For those of you who don’t know me, I am Dallin Bergquist. I have recently been called to serve a mission in the Belo Horizonte, Brazil mission. I know that call was an inspired call from God through our living prophet.
Joseph smith said: “Every man who has a calling to minister to the inhabitants of the world was ordained to that very purpose in the Grand Council of Heaven before this world was. I suppose that I was ordained to this very office in that Grand Council.”
So this probably wasn’t the first time I heard about this call. I suppose I was also set apart as a missionary in that Grand Council to teach the people of Brazil.
Since I don’t know a whole lot about missionary work or the best ways to prepare I’ll be using many of the words of those who know more. In 1982 President Kimball said:
“I was asked a few years ago, ‘Should every young man who is a member of the Church fill a mission?’ And I responded with the answer the Lord has given: ‘Yes, every worthy young man should fill a mission.’ The Lord expects it of him. And if he is not now worthy to fill a mission, then he should start at once to qualify himself.”
Some young men don’t think this applies to them. That it is too big of a sacrifice and they are leaving too much behind. That isn’t the case.
President Hinckley said to us potential missionaries:
“you ought to make whatever adjustment is necessary to give a little of your time consecrating your strength, your means, your talents to the work of sharing with others the gospel…I promise that if you will do so, you will come to know that what appears today to be a sacrifice will prove instead to be the greatest investment that you will ever make. You will be a better husband, a better father, a better student, and a better worker.
Let there be no hesitancy in your decision. Live worthy of a call, and respond without hesitation when that call comes. Go forth with a spirit of dedication, placing yourself in the hands of the Lord to do His great work…save money now for a future mission. Consecrate it for this great purpose…Prepare yourselves. Attend seminary and institute. Prayerfully read the Book of Mormon.
The Church needs you. The Lord needs you. There are many out there who need exactly what you have to offer. They are not easy to find, but they will not be found unless there are those who are prepared and willing to seek them out.”
Not only will a mission bless your own life and those you teach, but president packer promised us “if you will call missionaries to be sent abroad, you will grow more rapidly at home, not only in numbers, but in spiritual strength…the principle of which I speak is a true principle. If you want all else to prosper, send missionaries abroad.”
Missionary work can be looked at as a sacrifice or a great opportunity for growth. My dad has always taught me to look at it as an opportunity, even a privilege. I have been told and I believe that it really is the greatest two years of a young man’s life and you learn more in the mission field than any other period in your life.
I’ve also been told that it is hard work, and I’ve experienced that just in the past few months going out with the missionaries in my ward. But that’s the key. “Work! If a missionary works, he will get the spirit; if he gets the spirit, he will teach by the spirit; and if he teaches by the spirit, he will touch the hearts of the people and he will be happy. There will be no homesickness, no worrying about families, for all time and talents and interests are centered on the work of the ministry.”
Jeffrey R. Holland said:
“Anyone who does any kind of missionary work will have occasion to ask, Why is this so hard? Why doesn’t it go better? Why can’t our success be more rapid? Why aren’t there more people joining the Church? It is the truth. We believe in angels. We trust in miracles. Why don’t people just flock to the font? Why isn’t the only risk in missionary work that of pneumonia from being soaking wet all day and all night in the baptismal font?
You will have occasion to ask those questions. I have thought about this a great deal. I offer this as my personal feeling. I am convinced that missionary work is not easy because salvation is not a cheap experience. Salvation never was easy. We are The Church of Jesus Christ, this is the truth, and He is our Great Eternal Head. How could we believe it would be easy for us when it was never, ever easy for Him?...If you wonder if there isn’t an easier way, you should remember you are not the first one to ask that. Someone a lot greater and a lot grander asked a long time ago if there wasn’t an easier way…When you struggle, when you are rejected, when you are spit upon and cast out and made a hiss and a byword, you are standing with the best life this world has ever known, the only pure and perfect life ever lived. You have reason to stand tall and be grateful that the Living Son of the Living God knows all about your sorrows and afflictions.”
In Doctrine and Covenants we read: “The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than He?”
It doesn’t seem like such a big sacrifice after hearing these statements. Even Gordon B. Hinckley found it challenging at times. I’d like to share an experience he had as a young year old missionary:
“I was not well when I arrived. Those first few weeks, because of illness and the opposition which we felt, I was discouraged. I wrote a letter home to my good father and said that I felt I was wasting my time and his money. He was my father and my stake president, and he was a wise and inspired man. He wrote a very short letter to me which said, “Dear Gordon, I have your recent letter. I have only one suggestion: forget yourself and go to work.” Earlier that morning in our scripture class my companion and I had read these words of the Lord: “Whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it.” (Mark 8:35.)
Those words of the Master, followed by my father’s letter with his counsel to forget myself and go to work, went into my very being. With my father’s letter in hand, I went into our bedroom…and got on my knees and made a pledge with the Lord. I covenanted that I would try to forget myself and lose myself in His service.
That July day in 1933 was my day of decision. A new light came into my life and a new joy into my heart. The fog of England seemed to lift, and I saw the sunlight. I had a rich and wonderful mission experience, for which I shall ever be grateful.”
The hardest part about accepting the call as a missionary for me was feeling prepared. Even though I have been a member of this church my whole life, graduated from seminary and went to church every Sunday I never felt prepared to go, so I put it off. Finally, I decided that if I put my faith in God and just went He would help me. So I did. Now I’m feeling more and more prepared each day. Speaking with missionaries over the past few months I have realized that’s kind of the way it goes. I haven’t talked to a missionary yet that felt fully prepared when he got to the MTC. That’s brought me some comfort. I’ve also learned a little about the MTC and how much they teach you. With the help of those teachers and the Spirit of the Lord I know I will be prepared.
President Ezra Taft Benson spoke of some way to prepare: "Give me a young man who has kept himself morally clean and has faithfully attended his Church meetings. Give me a young man who has magnified his priesthood and has earned the Duty to God Award and is an Eagle Scout. Give me a young man who is a seminary graduate and has a burning testimony of the Book of Mormon. Give me such a young man, and I will give you a young man who can perform miracles for the Lord in the mission field and throughout his life."
Although President Benson gave this as an ideal missionary, President Hinckley said “We are not asking for perfection. The work of the Lord is done by ordinary people who work in an extraordinary way.”
This statement has been a big confidence builder for me. It helped me to realize that I can do it. Not alone, I’ll need some help. But I can do it.
I’ve always been a little nervous about speaking in front of people, as you can all probably tell, but I think this is common among missionaries too.
Brigham Young taught: “With regard to preaching, let a man present himself before the saints, or go into the world before the nobles and great men of the earth, and let him stand up full of the Holy Ghost, full of the power of God, and though he may use words and sentences in an awkward style, he will convince and convert more, of the truth, than can the most polished orator destitute of the Holy Ghost; for that spirit will prepare the minds of the people to receive the truth, and the spirit of the speaker will influence the hearers so that they will feel it.”
All a missionary has to do is live worthy of the Holy Ghost, listen to it, and teach by it and he will be able to share the truth with those he talks to. One of the best ways to bring that spirit into a meeting or a home is to bear testimony. Do so ”frequently while you are teaching. This may even be more important than the thing you are teaching.” (Gene R. Cook) “It is something that cannot be refuted. Opponents may quote scripture and argue doctrine endlessly. They can be clever and persuasive. But when one says, “I know,” there can be no further argument. There may not be acceptance, but who can refute or deny the quiet voice of the inner soul speaking with personal conviction?” (Gordon B. Hinckley)
These things don’t only apply to missionaries. All of us need to be missionaries to our friends and family. “It becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor.” Whether we do it directly or just through our example and our light and service, we should all be sharing the gospel. Statistics have shown that an investigator brought to the missionaries through the members is 10 times more likely to be baptized than one the missionaries found on their own. It is a commandment to all disciples of Christ to “go ye into all the world and preach the gospel unto every creature.”
I hope that we can all be better missionaries to those around us and I hope that all the young men out there will decide to go on a mission. It will be the best decision you ever make. So decide now to prepare and to go when you come of age.
Forget yourself and go to work
You can count the seeds in an apple
Testimony/story of impact of missionary work
the faith of an investigator
Every worthy young man
a greater return on investment
“reminded” of our call(book)
Testify Frequently(mission prep)
Not asking for perfection(mission prep)
Self reliance(box b)
Hard work (atonement)
2. Of investigators found through the missionaries’ efforts, about 2 to 3 percent are baptized.
3. Of investigators found through the members, 20 to 30 percent are baptized.
In other words, an investigator who is brought to the missionaries through the members is 10 times more likely to be baptized than one the missionaries have found through their own contacting efforts.
