The Dying Notion of a Sister Missionary

Elder Richard G. Scott quote

In the kitchen, bare foot and pregnant, was how one missionary suggested my life would be better served. As a new missionary it shook me to my boots to think that my sacrifice was not as valid as the Elder’s standing next to me.  In my eyes the only difference between he and me was our gender (and certain priesthood responsibilities). But in a day where sister missionaries were the exception rather than the rule, it highlighted a misconception within church membership that suggested a divide.

But when I look at the statistics quoted recently – within two weeks of the October 6th 2012 announcement there was a 471% jump in mission applications and more than half of those were women – it screams at me that the notion of sisters serving missions has come a long way.

I was delighted to read recently an article titled  A Letter to Girls About Lady Missionaries’  – written by a returned lady missionary way back in 1972 (even before my time as a missionary). While it was on the whole a fair depiction of what it meant to be a missionary in the 70s, the thing that jumped out at me was the suggestion that a sister’s success was based more on how well groomed and presented she was than on what she could do to prepare herself spiritually to teach the saving ordinances of the Gospel. It threw me straight back to that gender comment by the Elder in my mission.

I’m confident we ‘ve come further along the scale of understanding today to be able to identify that there are far more pressing concerns for a missionary sister than how long her hair is, or whether or not she outwardly presents a perfect persona to the mission president after having ridden a motor cycle to an interview in the pouring rain.

Indeed, on further introspection, I realised that I had had similar comments tossed to me when I was determining whether, as a young 20 year old, a mission was the right thing for me. “Oh, a mission is only for those girls who can’t get married”, or “You’re too young and good looking to serve a mission”. As much as that last comment fed my ego, it fell short of allowing me to understand that the decision to serve a mission for a sister is based purely on spiritual enlightenment and inspiration from the Lord – nothing to do with age, marriageable potential or looks.

As the parents of three daughters my husband and I may have unwittingly reinforced this barefoot and pregnant notion. Suggesting to our girls during their teenage years that if they were not married by the age of 21 then we would be encouraging them to consider serving a mission. But let me say in my defence, it was spoken more in excitement on our part. As parents we had both experienced the joys of serving a mission and knew that such an event in their life would not only bless the lives of countless sons and daughters of God, but also bless the lives of each of our daughters. In my heart I really wanted them to taste the bitter/sweet fruits of missionary labour.

However, I’m not here to slander the deeds of the past – be them mine or anyone else’s – just to highlight the changes that have occurred.  History describes our progression as a people. It’s our progression that describes the things we have learnt along the way…

When my daughter announced she was preparing to serve a mission in 2010, much had changed in terms of attitudes and expectations.  Of course as parents we were over-joyed at her decision. But more importantly, amongst her friends and peers there was generally an overall sense of excitement and support; a recognition that this decision had come through sincere prayer and preparation on her part, and not because she had been ‘left on the shelf’.

In 2010, the words of one LDS returned missionary sister, when asked, ‘How is missionary preparation different for women than men?’ reveal the changes in thinking that have occurred in the last 40 years,

“I don’t know that preparation for a mission is much different. You have to be physically and spiritually strong, you have to know the gospel, you have to have a deeply rooted testimony, you have to have a desire to serve and share the gospel. Both young men and young women need all of these things.
Wendi Condie, Montana Billings Mission

More recently, with the announcement of age changes, and new leadership roles for sister missionaries, prospective sister missionaries have greater flexibility of choice, and greater opportunity for input and service. It is wonderful to see that mission organization is fitting in more with the pattern of ward and stake councils. Sisters will now not only have the opportunity serve at an earlier age but also contribute to the success of the Lord’s work worldwide in a more focused and united way.

While I would change nothing about my experiences as a missionary, I welcome the dying notion of the sister missionary of the past. I think it opens the door to a wave of more focused missionaries and closes the divide of the past; missionaries – both male and female – who understand their role, are prepared spiritually to perform their labours wherever they serve, and who work in harmony to extend the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ to every one of His children on earth.

