Black name tags dot the globe as missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints share the message of the restored gospel. The statistical report at April 2016 General Conference reported there were more than 74,000 missionaries in this vast Army of Helaman.
But every army needs a leader. Each of the 422 missions of the LDS Church is presided over by a mission president and his wife. According to Mormon Newsroom, each president presides over approximately 175 missionaries at a time, with 600 missionaries passing through their mission during their three-year calling.
These mission presidents give of their time and talents to help spread the work. Get to know these leaders through some numbers gathered from mission presidents serving in January 2017.
1. Returning to the field
Only 11 percent of mission presidents did not serve as full-time missionaries in their youth. Of the mission presidents who served missions, 32 percent are serving in the same country they served their mission.
Read the rest of the interesting mission president statistics on Utah Valley 360.
Joshua Davis Osmond recently opened his mission call. He is the fifth (and final) of Donny and Debbie’s sons to be called to serve.
He will be serving in Europe like his brothers did.
On Facebook, Donny Osmond wrote:
“He’s so excited to learn Italian and have these life-changing experiences as an #LDSMissionary in Italy. It’s pretty emotional for Debbie and me because, as we’ve experienced with our other sons, we send our boy into the world, but that boy never returns. A man comes home. We know Josh will love the people of Rome, and they certainly will love him. #LDS#RomeItalyMission“
Check out the video of Josh opening his mission call:
Elder D. Todd Christofferson recently shared on his Facebook wall how missionaries receive their inspired mission call. It supports the fact that these missionaries are called by God and not by man.
Occasionally as I travel, I am asked questions about how missionaries are assigned to their missions. I know that the Lord deeply knows each one of us perfectly. Individual missionary callings bear witness of His infinite love. I feel that each time I have the opportunity to assign missionaries to their particular field of labor. Some missionary assignments are revealed instantly, and others take a while, but the Lord always tells His authorized servants where His missionaries should go. As I look back on my own mission to Argentina as a young man, I can easily see the profound effect it has had on my life. I’m so grateful for the opportunity the Lord gave to me to serve where He did.
After a lot of prayer and fasting, I was told not to serve a mission.
Accepting the answer “no” was extremely difficult, but at the same time God told me that there were reasons why, and that I would know what they were in due time. Let me tell you the reasons why I’m so grateful I listened.
**Editor’s Note: This article was written by Claire Pincock and has been published in full by her request.
God Still Used Me As an Instrument to Bless His Children Pretty soon after I would have left on my mission, I met a boy with serious depression. While he had had people to support him, at that point he felt very alone because he was tired of hurting his friends. Four months into my “mission”, I was able to calm him down twice from suicidal thoughts. Throughout our relationship I helped to show him God’s love for him. I helped to show him that he was worth love and life and that he deserved happiness. God put me in his life, and I was an instrument in His hands to bring my friend happiness.
I Still Learned A Lot About Myself I dated a lot while on my “mission”. I moved into a very social single’s ward and went on more dates than I can count. Most of them were just casual, fun, friendly double dates. I learned so much about the difference between what I thought I needed and wanted in a man and what I actually needed and wanted. I also learned my strengths in relationships. I learned not only who is good for me, but who I am good for. This has been instrumental in my life.
I Married My Best Friend Because I didn’t get to serve, I diligently wrote a lot of my friends who did. I told them that I wanted to have the mission experience through them. I developed wonderful relationships with them and got to know who they were very personally. I would email one of my friends back and forth when he was online until his mission disallowed that. A year into my “mission”, that friend came home. I was so ecstatic. I couldn’t get to my hometown until nearly 10 at night, but we talked until 2 in the morning. He was just as ecstatic as I was. Because of that night and more dating experiences shortly after, I realized that this man, who had been my friend my whole life, was exactly who I was looking for. We were engaged before I would have gotten home.
I Learned a Foreign Language Anyway There were many other wonderful advantages from listening to God’s plan for me. I found a major I love, and I have had irreplaceable experiences in my classes and doing research in my field. I went on a study abroad and learned my grandpa’s native language. I got to see the house he was born in and learn more about his culture. I got really into family history and have taken countless names to the temple with my friends and family. I developed a really close relationship with my mom as we would do this work together. I wouldn’t trade that year-and-a-half for anything.
I Felt Misunderstood and It Wasn’t Easy
It hasn’t always been easy. It was extremely difficult to say goodbye to all of my friends. I was sad to watch them go and a bit jealous that I didn’t get to. I’ve been in a room filled with just RMs and me, and it can be difficult while everyone shares in their wonderful experiences. I’ve been rejected by boys who want an RM. I’ve been looked down on by my leaders for not serving (very rarely, and not intentionally, but it’s happened). I’ve been asked countless times why I’m not on my mission. I’ve even had people question my answer. I’ve been told that God would never say no to a mission, so maybe I’m interpreting Him incorrectly. I’ve been told that I know less about the gospel because I didn’t serve a mission. People don’t mean to hurt. They don’t really understand that fight that I went through. They don’t understand how badly I wanted to go, and they don’t understand why these things could be hurtful. It’s always been clear to me that the church does not see us as second-class members, but people aren’t perfect, and sometimes you might be treated that way.
