In our church, the 12 year and older kids get the chance to speak to the congregation. Our daughter turned 12 recently and was asked to speak about missionary work. Her first response was to bawl because she was so nervous about getting up in front of people. She has been working on this for a long time but still gets really anxious about it. Then she got mad because she didn’t want to do it. I told her she could call the person who asked her to speak and tell him she wouldn’t speak. She sulked and wouldn’t talk to me.
So, I left it alone. Blake and I went on a date last night. When we got home, Hailey had gotten the kids to bed and had finished writing her talk. I cried as I read it because it was so simple and sweet and heartfelt. It was so nice to see progress after a lot of years of trying and work. But I won’t say it is our parenting or anything. She just had to make the decision and go for it.
She gave the talk in church today and was calm and spoke slowly and did a wonderful job. It was one of the only times I can remember all of our kids listening to a talk the whole time. We were so proud of her. I have put a copy of the talk below for anyone interested. She was a great example to the other kids about doing something that scares you. It isn’t easy to talk to 150 people at age 12. It isn’t easy at age 36! Sharing the gospel can be scary but the more you do it, the easier it gets. I love that our church gives the teenagers a chance to do public speaking and sharing their testimonies so they can get used to it. And now she’s off the hook for another year!
Elder Neil L. Anderson says in a talk in October 2016, “I suggest that you stop feeling guilty about any insufficiency you think you have in sharing the gospel. Rather, pray “to stand as [a witness] of God.” This is a much stronger motivation than guilt.” If you think that you have not been doing as much missionary work as you would like to, don’t let this discourage you. Pray for missionary experiences and stand as a witness in God. My mom prayed one day to have a missionary experience, about 4 years ago. That day she took my brother to an art class at the Hearst. There she met Danielle and she asked my mom some questions about the church. She started to take missionary sessions and came to church a few times. When conference was approaching, we asked her to join my mom and I at the General Women’s Conference. She came and enjoyed. She hasn’t got baptised, yet.
Everybody can be a missionary. President Thomas S. Monson has said: “Now is the time for members and missionaries to come together, to work together … to bring souls unto Him. … He will assist us in our labors if we will act in faith to fulfill His work.” You don’t have to have a nametag and a suit or dress to be a missionary. All you need is one thing that members and missionaries should carry all the time, everywhere. It is the keystone of our church, The Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon is an important part of our church, it has answers to our problems and reassurance and comfort when we need it. Everybody should have the Book of Mormon in their home. You also need the Book of Mormon for teaching. There are great lessons and morals in there that we can use today so that we don’t make the same mistakes that the people in the Book of Mormon made. The Book of Mormon is also an excellent teaching tool.
My Grandma works at Deseret Book, a bookstore with things about the church that anyone can access. One day, a mom came in wanting something that could help her children and her have a better life. My Grandma knew right away that what she needed was the Book of Mormon. She walked over to a shelf with Books of Mormon on it, grabbed one and handed it to the woman, for free. She said, “I want you and your kids to read this.” Now she might not have read it or she might have, but my grandma was a missionary and all she needed was the Book of Mormon.
Some of you might be thinking right now that you have done nothing to spread the gospel, at all. Well think for a minute. To be a missionary, you don’t need to give everyone Books of Mormon and invite them church. Of course, that is excellent if you do. But, you can be a missionary in many ways. For example, a kid in my class was saying the Lord’s name in vain and it was making me feel sad and bad. I finally gathered up the courage, turned to him, and asked him to, please, stop saying God’s name like that. He asked me why and I answered “Because God created us and has given us many things, and it is rude to say his name like that.” He might not have agreed with me but he said “Ok, I won’t say it around you.” and he stopped. I was surprised but was relieved that he had stopped, I realized that I felt much better that he wasn’t saying it, it was like a weight lifted off my shoulders and a bad feeling I didn’t realize I had in my stomach before was gone. I felt a lot better. You can stand up for what is right and what you believe in, even if you’re the only one. That can be hard sometimes, especially here in Iowa, where there aren’t a lot of Mormons or people with our same standards at work or at school. But think, What would Jesus do? and Is this something that makes me feel good and happy inside or is this something that makes me feel sad, bad, and ugly? You decide. My brother has been kind of nervous about sharing the gospel. One day he asked his friend what church he went to he said that he was Christian. Spencer had told him, “I belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. We believe in Jesus and there is a sign that says, Visitors are Welcome.” That was a good experience for him to share that. Some of you might be really nervous about doing missionary work so start with the small things that you might already be doing right now. Like being nice to others and treating them with kindness. This makes Heavenly Father and Jesus very happy. You can go over to your neighbors house and help them do yard work or talk to them. I once gave my friend a passalong card and you can do the same. Then start with doing bigger things like inviting a friend to church or to Activity Day Girls, Scouts, or Mutual. Sometimes they can’t came or their parents won’t let them, but don’t let that discourage you just try again. Eventually you can start giving a Book of Mormon to a friend.
I’d like to bear my testimony that I know that everyone can spread the gospel. It may be in simple ways or in big ways. I know that when we spread the gospel and make good choices we make Heavenly Father and Jesus so proud and happy. I know that we will get blessings from spreading the gospel and be happy. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ.