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…

Where to from here…

President Thomas S. Monson announces the lowering of missionary service age – October 2012.

I have been watching very carefully the many reactions to President Monson’s recent announcement for missionary service. I am pleased to note that it has overwhelmingly been positive.

Let me share with you some of the responses I have heard so far…

“So completely awesome.”

From one 17 year old young women,“It’s official, I’m going on a mission in 16 months”.

“What fantastic news.”

From another young women, “Yes, now I can serve a mission and still get married when I’m 21!”

“What better way to help our young people build a stronger base for their testimony before they go “out into the world” and face the trials and challenges of life!”

“What an amazing spiritual impact it will have on the Church!”

“What I worry now is that when my son comes home next week, he’ll have a problem finding good worthy sisters to date because they’re all going on a mission :-(“

_______________________________

Now that the hype over the changes is beginning to die down, I am wondering exactly what will happen. Where do we go from here?

Even Elder Nelson and Elder Holland indicated that no-one knows yet the exact affect this change will have. But they both offered timely advice to all prospective missionaries, their parents, and to the wider church community. I would like to recap here exactly what this change will mean for these three parties and highlight how each can contribute to hastening the work of the Lord.

The Prospective Missionary:

Both Elder Nelson and Elder Holland stressed that this change is optional. They encouraged all prospective missionaries to prayerfully consider their options in terms of schooling, family, health, worthiness and personal preparation. Prospective missionaries should study and prayerfully consider the time that is best for them to serve as it is deeply personal to each individual young man and young women. This change is as much about facilitating different circumstances as it is about increasing the numbers of missionaries around the world.

Church policy still maintains that missionary service for young men continues to be a Priesthood responsibility, but for women it is wholly optional and suggests no obligation on their part to serve.

They were most explicit in their comments about the need for all prospective missionaries to begin their mission preparation early. Elder Holland admonished the youth of the church to enhance and improve their pre-mission preparation through:

  • Total personal worthiness
  • Gospel study
  • Attending seminary and institute programs
  • Attending mission preparation classes and studying the ‘Preach My Gospel’ manual intently
  • Knowing the gospel you teach
  • Being ready to serve as an effective missionary from day 1

The Parents of Prospective Missionaries:

I felt the mandate from Elder Holland that parents need to step up more. Parents were urged to take a stronger hand in the training of their children and were cautioned against relying on other church leaders or programs to prepare their children for missionary service.

However, this doesn’t mean we discourage them from attending their Sabbath day meetings, or seminary and institute classes. It just means we as parents need to help lay stronger gospel foundations of knowledge and testimony within the home first.

The Wider Church Community:

As a ward YW President, I was deeply affected by what Elder Holland said to the youth leaders in regards to this change. He stressed the clear role that youth leaders will need to take in assisting to prepare these young men and women at an earlier age.

In particular he recommended that YW leaders assist in developing the teaching abilities of the young women. It was also suggested that the new 2013 YW curriculum will help facilitate this.

In general, the consensus was that the wider church community is going to have to assist in the accelerated preparation of these young men and young women if they are to be adequately prepared for effective missionary service. There is none who escape this responsibility.

A Change Born Through Revelation

Overall, the message that came loud and clear to me was that this is a time for the hastening of the Lords work. While we may not know exactly what effects this change will have now, what I do know is that this announcement was born through revelation. As Elder Holland expressed on Saturday, “I warmly affirm Elder Nelson’s testimony that this has been studied and prayed over, and we have experienced the revelatory power in this … ” I know this to be true.

So what are your thoughts on it?

Pocket Size Preach My Gospel

Pocket size Preach My Gospel

I feel completely ignorant about this, but apparently the ‘Mini Preach My Gospel’ has been a hotly anticipated item. As far back as 2009 there have been mini copies of this manual available, but none published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They have been very hard to get a hand on one as a result.

However, it is now official. The Church has now begun publishing a pocket sized version, which is available to all. If you are computer savvy, and don’t mind purchasing online, then the LDS Church’s Online Store is now selling it for $2.90. Word has it that it is still a little difficult to purchase, but back ordering is available.

If you are not so confident about ordering online, then I am sure that your local Deseret Bookstore will be able to order it in for you.

I can think of some great uses for this mini manual, but I am sure that it will be a must have item for any new LDS missionary heading out from now on.