of the Aaronic Priesthood, men of the Melchizedek Priesthood, remember the prayer of the Prophet Joseph, offered in that grove called sacred. Look around you and see the result of that answered prayer.”
  3. Live righteously. “Isaiah, that great prophet of the Old Testament, gave this stirring charge to holders of the priesthood: “Touch no unclean thing. . . . Be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord.” That’s about as straight as it could be given.”

Get On with Our Lives by Elder Steven E. Snow

Elder Steven E. Snow“Too often we are reluctant to enter the next stage, begin the next challenge. Maybe we are too comfortable, fearful, or lacking in faith…Our parents’ basement, with unlimited video games, may be more appealing than college, marriage, or a career (or a mission I might add). How can we then best prepare for the changes we must inevitably face as we progress through life?”

  • First, follow the prophets. “Prophets often raise a voice of warning but also provide steady, pragmatic counsel to help us weather the storms of life.”
  • Second, keep an eternal perspective. “We as mortals undergo a series of changes, challenges, trials, and temptations as we proceed through life. Only then are we properly tested.” Remember, this life is “to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them” (Abraham 3:25).
  • Third, have faith. “In Moroni we read that “without faith there cannot be any hope” (Moroni 7:42). We must exercise faith to take on life’s challenges and changes”
  • Fourth, be of good cheer. “Many of our members across the globe are facing challenges, economic and otherwise.” The Lord counseled, “Be of good cheer, little children; for I am in your midst, and I have not forsaken you” (D&C 61:36).

Bring Souls unto Me by Elder L. Tom Perry

“Member missionaries—both you and I—are the shepherds, and the full-time missionaries, like the search and rescue team, are trying to do something almost impossible for them to do alone. Certainly the full-time missionaries will continue to do the best they can, but woul
dn’t it be better if you and I stepped up to do a job that is rightfully ours and for which we are better suited since we know personally those who are lost and need to be rescued? I would like to focus on three objectives for members of the Church.”

  • D&C 88:81 “And it becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor.”
  • D&C 33:8 “Open your mouths and they shall be filled.”
    • “We should declare our belief in Jesus Christ and His Atonement.”
    • “We should tell in our own words the story of the First Vision.”
    • “Let us testify of the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ.”
  • D&C 18:15 “And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!”