Monday, April 27, 2009

What The Prophets and Apostles Taught Us About Missionary Work at the April 2009 LDS General Conference

Every conference I listen to the talks to see if the theme of missionary work will be covered. Some conferences there are several talks on the subjects. Other conferences it is a well-mentioned theme. This conference I found only three talks that related to missionary work. President Thomas S. Monson mentioned it in all his talks. Dallin H. Oaks used missionary work as an example of unselfish service. A direct talk by L. Tom Perry Bring Souls Unto Me focused on what members could do to overcome their fear of sharing.

The conference opened with President Thomas S. Monson reporting on missionary work in the opening of General Conference said:

We now have approximately 53,000 missionaries serving in 348 missions throughout the world. We take most seriously the Savior’s mandate when He said, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”1 We are deeply grateful for the labors of our missionaries and for the sacrifices which they and their families make in order for them to serve.

We also have countless volunteers and missionaries in nonproselyting activities. These are generally mature individuals who donate their time and talents in order to further the work of the Lord and to bless our Heavenly Father’s children. How thankful we are for the valuable services these individuals are providing.

At priesthood session President Monson related a missionary conversion story to illustrate the power of praying fervently by imvestigators and the missionaries:

Second, pray fervently. With God, all things are possible. Men of the Aaronic Priesthood, men of the Melchizedek Priesthood, remember the prayer of the Prophet Joseph, offered in that grove called sacred. Look around you and see the result of that answered prayer.

Adam prayed; Jesus prayed. We know the outcome of their prayers. He who notes the fall of a sparrow surely hears the pleadings of our hearts. Remember the promise: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”8

To those within the sound of my voice who are struggling with challenges and difficulties large and small, prayer is the provider of spiritual strength; it is the passport to peace. Prayer is the means by which we approach our Father in Heaven, who loves us. Speak to Him in prayer and then listen for the answer. Miracles are wrought through prayer.

Sister Daisy Ogando lives in New York City, home to more than eight million people. Some years ago Sister Ogando met with the missionaries and was taught the gospel. Gradually, she and the missionaries lost contact. Time passed. Then, in 2007, the principles of the gospel she had been taught by the missionaries stirred within her heart.

One day while getting into a taxi, Daisy saw the missionaries at a distance, but she was unable to make contact with them before they disappeared from view. She prayed fervently to our Heavenly Father and promised Him that if He would somehow direct the missionaries to her once again, she would open her door to them. She returned home that day with faith in her heart that God would hear and answer her prayer.

In the meantime, two young missionaries who had been sincerely praying and working to find people to teach were one day examining the tracting records of missionaries who had previously served in their area. As they did so, they came across the name of Daisy Ogando. When they approached her apartment the very afternoon that Sister Ogando offered that simple but fervent prayer, she opened the door and said those words that are music to every missionary who has ever heard them: “Elders, come in. I’ve been waiting for you!”

Two fervent prayers were answered, contact was reestablished, missionary lessons were taught, and arrangements were made for Daisy and her son Eddy to be baptized.

In his Sunday morning talk President Monson mentioned a personal conversion story of one of his ancestors:

Too numerous to mention are the examples of all the individuals who have faced difficult circumstances and yet who have persevered and prevailed because their faith in the gospel and in the Savior has given them the strength they have needed. This morning, however, I’d like to share with you three such examples.

First, from my own family, I mention a touching experience that has always been an inspiration to me.

My maternal great-grandparents Gibson and Cecelia Sharp Condie lived in Clackmannan, Scotland. Their families were engaged in coal mining. They were at peace with the world, surrounded by relatives and friends, and were housed in fairly comfortable quarters in a land they loved. Then they listened to the message of the missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and, to the depths of their very souls, were converted. They heard the call to gather to Zion and knew they must answer that call.

Sometime around 1848, they sold their possessions and prepared for the hazardous voyage across the mighty Atlantic Ocean. With five small children, they boarded a sailing vessel, all their worldly possessions in one tiny trunk. They traveled 3,000 miles (4,800 km) across the waters—eight long, weary weeks on a treacherous sea, watching and waiting, with poor food, poor water, and no help beyond the length and breadth of that small ship.

In the midst of this soul-trying situation, one of their young sons became ill. There were no doctors, no stores at which they might purchase medicine to ease his suffering. They watched, they prayed, they waited, and they wept as day by day his condition deteriorated. When his eyes were at last closed in death, their hearts were torn asunder. To add to their grief, the laws of the sea must be obeyed. Wrapped in a canvas weighed down with iron, the little body was consigned to a watery grave. As they sailed away, only those parents knew the crushing blow dealt to wounded hearts.4 However, with a faith born of their deep conviction of the truth and their love of the Lord, Gibson and Cecelia held on. They were comforted by the words of the Lord: “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”5

How grateful I am for ancestors who had the faith to leave hearth and home and to journey to Zion, who made sacrifices I can scarcely imagine. I thank my Heavenly Father for the example of faith, of courage, and of determination Gibson and Cecelia Sharp Condie provide for me and for all their posterity.

I dealt with Elder Perry's talk in an earlier blog post. I am glad to see President Monson focus on the missionary experience.

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