Here are the notes I spoke from in my homecoming talk on Sunday. These clips are a few of the highlights from talks and trainings I’ve given during the last 3 years.
God has a plan for us, each individually. He knows us inside out.
In a world where Heavenly Father can turn an apple blossom into an apple, imagine what he can do with someone like me!
If we ask for help or understanding, He will answer.
God’s answers are not always instantaneous.
Often He uses time to teach lessons and reveal new things.
God’s answers are personal and efficient.
God is never wrong. God is never late.
God is hastening HIS work.
This is HIS work not ours.
We are His servants.
He is with us in this work.
The Doctrine of Christ is simple, pure, delightful, and life-saving.
The Holy Ghost speaks with the tongue of angels.
The Holy Ghost speaks to our understanding.
The Holy Ghost speaks the words of Christ.
These words are given to us as a gift.
Missionary work and Family History work are the same (ministering and saving), the people are just in different places.
President Russell M. Nelson:
Too often we split the Lord’s work into parts we think are unrelated. Whether it is preaching the gospel to nonmembers, serving with new converts, reactivating less-active members, teaching and strengthening active members, or performing family history and temple activity, the work is indivisible. These are not separate. They are all part of the work of salvation. Those on the other side of the veil rejoice and shout praises when their descendants accept or return to the gospel, for they know that their descendants are now able to perform vital temple ordinances in their behalf, linking together generations who have passed. (Seminar for New Mission Presidents, 2014)
Writing in a journal is Important.
To live and not have written, save one’s name
Or never to have lived, is much the same.
Leave yourself behind in ways that those who come after you will know you and love you. Then perhaps you will be granted access to them in their times of need. (Might not the reverse be true?)
If you do not write your story, your name will be obliterated from the human record and you will not speak from the grave. You will not have any influence on those who come after you. Those who write about the things they have done and learned in life have a huge impact on posterity. Write your story. You have overcome things your children need to know about.
If we don’t remember something, it’s like it never happened.
If we don’t remember someone, it’s like they never lived.
As long as there are words, nobody need ever die. –Betsy Byars
When a person dies, it’s like a library burns down.
Records are Kept and Preserved
We have scriptures because of the faith and prayers and desires of every prophet and disciple of Jesus Christ who has written of Him.
They recorded messages for their loved ones and for us today.
They testify of Christ. This is their gift to us, it is His gift to us.
As we add our testimonies to theirs (or Layer our Testimonies), we can have great power and an outpouring of the Spirit when we teach.
Be the Means Alma 37:7
“And the Lord God doth work by means to bring about his great and eternal purposes; and by very small means the Lord doth confound the wise and bringeth about the salvation of many souls.”
Let your Actions and your Words be the Means (Alma 37)
First seek to obtain my word
The years I lived in Africa taught me that
you can’t draw water from an empty well. We must Learn, Study, and Prepare.
If we learn WHAT to teach, the Spirit can help us know HOW to teach.
Doing vs. Being
We are human beings, not human doings.
Let your goals be focused on who you need to BE more than on what you want to DO. Then make yourself available to go where you’re needed.
Church is not a building. It’s a gathering of believers. It’s a place where we can participate in what Paul calls “the work of the ministry” (Eph 4:11).
Faith is a gift.
Bruce R. McConkie:
One of the gifts God has promised to all who earnestly seek Him is faith. Faith is a gift of God bestowed as a reward for personal righteousness. It is always given when righteousness is present, and the greater the measure of obedience to God’s laws the greater will be the endowment of faith.
Loving as Jesus Loves:
Someone once said, “The withholding of love is the negation of the spirit of Christ, the proof that we never knew him, that for us he lived in vain. It means that he suggested nothing in all our thoughts, that he inspired nothing in all our lives, that we were not once near enough to him to be seized with the spell of his compassion for the world.”
We determine the degree of our likeability.
We can do practical things that make us more likeable.
On getting along with a companion:
(Pres Lewis’s favorite line from Adjusting to Missionary Life, p. 37):
“Your companion’s behavior makes perfect sense to him or her, even if it doesn’t to you.”
We Internalize Things, like Music, Words and Actions
I’ve noticed that music and lyrics to songs lodge in our minds without our consciously thinking about them or memorizing them. Years later we hear a song and still know the words. They are in us, a part of us.
I believe this is also true with words. If we read the words of Christ in the scriptures, His thoughts go into our minds and in time, we begin to think His thoughts, they become part of who we are and we begin to act like He acts.
