Missionary News

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.

Read the full article at Meridian Magazine.

Image via Mormon.org

Calling all singers and choirs worldwide—now you can virtually join the Mormon Tabernacle Choir for an amazing rendition of Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus.” It’s easy—check out the instructional videos below, pick your part, and upload a video of yourself to YouTube. Deadline for submissions is Tuesday, March 1.

See the full instructions at Mormon.org.

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Image via Loren Orr, Getty Images

The 2016 Wyoming Cowboy Football recruiting class was announced Wednesday, with 23 recruits from 11 states joining the program.

The class was very balanced with 11 offensive players, 11 defensive players and one kicker joining the Cowboy program.

Among the players who became Wyoming Cowboys on Wednesday were: running back Theo Dawson the 2015 Gatorade Player of the Year for the state of Wyoming from Jackson; fullback Zach Taylor from Gillette, Wyo., who was a two-time All-State selection and led Campbell County High School to consecutive 4A State Championship games; offensive lineman Dustin Weeks the No. 1 ranked recruit from North Dakota; quarterback Chandler Garrett the No. 8 ranked player from Oklahoma; offensive lineman Gavin Rush the No. 9 rated recruit from Nebraska; and three of the Top 15 ranked recruits from the state of Colorado.

Offensively, the 2016 class features three offensive linemen, three running backs/fullbacks, two wide receivers, two tight ends and one quarterback. On defense, five linebackers and five defensive backs were joined by one defensive lineman. The Cowboys also signed the All-Colorado place-kicker Cooper Rothe, who was ranked as the No. 15 best recruit at all positions in the state of Colorado.

This year’s class breakdown includes one junior-college signee and 22 high school seniors. The eleven different states represented in this year’s Cowboy recruiting class included: Wyoming, Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon and Washington.

“We’re extremely pleased with this year’s class, and have a high number in this class with 23 signees,” said Bohl. “We are particularly pleased that we were able to sign two players from the state of Wyoming in Theo Dawson of Jackson and Zach Taylor of Gillette. Theo is going to go on an LDS mission, which we are fully supportive of. We feel it is important to identify the top players in our state and be able to sign them. We’ve also done well in Colorado again, signing four players.

Read More: Bohl Announces Third Recruiting Class for Cowboy Football 

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LDS First Presidency calls 8 new MTC presidents
via deseretnews.com

(Via LDS Church News)  Heading out to the South Africa, Argentina, Chile, Ghana, Brazil, Peru, Guatemala, and Spain MTCs are 8 new missionary training center presidents and their wives have been called by the First Presidency and will begin their service in January.

via deseretnews.com
via deseretnews.com

Stephen Kent Ashton, 67, and Wendy DeLaMare Ashton, eight children, Washington Fields 8th Ward, St. George Utah Washington Fields Stake: South Africa MTC, succeeding President Philip L. Collins and Sister Patricia Collins. Brother Ashton is a ward Young Men adviser and is a former president of the Washington Everett Mission, bishop, high councilor, temple ordinance worker and missionary in the New Zealand Mission. Retired business owner. Born in Salt Lake City to Marvin Jeremy Ashton and Norma Bernston Ashton. Sister Ashton serves as a ward Young Women adviser. Previously she served with her husband in the Washington Everett Mission and as a ward Relief Society president, seminary teacher and temple ordinance worker. Born in Salt Lake City to John Chevalier DeLaMare and Vila Jeanne Winter DeLaMare.

via deseretnews.com
via deseretnews.com

Evrett Wade Benton, 67, and Cheryl Chapman Benton, four children, Park City Ward, Park City Utah Stake: Argentina MTC, succeeding President Lance T. Willis and Sister Margie Willis. Brother Benton is a former president of the Argentina Buenos Aires West Mission, bishop, bishopric counselor, high councilor, stake mission president, stake and ward Young Men president and temple ordinance worker. President and CEO, Stellar Senior Living LLC. Born in Vernal, Utah, to Evrett Lee Benton and Adelaide Cortes Benton. Sister Benton served with her husband in the Argentina Buenos Aires West Mission and is a former stake Relief Society president, ward Young Women and Primary president, ward Young Women adviser, temple ordinance worker and seminary teacher. Born in Seattle, Washington, to Eugene Henry Chapman and Marilyn Openshaw Chapman.

Read more at LDS Church News

MTC missionaries spend Thanksgiving preparing 350,000 meal packs
via deseretnews.com

(via LDS Church News)

While spending Thanksgiving nearly 3,000 miles from his home in Oahu, Hawaii, Elder Kivalu Ramanlal knew his family misses him for a special reason.

“I’m usually the one who cooks our Thanksgiving,” Elder Ramanlal said with a knowing smile.

But Elder Ramanlal, who in a few weeks will leave the Missionary Training Center to serve a Mandarin-speaking mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in New York City, said Thursday that he couldn’t see himself doing anything other than taking part in what has been called one of the largest humanitarian efforts in the church not related to a natural disaster.

“This is one of the best Thanksgivings I’ve ever had,” Elder Ramanlal said. “Nothing really gives you the feeling that service does.”

Elder Ramanlal and about 1,200 other missionaries, who will soon leave to 38 different countries, spent much of their Thanksgiving afternoon preparing and packaging apporximately 350,000 meal packs for Utah children in need.

