In a recent sacrament meeting a retirement-age couple were asked to speak about the blessings of the temple. They told how missionaries had taught them the gospel as young parents with four children, he an Army officer and she a busy homemaker. They expressed the joy they felt when they heard the message of the restoration, and then learned that families can be together forever. As they shared their sacred memories of being sealed to their children in the temple, those present felt the Holy Ghost bear witness of the gloriousness of this blessing. Three generations of their posterity were there in the meeting to hear their parents tell the story.
This couple then told of sharing that blessing with others by serving a full-time mission themselves in recent years. The joy of the gospel has filled their hearts with so much love, they want everyone to share in the happiness.
This is why we send our sons and daughters out into the world to unfamiliar places to serve missions. This is why we as adults serve in our retirement years. We know the happiness the gospel brings and want others to know it, too.
Are All Required to Serve?
When asked if all members are required to serve missions the Church made this statement on mormon.org: “There is a strong tradition of missionary service in the Church. The Savior taught, ‘Go ye therefore, and teach all nations’ (Matthew 28:19). Church members consider it a privilege to show their love for other people and the Lord by sharing the gospel.”
On this site members were invited to share their answers to the question. Here are a few of their comments.
A young man, Taylor, said, “Quite simply, no. The young men of the church have been strongly encouraged to serve a mission at age 19, and the sisters are able to serve at age 21, but no one is required to serve. We do it because we want to! Who in their right mind would give up two years and pay — that's right, missionaries pay their own way — to go somewhere they had never been and do all that they do? We serve missions because we know that Jesus is the Christ, and we want the happiness that knowledge brings to be available to everyone! So no, Mormons are not required to serve a mission. It's a personal choice to share the happiness and joy they've received from the Gospel.”
Another man, Mark, answered, “No. But as one who has served a mission, I count it as one of the greatest blessings of my life. It has affected who I am as a person, a son, brother, husband and father.”
A returned missionary sister, Brooke, answered with, “I chose to serve a mission because I wanted to share the happiness I have received from having the gospel in my life. I believe my mission was one the most influential experiences of my life & helped me become the person I am today. “
A young missionary, Jordan, answered, “No, but it’s the single most rewarding thing I've ever done in life. I love it. I have seen myself grow in so many aspects of life. I've learned to be more social. I've learned what Love means. I learned how to serve my fellow brothers and sisters and do it just because I love them, even if I don't know them.”
Message from a General Authority
Elder Kazuhiko Yamashita, of the Seventy spoke at General Conference Oct. 2011 where he told of his own conversion when he was 17 years old. He told about being baptized on a very hot day in a handmade baptismal font the missionaries had built. A woman was also baptized that same time.
He said, “We were confirmed right after we were baptized. First, the sister was confirmed by Elder Lloyd. I sat down with the other members, closed my eyes, and quietly listened. Elder Lloyd confirmed her and then began to pronounce a blessing on her. However, Elder Lloyd stopped talking, so I opened my eyes and looked at him with an intent gaze.
“Even today I can clearly remember that scene. Elder Lloyd’s eyes were overflowing with tears. And for the first time in my life, I experienced being enveloped in the Holy Spirit. And through the Holy Spirit I gained a sure knowledge that Elder Lloyd loved us and that God loved us.
“Then it was my turn to be confirmed. Again it was Elder Lloyd. He placed his hands on top of my head and confirmed me a member of the Church, bestowed the gift of the Holy Ghost, and then began pronouncing a blessing. And again he stopped talking. However, I now understood what was happening. I truly knew through the Holy Ghost that the missionaries loved me and that God loved me.”
Think of it! Through the work of dedicated missionaries others can know the blessings of the Holy Ghost. What an amazing gift to be able to bestow on others, a gift that teaches them of God’s love, a gift that will bless them throughout their lives, as it does all of us who remain faithful.
A Young Convert Shares her Story
On her blog a lovely young woman, Al, shared her conversion story, taken from a talk she gave in her ward. Recalling her first meetings with the missionaries she said, “The life they led was unheard of to me. It wasn’t that it seemed unattainable, but non existent. Me, like every nonmember, asked many questions on the standard living of their life and was hung up on the fact people actually live this way. But my missionaries glowed every time I saw them. I craved their presence so that whatever they had, I could have too.”
She continued meeting with the missionaries. “According to my missionaries, I was a prime investigator making progress. According to my friends and my family, I was in the process of being brainwashed. And According to me, I was simply following that happiness that kept getting stronger and stronger.
“That’s what happens when Christ becomes a reality in your life. You change, not because you’re told to, but because then, you want to.
“Living these ‘standards’ that the missionaries had and taught allowed me to then receive my testimony. My standards are my testimony.
“My greatest blessing from living those standards, the commandments, is one of the greatest of all, being worthy of baptism. To me, being baptized was a new commitment, to a new way of living with the eternal promise of happiness—that happiness that has yet to stop growing. The blessing of receiving the Holy Ghost, that when I did, I physically felt it. I physically felt my whole body receiving nothing but a sacred, personalized, gift from God that is mine to have, mine to use, and mine to maintain.