Below is a copy of the talk that I gave at my church today on missionary work! I was really passionate and feel like the talk was a success! Please ignore all the typos and grammar errors... this was my quick draft and I don't have time right now to fix everything up! I hope you enjoy it!
Good afternoon brothers and sisters. I am so excited to be here in front of you today. Really, I am. I LOVE giving talks. Most sacrament talks begin with someone talking about how they were conned into speaking, or that or had tried to avoid it for years, but not this girl! So I am very excited to be standing up here today in front of the heritage branch and ask that the spirit will be with me today so that I might say what someone needs to hear, learn what I need to learn, and hopefully make an impact in some way, somehow.
President Olsen asked me to speak today about missionary work, which we have heard a lot about recently in this branch. As I was contemplating how I should go about preparing this talk, I first thought about what was my purpose. Most all of you here I presume know about missionary work. You know what it is, you have been taught the basic steps of missionary work, you know the importance of it and the impact it can have. So I was thinking…what can I help the branch with concerning missionary work. I know I am really not the expert on this subject, in fact, most of you here today probably know more than me about it. So as I was pondering and praying on how to make an impact, I felt prompted to help motivate and excite you, as well as help you to be more prepared for missionary work in your daily lives!
So one of the first questions when the topic of missionary work is brought up is: “Why do we do missionary work?” Well, Standard Mormon answer #12 says because it’s a commandment; Standard Mormon answer #17 says it’s to bring souls to God; and Standard Mormon answer #22 says so we receive blessings. But I don’t like that question all that much. Shocker! Instead, I like to change that question around and ask “WHY NOT!? Why are we not doing missionary work?” Why would we not want to share what we have with our friends, our family, and our brother and sisters in this world?! You know what you truly are blessed with in this life.
D&C 4: 1 Now behold, a marvelous work is about to come forth among the children of men.
2 Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that yeserve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day.
3 Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work;
4 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 storethat he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul;
Why would we not want to help those in need? If I was lost in the forest without a map (the map of the plan of happiness) and you knew, would you come find me, or would you be too busy at that time with work or school, going out with friends, or just plain too tired or sleepy? Would you be afraid that I would turn you away or would just be a waste of your time? YOU my brothers and sisters-- WE have the map. We all have to work together to find those lost in the forest, for it’s a large forest called the earth. Those that do not have the gospel are in need of US!
D&C 123: For there are many yet on the earth among all sects, parties, and denominations, who are by the subtle of men, whereby they lie in wait to , and who are only kept from the truth because they not where to find it—
There should be no list of why we should do missionary work because the list should be endless. I believe that we should stop to examine ourselves and ask this question of why we are not doing missionary work. Seriously, Sit down, turn off your phone, get off facebook, turn off the TV for 10 minutes and evaluate yourself. Write down why you, YOU, not just more standard Mormon excuse answers, but why you, are not sharing the gospel with other around you. Make a list, Study the list, and set a goal to eliminate each item on that list. It’s never too late for New Year’s resolutions! 365 days from the day you make a resolution is your new year. TODAY can be your new year. So n0w, Sunday January 29, 2012 you can start a new year’s goal to eliminate that list, to share the blessings of this gospel with those around you and to serve your Heavenly Father diligently in his work and glory. Mark 16:15 says: And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and the to every .
As you make your list you will find your strengths and weaknesses with sharing the gospel with others. Each person’s list will be different if they truly evaluate themselves. As I made my list I realized that I do not have a problem speaking with others, heck I have spoken in front of 500+ people, I can have a hour long conversations with strangers as if we were old friends, and have NO PROBLEM sharing my feelings and thoughts with those around me, both strangers and people I know (Sometimes that gets me into a bit of trouble-ha ha). But I realized that the underlying reason I have a hard time sharing the gospel is that I feel like I do not know enough or cannot explain well enough the history about the church. I am great with gospel principles, but I struggle with understanding and explaining the scriptures much of the time. It’s these things that have held me back from my work as a missionary. Now someone else may be extremely well educated in church history, doctrine, and all aspects of the scriptures, but they may have the fear of talking to people, or a fear of rejection. Someone may have reason that they just are not motivated. But that is why you should make this list and WORK ON IT, Work on making it disappear. You can work on one thing at a time or several at once. Whatever works for you. We are all different; we will have different strengths and weaknesses; and will work at different paces. But as long as you are working on it you are improving your missionary work and bettering yourself.
Differences in us and full time missionaries:
Now some people may say “well that’s what we have the missionaries for—you know those guys with the white shirts and ties, name tags, riding around on bikes. They are the ones sent to find them and we help them out.” Well I am here to tell you, like it or not, that that’s WRONG! The “full time” missionaries are here to help US, not us to help them!
