Episode 28: Elder Uchtdorf discusses how to incorporate pandemic lessons, move ‘back to the future’ of missionary work

Serving amid the COVID-19 pandemic, missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have used a flexible mix of technology and creativity to share the restored gospel of Jesus Christ in new and astonishing ways.

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and chairman of the Church’s Missionary Executive Council joins this episode of the Church News podcast to discuss missionary work, the COVID-19 pandemic and the resilient and enthusiastic missionaries who continue to move the work forward in ways previously unimagined.

As the pandemic wanes, Elder Uchtdorf reminds members and missionaries alike that in regards to missionary work, “We need to not move back to the old ways, we need to move back to the future.” This is done by engaging and incorporating these lessons of technology, flexibility and creativity when inviting others into the Church of Jesus Christ. 

Subscribe to the Church News podcast on Apple PodcastsAmazonGoogle PodcastsStitcherSpotifybookshelf PLUS or wherever you get podcasts.

Transcription:

Sarah Jane Weaver: I’m Sarah Jane Weaver, editor of the Church News. Welcome to the Church News podcast. We are taking you on a journey of connection as we discuss news and events of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with leaders, members and others on the Church News team. We end each Church News podcast by giving our guests the last word and the opportunity to answer the very important question, “What do you know now?” We hope each of you will also be able to answer the same question and say, “I have just been listening to the Church News Podcast and this is what I know now.”

As the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated across the world in March 2020, leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints turned their attention to the health and safety of full-time missionaries, and to those they were teaching and serving. Thousands of missionaries were returned to their home countries. The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, with information directly from and in close coordination with area presidencies and local leaders, the Missionary Department and an army of volunteers, counseled and prayed for solutions. Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and chairman of the Church’s Missionary Executive Council said, “All involved learned very quickly that it was not enough to ponder only with their heads, but they also had to ponder with their hearts.” In the process, the Lord expanded their vision, and they saw great opportunities and possibilities for the future of missionary work going forward in these stressful circumstances.

A year later, resilient missionaries continue to move the work forward in ways previously unimagined. Elder Uchtdorf, a former pilot and airline executive, has served as a General Authority since 1994. Sustained to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in 2004. He served in the First Presidency from 2008 to 2018. Today, we are thrilled to welcome him to the Church News podcast to talk about missionary work in the Church of Jesus Christ. Elder Uchtdorf, can we start today by summarizing all that has taken place during the past year, that has been so defined by this COVID-19 pandemic?

2:28

Elders Noah Deckard, Nathan Budge and Jackson Nielsen collect baggage as hundreds of missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints return from the Philippines to Salt Lake City International Airport on Sunday, March 22, 2020.
Elders Noah Deckard, Nathan Budge and Jackson Nielsen collect baggage as hundreds of missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints return from the Philippines to Salt Lake City International Airport on Sunday, March 22, 2020. Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf: You described it quite well. A year ago, it was quite a shock across the world, especially for us and missionary work was almost, we were kind of petrified what was happening. But fortunately, in the Church, things are switching over to action pretty soon, because when this happened, about one year ago, we had to transfer a lot of the missionaries, of course, back to their home countries, not just to the U.S., but across the world to other countries. And there were times when I think within 10 days, we had about 30,000 missionaries traveling — by air, by car, by train, by ship, by everything. And finally we had to reduce the missionary force worldwide in a way to protect primarily our missionaries, because we didn’t know what was going to happen. And the boundaries were about to close. And so we didn’t know what to do. So we reduced the missionary force from 62,000 to about 42,000. When this happened, then, as I said, we were first kind of petrified, and especially the missionaries and the mission presidents were kind of petrified. But, you know, we realized, we might have been surprised, but God was not. God was not surprised. He had prepared us in a wonderful way. He had prepared us with technology.

All of a sudden we used technology in a wonderful way which blessed the work. But above all, I think when I look back, I have to give thanks first to the missionaries; and they are young, enthusiastic and wonderful individuals, each one of them. When we see those big numbers, 62,000. Well, this is one by one. It’s always a one missionary and then it makes up to the 62,000. Every one was this great. But I want to give thanks to the families. Because the families, the peers, the friends, the leaders, they all made it possible that we went through that change where some were reassigned, some were released. And now we’re in the process of sending them out again.

