We have been counseled for many years that missionary work is very important and essential in God’s Plan. Young men and young women spend 18-24 months to serve The Lord. There are currently 88,000 missionaries in the world, and I have the great opportunity to be one of them. As missionaries, our sole 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. (Preach My Gospel) As members of the church, we know of the Restored Gospel, His Atonement, and His Plan for all of us. We know that as we work to come closer to Christ, we can return to Him and be sealed to our families for all time and eternity through Temple ordinances and covenants. But there are many people in the world, who do not know of this great plan, and everyone deserves to be a part of His work. But it cannot all be done just by missionaries. Members have been encouraged by General authorities to reach out to friends, family, and community members to share about their beliefs and their testimonies. For some it seems like a daunting task, and it can be scary. But with the Lords help, it is possible. At first, it may be scary, you get that tightening in your gut and you feel that it is the right thing to do, but you are scared. That feeling is a prompting from the Lord. Promptings come in many ways. They come as voices in our heads, the butterflies in our stomachs, or thoughts. Sometimes we say, "Oh, it’s just me thinking that." But despite what we think, we must be brave, and follow those promptings. I promise you that if you follow through any prompting you receive, you will be blessed, and your testimony WILL grow. Members can reach out to other by inviting others to church, to church activities, sharing their testimony, giving someone an Ensign magazine, or by serving someone. We all know that when we serve others, we feel good inside and we feel like we are the ones being served. And this is the same concept. We need your help. If everyone were to share their testimony or share a message to someone new every single day, by the end of the year, you can change 365 people, even in the smallest ways. It does not take much to spark an interest in someone. And we can start doing missionary work by being their friend, and by serving them. M. Russell Ballard counseled the members in the year of 2003 by saying:
"…As we raise the level of expectation for the performance of our missionaries, we must also raise the level of expectation for the performance of all of the members of the Church in fulfilling our missionary duties. We need your help, brothers and sisters, to support and assist our missionaries in finding and baptizing many more of our Heavenly Father’s children. We need you to watch over, protect, and inspire the missionaries, who are servants of the Lord. If the standard is to be raised, it is raised for all of us. We must be more faithful. We must be more spiritually in tune. We must prepare ourselves to assist the missionaries in finding those of our Heavenly Father’s children who will embrace the message of the Restoration."
Being a member missionary is an important factor to missionary work. Most investigators who later join the church are solely through members. Reach out to others, and I promise each and every one of you, that you will be blessed.
How to Prepare For a Mission
As most of you know, I have been waiting for this very moment for a very long time. I have known that I was going to go on a mission since my 17th birthday, the day they announced the age change at General conference in 2012. I didn’t really start preparing for my mission until last October, when Sister Berrara and Sister Chapman invited me to spend a day with them and visit people in Otto. I loved it so much, that I spent every Friday with them, and I did so for 6 months, until they were transferred. Before I started going out with them, I was very scared about visiting people, especially nonmembers. But I got over my fear, because I learned to love them, and they were no different than any other person. I would encourage anyone who is preparing for a mission, or thinking about serving a mission, to spend an afternoon with the missionaries in your area. You will see how missionary work truly blesses families, investigators, and most importantly, yourself. No matter how scary at first it seems, it is such an enriching experience, and you get to serve people in your community.
For those who have been called to serve in foreign missions or to speak a new language, I would highly suggest studying the language. President Gordon B. Hinkley has promised that if a young missionary reads the Book of Mormon word for word, page by page, in the language they have been called to speak, they will never struggle with the language throughout their mission. I have studied the Book of Mormon a few times in the Spanish language, and I know this is true because every time I ready from it, I understood every word, even though I understand so little. It has helped me strengthen my testimony of the gift of tongues, and in my heart, I feel that I will be able to understand and speak the Spanish language with confidence. And I trust the Lord that it will happen in His time.
A big part of preparing for a mission is knowing what you are to teach. As I started going out with the sisters, I quickly discovered I did not know what I need to say, let alone how to say it. So the sisters gave me some pointers on how I can study and prepare myself to be the best missionary I can be. First, study Preach My Gospel. Preach My Gospel is the main tool used by missionaries, full of lessons, techniques for teaching, and tips on how to bring the spirit into lessons, and how to be the best missionary you can possibly be. As I read through Preach My Gospel, I began to highlight and take notes, and would act as if I was the investigator, rather than the one teaching. That way I could understand what I was teaching. If you are called to a foreign mission, or to learn a new language, I would suggest learning the lessons in your native language, and once you understand the lesson, study in the language you are to learn. You will not learn anything otherwise if you do not understand what you are saying. I would encourage everyone to read the Book of Mormon and finish it before you leave. The Book of Mormon is essentially what you will be teaching from, and you need to understand it.