And we did our office unto the Lord, taking upon us the , answering the sins of the people upon our own heads if we did not them the word of God with all diligence; wherefore, by laboring with our might their might not come upon our garments; otherwise their blood would come upon our garments, and we would not be found spotless at the last day.
Last year one of my best friends, Lizbeth Ayala, was getting ready to go serve on her full time mission in California and she was really getting nervous and scarred. She told me “Kaity, what if I am not a good missionary, what if I don’t know how to be a missionary?” and many other thoughts like this. I then told her that she was already a missionary. We are all missionaries! The only difference between us and full time missionaries is that full time missionaries have a bit more rules than us as they serve in a specific calling for the church, and our first names don’t change to Elder or Sister, but other than that we SHOULD be living our lives in a way that we are just like full time missionaries. We should be constantly sharing the gospel with those around us, leading by example as we live our lives by the same standards as missionaries, and bringing the lost souls (those lost in the forest) the plan of happiness (the map).
The deep yearning of countless numbers is expressed in the plea of one who spoke to Philip of old: “How can I [find my way], except some man should guide me” (Acts 8:31).
President Gordon B. Hinkley: “The key to the great challenges facing us and to the success of the work will be the faith of all who call themselves Latter-day Saints” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1997, 92; or Nov. 1997, 68).
We are Latter-day saints and we are called to be missionaries at all time and in all things and in all places. I learned this lesson last year as I was contemplating serving on a full time mission myself. I had never had the desire to serve a mission growing up. It just wasn’t in my plan. The women of the church are not required to serve and I did not want to. Well late last year I started having thoughts of going on a mission in my head. I have always been one to have a plan laid out for my life and this was NOT in my plan. I then realized that I wanted to serve and started evaluating my life and what I needed to do to become a missionary. But I had a big situation to weigh out. I do not know how many people here know this about me but I currently run a 65 acre equestrian facility where I have a house of my own my horse and other animals taken care of, and the ability to get an education with receiving my bachelors just around the corner in May. I had so much going for me here. Plus my bosses are retiring this March and had been planning for years now to move to Georgia and leave me with the complete care of the farm. This was a pretty big deal and they were counting and relying on me! It wasn’t a job that just anyone could do. They had so much trust and investment in me. With all of this I felt like it would be almost irresponsible for me to leave them after all they had done for me and all they had invested in me. Then standard Mormon answers of “god will prepare a way” kept coming in my head. I fought a great fight in my head. It was actually pretty epic inside there. Ha ha. But I was torn and struggling with what to do. I Sought council from prayer, the scriptures, priesthood blessings, some missionaries that I was close with, and my mom, but I was still torn and could not understand why I was feeling the way I did and why I was not getting an answer. This went on for quite some time, and finally one day I was talking (or more like venting) to my wonderful mother and she said that maybe I was not meant to go on a mission but to learn a lesson from preparing to go on a mission. What she said kept lingering in my thoughts. I then took out my patriarchal blessing and pondered and prayed and finally through very a personal and sacred revelation, I received my answer. It was a two-fold answer: (1) I was meant to serve a mission—a mission here; a mission at home. I was to reach out to those around me and bring them to the gospel, and (2) I was to make sure that I was ALWAYS living my life in the mindset of a missionary-- In the way of the way I live my life and the way I share the gospel. That is why it needed to take me so long to receive my answer, because I was using that time to prepare to go on a mission just in case my answer was that I needed to go, but in reality, I needed to always live my life that way. We should ALL live our lives that way! It really puts things into perspective! Go to LDS.org and study about preparing to serve a mission and see where you need to focus more of your attention on in your lives. Heck, make another list! (Can you tell I like making lists and plans!?)
When we experience the blessings of gospel living, we naturally want to share those blessings with others. The Lord spoke of the joy that comes into our lives when we share His gospel:
“If it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!
”And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me!“ (D&C 18:15-16).
Missionary work is not just for those who have not yet heard the gospel, but for all those around us including those we go to church with each day and less or inactive members. Sometimes members may have the map of the plan of happiness but have a hard time reading or understanding it.
Missionary work also includes helping and supporting those who join the Church. As instructed by President Gordon B. Hinckley, each new member of the Church needs three things: a friend, a responsibility, and nurturing with ”the good word of God“ (Moroni 6:4; see also ”Converts and Young Men,“ Ensign, May 1997, 47-50).
Full time missionaries leave after 2 years—we are here all the time going to church with those new members, current members and less and inactive members. Again, it is our DUTY and BLESSING to share our knowledge with others!! You do not want to leave anyone lost in the forest.
