I wanted to share how I decided to go on a mission.
I never thought I would serve a full-time mission, but I have always admired those who have served. My senior year of high school I went on a two-day mini mission where I went with two sister missionaries for a weekend to experience a mission. It was a great experience. I loved it, but at the same time it scared me because I wasn’t sure if I was capable of serving a mission. After that experience my Sunday school teacher Sister Weaver asked all of the youth in my class, who participated on the two-day mini mission if they were planning to go on a mission now. As she came across the room it seemed as if everyone said “yes” while I gave her a distinct “no” and I remember her saying something that hit me. She basically told me, “You never know, you might change your mind when the time comes”.
She was right my mind did change.
October 6th, 2012 was one of the big events in my life that helped me decide to serve a mission. I was listening to General Conference with my roommate Saturday morning. President Monson announced the change of age for the young men to serve missions at 18 years old. I remember thinking to myself, “I think they are going to change the age for young women as well”. After I thought that in my mind he did. He announced that young women were now eligible to serve missions at the age of 19 instead of 21 years old. At that moment I was completely stunned. I didn’t know what to do. I felt in my heart that I should go but I felt as if my mind was trying to convince me otherwise. I wasn’t sure if I would be a good missionary and I doubted myself. I knew that I needed to pray about it to see if the Lord wanted me to go on a mission.
On October 28th, 2012 I received my answer. My roommate was giving a lesson at church in Relief Society on a General Conference talk by Elder Richard G. Scott titled How to Obtain Revelation and Inspiration for Your Personal Life. I really enjoyed her lesson and I asked her if I could read the talk later during church. As I read the talk there was one particular part that stood out to me. To paraphrase Elder Scott said, “Sometimes we don’t realize or feel that we have received an answer to our prayers. We should look for evidence in our own life to see if our prayers have already been answered.”
As I read that, one word came into my mind: Mission. As soon as I thought that, I felt the spirit clearly testify to me that I needed to go on a mission. All my doubts I thought about before of being inadequate left my mind that moment and I knew this was what the Lord wanted me to do. Soon after I started my mission papers and I received my call on January 5th, 2013. I opened my call very surprised that I was called to serve in the Italy Milan Mission. I had to read it a couple times before I read it aloud to my family to make sure I had read it correct. I truly feel that the Lord chose the perfect place for me. It has been special for me because my dad served the same exact mission! I am excited to serve in the Italy Milan Mission and I’m hoping I will be able to meet and teach some of the people he knew.
Come unto Christ
As a missionary I will be sharing a message in Italy, which is: inviting all to come unto Christ. This is the message I will share with you today.
As a missionary I will be sharing a message in Italy, which is: inviting all to come unto Christ. This is the message I will share with you today.
President Henry B. Erying gave a great talk about inviting others to come unto Christ and how we too can come unto him. He said, “The words “come unto Christ” are an invitation. It is the most important invitation you could ever offer to another person. It is the most important invitation anyone could accept… Every member of the Church, upon accepting the baptismal covenant, becomes a disciple who has promised to stand as a witness of Jesus Christ at all times in any place he or she may be in. The purpose of our witness is to invite people to come unto Him.”
Although we are asked often to invite others to come unto Christ this shouldn’t exclude ourselves, we too should strive to come unto him. We must invite ALL to come unto Christ, which includes us all personally. I love how President Erying says it’s “an invitation”. It’s not something to force upon someone but it is an invitation to follow the Saviors example and live like him. I thought it was interesting that he said, “It’s the most important invitation anyone could accept.” This message is of great importance because they will come to know of the savior, strive to live like him and follow his example. After we were baptized we promised to stand as a witness of Jesus Christ and invite all to come unto him.
Later in President Eryings talk he says, “..Personally, I have seen a pattern when people have accepted that invitation. In each case the Holy Ghost has manifested at least three truths to them.
First, they come to feel that the only way they can have the happiness they want most in this life and in the world to come is through Jesus Christ….
Second, those I know who have truly come unto Him make covenants to obey and to follow Him. It must come out of their faith that Jesus is the Christ and the Savior. When they keep the commitment out of that faith, they feel something. They may not be able to identify the feeling in words, but they feel better.
That leads to the third thing (which) I have seen in the lives of those who have truly come unto Him. They strive to become like Him”.
As President Erying says three things that can help us to know if someone has responded to the invitation are: the person feels that they can only have happiness through Jesus Christ, they will make covenants or commitments to follow the savior, and they will strive to be like him.
Do you love me?
Elder Holland gave an amazing talk in the October 2012 General Conference titled The First and Great Commandment. Elder Holland paraphrases John 21, which is after Jesus Christ’s resurrection and crucifixion. The disciples are unsure of what they should do next and ask Peter “What do we do now?”. Peter tells them to go back to their former lives and that he is going back to be a fisherman again. Soon after the other disciples follow Peter and become fishermen as well. As they were fishing Christ comes to them and begins to ask Peter a question. Elder Holland uses some of the scriptures from John 21 and adds some of his own interpretation of how the Savior and Peter must have felt, Elder Holland says, “Peter, do you love me more than you love all this?” Peter said, “Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee.” The Savior responds to that reply but continues to look into the eyes of His disciple and says again, “Peter, do you love me?” Undoubtedly confused a bit by the repetition of the question, the great fisherman answers a second time, “Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee.”
“The Savior again gives a brief response, but with relentless scrutiny He asks for the third time, “Peter, do you love me?” By now surely Peter is feeling truly uncomfortable.”