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The Call of the Future

Missionary Training Center

Do you feel it in the air? It’s thick with anticipation and excitement. At church, at home, lunching with friends, through email, phone and text, and of course all over Facebook. It’s the call of the future…Everyone is affected by it, so if you are not preparing now then it’s time to start.

Just this morning I read of several new missionary announcements on Facebook and received an email from a friend revealing her daughter’s call to the Tokyo, Japan Mission. This is a daily experience for me, as I am sure it is for you. It seems the call has gone out and the challenge has been accepted…on a mass scale.

It’s exciting!

In a previous post I talked about the qualities required of a missionary…Faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of God (D&C 4:5). So today I want to add to that and suggest some ways that we can, as families, help prepare our young men and women develop those qualities and be able to answer the call of the future.

Elder HollandParents, families and all in the church, have been summoned to participate as a joint effort. Elder Holland made it clear on October 6th 2012 when he stated, “As part of the pre mission preparation, we are going to ask everyone to be working earlier and sooner…”

In our own home, as we prepare our 17-year-old son for this phase of his life, we have been searching out the most effective ways to equip him with the resources and attitudes necessary to leave in less than a year. Notice how I suggest here that it is ‘we’ and not just ‘he’ that is involved in this preparation.

With our daughter not long off her mission, we decided as a family to explore the Preach My Gospel manual in our FHE lessons. Following the model of the youth teaching curriculum (the model of the Saviour’s teaching), we take turns in presenting some of the gospel principles from the manual. I must admit it has been a struggle at times to get everyone involved…but fun. Playing the investigator and trying to come up with some interesting questions for the teacher is a highlight. But most of all it’s definitely helping to prepare our future missionary son.

Who is ‘everyone’?

If you feel you are exempt as a mother or father of very young children, then think again…remember what Elder Holland said? “…everyone to be working earlier and sooner…”

Preach My GospelToday I read a great blog post by an amazing LDS mum, and I believe she struck upon gold while struggling with some choices about teaching her young children. In the process of decision-making she was prompted several times to explore Chapter 6 of Preach My Gospel,

“I wanted to teach them letters, study world cultures, geography, study music, art, history, numbers, and go on field trips.

“So ignored the prompting and delved back into my hunt for just the right educational curriculum. My feelings of unease increased and so I went back to my knees. Again, the same answer, “Chapter 6, Christ-like Attributes. Once a week on Family Home Evening isn’t enough, they need it every day.”

“But God, that chapter really isn’t designed for 4-year-olds how am I going to teach that? But I get the idea you want me to teach them virtues, right? Okay, I can do that.””

                                           —‘Moms Missionary Training Center’ – Women in the Scriptures

Richard G. Scott

Richard G. Scott set forth the challenge when outlining the power of Preach My Gospel,

I encourage you to find out how this extraordinary resource can help in your missionary efforts, either as a parent preparing a child for a mission, a Church leader helping new converts, a member sharing the gospel, or an individual getting ready to serve.

                                    April 2005 General Conference

For The Strength of YouthAnother mother suggested that we have all the resources at hand, but may not recognize it. Her recommendation was to use the principles taught in the For The Strength of Youth booklet…a great idea for our youth. For several years as our family grew we would spend 10 minutes each Monday night exploring and discussing a different section of this booklet. At the very beginning of the book a promise is given by the First Presidency,

“We promise that as you keep the covenants you have made and these standards, you will be blessed with the companionship of the Holy Ghost, your faith and testimony will grow stronger, and you will enjoy increasing happiness.”

                                        For The Strength of Youth

Certainly nothing to be ignored…don’t we all hope and pray this for our children?

Come Follow Me CurriculumThe new Sunday school and youth curriculum is a wonderful model for mum’s and dad’s to follow in Family Home Evenings and other learning sessions. If you haven’t checked out the ’Come Follow Me’ website, then it is a must. It includes ideas and methods of teaching that we can all use at home and at church.