LIVE BY EXAMPLE:
As we are missionaries every day we are being watched by others. We must make sure that we are living our lives as examples and in accordance with this gospel. Many of you here know my wonderful friend Eden Ham. Our families grew up together and her older sister and I grew up as best friends. During our high school years her family had some bad experiences with members of the church and became inactive. Just a little over a year ago tragedy struck their family and I immediately did all I could to help and support them, just as they had done for me in the past. As I saw that family go through so much pain and sorrow I realized again how much I was blessed with the power of this gospel and priesthood and the comfort it brings. I prayed and fasted for them that they might understand that if they turn to our Heavenly Father that he can bring the greatest comfort they could ever imagine. I contacted the Sam Houston 1st ward Relief Society to get assistance with meals for the Ham family. Eden had maybe been to church with me there once or twice but other than that, none of that relief society knew who anyone in that family was, but they pulled together and got meals all taken care of for a week for all 6 people in the household. When the meals and cards were brought over tears came to the family, especially Eden’s mom who pulled me aside and told me as she was crying that she could not believe that people who had no clue who they were were so kind and gracious. She felt truly blessed. Not too long after that Danielle, Eden’s sister asked for a blessing from someone in our home ward. When I heard this I began to cry with comfort. I did my best over the year to be an example to the family. In May I sat in my home ward as baby Benjamin was blessed and the entire family was sitting in the church with me. What a joyous day it was for me. Now they did not all stay going to church each week, but Eden came to me one day and we talked for a very long time and she shared some very personal things with me. Fast forward and now Eden is sitting here today, fully active, she received her patriarchal blessing, serving as a relief society teacher, and now shares her testimony of this church and this gospel on a regular basis. Recently Eden’s mother said that she would like to start coming back to church! Eden and I told her that we would attend the family ward with her to help support her! What a truly amazing a sacred experience it is to help with bringing someone back to this gospel! It is a feeling that I now strive to have all the time and I wish everyone here could feel that. YOU CAN! You may have already. Remember that feeling, strive for that feeling. Live by Example in word and actions.
To quote Paul in his epistle to the Romans: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation” (Rom. 1:16). “If we are not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, then we should not be ashamed to live it. And if we are not ashamed to live it, then we should not be ashamed to share it.”
President Olsen shared a wonderful story last week of one of his missionary experiences. To summarize the story, as President Olsen and his wife were in the grocery store one day they ran into a couple that they had known as the husband worked with President Olsen and the wife was a member (or wanting to be a member), but the husband was highly against the church. President Olsen said that he felt prompted to invite this couple over for thanksgiving even though they were not really friends before that, but just work acquaintances. Surprisingly the couple said yes and they enjoyed a great thanksgiving together. Now fast forward some time and President Olsen shared that he found out that this man had decided to find out more about the church and eventually became a member and in the bishopric with a strong testimony thanks to President Olsen being an example over the time they worked together and also following a prompting of the spirit.
We never know how, when, or where we are making an impact on someone’s life and more importantly, someone’s eternal salvation. That is why we really need to make sure that we are living our lives as examples and full time missionaries! Do not ever think that no one is watching. Do not make the impact for the worse.
Alma 26: Behold, I answer for you; for our brethren, the Lamanites, were in darkness, yea, even in the darkest abyss, but behold, how of them are brought to behold the marvelous light of God! And this is the blessing which hath been bestowed upon us, that we have been made in the hands of God to bring about this great work.
Now I would like to share something that I have come up with to help with implementing being a missionary. I like to call it the “5 P’s of Missionary Work” to hopefully help you all with your missionary experiences.
Prepare with a Purpose. NOW is the time to prepare yourself to share this gospel both emotionally and spiritually.
President Monson said: Remember the qualifying statement of the Master: “Behold, the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind” (D&C 64:34). Missionary work is difficult. It taxes one’s energies, it strains one’s capacity, it demands one’s best effort—frequently a second effort. No other labor requires longer hours or greater devotion or such sacrifice and fervent prayer.
Paul, the Apostle, that sterling testifier of truth, was speaking to all of us—members and missionaries alike—when he counseled his beloved friend Timothy: “Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Tim. 4:12).
When I went teaching with the missionaries for the first time I learned that I was not at all prepared like I thought I was! The first lesson was taught and the missionaries did such a beautiful job, and the spirit was s strong. I helped as best I could. As the missionaries and I were walking back the church I started to cry for 2 reasons. The first reason was because I felt the spirit so strong and it was a wonderful reassurance of this gospel in my life. It was then I realized why missionaries love what they do so much. Again, it was a feeling that I now strive to find again. The second reason was because I realized how unprepared I was! It was scary! I could have said something wrong, or made a bad impression, or who knows what else. (I really wish I would have paid more attention in seminary now!) I was then determined to change that and make sure I was prepared for any other missionary opportunities that I would have in the future. It’s still a work in progress but we are blessed with so many wonderful tools to help us in the work. I pulled out my old seminary manuals, gospel principles books, and looked up the book preach my gospel online. There are also so many other ways to study, learn and prepare!
