In the decade of 2009 to 2019, every member of President Camille N. Johnson’s immediate family served a full-time mission. These missions — including her call to serve with her husband, Brother Douglas R. Johnson, as mission leaders in the Peru Arequipa Mission — became “a remarkable time of spiritual growth in our family” as they learned two lessons: how to love God and how to love their neighbors.
“That, upon reflection, is why our family’s decade of missionary service was life-changing, because each of us found the Savior, relied upon the Savior and loved Him in a more profound way than we ever had before,” said President Johnson, Relief Society general president. “And loving Him, we loved our neighbors and friends from Samoa to Ecuador to Italy and Peru.”
Speaking to missionaries in the Provo Missionary Training Center on Dec. 12, President Johnson shared that strength in missionary work comes from loving God and others, seeking spiritual instruction through revelation and finding Christ in temple worship. Brother Johnson gave brief remarks as well, testifying that obedience brings miracles.
President Johnson said, “You will be joy-filled missionaries, distinct from the world, when love of God and your neighbor drives your missionary efforts.”
Love leads to service
Servants of the Lord are motivated by the love of God and the opportunity to share that love with those around them.
“We show our love for Him by loving and serving our neighbor with ‘heart, might, mind and strength’ (Doctrine and Covenants 4:2),” said President Johnson. “So, sisters and elders, let love be the motivator in your missionary service.”
As missionaries feel the love of God, they are impelled to partner with Him to provide relief to others, she said.
“When we’re deliberate in looking for the love of God, we recognize that He is showering us with His love every single day. When we recognize His love for us, we love Him purely in return and are possessed of that attribute of charity.”
Loving the One who “first loved us” (1 John 4:19) allows missionaries to strengthen relationships with both those they serve and with Heavenly Father. President Johnson said, “I am confident you will love the people you have been called to serve, and in loving them, you will want to give them the opportunity for a covenant relationship with God.”
Seeking spiritual instruction
A missionary call to serve, she said, is the result of revelation. It’s a call that starts with a missionary’s decision to serve and an assignment by a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, acting with the authorization of the President of the Church.
“All of that has come through revelation — your own, linked to the revelation of a member of the Twelve, linked to the Prophet,” she said. “It is magnificent to be a part of that revelation chain.”
Just as a missionary calling comes by revelation, missionaries can be led by the Spirit as they receive revelation. President Johnson said that in a mission experience, “you can cultivate your ability to recognize and understand the Spirit. So, I invite you to ask in your prayers for the Spirit to manifest Himself in a way you can recognize and understand.”
She warned against “analysis paralysis,” or worrying whether an idea is a prompting from the Spirit or a personal thought and consequently being hesitant to move forward.
“Don’t do that to yourself,” President Johnson encouraged. “Be worthy of the Spirit, and get to work. Start down the road. If the Lord needs you in another direction, He’ll figure out a way to turn you around if you are humble, teachable and obedient.”
Finding Christ in temple worship
In response to the Prophet’s insight, President Johnson has tried “to see Jesus Christ in every ordinance, in every action, in our temple clothing. ... Let your incoming to the temple be focused on Him. Then, as you leave the temple and keep the covenants you have made there, you will have access to His priesthood power.”
One access to priesthood power is the ability endowed members have of wearing the temple garment. Endowed members who wear the temple garment as instructed show they “are willing to take upon them the name of Jesus Christ” (Doctrine and Covenants 20:37).
The garment, said President Johnson, is a daily physical reminder of one’s covenant relationship with God.
“Each day, when we dress in the temple garment, we have a sweet opportunity to reflect on the Savior, how He lived, what He has done for us and how He wants us to live.” She continued, “Wearing the temple garment is evidence of our choice to be chosen to participate in the King’s wedding feast” (see Matthew 22:1-10).
‘Miracles in the evening’
While serving as mission leaders, President and Brother Johnson had a motto in their mission: “Obedience in the morning, diligence in the afternoon, miracles in the evening.”
“Knowing about miracles that can come from diligence and obedience changed me for the rest of my life,” said Brother Johnson.
He promised that each missionary will have opportunities to see those miracles. He said, “Heavenly Father is not going to put you out here and not let you have that opportunity to remember your mission with fondness and the joy that you had when you saw the miracles come.”