Today we officially welcomed home my youngest cousin Kate, who has been serving a full-time mission for the past 18 months in the England Leeds Mission! We are so proud of her faithful service. I will miss following her mission blog and hearing her updates and weekly testimonies of faith (but, perhaps she will choose to keep the blog going, as she launches forward on her “life mission”!). Latter-day Saints are missionary-minded and missionary-serving people. We know how incredibly blessed our families are when a loved one embarks on missionary service. We know the joy that comes when sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with others. I’m grateful to have my parents serving in California right now as missionaries. I can feel the blessing of their important mission work in my own life. There’s an extra peace and love in my heart and my home because of their sacrifice and service.
I LOVE Missionaries and I LOVE mission work!
The Savior broke down every barrier that stood in the way of our return to a loving Heavenly Father.
In return, He asks that we “go … and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 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” (Matt. 28:19–20).
The Savior was not just talking to the Apostles. He was also talking to every person who has been blessed to hear the gospel and is a member of His Church.
“Missionary Work does require faith—real faith and trust in the Lord. It also requires genuine love. The first great commandment is to “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. … The second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matt. 22:37, 39).
-Elder M. Russell Ballard, The Essential Role of Member Missionary Work
A little over 27 years ago (wow, that long?!) I left my schooling, home, family, and boyfriend [future husband ;)] behind – and set off on an 18 month mission to the Wisconsin Milwaukee Mission. I arrived in the mission field just a week before Christmas. It was one of the coldest winters on record. I’d never experienced that kind of sub-zero cold and ice-storms before. It was dark. I was soon more homesick than I’d ever been in my life. [I actually endured TWO Wisconsin winters. God bless anyone out there who lives through those kind of winters regularly!]
My mission was a life-changing experience. But, it was an excruciatingly long, difficult experience involving a roller-coaster of highs and lows and challenges I never could have imagined. I was tested on every level; physical, mental, emotional, spiritual. Although the daily details of my mission experience are unique, the overall challenges, life-lessons, joys and sorrows are universally shared among all Latter-day Saint [Mormon] missionaries. When I returned from my mission, I would often find myself feeling discouraged, wondering if it really had been worth it, and if I’d really done enough good. It’s taken me just about about 25 years now to realize how MUCH I did with how little I had, and what an infinite blessing it was TO ME to have been on that mission. My “spiritual roots” were so very eager, but they were also still so very young and vulnerable back then. My mission took those roots, planted them, nurtured them, and gave them the “growth test” that Elder Andersen describes:
In nature, trees that grow up in a windy environment become stronger. As winds whip around a young sapling, forces inside the tree do two things. First, they stimulate the roots to grow faster and spread farther. Second, the forces in the tree start creating cell structures that actually make the trunk and branches thicker and more flexible to the pressure of the wind. These stronger roots and branches protect the tree from winds that are sure to return.
You are infinitely more precious to God than a tree. You are His son or His daughter. He made your spirit strong and capable of being resilient to the whirlwinds of life. The whirlwinds in your youth, like the wind against a young tree, can increase your spiritual strength, preparing you for the years ahead.”
Elder Neil L. Andersen – Spiritual Whirlwinds, April 2014
Looking back over my past twenty-five years of marriage, children, school, serious illness, financial hardship, and all of my life’s many challenges, I am so thankful for the whirlwind, “wicked-cold ice-storm” environment of my mission, and experience that made my spiritual roots grow deeper and stronger than I could imagine which would help prepare me for what was coming.
It is important to remember that the Lord never gives a command to us without also giving a promise. When he commanded that we share the gospel “to all nations“, he also promised many priceless rewards [see underlined below];
A marvelous work is about to come forth among the children of men.
Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day.
Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work;
For behold the field is white already to harvest; and lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul;
And faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of God, qualify him for the work.
Remember faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience,brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, diligence.
Ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. Amen.
This video tribute to the Mormon pioneers and missionary work – past & present – was created to commemorate the Pioneer Sesquicentennial in 1997, featuring the stirring song Faith In Every Footstep by K. Newell Dayley