Timeline: How the Church has responded to the global COVID-19 pandemic

4:58

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf: Many are waiting now to go to their original assignment. And we have to remember, a mission call is a mission call for a universal gospel and global Church. And then we make geographic assignments. This week, I did 250 missionary assignments across the world. The important thing is the acceptance of the call and then willing to go forward and be a wonderful representative of the Savior, Jesus Christ. And that’s what the missionaries did. So we are now in the process of sending them out again, depending, of course, on the availability of visas, of open borders, of travel opportunities.

Today, actually, we have 25 missionaries who were assigned to the Baltic, and were kept in the U.S. for a while. But two and a half weeks ago, we were able to funnel them through Croatia, to Europe, not to the Baltic, to Croatia, and the thing was, their mission president and his wife, they were called to serve in the Baltic, starting on first of July 2020, and they had not been able to go there until now. So they were waiting in Croatia. And these 25 missionaries came to them or with them for two weeks, two and a half weeks, and they taught there, they preached the gospel. And today, together, they’re flying to the Baltic on their original assignment. So it’s really the mission call is global. It’s universal, actually, because the gospel is universal. The Church is global. So we’re grateful for the leaders, the families who support that. And so a lot of things happened there, which are just wonderful. And in going forward.

6:54

Sarah Jane Weaver: You know, I have a daughter, she’s on a reassignment in Ohio. She’s in charge of social media for her mission and having a glorious experience. What have we learned about missionary work in this time?

7:06

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf: I think we learned that missionary work is a process, which can be communicated in many ways. Samuel Smith went from door to door with a Book of Mormon. And others did this over many, many years. But we learned in the meantime, with the restrictions we have worldwide, gated communities, huge apartment complexes and other restrictions, that it is kind of hard to approach people and go into or close to their living quarters. And even approaching on the street. There’s a lot of suspicion there. It’s very hard. So we learn that the Lord has provided us with means which opened up new dimensions.

Sister Karly Robison and Sister Meg Taylor, missionaries serving at the Nauvoo Historic Sites, give a virtual tour in front of the Nauvoo Illinois Temple. Because of COVID-19, Church historic sites have been closed since March 2020.
Sister Karly Robison and Sister Meg Taylor, missionaries serving at the Nauvoo Historic Sites, give a virtual tour in front of the Nauvoo Illinois Temple. Because of COVID-19, Church historic sites have been closed since March 2020.

The people who are approached by social media, when they see something they like, and I mean, really “like” on social media, and they are approached by a missionary and told, “Oh, I saw you, you like our musical presentation or our message.” The missionaries do this all across the world. I’ve seen wonderful videos, clips, from Poland, from Brazil, from Japan, from Korea, from the U.S. many places. from all over the place. And then they approach these individuals say: “I see you like [this]. We’re here as missionaries.” And they say: “Oh, missionaries? What are you doing here?” For the people, they do it from their safety of their home.  They feel they’re someone who’s interested in what they feel, and the communication starts. And with that communication starts a buildup of trust. Pretty fast, it’s shown that they have a unique and heartfelt approach that here they are giving of their time, their talents, and want to share something which is close to their heart. And this way, we see progress. We have in many parts of the world in our missions, we have fewer missionaries, but more baptisms, we have request for hearing the message more than in some areas we can really fulfill.

So I think we have to learn now, how to use this technology in a way which will be very good. And this includes, of course, the inclusion of members. Because that is the key. You know, the Church is one work, sometimes we feel members, missionaries, temple, something else, all separate. No, no, no, it’s one work. It’s the work of the Lord. It is His work, His glory, as He has said in the scripture. And He gave us the commandment to love our neighbor, and love Him and serve Him. And then He gave us a great commission to go forward and make disciples, you know, find and teach and baptize. And that’s what really is the beauty of it, that when we use these new tools, that we focus on what is available, what can be done.

