Sunday, May 12, 2013

I received a call in January from our Prophet.  It read, “Dear Sister Copeland:  You are hereby called to serve as a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”  My call is specific.  I have a date and time that I will arrive at the MTC to receive formal training after which I will report to another country to help spread the Gospel.  Yet, we have all received a formal missionary call.  We covenanted at baptism to be missionaries!

We promised to take upon us the name of thy Son, and always remember him and keep his commandments which he has given us.  We covenanted to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places.  What better way is there of being a witness than to actively share the truths we understand? To bring others to the Gospel and to build the Kingdom of God? 

For those of you familiar with the Missionary Training Center in Provo, you may have seen the field directly across from the MTC campus.  A sign in the field clearly reads “Missionaries only.”  In the past an additional sign was posted by others wanting to use the field.  It stated, “Every member a missionary.”  Although the sign was quickly removed, the thought remains true and has an even increased importance today. 

I am thankful and excited for my opportunity to serve as a missionary for the Church.  I know that the Lord has been preparing me for this time.  He has prepared me from before I got my call and long before I even made the decision to serve a mission.  And, to stay in the spirit of the occasion, I would like to discuss the ways in which my mother, a member missionary, has prepared me for a mission.  She was preparing me from the start, before she or I knew that I would formally serve.   Although she has never served an official mission, through her service, guidance, and example, my mother has slowly taught me how to be a good person, a mother and wife, and currently of importance to me, a missionary. 

The Church is coming forth out of obscurity and we must become better missionaries by overcoming our feelings of inadequacy.

Whether it is Mitt Romney, Prop 8, or Broadway, the spotlight on the Church has never shown brighter.  It is our duty to make sure the light that is shown on us is a positive one. In March I was in New York City for ten days staying at a hotel in Times Square.  It was refreshing to see the large “I am a Mormon” ads shining all over the lit billboards.   We cannot remain in the shadows any longer.  Our name is out there.  People want to know who we are.  Now, sharing the gospel is much easier said than done.  Giving out Books of Mormon or inviting others to Church is scary.  But what if we found ways that may be less intimidating to us and less foreign to others?

My mom has helped teach me simple steps to share the Gospel.  We must first learn to create common ground.  By finding things in common with others, we can more easily share our differences.  For example, the doctor that my mom works for is Muslim, yet, she has found that our morals closely align with his.  Forming the foundations of our friendships with common beliefs and ideas can make them strong and gives them potential to grow.  Our friends are our best listeners, and now is the time to teach them more about the Gospel we hold so closely to our hearts. 

And we don’t have to fear scaring off others when sharing our beliefs.  Instead of inviting a friend to church, we can invite them to a mutual activity.  Instead of giving the missionaries the name of our neighbor, we can ask the neighbor to dinner at our home where the missionaries will also conveniently be in attendance.  Giving out a Book of Mormon may seem daunting, but making a profile on and chatting to those already interested online lacks intimidation.  We can do small things each day, like posting Mormon Messages to our social networks and inviting friends to events where other members will be present, which can be simple ways to open a dialogue with others about our beliefs. 

Clayton Christensen has said, “I love my life as a missionary, keeping myself on the front lines. The image in my mind is that God, my general, stands at the door when I go out every morning; and, knowing what the war is like, day after day he gives me his most powerful weapon: his Spirit. For this I am grateful.”

Like soldiers on the front lines, we must always be prepared to  be a missionary; any time can become a time to share the Gospel.

My mother has taught me over and over that when in doubt, make the logical choice.  Our hard work is more important than our intellect.  The power of the Spirit can replace our inadequacies with the abilities to share and testify. 

As we are reminded each Sunday during the Sacrament, if we stand as witnesses, we will be blessed to always have His Spirit to be with us. 

We are entitled to the same Spirit the Sons of Mosiah were fueled by through their great missionary endeavors; we read, “Now they were desirous that salvation should be declared to every creature, for they could not bear that any human soul should perish; yea, even the very thoughts that any soul should endure endless torment did cause them to quake and tremble.  And thus did the Spirit of the Lord work upon them.”

L. Tom Perry stated, “If you will respond to the invitation to share your beliefs and feelings about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, a spirit of love and a spirit of courage will be your constant companion, for perfect love casteth out fear.”

When Lehi partook of the fruit, he was filled with joy, so much joy that he felt the strongest desire to share his new found knowledge and joy.  We read Lehi’s words, “ I began to be desirous that my family should partake of it also; for I knew that it was desirable above all other fruit.”  We have also partaken of the fruit and we do not desire to be the only ones filled with joy.  The spirit of missionary work is the spirit of joy, a spirit that is meant to be shared and spread. 

Possibly the most important lesson my mom has taught me about being a missionary is that being a missionary means working hard.  Being a follower of Christ is a daily commitment to not stand idle but to actively engage yourself and others in the work of the Lord. 

President Ezra Taft Benson once said: “One of the greatest secrets of missionary work is work. If a missionary works, he will get the Spirit; if he gets the Spirit, he will teach by the Spirit; and if he teaches by the Spirit, he will touch the hearts of the people; and he will be happy. There will be no homesickness, no worrying about families, for all time and talents and interests are centered on the work of the ministry. That’s the secret—work, work, work. There is no satisfactory substitute, especially in missionary work.”

I know that my mom never received a letter in the mail assigning her as a missionary, but my mother, and your mothers also, have received and fulfilled divine mission calls to motherhood.  They have cared for us and through each moment, they have taught us the layers of the Gospel.  Through their service and limitless sacrifice, they have showed us the meaning of Christ’s Atonement and the love that our Heavenly Father has for us. 

In words more eloquent than mine, Robert D. Hales related the sacred home to the sacred act of missionary service.  He said, “The greatest missionary work we will ever do will be in our homes. Our homes are part of the mission field. Our children and grandchildren are our most important investigators.

The greatest family history work that we will do will be within our own homes. It is the spiritual preparation of our children in the rising generation that will, through their obedience, ensure the eternal preservation and perpetuation of our families for the coming generations.

The greatest rescue, the greatest activation will be in our homes.  There is no failure except in giving up. It is never too early or too late to begin.

The greatest faith we have will be within our homes as we remain strong in the trials and tribulations of parenthood.”

I know that the ability the mother has to fill her home with a loving spirit.  She is foundational to the success of the home and the role of the Gospel in the lives of her children.  I have been blessed to have a mother set an example for me in my life.  I pray and know that by following her example and by honorably serving a full-time mission, I can become a worthy mother in the future.  

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