Thursday, January 31, 2013

Watch "Joseph Smith: The Prophet of the Restoration"

One of my favorite memories from young women's was the time we took a trip up to Salt Lake City to watch the Joseph Smith movie in the Joseph Smith building. It was a night I remember thinking to myself, "I KNOW without a doubt that Joseph is a prophet of God." I hope each of you have had a chance to watch this video. If you have, watch it again and reaffirm your testimonies of Joseph Smith and the Restoration. If you have never seen it, take the time to watch it.

A Word for the Hesitant Missionary

Dieter F. Uchtdorf

A Word for the Hesitant Missionary

Disciples of Jesus Christ have always been under the obligation to take His gospel to the world (see Mark 16:15–16). Nevertheless, sometimes it is difficult to open our mouths and speak about our faith to those around us. While some members of the Church have a natural gift for talking to others about religion, others are a little hesitant or may feel awkward, embarrassed, or even fearful of doing so.
To that end, may I suggest four things that anyone can do to follow the commission of the Savior to preach the gospel “unto every creature” (D&C 58:64).

Be a Light

A favorite saying of mine often attributed to St. Francis of Assisi reads, “Preach the gospel at all times and if necessary, use words.”1 Implicit in this saying is the understanding that often the most powerful sermons are unspoken.
When we have integrity and live consistently by our standards, people notice. When we radiate joy and happiness, they notice even more.
Everyone wants to be happy. When we members of the Church radiate the light of the gospel, people can see our happiness and sense the love of God filling and overflowing in our lives. They want to know why. They want to understand our secret.
That leads them to ask questions such as “Why are you so happy?” or “Why do you always have such a positive attitude?” The answers to these questions, of course, lead perfectly into a conversation about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.

Be Conversational

Bringing up the subject of religion—particularly to our friends and loved ones—can seem daunting and challenging. It doesn’t have to be. Mentioning spiritual experiences or talking about Church activities or events in casual conversation can be easy and pleasant if we invest a little courage and common sense.
My wife, Harriet, is a wonderful example of this. When we were living in Germany, she would find a way to work Church-related topics into her conversations with friends and acquaintances. For example, when someone asked about her weekend, she would say, “This Sunday we had an impressive experience in our church! A 16-year-old young man gave a beautiful talk in front of 200 people of our congregation about living a clean life.” Or, “I learned about a 90-year-old woman who knitted more than 500 blankets and gave them to our Church’s humanitarian program to be shipped to people in need all around the world.”
More often than not, the people who heard this wanted to know more. They asked questions. And that led to opportunities to talk about the gospel in a natural, confident, nonpushy way.
With the advent of the Internet and social media, it is easier today to talk about these things in a conversational way than ever before. What we need is simply the courage to do so.

Be Full of Grace

Unfortunately, it is so easy to be disagreeable. It happens too often that we argue, belittle, and condemn. When we become angry, rude, or hurtful with people, the last thing they want is to learn more about us. It is impossible to know how many people have either left the Church or never joined because someone said something that hurt or offended them.
There is so much incivility in the world today. Because of the anonymity of the Internet, it is easier than ever to say toxic or grating things online. Shouldn’t we, the hopeful disciples of our gentle Christ, have a higher, more charitable standard? The scriptures teach, “Let your speech be alway[s] with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man” (Colossians 4:6).
I like the idea of our words being clear as a sunny sky and full of grace. Can you imagine what our families, wards, nations, and even the world would be like if we could adopt this simple principle?

Be Filled with Faith

Sometimes we take upon ourselves too much credit or too much blame when it comes to others accepting the gospel. It’s important to remember that the Lord doesn’t expect us to do the converting.
Conversion comes not through our words but through the heavenly ministrations of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes all it takes is one single phrase of our testimony or about an experience to set in motion the softening of a heart or the opening of a door that can lead others to experience sublime truths through the promptings of the Spirit.
President Brigham Young (1801–77) said he knew the gospel was true when he “saw a man without eloquence, or talents for public speaking, who could only say, ‘I know, by the power of the Holy Ghost, that theBook of Mormon is true, that Joseph Smith is a Prophet of the Lord.’” President Young said when he heard that humble testimony, “The Holy Ghost proceeding from that individual illuminate[d] my understanding, and light, glory, and immortality [were] before me.”2
Brothers and sisters, have faith. The Lord can magnify the words you speak and make them mighty. God doesn’t ask you to convert but rather to open your mouths. The task of converting is not yours—that belongs to the person hearing and to the Holy Spirit.