10:25

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf: During the pandemic, we learned quickly, don’t focus on the things you cannot do. Focus on the things you can do. You know, we learned this in, in Eastern Europe very fast where more restrictions were for the missionaries. And we were also first a little bit shocked and frustrated, and maybe even petrified, but then we realized, there are a certain framework of rules through government, through public or social situations. But if you work with in this frame, you can be creative, and the Lord will guide us.

That is what the Spirit does. If we only use our talents, then we can share this. You know, in Korea, they teach English, yeah? Online. And the people love it. And then they say: “Well, who are you? You’re teaching us English, who are you?” “Well, we’re missionaries.” “Oh, missionaries are what?”  You see, this is how communication starts.

In England, they show Facebook spots of people who were baptized recently, and these individuals share their story. You know, it’s not a forceful trying to get someone into the Church. It is sharing what you have; it is “Love, Share and Invite.” We have to love our neighbor, we have to love those around us regardless of their socioeconomic situation, their political direction, or whatever it may be; their color, their race, whatever it may be; their language. And then we love, we share what we feel is close to our heart. And then we invite them to come. And that’s what the missionaries do in normal and natural ways. But we need to learn this. And the missionaries are perfect in that.

 12:17

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf: I feel sorry for some of them who had to return because of health issues; we had to be overly careful that young missionaries who had underlying health conditions, that we didn’t leave them in the field. So we had to send them home. But as I said, we’re now trying to get them back and out there, and it works. And it works fine. And they use their talents. They’re so gifted and so prepared for this time. Tell me how to use a smartphone, this is hard. Tell an 18-year-old, 19-year-old; wow, that’s their language! That’s what they live with! We just help them now to use that for the right purpose, to bring and share the gospel of Jesus Christ to those who are seeking for purpose in life, for what this is all about and where they come from and where they go after this life. These fundamental questions are still there. And we just need to use technology and what the Lord has given us to use it the proper way.

Monitors during the taping of a Feb. 25 missionary devotional show Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf and Sister Harriet Uchtdorf conversing with missionaries — shown in videoconference on the screen at right — from the Utah St. George and Washington Spokane missions.
Monitors during the taping of a Feb. 25 missionary devotional show Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf and Sister Harriet Uchtdorf conversing with missionaries — shown in videoconference on the screen at right — from the Utah St. George and Washington Spokane missions. Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

13:30

Sarah Jane Weaver: So this time of the pandemic, when things were so hard for so many, actually was an opportunity for us to learn how to do missionary work in a better way?

13:39

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf: Yes, yes. You know, that’s really what it is. My only hope is that across the Church, actually, that when the pandemic, now hopefully, will come to conclusion, even though I think worldwide it will last a little bit because when you look at the vaccinations, how unequal they are in the world, so we just still have to be realistic enough to see that it won’t be over very quickly. But we need to adapt and add our ways, and not go back to the old ways. You know, that’s my only hope.

We have to retain and cultivate those proven principles and ways how we did it before the pandemic. But we also have to add and adapt, we need to not move back to the old ways, we need to move back to the future. We need to move back to the future, that is the way, and then we will see that with these enthusiastic missionaries, and the members are so good. We have seen in across the world, the feedback how the members appreciate technology. When missionaries invite a member to join them for teaching of a friend, often in some parts of the world, that takes time for this member to travel to the location where the friend is being taught. Sometimes they have to drive an hour or longer in heavy traffic and it costs money, it costs time. Then they arrive. And the appointment falls through perhaps.

Now with technology, the missionary, on the spot, has arranged previously that there may be the opportunity for teaching where the member is invited to bear their testimony. And then they are there. If the appointment falls through, the member’s informed: “No. It won’t work. Stay at home.” If it is there: “OK, join here, log in. We’re here.” No travel, no cost, right there. When it’s over, they are at home, again, with their kids, with their family, at their workplace.

15:54

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf: So, you see, this is just a practical example how members and missionaries can work closely together, and how they use technology. I have a granddaughter in France right now on a mission. She was originally assigned to the U.S., but then reassigned to Paris, because they live in Switzerland. And, you know, when we had Valentine’s Day, just recently in February, the mission made a beautiful video about Valentine’s Day in French, in France, in Paris — the city of love, so to speak, you know. They took a Primary-child song and connected that to Valentine’s Day and the gospel. And of course, they received a lot of likes and questions and so on out of it. This is just one little example.

