As I am writing this article my oldest child is entering the Missionary Training Center in Provo. She will spend a very brief time preparing to serve as a missionary in California. For eighteen months she won’t read non religious books, dance, listen to Taylor Swift, and will only call home on mother’s day and Christmas. She will have brief email access once a week to keep in contact with us. She will pay for this privilege with money she earned from her job at college and as a waitress, with help from family and friends. She didn’t choose where she will serve or when she would leave.
Why do we choose to serve missions?
19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 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. Amen.
Not every young person will go on a mission. There are many ways to invite people to Christ. A formal missionary program will always be a part of our church to help fulfill this invitation.
What do we have to share?
We are not encouraged to only share our message to those who do not yet know Christ, or those who don’t attend our church. We are encouraged to invite ALL people to Christ. Missionaries are meant to inspire, love and teach everyone. We are taught from very young that every person on earth is a child of God. We are encouraged to love and serve those around us effectively sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. More than anything else, Christ’s gospel is one of love. Missionaries are being encouraged more and more to spend their time in service. The most basic, and challenging, message of Christ is to love one another. Missionaries serve. They join in community efforts, they clean up after natural disasters and do the dishes, they help in nursing homes and hospitals and libraries. Let them serve. Join them in service.
St Francis of Assisi said “Preach the gospel, if necessary use words.”
A mission is a time to preach the gospel in every possible way, so it is definitely a time to use words to teach the gospel. We believe we have a unique message to share.
- We believe families can be together forever. If you believe in life after death, it is impossible to imagine that life would not include relationships with the people who mean the most to us. We believe that through Christ’s sacrifice our most important relationships can continue forever when we seek that through ordinances in the temple. We do not earn this blessing by going through the temple, we show our humility and willingness to accept Christ’s offer. Being sealed in the temple connects us not only with our family on earth, but all who have gone before us and will come after. It isn’t so much one link as a great web connecting us with our family and most importantly to Christ. When we do temple work for those who are dead, who didn’t chose to do it themselves, we are offering them another chance to accept Christ’s offer of eternal life with a happy family.
- The ideal of a happy mother and father with children is beautiful and powerful. It is such a strong need and desire that it can be painful to hear the ideal. No family on earth lives up to the ideal. Perhaps we don’t have a family member with us by choice or death. Perhaps irreconcilable differences or geographical distance makes considering an eternal family very painful for us.
- The greatest miracle Christ offers is that He will make up for ANY loss in our life. I don’t know how this is possible, but it is a wonderful, beautiful hope. This hope provides peace and comfort in this life. A truth worth sharing!
- We believe in the Bible and the Book of Mormon. We don’t believe these books answer every historical or scientific question. We believe they help us know Christ and feel His love for us. Many people are familiar with the Bible, which testifies of the Lord’s work with the children of Israel. We offer the Book of Mormon as another witness of Christ. It testifies of Christ’s dealings with a small group of people in the ancient Americas. Having another witness helps us understand Christ. We invite people to prayerfully read the Book of Mormon and the Bible, so they can better come to know Christ. Reading scriptures offers us an eternal perspective and hope. Hope is a wonderful thing. The book of Mormon is worth sharing.
- We believe there is a prophet on the earth today. In the Old Testament we read about Isaiah and Moses and Elijah. We believe Thomas S Monson is a prophet of the Lord. On my mission, I remember being asked, if we believe in a prophet today, what has he said lately. People are generally seeking something dramatic and exciting. Last April President Monson said, “we are engaged in the work of the Lord Jesus Christ. We have answered His call; we are on His errand. Let us learn of Him. Let us follow in His footsteps. Let us live by His precepts. By so doing, we will be prepared for any service He calls us to perform.” What if everyone actually lived this way? This is worth sharing!
Next time you see a missionary, it could be my daughter, or my niece, or nephew. That is someone’s brother or sister, spending their valuable time to share God’s love. They are not perfect, they are not highly educated, which is why missionaries so encourage prayer! Seek your own answers, please. Consider listening. Consider praying. Consider allowing missionaries to serve you, or serve with them. Consider that young people are willing to give up their families, their friends and their cellphones to love and care for those they consider their brothers and sisters.
Britt grew up in a family of six brothers and one sister and gained a bonus sister later. She camped in the High Sierras, canoed down the Colorado, and played volleyball at Brigham Young University. She then served a mission to South Africa. With all of her time in the gym and the mountains and South Africa, she was totally prepared to become the mother of 2 sons and soon to be 9 daughters. By totally prepared she means willing to love them and muddle through everything else in a partially sleepless state. She is mostly successful at figuring out how to keep the baby clothed, or at least diapered, though her current toddler is challenging this skill. She feels children naturally love to learn and didn’t want to disrupt childhood curiosity with worksheets and school bells. She loves to play in the dirt, read books, go on adventures, watch her children discover new things, and mentor her children. Her oldest child is currently at a community college and her oldest son is going to high school at a public school. She loves to follow her children in their unique paths and interests. She loves to write because, unlike the laundry and the dishes, writing stays done. Whenever someone asks her how she does it all she wonders what in the world they think she’s doing.