Missionaries of the Church are called to bring joy into the lives of all who will follow the Lord, Elder Russell M. Nelson affirmed Jan. 13 at a devotional in the Provo Missionary Training Center.
“You responded to His commandment to go into all the world to teach and testify of Him,” said Elder Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. “Come to know Him and to love Him.”
In addition to Elder Nelson’s address, the devotional included remarks from his wife, Sister Wendy Watson Nelson, and Elder David F. Evans of the Seventy. It was broadcast to all 14 international missionary training centers, said President Lon Nally of the Provo center.
“Throughout the world, including the Provo Missionary Training Center, approximately 2,000 missionaries will view this devotional live and another 500 missionaries will watch it by tape delay,” President Nally announced.
Among the missionaries in the Provo congregation were 17 couples attending the three-day 2015 Seminar for New MTC Presidents and Visitors’ Center Directors.
Elder Nelson, chairman of the Missionary Executive Council, taught from the scriptures that missionaries are to help establish the Church by “preaching and practicing faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end.”
“All steps are essential,” he said. “If any is omitted, or that exact sequence is not observed, we will not establish the Church in the Lord’s way.”
Elder Nelson exhorted the missionaries to begin all of their teaching with the end in mind, which he defined as the blessings of the temple.
“Those blessings are unique to this, the Lord’s Church,” he said. “Those blessings allow God’s children to return to Him prepared for the greatest of all the blessings of God, and that is eternal life.”
Elder Nelson said missionaries who labor where a temple is nearby have a great advantage, and they should use that to their advantage in teaching. “You are sent forth not only to teach and baptize but to do so with multi-generational families of faith.”
He added, “We want you to keep in touch with your converts so that you can see or at least know that their children and their grandchildren enjoy the blessings of the temple. Each convert can become the top of a pyramid of posterity that will be blessed because of the power of your missionary service. Those people that you teach and baptize and keep in touch with will revere you. In a way they become your children in the church. You will always be a hero to them.”
He admonished each missionary to work closely with the ward mission leader. “He will help you to make appointments with people whose lives will be blessed forever.”
He counseled, “When you meet people for the first time do so with a smile. Be happy. This is a gospel of joy. If you look grumpy, who wants to be like you?
“Announce your name and where you’re from. You know, you’re quite the curiosity, so why don’t you satisfy their curiosity by leading off with your name, especially if it’s a little different from the names they’re used to, and explain where it comes from and why you’re there.”
A renowned surgeon before he became an apostle, Elder Nelson encouraged the missionaries to look in people’s eyes for clues about what they need. “Be like a good doctor who asks a patient, ‘Where is your pain?’ In that same spirit a good missionary will wonder or even ask, ‘How may I help you? What is your greatest concern?’
“Some time ago in a general conference talk I told the people of the world that they may ‘ask the missionaries; they can help you.’ I gave that blanket invitation to anybody in the world. And now, you are missionaries! Are you prepared to answer their questions? The truth of the matter is that you can help nearly everyone with whatever their problem may be. The Lord will help you.”
Focus on families, he told the assembled missionaries, as he encouraged them to make use of the Church website FamilySearch.org and to enlist the ward family history consultant in helping people become better acquainted with their ancestors.
Elder Evans who is managing director of the Missionary Department, said he was speaking at the invitation of Elder Nelson.
He cited the account in Alma 26 of Ammon and his missionary companions, drawing comparisons between that and the experiences his listeners will have as missionaries.
Reading verse 29 about the afflictions suffered by Ammon and the others, he said, “Now we hope that those things don’t happen to you, but if they do, remember that missionaries before you have had these same experiences.”
Acknowledging scriptural accounts of some missionaries who made thousands of converts and some who perhaps converted only one, he noted that the prophet Abinadi made only one convert, Alma, but that convert changed history.
“Even if you have no converts, you can always have you as a convert,” he said. “You should be rock solid, absolutely true and faithful all of your lives.”
Sister Nelson offered ideas about what she called “one key for success on your mission. I’d like to talk to you about desperation.”
She explained, “When we are desperate everything changes. Our vision changes. We are suddenly able to see things we’ve never seen before. Our ability to do increases. We are suddenly able to do whatever it takes. …
“My dear elders and sisters, I pray that on your mission you will have many moments of complete and overwhelming and even anguishing desperation. Why? Because then, and only then, will you desperately ask, desperately seek and desperately knock. Then, and only then, will you find the courage and determination to follow through with exactness everything the Lord needs you to do in order to serve a valiant vibrant, worthy and very successful mission for Him.”