Would it surprise you if I told you that parents are an important part of the success of this youth teaching program as it prepares them for missionary service? How much do you pattern your FHE lessons around the lessons they are having in Sunday School and Youth classes each month?

English: Name tags of two of . Created by Saaby.

Then of course, for those young men and young women who are on threshold of their future, there is the inspired institute program of Mission Prep classes. It’s here that they will work together to practice and implement much of the missionary specific principles contained in the Preach My Gospel manual.

All the resources are there at our fingertips to help in getting these precious young men and women prepared for service. It’s now time for all of us to answer the call of the future…

Summer Break Over

sands of the sea

Some of you may have noticed I’ve been MIA for a few weeks. I’ve had such a great relaxing break over our summer holidays that I wanted to give writing a rest. In that time my husband and I, along with our children, have spent some time with extended family in Australia. We had a much needed holiday on the beach for about 10 days, and we also did some renovation work on a property we own in Brisbane. The change of pace has been good, but with school going back this week it’s now time to focus on the new year and all that it has to offer.

Over the last few weeks I’ve also been exploring my feelings about this blog. While I love writing about missionary work – it’s something I feel passionate about – I also started it with the idea that I would make connections with like-minded mums and families. I’ve appreciated all the followers I have, and especially appreciated those who have taken the time to connect with me through either comments left here or through the Missionary Moms Email group. But (here comes the but) in the last few months it has occurred to me that there has been less and less contributions here by followers and visitors. I’m not sure why (maybe someone would like to share their thoughts on why…it’s ok, I’m thick skinned and open to any suggestions), but I can only surmise that…well, I’m not really sure what to surmise.

I know the information on this blog has helped many, and I know it will continue to help those missionary mums and families who have questions about the many facets of missionary work and what it’s like to support a missionary in the field. Indeed, with the huge wave of missionaries about to land on the shores of the earths 5 continents, I expect it is needed more than ever. So, I’m not about to abandon it completely, however, with the surmising I’ve done, and with other things developing in my life right now, I’m wondering if it’s better to slow down a bit and even re-asses the format that the information comes to you.

Any kind of feedback would be good. So please let me know if you have any thoughts on this. Some ideas I’ve had include making the blog more private, so visitors would feel more comfortable about sharing their thoughts, photos, or experiences – particularly in regards to their missionary. Lighten the tone of my writing, or share inspirational thoughts on missionary work from our leaders. Or maybe even change the look of the blog…any ideas or suggestions will definitely be taken on board.

I look forward to hearing from you. In the meantime, I will still be here, but maybe not quite as often as in the past.

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The Crazy Things You Do When Your Missionary is Away…

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The family was having a laugh tonight about my recently returned missionary daughter and how picky she is with her food. Growing up, none of my children were particularly fussy with their food. In fact in our house the normal practice was that you ate everything on your plate. For those who didn’t necessarily like something (like peas or beans etc) I would put just one or two of them on the plate so that they still had to eat them, but didn’t have to suffer through a huge helping and ultimately resent having to do so. I believed that if my children were able to have a taste for everything then when they ventured out into the world they could face anything in this life.

For the most part this theory has proven successful. However, just one daughter has managed to slowly determine that there are certain foods she will not eat. Never has she given a clear explanation why (certainly there have never been evident adverse health reactions,) but she is now labelled the ‘picky’ eater in the family. Unfazed by this label, she is actually proud that she has such discerning taste.

But what really gets me is that the food she doesn’t like is not what you would expect it to be. Spinach, broccoli, brussel sprouts, beets and liver have got to be at the top of the list (I note here that personally I enjoy all these foods and there is very little I cannot stomach). Not so with her, none of these items are on her list of ‘inedible’ foods.