Every Member a Missionary

My dear friends, today there are more ways than ever for us to open our mouths and share with others the joyful news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. There is a way for everyone—even the hesitant missionary—to participate in this great work. We can each find a way to use our own particular talents and interests in support of the great work of filling the world with light and truth. As we do so, we will find the joy that comes to those who are faithful and courageous enough “to stand as witnesses of God at all times” (Mosiah 18:9).

Teaching from This Message

One effective way to teach is to “encourage those you teach to set … goals that can help them live the principle you have taught” (Teaching, No Greater Call [1999], 159). Consider inviting those you teach to prayerfully set a goal to share the gospel with one or more people this month. Parents can discuss ways younger children could help. You could also help familymembers brainstorm or role-play ways to bring up the gospel in regular conversation and think of upcoming Church activities to which they could invite a friend.

This article came from the First Presidency Message for Feb 2013. 

When Should I Serve?

Missionary Preparation

When changes to the missionary age eligibility were announced, it is possible your “life plan” was altered and you’re no longer sure when you should go. When to serve a mission is an important decision. Read on to find helpful suggestions about when to serve and how to prepare so that you’ll be ready whenever the Lord needs you.

When Can I Go?

Whether you decide to go earlier or later, you may submit your papers up to 120 days before you wish to begin your mission service. Regardless of when you go, you should be ready to meet the spiritual and physical demands. Remember that the important thing is not how old you are, but how prepared you are.
“If ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work; ...  and faith, hope, charity, and love, with an eye single to the glory of God, qualify him for the work” (D&C 4:3–5).

How Can I Prepare?

If you haven’t done so already, develop and stick to a daily routine of scripture study. Aside from studying the scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon, study Preach My Gospel and The Missionary Handbook. You should be able to teach the lessons found in chapter three of Preach My Gospel and should have a personal testimony. You don’t need to have all the answers, but you should know how to find the answers you need through study and prayer. And it is OK if you feel that you need improvement in some areas. Make a plan to strengthen your weaknesses, and stick to that plan.
Missionaries must also be able to take care of themselves, including doing laundry, sewing on buttons, making meals, living on a budget, and so forth. Be sure to practice proper hygiene and make sure you are up to the physical demands. This may mean learning new skills or how to live a more healthy lifestyle.

What Should I Do about College?

If you plan to attend college, it is a good idea to go ahead and apply on the normal deadlines while you are still in high school. Once you're accepted, you can apply for a deferral at most colleges should you decide to serve right after graduating. This will help you be prepared to continue to progress after your mission.

How Will I Know When I'm Ready for a Mission?

Meeting with your bishop will help you know when you are ready to serve.Elder Nelson explained, “These age adjustments are new options now available to bishops in evaluating what is best for each of his youth. Young men or women should not begin their service before they are ready spiritually and temporally.” Many factors, such as school, health, worthiness, finances, and preparation, affect when you should serve. Prayerfully consider all of your options. Consistent prayer and regular meetings with your local priesthood leaders will help you know when you are sufficiently prepared.

Financial Preparation

Missionaries and their families should make appropriate sacrifices to provide financial support for a mission. Counsel with your parents and bishop regarding your specific situation.

How Do I Start the Recommendation Process?

If you and your bishop have determined that you are ready, your bishop will set up an online account that allows you to access the online missionary recommendation system and begin your mission paperwork. Things you will need to do include getting a doctor’s physical, updating you immunizations, and obtaining dental clearance. You will also be asked to provide some personal information and send a picture of yourself.

When Can I Go to the Temple?

One of the greatest blessings associated with preparing for your mission is the opportunity to receive the temple endowment after receiving the Melchizedek Priesthood and your mission call. You and your parents should work with your bishop to decide when you are ready to make and keep those sacred covenants. Study the temple preparation handbook and make sure your conduct is in line with temple worthiness standards.