Luckily, there have also been a countless number of people who respect my decision and respected me for it. There have been so many people who see the reality of my spirit and my love of this church despite not serving. I’m actually grateful for those dating rejections because even if I had served a mission, that isn’t the kind of person I needed to marry. My husband looks up to me as I look up to him. He respects my spiritual insights despite the fact that he had I name badge and I never did. I’m also so grateful for my friends and family who did serve, especially my fellow sisters. It hasn’t always been easy, but I’ve learned to set aside my pride and rejoice at every call my friends receive. I rejoice in their service and in their joy, just as I hope that they rejoice in mine even though it’s different.
God Knew I Didn’t Need a Mission. I Needed to Stay Home, and That’s Okay Six months after I would have gotten home, I’m so glad I didn’t serve. God had a much more beautiful plan for me. I didn’t need a mission. I needed to stay home, and that’s okay. Every member needs to pray and find out for themselves. While I would have been serving, I’ve almost finished my education, I went through the temple for this first time, I got married to the love of my life, and I’ve done so many other wonderful things I wouldn’t trade for the world.
Most Importantly, I Listened to God So, if you’re a guy or girl who came home early or couldn’t serve, if you got the answer no and listened, or even God told you it was your choice and you chose no, as long as you are listening to God’s plan for you, you will be happier than if you had followed the plan which you made for yourself. Even if it’s nothing like His plan for me (if it doesn’t include dating or marriage or an education), you will be happier than if you hadn’t have listened.
Because of the new law in Russia, elders and sisters are now to be called volunteers instead of missionaries. The new law will go into effect July 20 and will change what the Church allows missionaries to be involved with and be known as.
This new anti-terrorism law requires that all proselytizing occur inside places of worship.
When the law was enacted earlier in July, the Church responded with this statement: “The Church will honor, sustain and obey the law. Missionaries will remain in Russia and will work within the requirements of these changes. The Church will further study and analyze the law and its impact as it goes into effect.”
The work of the Lord will go forward and we know that God is able to do His work, despite what may look like a temporary set back.
The LDS Church released a statement on Friday afternoon saying that its missionaries will remain in Russia in the wake of a new law that restricts missionary work in the country.
“The church recognizes a new law will take effect in Russia on July 20, 2016, that will have an impact on missionary work,” said the statement released by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on mormonnewsroom.org. “The church will honor, sustain and obey the law. Missionaries will remain in Russia and will work within the requirements of these changes. The church will further study and analyze the law and its impact as it goes into effect.”
The law, signed by President Vladimir Putin on Thursday, sparked widespread concern about the future of missionary work in Russia among Christians, Muslims, and Jews.
As millions of Latter-day Saints around the world prepare for the 186th annual general conference of the Church, Elder Brent H. Nielson of the Seventy and executive director of the Missionary Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sat down for an interview in mid-February to reflect on the progress of the Church’s missionary program.
Media initiatives, the use of technology and the age requirement change have bolstered the missionary efforts of the Church in the past several years.
“We work regularly to make sure that people know about our church and understand what we believe,” said Elder Nielson.
Missionary Surge Subsides
There are currently about 75,000 full-time missionaries serving in more than 400 missions in many countries. Over the past five years, about 230,000 missionaries have completed their missions and 1.3 million have served since the Church was organized in 1830.
“At the beginning of this year, we had 418 missions in the Church,” reported Elder Nielson. “We’ve just created the Vietnam Mission, which is now officially in place, and by July we will have created two other new missions in Africa, which will give us a total of 421 missions.”
After the age requirement for young men and women was lowered in October 2012, the missionary force hit a record high of nearly 89,000 men, women and senior couples. Young men can now serve at age 18, and women can begin their service at age 19.
“As that surge passed, we’re now down to around 75,000 missionaries, which is where we think we’ll stay for a period of time as that gradually increases,” he said.
Many of the missionaries who were part of the surge have now returned home following their service, which is 18 months for women and two years for men.
“That stretched our resources; it stretched our mission presidents just to take care of that many missionaries, even though we had created 58 new missions to do that,” said Elder Nielson.
Just a year ago, brothers Justin and Brandon Malone of Atascocita were settling into their studies and training at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Justin was a third-year cadet, and Brandon, a recent graduate of Atascocita High School, was a freshman.
After that successful year for both of them, only Justin returned to the Academy; Brandon had other plans.
Following in his brother’s footsteps, Brandon left his studies after his first year at to serve a two-year full-time mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
It’s a difficult process to go through to be accepted at the Academy, and when Brandon returns in two years, he will be required to begin the whole application procedure again, including getting a congressional nomination.
Last year, both brothers were nominated for acceptance at the Academy by U.S. Representative Ted Poe, Texas 2nd District. Poe didn’t hesitate to endorse Brandon for the first time and Justin for the second time.
He said the young men represent the best of young people, not only in Texas but in the nation. “They’ve proven that service is important to them,” he said. “They’re smart and they’re qualified. We got a two-fer with these two.”
After introducing her friend to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a young woman now serving a mission in Japan was surprised to learn her friend would be serving a mission in the same country.
Brooke Lacey and Jason Sherrill met during their senior year of high school in Apple Valley, California, after Sherrill moved from Kansas. They quickly became friends, and Lacey invited Sherrill to LDS activities for youths.
While Sherrill wasn’t interested in the church at the time, he was interested in Lacey and spent time at her home. He watched the Lacey family read scriptures, hold family home evening and pray.