One of the first things I asked her when she returned home was how she went with food she wouldn’t normally eat. She reported she ate everything on her plate every time she had a dinner date with members. Initially, I was relieved to hear this as I would be mortified if she had offended anyone. But further consideration led me to wonder why she can eat certain foods under pressure, but refuses to eat them in family situations…I’m yet to discover the reasoning behind this.

That aside, we were tonight reminiscing about our families need to find some way, while she was in the mission field, to experience what it would be like if our missionary daughter ate ‘normally’. So it was determined that on her birthday we would celebrate it with all the food she would not normally eat. The menu was decided, friends and family were invited, and a plan was put in place to make sure she was there to enjoy the celebrations. Of course she couldn’t be there in person, but through creative means we were able to make it appear like she was…I think we got away with it 🙂

For fear of offending the many families who so kindly fed my daughter on her mission, I’m reluctant to share what it is she won’t eat at home. But since she did eat everything on her plate while away, and absolutely none of it caused her any discomfort or ill health, I will share here some of the photos of the birthday party we threw for her. It was a great night and we had some real fun with it all.

Birthday

The Forgotten Missionaries

I’ve been absent for a while because I am on holidays with family (loving every minute of the sun and surf here in Queensland, Australia). But just wanted to share something quickly with you.

For the last week I have been involved in a conversation with some other missionary mums about the many missionaries who don’t receive any gifts from home over the Christmas season. For example, here in the Brisbane Australia Mission, as off Monday this week, there were 45 elders and 12 sisters who had not received a gift through the mail. As a result, I am in the process of delivering 3 gifts to the local mission office here in Brisbane to be given to any missionaries who haven’t received one.

I know it’s rather late, but I would encourage all of you out there to do something similar if you are in a position to. There are many families who just don’t have the means to send their missionary something for Christmas. There are also missionaries who don’t have family to send them anything. So, if you are in the position to, contact your local mission office and ask if gifts are needed. I know it is very close to Christmas, but most missions have the ability to deliver gifts to their missionaries right up to the last minute.

Let’s not forget them…

I would also like to wish you all a wonderful christmas and an amazing new year. Lots of new things to discuss in 2013. I am looking forward to sharing my thoughts…

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Ring, ring…why don’t you give me a call

MOTHER’S DAY!

Yep, and you know what that means….that long awaited phone call.

So here are my suggestions on some things you might want to include in on that conversation.

Believe me…you may think you have a grip on what you want to talk about, but when comes the voice on the other end, all thoughts flee and you become a babbling mess (well, maybe not for all of us, but it has been known to happen).

Here is that list. I posted this last Mother’s Day and at Christmas too…but always good to repost for those who may be new missionary mums and dads.

Downloadable version available at the end of this post…

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These suggestions are kindly shared by Betty Pearson, who hosts the LDS Missionary Moms Email Groups. If you have a missionary serving somewhere in the world and have not yet signed up for an email group, then you are truly missing out. Betty volunteers endless hours of her spare time to provide this free service, and there are literally thousands of missionary mums connecting every day because of it.

No matter where your missionary is serving in the world, there is an email group of missionary mums connected to his/her mission. The women in these groups are fantastic. I personally belong to two groups; one connected to the mission my daughter is serving in, and the other connected to the area I live in.

Now for that list…

This is certainly not an exhaustive list, I am sure there are many more ideas that can be added to it, but it is here merely to get you started. Also, don’t think that you have to ask all these questions in one sitting.

I would suggest that you have pen and paper on hand to record any significant responses your missionary may have.

The Church in Your Area:
How many members in your ward/branch?
What is the church building like?

The Area You Serve in:
What is the town like?
Rural, small town, small city, med. city, large city?
What does the area look like?
Flat? Rolling hills? A lot of trees?
How hot is it?
How cold is it?
How often does it rain?

About Your Companion:
How is your companion?
How long has he/she been out?
Is his/her family LDS?
Do they support him/her with letters?
Life member or convert?