Prepare Now

Prepare now so that you will be ready to serve when the time is right. As you prayerfully consult with your parents and Church leaders, you can know when you are ready.

This article came from

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Sister Missionary

As I prepare to leave this place behind
My thoughts are turned above
To my Father and Redeemer
I feel Their fervent love

The time is getting closer
When I'll set out on my way
I begin to count the weeks
The hours and the days

The beginning of a journey
A tale I’ll soon convey
Of the struggles and the joys
I’ll feel along the way

I’m sure the work’s demanding
And the hours will drag on
As I face the taxing task
of Teaching ‘til the sun is gone

There are days I’ll be discouraged
And nights I’ll miss my home
My heart might just feel empty
I may feel utterly alone

Although concerns surround me
I must always face my fears
And know that through my trials
My savior will be near

I’ll study scriptures daily
pondering the words I read
I know that if I do this
The Lord will take the Lead

When my heart becomes discouraged
I know that I must kneel
And utter words unto the Lord
His love for me is real

For I know I am His daughter
He sent me here to earth
To preach of His true gospel
And learn of my great worth

In my life He’s never left me
And I’m sure He never will
Through trials I will face
I must listen and be still

If I make sure my heart is open
And I’m faithful, kind, and true
I’ll hear the Savior’s words ring out
declaring, “I love you!”

So as I serve His mission
I know He’ll be my guide
and if I follow in His ways
He’ll be right by my side.

If any of you know the author please comment here so I may give credit where credit is due. This poem is amazing!

Preparing Emotionally for Missionary Service


What Prospective Missionaries and Their Parents Need to Know
Preparing for missionary service is much different today than it was in 1830, when Samuel Smith was set apart to be one of the first full-time missionaries. He had no training, no money, and no living quarters. Today prospective missionaries prepare extensively for their missions. Doctor visits, missionary preparation classes, patriarchal blessings, prayer, scripture study, and temple endowments are among the ways they get ready to go into the world to share the gospel. I believe that today’s missionaries enter the mission field better prepared, both physically and spiritually, to teach and bear testimony of the gospel than ever before.
But another aspect of preparation for missionary service is equally vital—emotional preparation. Speaking to future missionaries, Elder L. Tom Perry explained: “Missionary service is emotionally demanding. Your support system is going to be withdrawn from you as you leave home and go out into the world. … There will be days of rejection and disappointment. Learn now about your emotional limits, and learn how to control your emotions under the circumstances you will face as a missionary.”1
As a former mission president and president of the Philippines Missionary Training Center (MTC), I have noticed that most missionaries leave the MTC confident about their ability to teach the gospel and bear testimony. This is because of the excellent training they receive in the MTC, as well as at home, in seminary, and at church. However, I have also observed that many missionaries deal with some of the following concerns:
    Living with a different person and in a different culture
    Adjusting to missionary rules, schedule, and lifestyle
    Learning a new language
    Personal weaknesses
Each of these concerns is normal, and almost every elder or sister experiences at least one of them. Such concerns do not make missionaries unworthy or disobedient, and most often they successfully overcome their worries.
However, some missionaries have difficulty coping with these kinds of emotional challenges to the point of debilitation. According to Judi Moore, a doctor and former medical adviser in the South America South Area, stress may contribute to many of missionaries’ most common physical complaints, including headaches, back pain, heart palpitations, insomnia, fatigue, stomach problems, dry mouth, and even frequent sore throats. For some, stress can also lead to panic attacks, anxiety, depression, and difficulty functioning. Because of these challenges, it is important that future missionaries do all they can to prepare emotionally for full-time missionary service. The following advice will help.

How Can Future Missionaries Prepare Themselves Emotionally?