So yes, there’s a lot of moving forward. But I think within the Church, even when I go further beyond that, I see that when I do my leadership conferences across the globe, I like to be with people and hug them and shake hands and all that. But in some of those leadership conferences I had in the past, members had to travel two hours, four hours. And when you then consider weather conditions, when you consider costs, fuel, time, all these things, and they’re with us for a few hours, and they travel home again. And when they’re in a stake center, and then sitting in the last row, perhaps I would need binoculars to see them.

When I do this by Zoom, they’re sitting on the front row. You know, I see right there when they speak, when they raise their hand electronically, I see that they pop up larger than life, they are in their home. I really liked it, I must say, when you are invited to the homes of the members, where you see them in their living room, in their bedroom, in the kitchen, in their garage, wherever it is. And you have a very intimate feeling. I’m not saying that we should go back to only technology. No, we need our meetings. We need to get together. But we need to adapt some of the things we learned to apply, and not think, “Well, we just have to go back,” without thinking which is better. “Good, better, best.” And that’s what we need to apply then.

In an attempt to control the spread of COVID-19, missionaries are being trained by remote video conference rather than travel to the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' 10 missionary training centers.
In an attempt to control the spread of COVID-19, missionaries are being trained by remote video conference rather than travel to the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ 10 missionary training centers. Credit: Laura Seitz, Deseret News

 18:21

Sarah Jane Weaver: Well, you know, you’ve got this whole generation now of missionaries that have become so resilient. You know, they’ve been reassigned. Some of them have been quarantined, some of them went home. Can you talk about this generation of missionaries and the missionaries who are doing so much to serve right now?

18:41

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf: It’s an amazing generation. I think they’re so talented, so gifted, so well prepared in ways when I look at my own situation in that age group, boy! They are much better. They are much better prepared. They have more challenges also, perhaps, but ours were different. But anyway, they are so prepared. Look at them how they handle home MTC, right? This was one of the things where we immediately thought, “Wow, we cannot send the missionaries to the MTC!” There it is like a cruise ship, right, they go in there, they get all sick, and it’s horrible. So what do we do? Home MTC.

So it took a lot of work and efforts by, I call them geniuses, to develop something, and the families we needed. I drove by homes here in Utah, where all of a sudden a door said, “Home MTC for Elder or Sister so-and-so, going to Puerto Rico.” I watched sometimes these missionaries teaching missionaries at home MTC. There is a spirit there, there is a seriousness and a natural way of doing this. They really are normal and natural how they adapt to missionary service. We even hope that we will use some of those experiences and those learnings for the future of our home MTC because we learned that when young missionaries, 18 years old or so, go into the MTC, it’s sometimes a little shock for them, the quick transfer, and the home MTC softens that transfer.

I saw one session just a few days ago, for one missionary had because of health issues, to delay his mission. And these other nine missionaries all on virtual means there, technology; oh, they cried with him. They tried to build him up, they spoke to him, and the exchange was just beautiful.

20:51

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf: So we’re learning, I think this generation is willing to serve. And you know, and we have told them as Primary children, “You can do hard things.” Now, as parents and grandparents and leaders and peers, we just have to be careful that we’re not forgetting that, that we’re so sorry about them that they perhaps have to work from their apartments, that they cannot do everything outside they would like to do, that we’re so overwhelmed by our compassion for them that we don’t realize what an opportunity also for them to do hard things. It is pioneer time! And why not be grateful?

Because future generations will look back to this generation and say: “Wow, you served your mission during the pandemic 2019, 2020, 2021? Wow, you’re one of our big heroes.” Well, let’s hope that their efforts are equal to also a certain sacrifice. So yes, I see the difficulties, and I love them. And I admire them. But also say it’s an opportunity to sacrifice certain conveniences which are there and learn from them to work from their apartments, go out to shop their food, or run down the street or ride their bikes.

When we walk in the evening, we see the missioners riding by with their bikes, and we say, “Oh, Elders, where are you going?” And they say, “We are just riding our bikes to get some exercise.” You know, they can do this. And they still focus on their role as truly extended arms of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles to bring the gospel to all the world, to make disciples, to teach the gospel, to baptize and to make sure that the people feel at home when they come to Church.