Your Wellbeing:
Are you sleeping well?
How is the food?
What is the best food you’ve eaten?
What is the weirdest food you’ve eaten?
How many dinner appointments do you get?
What do you usually eat for breakfast?
Lunch?
How are your clothes?
Shoes?
Socks?
How are your feet?
Any problems?
Do you need more toothpaste?
Deodorant?
Vitamins?

Your Surroundings:
What is your apt like?
Is it in a big building?
Are your neighbors friendly or scared of you?
How far away is the Mission Office?
What do you see outside your window?

Other Missionaries You Serve With:
How many in your District?
Where are they from?
Who is the District Leader?
Zone Leader?
How often do you have Zone Conference?

Your P-day Routine:
What do you usually do on P-day?
What service do you do?
How often?

The Work:
Who are you teaching at the moment?
What do they do for work?
What are some of the questions they ask?
How much door knocking do you do in a week?
How much teaching do you do in a week?

Another suggestion by one of the mums from our email group was to ask the missionary to open their journal at a random date and start reading.

Well, I hope these questions have been helpful. You may even be able to come up with some more.

Enjoy the call with your missionary and I would love to hear from you how the experience went.

Download and print a PDF of these questions – Questions to Ask on Mothers Day Use the back of the page to record any special comments or information your missionary shares.

Missionary Service – It Isn’t About You

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I’m still reeling from the recent announcement by our beloved prophet, Thomas S. Monson (supported by comments made later by Elders Holland and Nelson), declaring new age limits for LDS missionary service. This modification is going to have a significant effect on missionary work and will greatly expand our efforts to do the work of the Lord.

Recent reports state that LDS missionary applications jumped from 700 per week to over 4,000 within a few weeks of this historic announcement. I’ve watched in my own ward as several young women have rejoiced in the expansion of the age requirement and made preparations to be involved in such an important work at a younger age; one already having received her call just days after her 19th birthday.

The ripple effects of this announcement are spreading beyond the borders of the Church, and are being discussed by member and non-member alike. The world is listening! Recently, a report in the Wall Street Journal even highlighted some of the social and cultural changes that could occur within the Church as a result of this announcement. These include shifts in such things as, dating habits, college enrollments, and even shifts in the marriageable age of our members.

With literally thousands more young men and young women lining up to be a part of this expansion, I think it is important for us to explore just what this will mean in terms of missionary service and the focus taken by our young men and women.

While it’s a time for all of us to be excited about how the work is now moving into a higher gear, a word of caution is needed to ensure we all have the correct focus. Elder Holland, in the press conference immediately after Pres. Monson’s announcement, was quick to remind our young people that,

“This announcement, I say to these young people, isn’t about you. It’s about the sweet and pure message you are being asked to bear and the ever greater numbers God needs to bear it.”

It could be easy for many of our young men and women to get caught up in the hype of the moment, and see this as an opportunity to simply be a part of something historic, rather than considering whether the time is right for them to answer the call.

In the same press conference, Elder Russell M. Nelson declared, “No young man or woman should begin his or her service as a missionary before they are ready”.  Careful and prayerful consideration is a fundamental element of whether an individual is ready to serve or not.

What Qualifies a Person For Missionary Service?

When I think about what it is that qualifies a person to serve my mind immediately goes to the 4th section of the Doctrine and Covenants.

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…

And faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of God, qualify him for the work. D&C 4:2-3, 5

Five qualities qualify an individual to serve…Faith, hope, charity, love, and an eye single to the glory of God. These five qualities can be used as a yardstick to measure whether a person is ready or not.

Here is what the scriptures, and some of the brethren, say about each one of these qualities:

FaithNow faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1

Joseph F. Smith: “…it is necessary to have faith in God, faith being the first principle in revealed religion, and the foundation of all righteousness.” Teachings of the Presidents of the Church

Richard G. Scott: “…to employ its power, faith must be founded on something. There is no more solid foundation than faith in the love Heavenly Father has for you, faith in His plan of happiness, and faith in the capacity and willingness of Jesus Christ to fulfill all of His promises…You will gather the fruits of faith as you follow the principles God has established for its use.