D&C 11: Seek not to my word, but first seek to my, and then shall your tongue be loosed; then, if you desire, you shall have my and my word, yea, the power of God unto the of men.
Once you study then ask the Lord again for a reassurance of the truth of these things. How can you convince someone to believe what you have to say if you don’t know for yourself? The Lord promises:
4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would aask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not btrue; and if ye shall ask with a csincere heart, with dreal intent, having efaith in Christ, he will fmanifest the gtruth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. 5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may aknow the btruth of all things.
Remember that the Lord will bless you if your heart is truly in the right place.
D&C 100: 5 Therefore, verily I say unto you, lift up your voices unto this people; speak the thoughts that I shall put into your hearts, and you shall not be confounded before men;
6 For it shall be given you in the very hour, yea, in the very moment, what ye shall say.
Therefore, let your hearts be comforted; for things shall work together for good to them that walk uprightly, and to the sanctification of the church.
Some really simple ways to help you to become the best missionary that you can be are:
Pray daily. Ask Heavenly Father to help you prepare.
Live the commandments every day. The Lord needs worthy missionaries.
Attend and pay attention in seminary and institute.
Read the scriptures daily
Learn responsibility by magnifying any calling or assignment you receive (see D&C 88:80). Home teaching, for example, is an excellent way to learn to build relationships of trust with others.
Go to the temple as often as you can.
During family home evening, practice teaching your family, using the scriptures and the missionary discussions.
Attend church each Sunday, and partake of the spirit there.
Receive your patriarchal blessing. If you already have it, review it often.
Work with full-time missionaries and ward or branch mission leaders.
Team teach with the full-time missionaries and watch them teach the discussions.
Practice teaching the discussions to friends.
Attend baptismal services in your ward or branch.
Share your testimony every chance you get.
Invite nonmember friends to church and to activities.
Memorize the Articles of Faith.
Utilize you Mormon.org profile
You have to have a plan of your own in order to find those lost in the forest, otherwise you could be just wondering around in circles, missing many people around you that are looking for the map.
Decide today how you can be a missionary! Are you going to invite a non-member friend to church, give a book of Mormon to a stranger? Are you going to go teaching with the missionaries and help contact less actives? Come up with a plan that utilizes your strengths, write those plans down and DO IT! Challenge your weaknesses as you look back on your list of why you struggle with missionary work. I promise that the Lord is your compass and will never lead you wrong.
Pray for the guidance of the spirit to help you find those who are lost and pray for a greater love for them. When you truly love someone you will make so much more of an impact on their lives, I can promise this. Pray for help with any one of these steps, your lists, and your actions. You know the importance of prayer. So DO IT!
So you prepared yourself, made a plan, and prayed. That’s wonderful. But guess what. The lessons wont teach themselves, the phone won’t call on its own, and the Book of Mormon won’t deliver itself (though that seems like it would make things so much easier!) YOU are the key, YOU have to GO AND DO!
President Monson said: Youth of the Church, the world is in need of your help. There are feet to steady, hands to grasp, minds to encourage, hearts to inspire, and souls to save. The harvest truly is great. Let there be no mistake about it; the missionary opportunity of a lifetime is yours. The blessings of eternity await you. Yours is the privilege to be, not spectators, but participants on the stage of service to others.
D&C 75: Lifting up your voices as with the sound of a trump, the according to the revelations and commandments which I have given you.
Always reflect on your work. Think about how you can always be improving and working on it. What can you change? How can you make an impact? To me this is one of the most important things that people forget to do. They tend to get stuck in the same missionary routine and lose sight of the true purpose of missionary work. When you self evaluate this helps you to stay focused, better yourself and better those around you.
Prepare, Plan, Pray, Preach, and Ponder. The 5 P’s of missionary work. Do these steps continually and I promise that the Lord will open up missionary work right before you. Ask yourself “Why I am not sharing my blessings of this gospel with others?” and work to eliminate that list. Remember that you are a full time missionary now, in every word, action and deed, and always life by example.
D&C 18And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!
Brothers and sisters, today I challenge you to make your list of why you struggle with missionary work and set a goal to eliminate that list! You can also make a list of things that you need to do or change in your life as if you were preparing to serve a full time mission.
Now I have one more challenge for you today. At the end of this meeting, our wonderful branch missionaries will be at each door with the Book of Mormon, pass-along cards and mormon.org cards. Not one person is getting out of here today without at least one of each. (Ha I’ve got you trapped!) I challenge each and every one of you, including the branch presidency and any high council members her today to give out a Book of Mormon, a pass-along card and a mormon.org card. You can choose how or when you give them out, but I would like to ask that you give it out within the next 3 weeks. That’s February 19th. I will ask President Olsen if he would not mind helping me to follow up with you! So DO IT! J