Member Missionaries

image from the Gogo Goff Blog

Within Mormon culture, there are quite a few myths about missionaries and missionary work, some of them are awesome stories about the early days of the church, but there are a few myths that are not acceptable and that we need to stop believing. Specifically, there are 6 myths about missionaries that members need to stop believing.

1. You Are A Bad Missionary If You Go Home Early.

A lot of missionaries return home early from their mission, some for medical reasons and others for worthiness reasons. Coming home early does not make you a bad missionary. A cultural problem in the Church whether we want to admit it or not is that fact that a lot of judging and shaming happens to early returned missionaries. It is so bad that some of these RM’s I have talked with have told me that they avoid going to church because of how awful the members treat them.
Some people assume that when they are told someone came home for medical reasons it is really a cover for a worthiness problem. To that I will address the root problem, so what if they came home for worthiness? Are you upset that someone has started the repentance process by confessing their sins? The whole point of the gospel and the atonement is to allow people to repent and be forgiven of their sins. Missionaries who come home as part of repentance are the definition of living the gospel, I would rather they repent and come home than serve unworthily.
Instead of judging and shaming early returned missionaries, let us help them fulfill their potential! They need friends, family, and leaders who will love and support for them. President Monson once quoted Mother Theresa who said. “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”
Read the full post on My Life By Gogogoff

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Steve Young Didn't Serve a Mission
Photo via ldsliving.com

In the 1990s, Steve Young rose to fame as the star quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers. Now the Hall of Famer and Super Bowl MVP reflects on the challenges and triumphs of his brilliant 15-year NFL career and reveals the surprising reason he didn’t serve a mission.

THE MISSION QUESTION

The Christmas break gave me time to think about my future. I decided to step away from football and serve a two-year mission. It wasn’t a snap decision. I’d been mulling it over all semester. My father had served a mission after his freshman year at BYU, and I had always aspired to do the same. LaVell’s decision to make me into a defensive back spurred me to go sooner rather than later.

I completed the necessary paperwork and notified my bishop. The plan was set. I would leave in the spring, right after I completed my freshman year.

My parents were pleased. But as soon as I committed, I started to feel anxious. A mission is a great opportunity. But I knew myself too well. There was no way I’d survive being away for two years. The thought of total separation overwhelmed me. I didn’t understand the source of my fears. But I knew they were real.

There’s no way, I told myself. I’ll never make it.

I was barely hanging on at BYU. I was calling home a few times a week. The dresser drawers in my dorm room were empty because I never bothered to unpack for the entire fall semester.

The more I thought about a mission the sicker I became.

READ THE FULL STORY AT LDS LIVING or Buy his book here.

Elder Dallin H Oaks
image from lds.org

Elder Oaks shared some powerful keys to making missionary work more authentic and helpful for both the investigator and the member who is sharing. Here they are from the notes that we took.

1. People learn when they are ready to learn not when we are ready to teach them

Others typically want the results of the doctrine, not the doctrine itself. People are open when they are seeking more happiness or a change in their life.

2. As we speak to others, we need to remember that an invitation to speak more about Jesus Christ and his gospel is better than an invitation to learn about the Church.

The point of going to Church is not to simply be there. It is to partake of the power of the atonement of Jesus Christ. This should be what we center our missionary work around. Not getting people to learn about the Church, but about Jesus Christ. Like the Book of Mormon says: “…hearken unto these words and believe in Christ; and if ye believe not in these words believe in Christ. And if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ, and he hath given them unto me; and they teach all men that they should do good.” (2 Ne 33:10)

3. When we seek to introduce people to the gospel, we should do this in ways that are authentic in loving concern for the person

We should only share it with people when we have sincerely sought to find ways in which aspects of the gospel will truly help that individual with specific needs that they have and not force the gospel on someone because they won’t be saved without it.

4. Our efforts to share the gospel shouldn’t be limited to just the people we know.

Elder Oaks shared a great example this with the cab driving missionary in Rio.

We can share with anyone around us. Not just those we know. We might even be in a better position to share as a stranger than as a close friend or relative.

5. Ward bishoprics plan a special sacrament meeting for visitors.

That way the church is represented well in a meeting specifically catered to visitors being able to understand simply and feel welcomed and uplifted.

6. There are many natural opportunities to share the gospel that we can be proactive with if we just think about it more often

There will always be opportunities to share the gospel if we seek after them. If we are ready and we ask the Lord to help us to share, the opportunity will arise and we will be able to speak to people naturally about the gospel.

7. Young peoples’ expertise with social media gives them a unique opportunity to share the gospel

Elder Oaks jokingly reinterpreted a scripture about loosing our tongues that they can utter. He said it might now say “loose their thumbs that they can utter.” And then he added “Go to it youth!”

There are incredible opportunities to share the gospel using social media and this was another apostolic endorsement that it is not only possible, but should be used.

This talk was given by an apostle, Elder Dallin H. Oaks, and was likely (as he mentioned in the talk) based on many of the similar principles that have been taught by Clayton Christensen in his book The Power of Everyday Missionaries. 

Image from www.ksl.com

RIO DE JANIERO — People from around the world are visiting Brazil for the 2016 Olympics, adding to the country’s normal population of about 200 million.

Brazil also is home to approximately 1.2 million members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. One of them is taxi driver Manoel Bezerra.

“I really love it. I love driving,” he said. “(I’m) never in the same place, always moving around, always talking to people.”

Driving may be his job, but he said he’s found his true calling in talking to people.

“Usually, people talk when they are in a cab. They open up their lives, and also the cab driver talks to them,” he said.