“Some of those principles are:

  • Trust in God and in His willingness to provide help when needed, no matter how challenging the circumstance.
  • Obey His commandments and live to demonstrate that He can trust you.
  • Be sensitive to the quiet prompting of the Spirit.
  • Act courageously on that prompting.
  • Be patient and understanding when God lets you struggle to grow and answers come a piece at a time over an extended period.” The Sustaining Power of Faith

HopeWherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God. Ether 12:4

M. Russell Ballard: “Moroni, having seen our day, counseled, “Wherefore, there must be faith; and if there must be faith there must also be hope.”… (Moro. 10:20.)…As we put our faith and trust to work, hope is born. Hope grows out of faith and gives meaning and purpose to all that we do. It can even give us the peaceful assurance we need to live happily in a world that is ripe with iniquity, calamity, and injustice. The Joy of Hope Fulfilled

Dieter F. Uchtdorf: “Hope has the power to fill our life with happiness…

“Hope is not knowledge, but rather the abiding trust that the Lord will fulfill His promise to us. It is confidence that if we live according to God’s laws and the words of His prophets now, we will receive desired blessings in the future.  It is believing and expecting that our prayers will be answered. It is manifest in confidence, optimism, enthusiasm, and patient perseverance…

“…because of the love and sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we may hope and be assured that the ending of the book of our lives will exceed our grandest expectations…

“We learn to cultivate hope the same way we learn to walk; one step at a time…We grow in our ability to abound in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost as we more perfectly live the gospel…

“Hope sustains us through despair. Hope teaches that there is reason to rejoice even when all seems dark around us…” The Infinite Power of Hope

CharityThough I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
1 Corinthians 13:1 

Henry B. Eyring: “…charity is at the heart of the society and is to come into the heart, to be part of the very nature, of every member… Charity is born of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and is an effect of His Atonement working in the hearts of the members.” The Enduring Legacy of Relief Society

Joseph B. Worthlin: “Paul’s message to this new body of Saints was simple and direct: Nothing you do makes much of a difference if you do not have charity. You can speak with tongues, have the gift of prophecy, understand all mysteries, and possess all knowledge; even if you have the faith to move mountains, without charity it won’t profit you at all.” The Great Commandment

M. Russell Ballard: “The Apostle Paul taught that three divine principles form a foundation upon which we can build the structure of our lives. They are faith, hope, and charity. (See 1 Cor. 13:13.) Together they give us a base of support like the legs of a three-legged stool. Each principle is significant within itself, but each also plays an important supporting role. Each is incomplete without the others. ” The Joy of Hope Fulfilled

LoveA new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you. John 13:34

Gordon B. Hinkley: “Love is of the very essence of life. It is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Yet it is more than the end of the rainbow. Love is at the beginning also, and from it springs the beauty that arches across the sky on a stormy day. Love is the security for which children weep, the yearning of youth, the adhesive that binds marriage, and the lubricant that prevents devastating friction in the home; it is the peace of old age, the sunlight of hope shining through death. How rich are those who enjoy it in their associations with family, friends, church, and neighbors…

If the world is to be improved, the process of love must make a change in the hearts of men. It can do so when we look beyond self to give our love to God and others, and do so with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our mind…

This principle of love is the basic essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Without love of God and love of neighbor there is little else to commend the gospel to us as a way of life.” And The Greatest of These is Love

Pres. Thomas S. Monson: “…we need to extend ourselves in service to our Heavenly Father if we are to demonstrate our love for Him.” How Do We Show Our Love

Eye-SingleIf your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you. D&C 88:67 