In order to be the best missionary you can possibly be, you must be worthy to serve. This is very important, and has been told countless time by prophets and apostles. When we make mistakes, we are held accountable for our actions, and we must take part in His Atonement in order to be worthy as missionaries. We are all human. We all make mistakes. But there is something we must all know, and that we are never alone. I got the chance to watch the new movie "Meet the Mormons", and one quote that stuck out to me was by Bishnu Adhikari, and he said, "I am not perfect. But I am perfect at one thing, and that is trying." I find this so comforting. We are never going to be perfect, but we can try to be the best we are meant to be. And through the Atonement, we are able to repent and be forgiven of our sins. So take the necessary steps to repent, if they are small or big. You will not regret the feeling of relief and peace once those burdens are lifted, and I promise you that your testimony of the Atonement will strength so much.
As I have prepared for my mission, I have learned how important family, friends, ward members, and community members are to me. I am so grateful to every single one of you. I want to thank my ward for all the support and love that each of you have given me, and for sharing your testimonies with me. I have grown immensely because of your spirits, and I will not forget what I have learned here. This will forever be my favorite ward, and Otto will always be my true home. I want to thank all my teachers that have taught me throughout my life, if it was at school or here at church. Your service will forever be dear to me in my heart. A huge thank you to my dear classmates, the class of 2014, for all the great memories shared between us and for the love and friendship between us. You guys will forever be my friends, and no one could replace you. I want to thank my many friends, for simply being a friend. Your love and compassion is so sincere, and you all hold a dear place within my heart, and I love you all for that. Even though he is not here with me now, I want to thank my dear best friend Zachary Jacob. He has been so supportive of me and has been there for me through thick and thin, and I love him dearly for that. I want to give a huge thank you for my loving family. To my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins; I love you. I love you all so much. And you have been so important to me, and I will miss you all so dearly. I want to thank my sister, Katelynn, for all the laughs and smiles, for always sharing your funny sense of humor, and for your positive attitude. Your love is infinite, and that is more than I could ever ask of you. You will forever be the best sister I could ever ask for. I love you, Bugs. To my brother, William, even though you seem tough on the outside, you are the gentlest human being I have ever met. I confide in you so much because of your love and sincere compassion. You make me laugh whenever you pull off silly faces or say silly jokes, but I love your hugs, because I know they are full of love. Weasel, I love you. And to my dear mom and dad, I could not have been here without you. You have both sacrificed so much for our family, and I am so grateful for all you do. Your love is unmeasurable, and I love you just as much. Dad, you will always be the best dad to me. No one could ever replace you. And I don’t know what I’m going to do when I’m not able to sit on your lap and have you hold me to comfort me. I will miss your jokes, and your loving counsel. I might as well admit it now, you have always been right. I love you, daddy. Mom, thank you. Thank you for every single thing you have done for me, and for giving me more than I deserve. You will always be my best friend. I confide in you for everything, and I seek your guidance so much, despite what you may think. I will miss hearing you make up funny words, like "chilly feces shakes, when you really meant to say "Philly cheese steaks", sorry mom! I will miss your hugs and kisses, and being able to tell you what is on my mind. I can still do that, but it just won’t be the same. Mom, I love you so much.
Most importantly, I am so thankful to my loving heavenly Father, and for the Savior. I KNOW this is THE true church, of Jesus Christ. I know that He loves us, all of us. And he loves us so much, he died for us. And if he can do that for me, a sinner, an imperfect person, I can give Him 18 months of my time, to come closer to Him. I know that Joseph Smith was called of God to restore the church, and to bring the priesthood back to the earth. I know that the Book of Mormon is a true testament of the life of Christ, and of His mercy, love, and sacrifice. It speaks so much truth, and every time I read from it, I learn something new every time. I know that the temple is a house of The Lord, and inside we can perform sacred ordinances to unite families and individuals to our loving Heavenly Father and Savior. I know He lives. I know it. I feel His presence every time I am in fear, sorrow, and remorse. But I especially feel Him in joy, peace, love, and happiness. He is my happiness. He is my joy. And He brings me closer to my eternal goals. I know that these next 18 months will be full of hardships and trials. But I KNOW that it will bless myself and my family for the rest of my life, more so than the pain and sorrow that I will face in this life to come. I am ready to serve the Lord, and I will do so with a loving and compassionate heart.
FAVORITE SCRIPTURE: (Alma 26:30 -31)