The meals are instant, only requiring water to prepare for eating, are comprised of rice, lentil beans, dried vegetables and himalayan salt. All 60,000 pounds of the pre-made casseroles will be given to students throughout Utah at Title 1 elementary schools, which have a high percentage of students from low income families.

Read more at LDS Church News

Missionaries Speaking Their Native Language Now to Spend Three Weeks in Training
via MormonNewsroom.org

Mormon Newsroom recently released the following announcement regarding a change in the length of time missionaries spend in the MTC:

In October 2012, President Thomas S. Monson announced a reduction in the age for missionary service, making missionary service an option for a large number of additional young men and women. To accommodate this influx, the length of the MTC stay for all missionaries was reduced by approximately one-third. For missionaries speaking their native language, this meant a reduction in their time in the MTC from three weeks to two weeks.

“This was simply an issue of capacity,” said Elder Brent H. Nielson, executive director of the Church’s Missionary Department. “Three weeks is the optimal amount of time for these elders and sisters to spend in an MTC setting. It gives them an opportunity to understand how to be an effective, successful missionary.”

The change to a three-week MTC experience will create some minor changes in transfer dates in some missions throughout the world and therefore may affect start or release dates for some missionaries. Families of missionaries will be contacted by the Missionary Department or the mission president beginning in December with information if there are any changes in dates.

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All LDS missionaries safe in Chile following 8.3-magnitude earthquake
Mission President Barreiros of the Chile Santiago West Mission (Image via misionoeste.blogspot.com/)

The nation of Chile experienced a powerful, off-shore earthquake on Wednesday. More than one million people were displaced after speedy evacuations in anticipation of possible tsunami activity. Ten people have died in the quake and related flooding, according to reports. Several coastal towns were hit by tsunamis causing flooding; tsunami warnings have since been cancelled for all of Chile.

Deseret News shared a statement confirming the safety of all LDS missionaries serving in the area. “We are grateful to report that all missionaries in the area near the earthquake in Chile are accounted for and safe,” said Eric Hawkins, spokesman for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “Our prayers are with the people of this region as they deal with the effects of this natural disaster and also with those who may yet be affected by further impacts.”

The LDS Church has a powerful presence in Chile, with approximately 580K Church members and 10 missions. The Church has an Missionary Training Center in Santiago, which is about 145 miles away from the epicenter of the quake.

Regina Mormons and Missionaries Support Fire Relief Efforts
Helping more than 13,000 evacuees of the Saskatchewan fires, Mormons of all ages worked alongside missionaries to restock the Regina Food Bank. (Image via mormonnewsroom.ca
Regina, Sask. — 

Approximately 120 members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from the Regina Saskatchewan Stake (a stake is similar to a diocese) filled 2,500 food hampers to support provincial fire relief efforts through the Regina Food Bank, Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan and Kitsaki Management Limited Partnership.

Recent fires in the northern two-thirds of Saskatchewan forced the evacuation of many northern communities. More than 13,000 individuals were required to vacate their homes, leaving everything behind. Some were gone as long as six weeks. With the loss of power, most will return to freezers and refrigerators full of spoiled food.

The Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan and Kitsaki Management LP donated sufficient foodstuffs to the Regina Food Bank, the central clearing house for all food banks in the province, to fill 5,000 hampers of food. However, volunteers were needed to assemble the hampers.

With less than 24 hours’ notice, members of three local Church congregations rose to the challenge. The Mormon volunteers of all ages spent a total of 500 person-hours filling boxes. (The Regina Food Bank relaxed age restrictions to allow families to come together to meet the needs of others.)

“I am overwhelmed by the response by the members,” said Yves Noblet, who presides over the Regina Saskatchewan Stake. “We knew the members would come out, but to have such a fast response and such good numbers is heartwarming.”

Read more at Mormon NewsroomCanada

Elder Evans addresses new 'My Plan' resource for missionaries at Seminar for New Mission Presidents
(Image via www.deseretnews.com)

(Source: LDS Church News)

The Lord has provided measures to help keep missionaries safe from spiritual and physical hazards, Elder David F. Evans of the Seventy and director of the Missionary Department said during the 2015 Seminar for New Mission Presidents held in the Provo Missionary Training Center on June 25.

He said he wouldn’t speak of the usual safety concerns, such as carbon monoxide and smoke detectors, seat belts, bike helmets, or the avoidance of pornography or other material introduced through technology.

“Rather, I will speak of those principles of spiritual and physical safety, and the safeguards that are available to you, and that apply no matter where you serve and no matter the environment around you,” he said.

Obedience

Drawing from the words of Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Elder Evans echoed his words of teaching — and reteaching — the fundamental doctrine of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

“Your obedient willingness to teach and reteach this basic doctrine, without wandering into spiritual side trails, will keep your missionaries firmly centered in true doctrine and that will protectively change and improve their attitudes and behaviors.”

Teaching basic true doctrine “will improve behavior quicker than simply focusing on behavior,” he said. It is important to listen to the Spirit and heed promptings. Obedience to God’s commandments provides physical and spiritual protection.

Recognizing that it is not possible to quarantine anyone from all temptation and unworthy influences, Elder Evans spoke of giving missionaries tools to withstand temptations and overcome evil.

“Obedience coupled with repentance will protect them during their missions and provide a protective pattern for the rest of their lives,” he said. “Experiences with your love and trust, especially after they make mistakes, will safeguard them during their missions, and give them a pattern for how to lead their families and others throughout their lives.”

Read More at LDS Church News