Monday, June 3, 2013

As a young adult in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I was given the privilege of giving 18 months of my life to serve The Lord and share His gospel with His people.  This experience has blessed my life in ways that I could never have imagined.  To me, serving an LDS mission is one of the single, greatest opportunites I could have been given.

In October 2012 President Thomas S. Monson, President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, announced a major change in the missionary program.  This announcement would immediately change lives everywhere...

"Brothers and sisters, I now turn to another matter—namely, missionary service.
For some time the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles have allowed young men from certain countries to serve at the age of 18 when they are worthy, able, have graduated from high school, and have expressed a sincere desire to serve. This has been a country-specific policy and has allowed thousands of young men to serve honorable missions and also fulfill required military obligations and educational opportunities.
Our experience with these 18-year-old missionaries has been positive. Their mission presidents report that they are obedient, faithful, mature, and serve just as competently as do the older missionaries who serve in the same missions. Their faithfulness, obedience, and maturity have caused us to desire the same option of earlier missionary service for all young men, regardless of the country from which they come.
I am pleased to announce that effective immediately all worthy and able young men who have graduated from high school or its equivalent, regardless of where they live, will have the option of being recommended for missionary service beginning at the age of 18, instead of age 19. I am not suggesting that all young men will—or should—serve at this earlier age. Rather, based on individual circumstances as well as upon a determination by priesthood leaders, this option is now available.
As we have prayerfully pondered the age at which young men may begin their missionary service, we have also given consideration to the age at which a young woman might serve. Today I am pleased to announce that able, worthy young women who have the desire to serve may be recommended for missionary service beginning at age 19, instead of age 21."
In response to President Monson's announcement  hundreds of thousands have heeded the call to go forth and serve.  The reason I have created this blog is to document my younger sister, Samantha Tracy's experience as she goes forth to serve in the Detroit Michigan Mission.  Most of the posts on this blog will be written by Samantha herself.  I will keep her blog updated by posting her weekly emails home. This way we can share the miracles of her mission with the world.

The title of this blog was taken from President Henry B. Eyring's article, "How Great Shall Be Your Joy."  I have copied the article below. I hope that as you read it you will come to feel how sacred this work is.  I am so thankful for missionary work in my own life. It is my personal testimony that God loves us.  I know that he sent His Son to die for us.  I know that it is only by following our Savior that we may return to Him.  I feel so blessed that my Heavenly Father has trusted me and those I love to carry His message of reedeming love to His children.  Thank you for your prayers. Thank you for your love. Our love is with you.


Henry B. Eyring

How Great Shall Be Your Joy

Few joys in life are sweeter and longer lasting than knowing that you have helped others take the restored gospel of Jesus Christ into their hearts. Having that joy is the opportunity of every member of the Church. When we were baptized, we made a promise that we would “stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that [we] may be in, even until death, that [we] may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that [we] may have eternal life” (Mosiah 18:9).
All members accept part of the charge given to the Church to take the gospel of Jesus Christ to the world, wherever and as long as they live. The Lord said it clearly: “Behold, I sent you out to testify and warn the people, and it becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor” (D&C 88:81). Full-time missionaries are to have the power to teach those who are not yet members of the Church. Members of the Church are to have the power to find those the Lord has prepared for the missionaries to teach.
We need to exercise our faith that the Lord has prepared people around us to be taught. He knows who they are and when they are ready, and He can guide us to them by the power of the Holy Ghost and give us words to invite them to be taught. The promise the Lord gave to a missionary in 1832 is also the promise He gives to us in our charge to find people ready for teaching by the missionaries: “I will send upon him the Comforter, which shall teach him the truth and the way whither he shall go; and inasmuch as he is faithful, I will crown him again with sheaves” (D&C 79:2–3).
And the promise of great joy for the faithful missionary is also ours as faithful members who give our hearts to missionary work:
“And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me!
“Behold, you have my gospel before you, and my rock, and my salvation.
“Ask the Father in my name, in faith believing that you shall receive, and you shall have the Holy Ghost, which manifesteth all things which are expedient unto the children of men” (D&C 18:16–18).
In addition to the Holy Ghost to help us recognize and invite those ready to be taught, the Lord has called and trained leaders to guide us. In a letter dated February 28, 2002, the First Presidency placed increased responsibility for missionary work on bishops and wards. 1 With the help of the ward or branch council, the priesthood executive committee develops a missionary plan for the unit. In that plan are suggestions on how members can find those ready to be taught by the missionaries. There is a person called as the ward or branch mission leader. That mission leader has close contact with the full-time missionaries and their investigators.
There are many ways you can better meet your personal obligation to help find people for the missionaries to teach. The simplest way will be the best.
Pray to be guided by the Holy Ghost. Talk with local leaders and missionaries, asking for their suggestions and promising them your help. Encourage those involved with you in this work. And be a witness at all times in what you say and do that Jesus is the Christ and that God answers prayers.
I testify that the Holy Ghost will direct you to those who seek truth as you pray and work for that guidance. And I know from experience that your joy will be lasting with those who choose to take the gospel into their hearts and then endure in faith.