Missionary work of a different kind

Over last weekend I was excited to be able to attend our Stake YWs camp. I use the word ‘camp’ loosely as we actually stayed in the dorms of the old CCNZ campus, within the shadow of the New Zealand Temple. But if any of you have been to Temple View you’ll agree with me when I say it is one of the most beautiful places to visit, and it certainly was the perfect setting for our YWs camp.

The blueprints for this event had been laid more than 15 months earlier, and was inspired, to say the least. Long before Elder Bednar’s Oct 2011 Conference talk ‘The Hearts of the Children Shall Turn’, our Stake YW Leaders had a vision for the YW.

That vision included each YW learning how to research her family tree, identifying 1-3 ancestors who needed their work completed, and bringing those names to the Temple. But this wasn’t the extent of our Stake leaders vision.

Over that 15 months of preparation they commissioned a local member and author, Sis. Pamela Reid, to write a novel.

Yes, that’s right, she wrote a book for our YW!

‘SARAH’

The story follows the life of a young Scottish girl in the late 1800s who, at the age of 17, travels across the seas from England to start a new life in New Zealand. To add context, the story is told through the eyes of a modern day YW who discovers her heritage as she reads the diary of this young traveller.

How amazing!

My girls were captivated by the narrative, which was released chapter by chapter through an online blog in the weeks leading up to the camp. The last three chapters where left for the camp, where each YW was presented with her own copy of the completed novel.

There were many moments during camp where noses were buried in the book to catch the end of the story.

As the YWs President in my ward, it was inspiring to hear my girls stand and bear their testimonies on the last day of camp, and to see their countenances as they came out of the Temple.

We have been told that we cannot be saved without our dead, so to see these young women work to bring the gospel to many of their ancestors was truly a time of salvation. This was their opportunity to do missionary work of a different kind.

I will finish with the words of Elder Bednar himself:

I invite the young people of the Church to learn about and experience the Spirit of Elijah. I encourage you to study, to search out your ancestors, and to prepare yourselves to perform proxy baptisms in the house of the Lord for your kindred dead (see D&C 124:28–36). And I urge you to help other people identify their family histories.

Carry neither purse, nor scrip…

The suitcase of Faith

Our missionary outside the MTC with her suitcase of Faith

It was almost 12 months ago that our family crammed into the family car and drove out to the airport to bid farewell to our daughter, the newest missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Preparing for that day involved, not only concerted spiritual readiness, but also foresight into what clothing needs she would have. Gone are the days when missionaries were expected to embark with, “…no purse, nor scrip, nor shoes…”(Luke 10:4)

For us, that preparation took on quite a unique nature.

While our missionary daughter was already well prepared with much of her personal clothing needs, coming from the fairly temperate climate of the pacific, she was not ready for the possible sub-zero weather conditions of mid-western USA.

As all mothers do, I panicked. My daughter was going to die from hypothermia on some quiet Utah street. Four months out from her departure, and from our humble abode in Sydney, Australia, I could not imagine how we were ever going to kit her out with enough warm clothes to avoid this outcome.

Typically, my daughter seemed to think that she could survive on what she had…

This was probably the first time I had to contemplate the principle of ‘faith’ as the mother of a missionary. But, desperate times require desperate measures…well that’s how I saw it anyway.

Coincidentally, my husband and I were heading out on a trip to General Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah just three weeks before she departed. So a plan was hatched…

With shopping list in hand, my spare time while over there was spent ticking off each item. With the help of my husband, and lots of size guessing, I managed to fill one middle size suitcase with winter-ready clothes. Part one of my plan was complete.

Part two required that faith I was fast acquiring…I left the suitcase there. That’s right, I didn’t take it home with me.

My daughter had a total of one day, upon arrival in Utah, to try the clothes on and make any exchanges or adjustments needed. How’s that for an exercise in faith? I say, “Faith without works is dead” (James 2:20).

I am pleased to report that I not only managed to please her with my design choices, she actually survived the freeze of her first winter in America.

I am sure many of you were faced with similar decisions when helping your missionary prepare for their adventure. I would love to hear your story here.