In April 2022 general conference, you may recall President Russell M. Nelson declaring:
“Today I reaffirm strongly that the Lord has asked every worthy, able young man to prepare for and serve a mission. For Latter-day Saint young men, missionary service is a priesthood responsibility. You young men have been reserved for this time when the promised gathering of Israel is taking place. As you serve missions, you play a pivotal role in this unprecedented event!
“For you young and able sisters, a mission is also a powerful, but optional, opportunity. We love sister missionaries and welcome them wholeheartedly. What you contribute to this work is magnificent! Pray to know if the Lord would have you serve a mission, and the Holy Ghost will respond to your heart and mind” (Russell M. Nelson, “Preaching the Gospel of Peace,” Liahona, May 2022).
For our family this announcement was loud and clear. Particularly to our daughter Caroline who embraced this invitation and received a mission call from President Nelson to serve in the Hungary-Romanian Mission shortly thereafter.
Despite the excitement in preparing to serve a mission, quieter times allowed for the opportunity to reflect and offer some important advice to a missionary daughter. Let me share with you what I shared with Caroline.
My advice to Caroline, our missionary daughter
“I can’t explain how proud I am that I am writing this letter to you. To be a missionary and representative of Jesus Christ is the most important thing you could be doing with your life. The fact that you have prepared yourself and lived a life of virtue to qualify for this honour is even more impressive to me. You have been called to serve in Romania where you will be trusted to do hard things. These hard things will help shape you into a woman of greater capacity and understanding than you can imagine.
“In the New Testament, Matthew writes, ‘Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost’ (Matthew 28:19; emphasis added). This is known as the Great Commission given by the resurrected Savior to the Twelve Apostles of old. The footnote of the Greek translation of the word teach is interesting to me. It suggests that you are called to preach the gospel to others but even more importantly you are to help make disciples of all who you meet.
“Also, in the general handbook of the Church it says: ‘Being a faithful disciple in order to help others become faithful disciples is the purpose behind every calling in the Church’ (General Handbook: Serving in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 4.1, ChurchofJesusChrist.org). This includes missionary service. So, don’t just be satisfied with teaching lessons or doing missionary things but in all you do and with everyone you meet help them become a true disciple of Jesus Christ. With this perspective your mission will not be about numbers or baptisms, but helping yourself, your companions, members and friends become true and lasting disciples of Jesus Christ.
“One thing that will help you is to have an outward attitude. Consider the Savior’s attitude regarding His mission:
“I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me” (John 5:30).
“For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me” (John 6:38).
“I do nothing of myself” (John 8:28).
“Not my will but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42).
“Forget about yourself. Lose yourself in the joy of the work and your eternal identity and mission will become clear. ‘[She] that loseth [her] life for my sake shall find it’ (Matthew 10:39). Also know too that the Lord will bless you for your service and open doors of opportunity you never thought available for your faithful service.
“As you turn outward, also be the first to love others. Don’t wait, but use your agency and choose now to love your companions, your mission leaders (President Justin and Sister Lori Rucker), all the missionaries, members, and the people you find, meet and teach. Choose to love Romania and all of its uniqueness, the language, the food, the culture and find the good in all you see. As John states, ‘We love him, because he first loved us’ (1 John 4:19). As you choose to love first, that same love will be returned to you beyond measure. So be the most loving version of yourself.
“You will have success as a teacher and missionary because you have access to priesthood power through your setting apart. You have been endowed with power in the Endowment and the Holy Ghost will inspire, teach and protect you. In order to access this power, be resolved to be one hundred percent obedient to the gospel and mission rules. Some missionaries feel that exceptions to obedience are not that bad. But it is inconsistent to think that the Holy Ghost will inspire, watch over and protect the disobedient. You will need all the help you can get so show your love to the Savior by being a one hundred percent obedient sister throughout your mission. Not only will President Rucker know he can count on you, but so will the Lord and He will provide great blessings to you and to those you teach.
“You will never get an opportunity like the next 18 months have in store for you again. Use your agency and make every moment, every day matter. Go have an adventure of a lifetime. Work hard. Look for every opportunity to lift others, serve them, bless them and lead them to the Savior. Don’t lose focus of your missionary purpose. “Invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end” (Preach My Gospel: A Guide to Missionary Service, page 1).
“Lastly, bear your testimony daily. It doesn’t have to come in the form as “I know this or this” but share your witness of what you have learned through the Spirit. As you testify of things you choose to believe and hope to be true, the Holy Ghost can reveal to you the reality of things. There is a promise found in the Doctrine and Covenants for those who frequently bear their testimony in ‘solemnity of heart’ and in the ‘spirit of meekness.’ It is that ‘the Holy Ghost shall be shed forth in bearing record unto all things whatsoever ye shall say’ (Doctrine and Covenants 100:7-8). What a promise!
“Please remember that ‘the real success of a mission is not measured on a chart – it is etched in your heart and the hearts of those whose lives are eternally changed because of you’ (Dennis B. Neuenschwander, “To a Missionary Son,” Ensign, October 1991). I love this!
“You are well prepared to be a great missionary. Go be an impact player. Work hard and go make a difference. Build the Church and strengthen the branches and wards in Romania. There are souls waiting for you to find them and connect with them in ways no one else can. This is your time!”
Advice to others
To young men and young women, to senior and single members desirous to serve a mission; consider this letter as written to you and “Go Forth with Faith” (Hymns, no. 263).