Jon Ryan Jensen: ‘In the nethermost parts of the vineyard’

Like a loving mission mother, Sister Kendall invited missionaries to do what they invited others to do

While reporting recently from an island in the Pacific Ocean no more than 4 square miles (10 square kilometers) in size and some 5,209 miles (8,383 km) from Salt Lake City, it was as if my own mother was teaching from the pulpit.

“Do what you invite others to do,” Sister Megan Kendall said to the missionaries she and her husband, Mission President John A. Kendall, were visiting on the island of Majuro in the Marshall Islands/Kiribati Mission.

The view of part of Majuro as a plane approaches for landing on May 25, 2024. | Ryan Jensen

My mom, Linda Jensen, used to say similar things to me before I was called to serve in the Colombia Bogotá South Mission. She hadn’t served a mission herself, but she wanted me to be prepared to serve and to have a testimony of the Savior, of the Book of Mormon and of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints before I left.

Some of my mom’s comments were corrective, and others were reaffirming. If I felt lazy and didn’t want to go to church on Sunday, she would say, “If you are going to invite someone else to come to church, shouldn’t you be doing it?” And when we prayed together as a family early in the morning before she left for work, she would say, “Do you realize that you are going to invite people to do what we were just doing?”

Both types of comments were helpful to me as I prepared to serve, as I served, and as I returned home from serving. My mission presidents and their wives will confirm that I was not a perfect missionary. But I’m grateful for my mom’s counsel, and I was glad to be reminded of it as the Kendalls spoke to their missionaries in Majuro.

Sister Kendall was teaching from Chapter 5 of “Preach My Gospel,” which is focused on the Book of Mormon. As missionaries share the Book of Mormon and invite others to read it, they need to read it themselves. As missionaries invite friends to pray with faith that Heavenly Father will answer their sincere questions, they need to pray with that same faith and intent.

The second edition of "Preach My Gospel,” an updated guidebook for missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is pictured at the Provo Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, on Thursday, June 22, 2023. | Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

President Kendall read to his missionaries from 2 Nephi 4. He showed them how Nephi had felt disappointed in his own shortcomings. And he showed them how Nephi found hope in committing to do what God expected him to do.

Nephi said he delighted in the scriptures, that he knew he wasn’t perfect, that God had pulled him through hard times and that Heavenly Father answered his prayers.

“I will praise thee forever,” Nephi said in verse 30.

“O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever,” he said in verse 34.

“I know that God will give liberally to him that asketh,” Nephi continued in verse 35, before concluding that he would follow through and act on that knowledge, “My voice shall forever ascend up unto thee, my rock and mine everlasting God.”

How much did Nephi do what he said he would do? In the first verse of the next chapter, 2 Nephi 5:1, he said, “I, Nephi, did cry much unto the Lord my God.”

Sister Kendall told her missionaries that she had recently completed reading the Book of Mormon again. She bore testimony of how studying it strengthened her testimony of the Savior. She was excited to share how doing what she taught them to do was blessing her own life.

President Kendall told the missionaries that he knew Heavenly Father trusted them to be examples of those who do what God asks them to in a part of the world that few others would ever be able to visit.

“Tell the Lord you are willing,” he said. “Tell Him you will endure.”

Then, underscoring the fact that Heavenly Father wants all His children to have a chance to have joy in their lives that is brought by following the covenant path and living the gospel of Jesus Christ, President Kendall told his missionaries that they may be nourishing the Lord’s branches “in the nethermost parts of the vineyard” (Jacob 5:14).

President Kendall said that while they may feel far away from anything, God knows right where they are and that He loves them for doing what He has invited them to do.

— Jon Ryan Jensen is editor of the Church News.

Missionaries listen at a mission conference in Majuro in the Marshall Islands on Saturday, May 25, 2024. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
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