1. Work part time or full time before the mission call. This experience helps potential missionaries learn how to manage money so they will be prepared to live within their budget in the mission field. Also, in my experience, missionaries who pay at least part of the cost of their mission are often more dedicated and have fewer concerns about money while in the mission field.
2. Live away from home for a period of time before leaving for the mission field. Whether future missionaries go away to college or for work, living away from home helps them adjust to the necessary independence of being a missionary. This also provides opportunities for them to wash their own clothing, clean their own living areas, prepare food, and be responsible for their own safety and well-being. Even if future missionaries cannot live away from home, they can be more independent by taking on these responsibilities.
Generally, a young person who has been allowed to take responsibility and develop appropriate independence will have an easier time adjusting to missionary service. This means that it is important for parents to nurture their children in such a way that encourages independent, responsible decision-making skills founded on gospel principles.
3. Practice meeting and talking to others. Missionary work involves meeting and interacting with new people daily. This can be a significant source of anxiety to missionaries who are naturally shy. Many young people today are used to interacting via text messaging or social networking sites on the Internet rather than through face-to-face interaction. Future missionaries can prepare themselves for tracting and other missionary activities by challenging themselves, in an appropriate and safe manner, to talk with people they do not know well and by striving to be friendly, courteous, and respectful to others.
4. Resolve emotional concerns before submitting mission papers. Some young people suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, depression, or eating disorders before they enter the mission field. Dr. Moore recommends that parents take notice of symptoms of emotional distress and take actions to help. Most young people will not overcome such problems in the mission field. In fact, these problems often become exacerbated under the stresses of a mission. Counseling and medical treatment may be beneficial to stabilize these conditions before applying to serve a mission. LDS Family Services and family doctors are excellent sources of help, as are local priesthood leaders—particularly your bishop.
Dr. Moore points out that the rigors of missionary service may cause unresolved issues from the past to resurface. For example, several months before an elder entered the mission field, his father passed away. After his father’s death, the young man took on heavy responsibilities to help keep the family financially afloat and to comfort and support his mother. But he never dealt adequately with his own grief. Halfway through his mission, the elder began to have serious difficulty functioning. Under his mission president’s guidance, the elder visited a counselor and was able to recover and successfully complete his mission.
5. Practice living a balanced life. Missionary life is structured and intense. Learning how to live by a schedule and keep appointments is critical to success. For a period of time before entering the MTC, a prospective missionary may want to follow the missionary schedule of going to bed at 10:30 p.m. and arising at 6:30 the next morning. Using a day-planning system and taking part in extracurricular activities can help young people learn to manage time and meet deadlines. Examples include holding a job or participating in activities such as sports, drama, clubs, student government, or community service.
6. Find appropriate outlets for stress. Before their missions, many young people relax by playing video games, watching TV, hanging out with friends, surfing the Internet, or participating in other recreational activities. In the mission field, such activities are not an option, so missionaries need to find new ways to cope with stress.2 Taking advantage of 30 minutes each morning to exercise, as outlined in PreachMy Gospel, can be a tremendous stress reliever. Adequate rest, exercise, and turning to the Lord for guidance rather than comparing oneself to others also help.
Sometimes it just helps to talk about things. As a mission president, I noticed that missionaries who shared their concerns with another person—a missionary companion, district leader, or the mission president—often found their concerns diminished. On the other hand, missionaries who kept concerns bottled up usually felt that their concerns seemed larger and more difficult to manage.
7. Learn to view personal weaknesses with proper perspective. Some conscientious missionaries have great difficulty when they feel their efforts are imperfect or less than “the best.” They may worry excessively if they feel inadequate in mastering a language or in achieving some missionary goals. They may feel distressed when the demands of being a missionary show them weaknesses they had never encountered before. But, as the prophet Ether taught, recognizing our weaknesses can teach us humility and reliance on the Lord and success in overcoming our weaknesses (see Ether 12:27).
President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008) told of two missionaries he met as a young man on his own mission: “One was a superstar. He was educated. He was bright. He was quick. He was a little arrogant. We had another who was a sign painter. … with very little education, but he knew his inadequacies and he relied on the Lord. When he prayed, you knew he was talking with the Lord. … That young man accomplished wonders while the other young man went through the motions. The power that was in the one and the absence of power in the other was so apparent.”3
8. Learn to put trials in the proper perspective. Occasionally, accidents, serious illnesses, and other traumas happen in the mission field—just as they do in regular life. They are not a sign that a missionary is unworthy or that the Lord is not watching over him or her. Ammon, one of the great missionaries of the Book of Mormon, faced serious trials on his mission. Recording the Lord’s words to him and his missionary companions at a time of deep discouragement, Ammon wrote: “Now when our hearts were depressed, and we were about to turn back, behold, the Lord comforted us, and said: Go amongst thy brethren, the Lamanites, and bear with patience thine afflictions, and I will give unto you success” (Alma 26:27). Success came for them—and will come for faithful missionaries after they patiently persist in doing the work they have been called to do.

Becoming a Supportive Missionary Mom or Dad

Parents, your influence in the lives of your children doesn’t stop after they enter the Missionary Training Center. It does shift, however. Here are some ways you can support your son or daughter in your new role as a missionary parent:
1. Let your missionary be responsible for the success of his or her mission. Parents who insist on being informed about every detail of their son or daughter’s mission unintentionally place a great burden on the missionary. Missionaries must take personal ownership of their own missions. Every missionary fulfills his or her mission under the direction of the mission president, not under the direction of parents.
2. Allow your son or daughter to live on the missionary budget. Parents who send extra money so missionaries can eat fast food rather than cook their own food not only detract from one of the great learning experiences of the mission, but also encourage missionaries to break mission rules. This “assistance” reduces the spiritual growth of the missionary. It also prompts missionaries to criticize the missionary program.
3. Communicate properly with your missionary. This means sending a letter or e-mail no more than once a week. Your communication should emphasize spiritual and faith-promoting experiences. Details about family problems burden and discourage missionaries. Likewise, it is inappropriate for the missionary to ask parents for a solution to a missionary problem over which the parents have no control. Parents who call their missionary at times other than Christmas and Mother’s Day are encouraging him or her to break mission rules.
If a serious accident or a death should occur in a missionary’s family, the family should notify the mission president by calling either the Missionary Department in Salt Lake City or the local Area President. This enables the mission president to personally notify the missionary of the event. The mission president can then help the missionary with any serious emotional concerns. If appropriate, the mission president will authorize the missionary to call home. Such emotional care is essential for the well being of the missionary.
4. Trust in the Lord to watch over and bless your missionary son or daughter. As President Thomas S. Monson has explained, the Lord has promised His blessings on the missionaries. “Each missionary who goes forth in response to a sacred call becomes a servant of the Lord, whose work this truly is. Do not fear, young men, for He will be with you. He never fails. He has promised: ‘I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.’”4
Just as missionaries rely on the Spirit for guidance in the work, you can also rely on the Spirit to guide you in the best ways to support your missionary.
5. Pray in faith for your missionary daily. President Gordon B. Hinckley also described the role of daily prayer in a missionary’s life: “Every morning … missionaries should get on their knees and plead with the Lord to loosen their tongues and speak through them to the blessing of those they will be teaching. If they will do this, a new light will come into their lives. There will be greater enthusiasm for the work. They will come to know that in a very real sense, they are servants of the Lord speaking in His behalf.”5 As missionary parents join their prayers each day with those of their sons and daughters, they will share in the blessings of missionary service.


Throughout the world an army of faithful young men and women are helping fulfill the words of the Prophet Joseph Smith, who foresaw a day when “the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country.”6Prospective missionaries need to prepare themselves emotionally, as well as spiritually and physically, to fulfill their part in this great work. Then, as they share the gospel of Jesus Christ with their brothers and sisters throughout the world, they will have some of the sweetest, most richly rewarding experiences of their lives.

Typical Missionary Daily Schedule*

6:30 a.m.Arise, pray, exercise, and prepare for the day.
7:30 a.m.Breakfast.
8:00 a.m.Personal study.
9:00 a.m.Companion study.
10:00 a.m.Begin proselyting. Missionaries learning a language study for 30 to 60 minutes.
Schedule lunch and dinner to fit best with proselyting.
9:00 p.m.Return to living quarters. Write in journal, prepare for the next day, pray.
10:30 p.m.Retire to bed.

  •   * 
    See Preach My Gospel, page viii.
  • Among the things prospective missionaries can do is to work part time or full time, learn to care for themselves, and practice talking to others.
    Daily exercise, living away from home, resolving emotional concerns, sleeping from 10:30 p.m. to 6:30 a.m., and learning to rely on the Lord to strengthen personal weaknesses are some ways young people can begin preparing to serve a mission.
    Parents can support their missionaries by praying for them daily, communicating by letter or e-mail once a week, and only speaking to them as is outlined in the mission rules.