Bezerra calls himself the cab driving missionary, handing out a Book of Mormon to whoever is willing to take one.

“I have Chinese, Japanese, French, Italian, German, English, Portuguese, of course, and I think this is it. I think this is good enough — eight languages,” Bezerra said of all the various copies of the Book of Mormon he has.

Full article at KSL.

image collage from ldsliving.com

Athletes from around the globe are getting ready to compete in the dream of a lifetime this Olympics, and among them are many Latter-day Saints.

Here’s a list of who to watch for at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

Lucía Palermo: Rowing, Argentina

Appearing at her third Olympic Games, Lucía Palermo will represent Argentina in women’s rowing. At the 2004 Olympic Games, Palermo competed in the women’s lightweight sculls, finishing in 17th place. In 2012, she competed in the Olympic singles sculls, placing 21st overall, and won the double sculls in the South American Rowing Championships with Maria Gabriela Best.

Maka Unufe: Rugby, U.S.

Maka rugby

This Olympics is a historic event for rugby players, as the game will finally be returning to the Olympics after almost a century of absence. The last time rugby was a part of the Olympics was in 1924. And competing this year is Latter-day Saint Maka Unufe, who lives in Provo, Utah. Unufe’s first international appearance came at the 2011 Pan American Games, when he helped his team bring home a bronze medal. He brought home another bronze in the 2015 Pan American Games and is the 11th most scoring player in the U.S.—a feat that earned him a spot on the USA rugby team.

Jared Ward: Marathon, U.S.

Jared Ward

Jared Ward, a 27-year-old returned missionary who served in Pennsylvania, will be competing as one of the three U.S. runners in the men’s marathon in the 2016 Olympics. Apart from being a full-time runner and a father of two, Ward is also an adjunct professor of statistics at BYU and uses his expertise in math to help perfect his running. Though Ward ran cross-country at Davis High and BYU, he didn’t run his first marathon until 2013.

Taylor Sander: Volleyball, U.S.

Taylor Sander

Standing at 6-feet 4-inches, Taylor Sander is a force to be reckoned with. The former BYU player is a four-time All-American and was the American Volleyball Coaches Association’s National Player of the Year in 2014. During his debut with the U.S. national team at the 2014 World Championship Qualifier, he was named the best server and he quickly became a starter for the team. He married Rachel McQuivey in 2015.

Find the rest at LDS Living.

image from ILoveTheBookOfMormon.org

As a writer for LDS.net, I can tell you that as Latter-day Saints we are often on the receiving end of unfair accusations and criticism. Fortunately our friends and neighbors are often willing to stand up for us. While internet comments speed this process up, the exact same pattern existed in 1900. A woman from Boston wrote a letter to criticize a Salt Lake City attorney who had said he respected the Mormon faith.

“You will forgive me for protesting against your intimation that you “respect the Mormon faith.” Did you not rather intend to say that you respect the men, despite their faith?”

The woman went on to complain that there was no “moral or spiritual faith” in the teachings of LDS leaders. She even called the temple, “the center from which will spring gross materialism.”

The man sent the letter and his response to the local paper. They were also both published in “The Millennial Star,” the Church’s British magazine at the time.

Read the rest of the story at I LOVE THE BOOK OF MORMON.

Check out this new mission prep promo “What If” featuring JamesTheMormon. If you served a mission, you’ll totally be able to relate.

Derrick Trotman, a BYU student and former intern of Prepare to Serve produced this video in the style of Nike’s well-known Michael Jordan commercial “Maybe It’s My Fault“.

*Subscribe to JamesTheMormon’s YouTube channel.

image via ldssmile.com

When Shawn Bradley played in the NBA, he was constantly faced with decisions that challenged his faith and his resolve to make the right choices.

One particular night the owner of the team called him up and said that there was a mandatory team meeting, players only. They had planned a dinner but Bradley just wasn’t comfortable with the name of the restaurant. Bradley asked about the restaurant and asked if it was a strip club. They told him that yes, it’s a strip club but it’s the only place that we could find to meet tonight.

Bradley responded:

Guys, you understand I will not go there…it’s outside of my value system that I’m just not willing to do.

They told him that it was a mandatory meeting and if he didn’t attend it, it would be a $10,000 fine.

Read the full story at LDS SMILE.

Lately I’ve been hearing this phrase from LDS boys— “I’ll only marry a return missionary.”

After the missionary age change this seemed like a reasonable enough mandate. Young Men and Young Women could serve at virtually the same time, and at a young enough age that it doesn’t interfere with a college education too much; virtually everyone could plan to go. Plus, if girls could say they wanted an “RM” couldn’t boys too?

I had no problem with this stipulation when I planned to serve a mission.

For three years I’ve been actively preparing for my mission. And I’ve told anyone who was interested that I’m going, I’m planning on it, and I’m as capable as any boy.

Read full article at RubyGirl.org

Image via wikimedia commons

For as long as Mormonism has existed, people have questioned whether the faith is Christian. Of course, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are quick to point detractors to their first Article of Faith, which says, “We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.” In addition, the Church recently addressed the issue in their Gospel Topics Essays on LDS.org.

“Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints unequivocally affirm themselves to be Christians,” the Church’s essay states. “They worship God the Eternal Father in the name of Jesus Christ.”

Interestingly, though the Christianity of Mormons has been called into question for nearly two centuries, a Pew survey shows members of the Church score highest of all religions on knowledge about Christianity.* On 12 questions about the world’s largest faith, including many questions about the Bible, Mormons answered an average of 7.9 correctly. White evangelical Protestants (7.3 correct on average) were second.

Read the full article at LDS Living.