“Peter said for the third time, “Lord, … thou knowest that I love thee.” end quote
It’s interesting that the Savior asked Peter three times “Do you love me?”. Previously the Savior asked Peter another question three times. Where after Peter denied the Savior three times. It’s almost as if the Savior is giving Peter a second chance by asking him this question three times.
Elder Holland continues with his nonscriptural elaboration saying, “To which Jesus responded (and here again I acknowledge my nonscriptural elaboration), perhaps saying something like: “Then Peter, why are you here? ..What I need, Peter, are disciples—and I need them forever. I need someone to feed my sheep and save my lambs. I need someone to preach my gospel and defend my faith. I need someone who loves me, truly, truly loves me, and loves what our Father in Heaven has commissioned me to do. Ours is not a feeble message. It is not a fleeting task. It is not hapless; it is not hopeless; it is not to be consigned to the ash heap of history. It is the work of Almighty God, and it is to change the world. So, Peter, for the second and presumably the last time, I am asking you to leave all this and to go teach and testify, labor and serve loyally until the day in which they will do to you exactly what they did to me.” End quote
The Lord needs people who will be Disciples of Christ, people who will preach his gospel and defend his faith. The Lord is asking us if we love him enough to feed his sheep and share his divine message with all people. As a missionary I will have to show my love for the Savior by sharing his gospel and defending his faith in Milan, Italy. We all need to feed his sheep by teaching those we know about Jesus Christ and the importance of coming unto him. He will help us share his invitation with others if we but ask.
As it says in Mark 1:17 , “And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men”. The Savior says as we follow him he will make us “fishers of men” and help us find those who are ready to receive his message.
Come all ye sons of God
President Monson gave a great talk, which focused on missionary work and was called Come all ye sons of God, which was from the Priesthood session of General Conference, 2013. He said, “The challenge is to be more profitable servants in the Lord’s vineyard. This applies to all of us, whatever our age, and not alone to those who are preparing to serve as full-time missionaries, for to each of us comes the mandate to share the gospel of Christ. May I suggest a formula that will ensure our success: first, search the scriptures with diligence; second, plan your life with purpose (and, I might add, plan your life regardless of your age); third, teach the truth with testimony; and fourth, serve the Lord with love.” End quote
No matter if we are a fulltime missionary, a parent, a friend, or a grandparent, we all must become more profitable servants of the Lord as President Monson counsels. He says to, “search the scriptures with diligence, plan your life with purpose, to teach the truth with testimony and to serve the Lord with love.” I love the last two things he counsels us all to do. I know that as we teach the truth with our own testimonies the spirit of the Lord will touch the hearts of those we teach. The last piece to his formula I think can truly help us as well. As we serve the Lord with love we will begin to love all of his children through time and want them to receive his message.
I have one personal experience that I wanted to share today. I was on my flight home from BYU-Idaho for Christmas and I was sitting next to a woman. I could tell that she wanted someone to talk to, so we starting talking. Then it was silent again. I remember specifically praying after the silence in my heart that if I was supposed to talk to this woman about the church with her or about my mission that it would come up as we spoke to one another. Soon enough we began to talk again and as we were talking she discovered that I was Mormon and was going on a mission, so we talked about that for a little bit. Although this wasn’t a huge experience it showed me that the Lord will make it possible for us to have courage to invite others to come unto Christ even if it is just a short conversation with a complete stranger. This simple example demonstrated to me that the Lord is very aware of our efforts when we are trying our best. He will help us, even if the experience is to just strengthen our own testimonies so we will be better prepared when we need to extend this invitation to someone. Heavenly Father will place people in our lives at specific times in our lives to help us to learn and strengthen our own testimonies so we will be ready when we must share the gospel.
Although it is often difficult offering this invitation to others, President Erying said, “Another wonderful thing will happen. When you give your heart to inviting people to come unto Christ, your heart will be changed. You will be doing His work for Him. You will find that He keeps His promise to be one with you in your service. You will come to know Him. And in time you will come to be like Him and “be perfected in him.” By helping others come unto Him, you will find that you have come unto Him yourself. If you want to be near Him, to feel His peace, you can do it best in His service”.
I truly believe what president Erying says, that if we give our full heart to inviting others to come unto Christ our hearts will change as well. We will come unto Christ as we help others come unto him and over time we will become more like him. I think this is something that we all should try and remember when we don’t think we are capable of sharing this invitation with others. The Lord will bless us as we strive to bring others to his gospel. He wants everyone to hear his message and we shouldn’t withhold it from anyone.
I just wanted to conclude with one of my favorite scriptures in Matthew. We read, “ 28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
I know that this church is true with all my heart. I know that Heavenly Father loves us all and knows us each individually and the trials that we all face.
I know the Book of Mormon is true. It truly is another testament of Jesus Christ. I know that the scriptures are true and that they are the word of God.
I know that President Thomas S. Monson is a true prophet called of God and receives modern day revelation for our day and age. I am so grateful for the change of age for missionaries and I know that was truly inspired by God.
I know that families can be together forever.
I know that Joseph Smith was a true prophet and that he restored the gospel to its fullness.
I know that the Lord will answer our prayers. He is aware of us, and our hearts and what we truly desire in this life.
I am so excited to share this message with the Italian people and invite them all to come unto Christ. I hope that we can all strive to invite those we know (including ourselves) and also pray to know of people that we can invite to come unto Christ and share this precious invitation with them. I know that as we invite others to come unto Christ we will want to come unto Christ even more so ourselves, and strive to become more like our Savior. I am so grateful for all my friends, family, young women’s leaders and teachers who have gotten me to this point in my life. I love you all very much and I am so grateful to have you in my life.
I say all these things in the name of Jesus Christ Amen.