We need the members to be in there. Because the membership needs to know when these missionaries teach. They need this bridge into the ward, into the branch of those who are being taught that they feel: “Ah, yeah, I know already the bishop. I know already this family. They helped me to understand a principle when the missionaries were teaching. They told me that it was hard for them too, but now they love and enjoy being a member of the Church.” So I think our missionaries, they’re an amazing generation. And they can do hard things and we just have to accept it. Let them do hard things, and do it in a joyful way, and they will be grateful for it for the rest of their lives.

23:42

Sarah Jane Weaver: Well, and changes to missionary work in recent years, like a missionary’s ability to call home and connect more with family, and the idea that missionaries share their testimonies in their own words, and, and so many more things actually prepared the whole missionary force for this time. Can you talk about the revelations that preceded the pandemic?

24:03

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf: It was a long process and that’s why I’m saying the Lord was not surprised by that. He prepared us early on that we don’t teach the learned-by-heart lessons. We teach from the heart. But if you’re going to a foreign language, for instance, you have to learn some scriptures. You have to learn text, which is important for this. But it was a process into this, that they speak more with their own words from their heart, because the authentic representation of why they feel the Church and the gospel are right for them will bring the Holy Ghost into the hearts of the other people. And I think it is a combination of many things, and it is certainly a long tradition that missionaries, for instance, couldn’t call home except for Mother’s Day, or Christmas and these things, long before the pandemic we pondered about this — and it, it’s a revelatory process — decided, no, they may call home every week; but focus on the things which are important for them, and for their wonderful calling.

And during the pandemic, we even went beyond. We said, “If needed, you can even call more often.” And this was something which not only helped the missionaries to go through this difficult time of changing their missionary work to work from their apartments, and partially were really limited when you look at the first couple of months. But it also includes the family. It brings the family into missionary work. It’s the same with home MTC. So home MTC and this call home are one beautiful bridge, which brings the family to missionary work and missionary work to the family.

We have an example, for instance, where a missionary in home MTC, his father was not a member. But his father supported him and said, “Yes, It’s a wonderful thing that you go on a mission.” So he went through home MTC and part of these lessons is that you have to teach what you learn. And you teach it to the family members or when you are in the MTC, you teach it to other missionaries. And here, this young missionary had his dad at home who was not a member. He said: “Can I teach you because, you know, then I’m more real there. You are not a member of the Church.” He said, “Yes.” So he taught him during this home MTC before he went into the field, he baptized his dad, his first baptism, his first convert he found. And what a wonderful thing. So I really believe that the Lord has provided these means. We just need to see them and use them and employ them for the benefit of bringing this wonderful gospel and the Church of Jesus Christ to the world.

Sister Kathryn Weaver, who is participating in remote missionary training center in August and September in 2020.
Sister Kathryn Weaver, who is participating in remote missionary training center in August and September in 2020. Credit: Kathryn Weaver

27:12

Sarah Jane Weaver: You know, we had a wonderful home MTC experience. Then my daughter went out in the field, taught someone, and we were able to Zoom into his baptism, as a family, and watch that person that we prayed for!

27:24

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf: Isn’t that great?! We had one grandson in Germany during the whole pandemic there as a missionary. His first baptism during the pandemic was not in Berlin. It was in Provo, because, you know, technology is free of borders. We have missionaries in Novosibirsk (Russia) who are teaching people who speak an Asian language they don’t speak. So, they connect to members in Asia, and lock them in. Members help in their native language to teach someone. There are wonderful opportunities, but it takes the Spirit, and it takes creativity. And we learn that when our missionaries rely on the Spirit, follow the commandments, follow the mission rules, what is given there, and the Spirit will be with them, their creativity will really bloom and bring great blessings to the work.

28:28

Sarah Jane Weaver: Great, well, and it’s been a little more than a year now. And now you’ve got some missionaries returning to the mission they were in to start with or finishing their reassignments and heading to missions, and so you still have sort of a mission force in flux, moving around, what’s that going to look like in the months ahead?

