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Cover image via LDS.org. 

On March 10, 1899, a 19-year-old young man named Joseph Rudolph Jeppson from Millville, Cache County, Utah, accepted a call to serve as a missionary assigned to labor in the Southern States Mission. His acceptance letter reads:

“First Presidency, Dear Brethren,

I received your letter, on the forth. And it fills me with pleasure, to respond to the call, to fill a mission, to the Southern States. It is agreeable, with my feelings and I can go, in October. I feel well in the Gospel, and know of no better better place for me, than the mission field. Trusting that I may ever remain your brother, in the Gospel. Joseph R. Jeppson” (The Early Mormon Missionaries database).

Jeppson was set apart as a missionary on October 18, 1899, and served in the Southern States Mission from October 1899 to May 1901. His words, “it fills me with pleasure, to respond to the call,” highlight an important lesson about being called to the work of the Lord.

“Every year tens of thousands of young men and young women, and many senior couples, eagerly anticipate receiving a special letter from Salt Lake City,” said Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles during the April 2017 general conference. “The content of the letter affects forever the person to whom it is addressed, as well as family members and a great number of other people. Upon arrival, the envelope may be opened neatly and patiently or ripped apart excitedly with great haste. Reading this special letter is an experience never to be forgotten” (“Called to the Work”).

This letter is more than a simple piece of paper—it represents hard work, time spent at appointments with a doctor and a dentist, and meeting with a bishop and stake president. Most important, the letter represents a person’s worthiness and a willingness to devote 18 months to two years to full-time service.

“The letter is signed by the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the first two sentences read as follows: ‘You are hereby called to serve as a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,’” Elder Bednar taught. “‘You are assigned to labor in the [blank] mission.’

“Please note that the first sentence is a call to serve as a full-time missionary in the Lord’s restored Church. The second sentence indicates an assignment to labor in a specific place and mission. The important distinction expressed in these two sentences is essential for all of us to understand.”

Elder Bednar differentiated between being called to the work and the assignment to labor in an area.

To read the full article on the Church News, click here