Gordon B. Hinkley: “As we look with love and gratitude to God, as we serve him with an eye single to his glory, there goes from us the darkness of sin, the darkness of selfishness, the darkness of pride. There will come an increased love for our Eternal Father and for his Beloved Son, our Savior and our Redeemer. There will come a greater sense of service toward our fellowmen, less of thinking of self and more of reaching out to others.” The Greatest of These is Love

Joseph B. Worthlin: “Each of us must work in harmony with God’s will and create a spiritual climate that will bring Jesus into the midst of our lives; and then we must continue to live “with an eye single to [his] glory D&C 4:5. “ Build it Right

Willing and Worthy Missionaries

This historic occasion is underlined by the words of Elder Holland when he states, “God is hastening His work, and He needs more and more willing and worthy missionaries to spread the light and the truth and the hope and the salvation of the gospel of Jesus Christ to an often dark and fearful world. … You must prepare by personal worthiness and moral cleanliness and you must study diligently to know the gospel you will teach. We want you teaching effectively from the first day onward. And that will require preparation that starts long before you get your call to serve.” Church Lowers Age Requirement for Missionary Service

Faith, hope, charity, love and an eye single to the glory of God is what the gospel is all about. If a missionary can emulate these characteristics in his/her life, then they are truly qualified for the work. It’s clear we are counselled to determine carefully the appropriate time for missionary service, as the new age limits are simply offered as another option. Significant to this determination is the reminder that this change is not about the young people and how fast they can get out there, but it is about the, “…sweet and pure message..” that needs to be brought to the world and how willing and worthy these missionaries are to live it and do it.

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Heartwarming Missionary Service

When I began this blog my intention was to focus on the missionary work that our dedicated young LDS men and women are doing across the world. But, a few days ago I received an email from a truly amazing person. He is not someone of our faith, but he is a Christian. In that email he invited me to pray for his missionary service and even invited me to come and visit where he serves.

Located in the southern regions of India, the work that Ananda is involved in is grassroots. He is working to meet the physical and spiritual needs of people in some of the most remote areas of the world. In a country that struggles with the demands of an extremely high population and a low economic base, Ananda and his group work to provide both a spiritual base for these people, as well as assisting them in the social and economic realms through the establishment of orphanages, schools, and basic infrastructures such as water and medical care.

I feel really compelled to share with you the email Ananda sent me, as I believe it is a wonderful example of how the Lord uses His children to do His work on earth – even in areas where there are currently no LDS missionaries. The wording of the email was as follows:

I am glad to contact you. I have been doing ministry since 1993 among Tribal’s who are living in Forest and never seemed any salvation in their life. I have 46 missionaries in India, Tamilnadu. We have focused to South India Tribal People. We are conduction Free Medical Camps, Free education center for Tribal children, free self work training program for Tribals. We are following 224 hamlets, tiny villages, and Hilly regions Tribal groups. We have just started 9th church in Tribal area. Please Pray for this construction. Support us to Spread Gospel to all Tribal’s. We invite you to visit our ministry and fields.

—Ananda Kumar

There is probably never going to be a chance for me to visit this place, but my purpose in sharing this email with you is to highlight some of the good that is happening in this world amongst fellow Christians. While our missionaries don’t have the opportunity to reach into such areas right now, it is heartwarming to know that there are Christian people out there preparing the way for the day when full missionary services can reach them. These people are akin to the likes of John Calvin, John Wyclyffe, and Martin Luther; preparing the way for the Gospel to spread to all nations, kindreds and tongues (2 Nephi 30:8).

If anyone is interested in reading more about the work Ananda is involved in then please go and visit the website for the India Village Care MinistriesAlso, don’t forget to pray for their success as they work to meet the physical and spiritual needs of these humble villagers.

Top 10 Christmas Gift Ideas – Under $20

I’m sure right now our US friends are all enjoying a needed break from their busy lives, and  spending time with family and friends giving thanks for all the blessings they have. I wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving over this weekend.

