PROVO, Utah — The power of God will change lives through missionary work, said Sister J. Anette Dennis, first counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, while addressing missionaries at the Provo MTC in a devotional on Tuesday, Feb. 6.
Sister Dennis has been to the missionary training center in Provo many times. Her four children all served missions. She and her husband, Brother Jorge Dennis, served as mission leaders in the Ecuador Guayaquil West Mission. She has participated in leadership training for new mission leaders in her current calling. And she has spoken at Tuesday night MTC devotionals twice. She hopes a future assignment might be when a grandchild is at the MTC.
But the chance to engage with thousands of missionaries might not have come if missionaries hadn’t helped her husband find his way to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when he was a teenager.
“You might never know the difference you will make in the life of someone and how that will affect generations to come,” she told the missionaries. She said teaching about the gospel of Jesus Christ helps people begin to get on the path back toward Heavenly Father.
Brother Dennis didn’t have any communication with the missionaries who taught him and baptized him until 30 years later. One of those missionaries told him that he had been considering returning home early from his mission when they began to teach Brother Dennis and his mother. But that missionary stayed and finished his mission and didn’t know what became of that single mom and her family for more than three decades, until he and Brother Dennis found each other, thanks to new tools on the internet.
If Elder Adam Sessions hadn’t stayed on his mission, Brother Dennis might not have joined the Church or been sealed to Sister Dennis. But Elder Sessions stayed, Brother Dennis was baptized, and he and Sister Dennis were sealed five years later in the Salt Lake Temple. Since then, Brother Dennis’ four children have been sealed in the temple, and he has served as a bishop, mission president, institute teacher, father and grandfather.
“You may never know the results of the seeds you plant as you strive to help people come to know their Savior,” Sister Dennis said. “Some who do not end up accepting the restored gospel now may do so years down the road because of the seeds you will plant in their lives.”
Missionaries as angels
Serving a mission isn’t about achieving a certain number of people taught or baptized, Sister Dennis said.
“It is about God’s sons and daughters and helping them come to know the love Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, have for them. It’s about helping them understand the blessings and increased power and capacity to go through the difficulties of life that can come to them through entering into a covenant relationship with God. And the priesthood authority needed to enter into that covenant relationship is only found in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”
Sister Dennis told the missionaries that they are like those mentioned in Helaman 5:11 — “angels to declare the tiding of the conditions of repentance.” She told them they are sent to bring the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ into the lives of God’s sons and daughters.
“That is what you are going out to do. You truly are angels,” she said.
“Don’t live beneath your privileges,” she said. “You are covenant sons and daughters.”
Sister Avery Crosby is from Kooskia, Idaho, and is preparing to serve in the Japan Kobe Mission. She said it was helpful to hear about how people’s lives can be changed for years after the seed of the gospel is planted.
“It makes me feel so great that — even if we don’t have a lot of baptisms — that’s not the point. The point is to plant a seed and point people toward the Savior,” she said.