I believe the same is true of kind things we do, our actions–if we act with kindness, in time, we become a kind person. If we act positive, we become positive. Like music and words, our actions, change who we are. They change our being.
As thy days may demand, so thy succor shall be
Sitting on a stand in a Stake Conference, we stood to sing “How Firm a Foundation.” I was exhausted and wondering what would come out of my mouth when my turn came to speak.
As we sang: “As thy days may demand, so thy succor shall be,” I knew all would be fine.
Succor is always given. Always. It matches every demand.
Missionaries are Remembered
I found an 1898 obituary of a man named Elisha Davis, written by his son that told me that in 1839 Elisha left on a mission the day after he was baptized, dressed in a pair of thin calf skin boots and suit of homemade clothing, without underclothes or overcoat. He traveled on foot 300 miles across the Allegheny Mountains into Pennsylvania. He said, “The Spirit of God kept me warm.” Elisha and his companion, Henry Dean found and converted Martin and Elizabeth Bushman, in Lancaster County. They were baptized May 10, 1840.
Elisha’s name is remembered in my family.
And OUR missionary’s names will be remembered in the same way by each person they taught. All future generations of faithful descendants and family members will speak the names of our missionaries with reverence and with honor. They probably have no idea of the magnitude of the goodness they’ve started by converting just one.
They may or may not have had any recent converts at the airport when they left. They may never even know the extent of their influence when they went home.
But someday they will be shown in full detail the lives they changed while serving in Washington as a missionary.
Next month John and I will be traveling to Lancaster County, where Martin and Elizabeth were baptized. I am grateful for Elisha Davis. (178 years ago)
There are many ways missionaries have taught me to describe repentance:
Following Jesus Christ
A Purification Process
Change of Heart
An Action to show Faith
Don’t do things that Hurt or Harm
Continuing Course of Correction
Turning Your Will to God
Choosing to Act
Movement Towards Good
Relying on Jesus Christ
FOMO = The Fear of Missing Out
FOMO can make it difficult for us to appreciate our current circumstances and environments. Elder Bednar invites us “to embrace what the Lord has blessed you with and to act in faith. Do not take counsel from your fears.”
What manner of language?
Language matters. Grammar matters. Being articulate matters.
Words are powerful.
In 1 Nephi 5 Sariah, Lehi and Nephi are described as complaining, comforting and speaking, each with a different “manner of language.” The difference is HUGE. We can learn from the outcome in their examples.
Take the Plunge!
Every time missionaries saw a river (which happens a lot in the WYM), I hope they remembered my words: Take the Plunge!
Dive in with all your heart! Don’t hold back. Be completely obedient.
That’s when the blessings flow!
Obedience is not a negotiation process. It is an alignment process.
The purpose of obedience is not to negotiate with Heavenly Father about what we want Him to do, rather it is to find out what He would have us learn and do.
Serve from your Strengths.
Find your gifts and talents and use them every day.
Use your Patriarchal Blessing to help you identify your spiritual gifts, other gifts and talents, blessings you’ve been promised, admonitions and warnings.
Your strengths are part of the Lord’s storehouse, from which He draws to bless His children and build His kingdom. A crucial part of missionary life is to cultivate gifts and consecrate your strengths to help others come to Christ. Focus more on what you do well than on what you do wrong.
As you do this, you will Be a tool for the Lord, and an instrument in His hands. We each have specific gifts He needs us to use to help others come to Christ.
God is not a distributor of answers. He’s a creator of situations leading to the exaltation of man.
Enduring to the End = Learning from experiences over time
If Heavenly Father did not require endurance to the end, then there would be no internalization of events in our lives over time. They would just be simple, surface experiences and we would move from one to the next without much thought.
We may not always know what we are learning at the time of an experience.
Sometimes experiences only make sense later.
Sometimes we will see things later that we didn’t see at first.
Often, what we learn comes only after we record, remember, reflect and revisit an experience.
He teaches us, not once, but over and over again as we return to things we’ve learned with added maturity or after additional experiences.
Enduring to the End means being able to say, “Next time I’ll do better.”
Help from the Spirit World
Stadium –numberless concourses of loved ones on the other side of the veil are cheering for you every single day. They know you are here. They know who you need to find.
Deliverance is an important word in the scriptures. Follow it. Learn from it.
We can and must Ride Faster!
Technology in the latter days was meant for us!
God wants dedicates, not volunteers. Ministering, not checking boxes.