Today I am going to jump the gun a bit and push your attention to the upcoming season. By the end of this weekend I know you will all be starting to focus on the next big celebration ahead…Christmas (did I hear a groan?). We all love this time of year don’t we? Well, I do…

Here I’ll be exploring some gift ideas for our serving missionaries. The first 6 ideas I found on the LDS Online Store – all items purchased can be delivered worldwide, directly to your missionary free of postal charge. The last 4 are taken from other LDS stores and may involve a delivery fee. Also, don’t forget to check out my previous post ‘You’ve Had a Birthday, Shout Hooray’ for some other gift ideas.

So here are my Top 10 Christmas suggestions:

1.    Mormon Tabernacle Choir CD.

Most missions will allow missionaries to listen to wholesome music (but please check with your missionary before buying). There is a huge range of Mormon Tabernacle Choir CDs on offer at the LDS Online Store, all at very reasonable prices; music that is both uplifting and inspirational. If your missionary loves the sounds of Christmas then this is the perfect gift.

2.    Journal

Missionaries love to keep a record of everything they experience, which means they will probably go through more than one journal in that time. The LDS Online Store has both hard cover and loose-leaf journals available. Loose-leaf journals are a great way for them to record their experiences and then mail them home for the family to read.

3.    LDS Magazine Subscriptions

Most mission apartments will have at least one Ensign subscription delivered each month. However, when you have up to 3 companionships in an apartment, it can mean survival of the fittest when it comes to having your turn to read a current magazine. Sending your missionary their own copy every month will help to solve this problem. They can then hand them on to investigators once they have finished reading them.

4.    LDS General Conference CDs

Most mission cars have a CD player. Your missionary can use travel time listening to the inspirational words of our prophets and apostles while they travel from place to place. DVDs are available too, which might be a good resource for teaching investigators as well.

5.    A New White Tie

Most Elders will have a white tie in their luggage when they go out, but it may be worth asking if the tie still looks white and fresh. Towards the end of a mission, especially if the missionary has performed multiple baptisms, it may need to be replaced.

6.    LDS Gifts for Investigators

Missionaries love to have things they can give their investigators that will help them understand the simplicity of the Gospel – especially for children. So things like simplified scripture readers, and Friend subscriptions, will help them in their teaching, and help their investigators understand Gospel principles.

7.    LDS Tie Tacs and Pins

Let’s face it, Elders are pretty limited in the extent of their wardrobe. So a tie tac or tie pin is a great way to introduce some variety and personality. There are some really unique tie tacs and pins available with appropriate messages for missionaries. Deseret Online Bookstore offers a large assortment.

8.    CTR Earrings

Ok, this one’s for the sisters. They can’t be outdone by the Elders, so these CTR Earrings are a cute way to express yourself as a missionary. Other jewellery items available from Deseret Online Bookstore are rings and charms with LDS themes.

9.    52 Weeks of Recipes

I know it is hard to go past all my amazing Food Friday missionary recipes. But if you have to then this sounds like the perfect way to do it – especially for a missionary who doesn’t have a whole lot of dinner dates (believe me, there are missions out there that don’t offer regular dinner appointments for the missionaries). There’s enough recipes for 52 weeks of the year, so they will never run out of food ideas.

10.    LDS Missionary Pillowcase

Just imagine your missionary resting his/her head on their pillow at night, with words of support and love to cushion them. This pillowcase is a fun way to remind your missionary each day how much you love them and support them…such sweet comfort 🙂

The Ultimate Gift

The more I searched online, the more I found. So there are multiple gift ideas for missionaries out there. But most of all, I think the ultimate gift you can give your missionary are words of support, love and encouragement. A simple hand written message to your missionary that is sealed, stamped and mailed can mean more to them than any kind of commercial gift.

I wish you all a safe and happy Christmas season. May the Lords blessings be distilled upon you like the dews from heaven.

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. John 14:27