No, this is not a follow up on my Three Good Things post from last week, but I suppose in a way it could be.
These are young people who are well prepared and have thought carefully about their missionary service. You could hear it in their talks and you could see it in their lives prior to their calls.
I can remember in years past sitting through some awful “farewell” talks that seemed to be little more than a thin travelogue through a young missionary’s life leading up to his call. My mission president taught us that anytime we get up to speak as missionaries – particularly in our home wards – we should teach the gospel clearly and boldly. These three new missionaries met that test well.
Of course they were aided by a bishopric who gave them counsel on subject matter, but I was impressed how each of these new missionaries handled the assignment. Each talk was quite different from the others. Our sister missionary spoke first and she spoke of her struggle to get an answer about whether and when to serve. She spoke about a missionary experience she’d had in the Denver airport on her way home, talking, as it happened, to a lapsed member of the church. Her talk was particularly comforting to my lovely wife and me because it could have been one of our sons she described: a young man who no longer identified as LDS, but respected his parents’ love for him and for the church.
Our second missionary speaker based his talk on Elder Hales’ talk about being better Christians from a couple of conferences ago. The calm and quiet conviction he demonstrated mirrored Elder Hales’ own calm declarations of truth in his original address. (I have a soft spot in my heart for Elder Hales as he happens to be one of very few general authorities I’ve met personally, and that talk in particular is one that I really enjoyed.) This young elder will depart directly for England and enter the MTC in Preston.
Our final missionary is one I’ve known since he was little; I was his bishop when he was baptized. I told him later I remembered his dad telling me those many years ago that this young man was always ready to do the right thing, and I’ve observed that to be true about him as well. He’s going to a very small mission spread across the islands of the Caribbean. And he’ll be terrific. (Just like his older brother who is also on a mission now.)
They all will, if they remember who called them and why they are there. There is something exciting about the surge in missionaries. We had a new 18-year old missionary in our home for dinner on Sunday (well, it was his birthday and he was turning 19), and he was excited to be where he was (on his mission, that is, not just in our house).
It’s a good time, demographically, for our ward. With these three new missionaries, we have nine missionaries serving. We’ve had other periods where the demographics were not in our favor and we had just one or two. We’ve had our share of young men who chose not to serve (some of my sons among them, which is why our dear sister’s story of the young man she met in Denver was helpful to us). But I’m grateful for these three, and for the blessings their service will bring to those whom they serve.