28:48

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf: Well, it’s hard to say because it’s a changing situation. It’s a moving target really. It changes from day to day and week to week. We thought Europe was wide open. We thought Asia, some parts, were wide open. It changes. But in South Africa, or in South America, we have a lot a lot of opening now. Yes. So we’re sending now more missionaries into the field directly than to interim mission assignments. Most of them going out directly to the field, and we are in the process to getting the others into their original assignment when possible. We have some missionaries who call in or write in and say, “Could I stay here?” because they love it so much in their interim assignment. And that’s fine. But we’re doing this, of course, we like to have enough time in their originally assigned mission so they can serve there long enough and not go there for just a few weeks and then return. So we do this in a very efficient and effective way. But we hope we do it in a way that the missionaries will be happy and the families will be happy, because I hear a lot of requests saying, “Well, when is my daughter/my son going forward?” And yes, we’re in the process, we have to be patient there, and it, it will work out fine.

30:11

Sarah Jane Weaver: You know, right as the pandemic was intensifying, we did an interview by Zoom. And in that interview, you said something that a lot of people wrote the Church News and said how much they appreciated it. And it was this idea that there are two important things that make a missionary: when they decide to serve, and then when they accept a call. Can you expand on that? It seemed to bring so much hope to missionaries who had to come home early for any reason, for health or otherwise.

30:39

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf: And that is an important thought. It is also for those who are now out there and thinking about going on a mission and thinking: “Well, the pandemic is still going on, I will delay. I don’t go now.” No, that’s not what it is. I think it is important that we realize that the Lord wants us to serve Him. And for those young people, there’s a time in their lives where they have to decide: “Do I go now on a mission? I’m in the position to do that. I’m in the age group to do that. I’ve prepared for that my whole life.” And they should not be afraid of any consequences like: “Well, maybe I will be delayed in another mission? Or I’ll be not learning the language I hoped I would learn,” or all these things.

No, I think the important thing is really apply for serving and then accept the call. And then you go forward wherever it is.  The important part is really making this internal and spiritual decision: “I want to serve the Lord, I want to give a sacrifice there.” And these young people don’t see that as a sacrifice. But it is, and the Lord will accept their sacrifice. And then they go forward, apply for, and they will be assigned to a mission, and then they will go wherever it will be. And then when they’re out there, and something happens, like we had this with those missionaries who really I feel very sorry for, had to return early because of underlying health issues. They were OK to do the work, but just out of precaution not to bring them at risk out there, we had to send them home and release them in their mission. They fulfilled what the Lord expected of them. The Lord loves them for them and blesses them for that.

And that is the same thing for those who are in the intermittently assigned to somewhere and then go out there in their original service and serve there perhaps for a shorter time. And some of them, you know, who had to wait at home until they were recalled to go out, their total time, maybe not 24 months, maybe only 22 months. And still, the Lord accepts their sacrifice and will bless them, not only now, but forever, and it will bless them, their families,

Sisters Natalie Anderson Morales and Gabrielle Vaoifi pose during the 191st Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City on Saturday, April 3, 2021.
Sisters Natalie Anderson Morales and Gabrielle Vaoifi pose during the 191st Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City on Saturday, April 3, 2021. Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

33:10

Sarah Jane Weaver: What’s your message to missionaries and their families around the world?

33:14

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf: Well, trust the Lord, and prepare yourself, whether you’re about to serve on a mission or whether you’re in a mission field, to see that what you’re about to teach or what you’re teaching is what you feel in your heart. That is really what it is. And it doesn’t need to be that I can testify that I know this and this and this. Know, that I really know that I love to be part of this great work; that I love to be a member of the Church; that I love the Scriptures when I read, and that I want to share what I love with others. And if the families realize that the core of our testimonies is what we have in our heart. That is the desires of our heart will make all the difference. It is not the outer matters. It’s the desires of our heart. And if we feel the gospel, and the Church of Jesus Christ is what I love, and I want to share, then I don’t need to be perfect in my words. I don’t need to be perfect in my activities, because the Holy Spirit will prepare me and will give the rest, to reach out to the hearts of the people.

And to the parents, I just say be grateful for young people will want to go. Don’t worry too much. Just be happy that they are going to go. In a parent’s mind when they hear, “Well, my child is assigned to a country where a pandemic is still present, and not too many are vaccinated yet,“ don’t worry about it. The Church will take good care of your of your child, and the Lord will take care of them. And wherever they are, they are in the hands of the Lord, and things will work out and you will be blessed as a family and generations to come will be blessed. We’re not doing it because of that. But this is a fact, that generations to come will see and know that they really did something which the Lord expected from them. And they did it with all their heart in a joyful way. And they receive their blessings to their own lives, and in their own families.

35:16

Sarah Jane Weaver: As an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, you share the same mission as missionaries. And that’s to go into the world. So can you tell us what you know now, after leading missionary work and working with missionaries and praying for missionaries?

35:58

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf: It’s worth it. It is a work which we sometimes realize to be true, and to be right, only by looking back. You know, the dots connect only while looking back. They don’t connect looking forward. It is at the moment when things happen, you wonder and you trust the Lord and you will give everything you have, what the Lord has given you, to resolve the situation as challenging as it may be. But then you trust the Lord that you follow the counsels you had, and then especially the counsel by the Spirit, and you move forward. And I learned that when you look back, then you see how the dots connect. And you see where you were wrong. And you see where you are right. And you learn, hopefully; yes, I think that is the good thing that the Lord allows us to move forward in faith and trust in Him, and in using what he is granting us.

Joseph Smith, when he was in Liberty Jail, what did he do? He was locked in. He was in a pandemic. Liberty Jail was his pandemic. Right? He couldn’t go out. What did he do? He didn’t have Zoom. He didn’t have social media. He didn’t have email, the smartphone, which our people now have. He wrote a letter. He wrote many letters. What were these letters? Revelations, to the people, to us today. When we read Section 121, 122. Wow, how powerful they are now! And as they were then, they were written at a time where he was locked in. And our missionaries, our members, when we follow the same pattern, and pour out our hearts, as Joseph did to God, to Heavenly Father, to His Son, Jesus Christ, in the name of Jesus Christ, we will receive the instructions to help, to go through that path. And looking back, the dots will connect. And we will see that blessings come like it came to us through the Prophet Joseph through those difficult times. That’s what I think, what I hope, I learned during this time.

I like to share with the people of the world that God lives. He really lives, and He has established His work and it’s small, when you consider the world’s population of almost 8 billion people. And here we are with maybe 16 million or less members. Still, the Lord has asked us, as he did in ancient times, where this group of apostles, of members were small, that we go forward and share what we feel in our heart, to be right, and we know to be true, and share it! And we’re not perfect, no one is perfect, I’m not perfect. But I do know that the gospel is perfect. And this message is perfect for every one’s life. And that God lives and gave us this gift. And he gave us His Son, even His Son Jesus Christ, who makes possible that we overcome any challenge; that we can return to Him; that we have a path where our sins, our shortcomings will all be taken care of if we repent; that the Holy Ghost will lead us through that path; and that the Lord has established His Church in the ancient time. And He, as promised, has reestablished it, restored it in our time, and we’re privileged and blessed. And I would see it as a great blessing, not as a privilege in the worldly way, but as a privilege in a spiritual way, to be part of that and be able to share it.

40:37

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf: And I want to share this good news, this gospel with everyone, and invite them to come and see, and come and help, and come and belong. And they will feel for themselves as I did throughout my life, that this is true, and that Jesus Christ is real, and gave this sacrifice for me, so I can, one day when this life ends, return to His presence. And I’m grateful that and I know that it will bless families, it will make families to be forever. And this is the testimony I want to share with the people around the globe. And I do this, when I do this, I do this always in the sacred name of our Redeemer, our Savior, our Master, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

41:40

Sarah Jane Weaver: You have been listening to the Church News podcast. I’m your host, Church News Editor Sarah Jane Weaver. I hope you have learned something today about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by peering with me through the Church News window. Please remember to subscribe to this podcast. And if you enjoyed the messages we shared today, please make sure you share the podcast with others. Thanks to our guests, to my producer, KellieAnn Halvorsen, and others who make this podcast possible. Join us every week for a new episode. Find us on your favorite podcasting channel or with other news and updates about the Church on TheChurchNews.com