Your mission is a time of discipline and single-minded focus. You will be required to go without some things common to your current life-style: music, TV, videos, novels, even girls. There is nothing wrong with any of these things…but then again, there is nothing wrong with food either, unless you are fasting, in which case even a teaspoon of water is improper.
True repentance: 1. Recognize that you are fallen
2. Look to Christ/ask for/rely on his mercy
3. feel of the joy of his gospel
4. share it! (1 nephi 8:8-12, Alma 36:17-21, 24)
You can count the seeds in an apple, but you can’t count the apples in a seed.
-Elder Neil L. Andersen
a greater return on investment
I throw out a challenge to every young man within this vast congregation tonight. Prepare yourself now to be worthy to serve the Lord as a full-time missionary. He has said, “If ye are prepared ye shall not fear” (D&C 38:30). Prepare to consecrate two years of your lives to this sacred service. That will in effect constitute a tithe on the first twenty years of your lives. Think of all that you have that is good—life itself, health, strength, food to eat and clothing to wear, parents, brothers and sisters, and friends. All are gifts from the Lord.
Of course your time is precious, and you may feel you cannot afford two years. But I promise you that the time you spend in the mission field, if those years are spent in dedicated service, will yield a greater return on investment than any other two years of your lives. You will come to know what dedication and consecration mean. You will develop powers of persuasion which will bless your entire life. Your timidity, your fears, your shyness will gradually disappear as you go forth with boldness and conviction. You will learn to work with others, to develop a spirit of teamwork. The cankering evil of selfishness will be supplanted by a sense of service to others. You will draw nearer to the Lord than you likely will in any other set of circumstances. You will come to know that without His help you are indeed weak and simple, but that with His help you can accomplish miracles.
You will establish habits of industry. You will develop a talent for the establishment of goals of effort. You will learn to work with singleness of purpose. What a tremendous foundation all of this will become for you in your later educational efforts and your life’s work. Two years will not be time lost. It will be skills gained.
And above and beyond all of this will come that sweet peace in your heart that you have served your Lord faithfully and well. Your service will become an expression of gratitude to your Heavenly Father.
You will come to know your Redeemer as your greatest friend in time or eternity. You will realize that through His atoning sacrifice He has opened the way for eternal life and an exaltation above and beyond your greatest dreams.
If you serve a mission faithfully and well, you will be a better husband, you will be a better father, you will be a better student, a better worker in your chosen vocation. Love is of the essence of this missionary work. Selflessness is of its very nature. Self-discipline is its requirement. Prayer opens its reservoir of power.
And so, my dear young brethren, resolve within your hearts today to include in the program of your lives service in the harvest field of the Lord as a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
-gordon b. Hinckley
Testimony/story of impact of missionary work
Thirty years ago he, his wife, Tomasa, and their children lived on a dry little run-down ranch near Torreón. They owned 30 chickens, 2 pigs, and 1 thin horse. The chickens provided a few eggs to sustain them and the means whereby to earn an occasional peso. They walked in poverty. Then the missionaries called on them. Sister Castañeda said, “The elders took the blinders from our eyes and brought light into our lives. We knew nothing of Jesus Christ. We knew nothing of God until they came.”
She had two years of schooling, her husband none. The elders taught them, and they were eventually baptized. They moved into the little town of Bermejillo. They were fortuitously led into the junk business, buying wrecked automobiles. This led to association with insurance companies and others. They gradually built a prosperous business in which the father and his five sons worked. With simple faith they paid their tithing. They put their trust in the Lord. They lived the gospel. They served wherever called to do so. Four of their sons and three of their daughters filled missions. The youngest son is presently serving in Oaxaca. They have now built a very substantial business and have been prospered therein. They have been taunted by their critics. Their answer is a testimony of the power of the Lord in their lives.
Some 200 of their family and friends have joined the Church due to their influence. Over 30 sons and daughters of family and friends have served missions. They donated the land on which a chapel now stands.
-Gordon b. Hinckley
the faith of an invesigator
The faith of an investigator is like a piece of green wood, thrown on a blazing fire. Warmed by the flames, it dries and begins to burn. But if it is pulled away, it cannot sustain itself. Its flickering flame dies. But if left with the fire, it gradually begins to burn with brightness. Soon it is part of the flaming fire and will light other, greener wood.
-gordon b. Hinckley