Last Sunday evening, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had the opportunity to watch and listen to a special broadcast live from Salt Lake City, and it was extraordinarily special, as it focused completely on missionary work. It’s main audience were the missionaries, mission presidents, ward and stake leaders, and ward mission leaders. There are currently 405 missions around the globe, 173 new mission presidents and their wives called to some of those missions, and over 70,000 full time missionaries in the field. What made the broadcast historic was that, although it was a leadership training broadcast, all members of the Church were invited to attend and tune in as the prophet and apostles spoke and bore their testimony, told of their experiences, and taught how to improve the missionary work that goes on today.
The words spoken by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, Elder Neil L. Anderson, Elder Russell M. Nelson, President Boyd K. Packer, Elder L. Tom Perry, and our beloved prophet, Thomas S. Monson, truly touched my heart not only because I will be soon set apart as a full time missionary to teach and serve in San Fernando. It was important to me because it helped me to understand the importance of member-missionary work more fully. The call to serve is extended not only to those young adults and senior couples to share the Gospel; rather, we are asked to work equally yoked to further the kingdom of the Lord and to build up and keep Zion strong.
I thought I would take a few minutes to share my thoughts.
First off, I loved that it was not like a normal broadcast! It was much more like a ward or stake conference, the way Elder Holland warmly greeted various mission presidents, bishops, and ward mission leaders around the world. Paired with the topic, his intimate and warm greetings and words were perfect. Elder Holland himself noted that the broadcast was more like a worldwide stake council meeting than a normal leadership broadcast. I was totally jealous of my friends in the MTC who were able to attend the meeting at the Marriott center. From what I heard, it was absolutely amazing to be in a building filled with missionaries, mission presidents, and local leaders.
As a 20 year old preparing to serve in just a few short months in San Fernando, I was excited to be able to listen to what the General Authorities had to say about mission work. I was pleased to find that the call was being further extended and we were being counseled to further missionary work not only as full-time missionaries, but as members worldwide.
Elder Perry announced that missionaries throughout the world will be able to use the internet more frequently to share the gospel, at the discretion of their mission presidents. This is HUGE – it shows that the Church is keeping up with the rest of the world technologically. By allowing missionaries to use facebook, email, and mormon.org more frequently, we will be able to reach more people, especially those in our own generation. Missionaries will also be able to offer guided tours of meetinghouses to people who are investigating the Church. I wish that had been the norm when my mom, sister and I joined the Church, because even now I get turned around in some of our buildings!
A new section of lds.org called “Hastening the Work of Salvation” was announced by Elder Anderson, and the time I’ve spent on it has been really beneficial. He also noted the importance of becoming friends, which really made me think about the community aspect of the Church. I was really pleased that Elder Nelson continued on this note about the importance of becoming friends and loving one another. The work moves much faster and goes much deeper when it is based on love, faith, and friendship.
I also realized why it seems like Elder Nelson’s conference talks are always based on missionary work and aimed towards those who are serving – he’s the head of the Missionary Department. Everything in that area of my life makes so much sense now!
There is a special place in my heart for both President Boyd K. Packer and for President Monson, our dear prophet. They have long been wonderful examples of the best kind of teachers, both of whom a missionary can aspire to teach like. They are patient, filled with love and faith, and direct in their messages. They reemphasized the importance of not letting anyone slip through the cracks, of allowing the Lord to sanctify our efforts, and remembering the importance of the Atonement in every lesson that you teach or message that you share.
As I’ve mulled over what these beloved brethren shared on Sunday, I have drawn great comfort from the idea that the weight of being under-shepherds does not fall solely upon the shoulders of the full time, badge-wearing missionaries. It is a joint effort to hasten the work and to bring the love and light of Christ and His message to all whom we come in contact with. That is something that really strengthens me as I prepare to serve, and as the work of Zion moves ever onward.