Category Archives: Mormon Church Missionary Work

187th Annual General Conference – Priesthood Session

My father, my brother-in-law, my two sons and I are gathered in our family room ready to watch the Priesthood Session. We have pizza and wings from Pete’s Pizza, Cactus Cut Potatoes from Boston Pizza, and some chicken from Popeyes


President Dieter F Ucthdorf conducted

A choir made up of Young Single Adults from the Holladay and Murray Utah sang Rise Up, O Men of God

The invocation was offered by Elder Vern P Stanfill

The choir sang Jesus, Once of Humble Birth

President Thomas S Monson (the broadcast had captioning since President Monson sometimes slurs his words now)

  • charity never faitheth
  • As preisthood holders, we must be kind
  • look at our own lives and be kind
  • we will be in a better position to call down the powers of heaven

Elder David A Bednar

  • Missionaries are called to serve
  • They are assigned to labour
  • If an assignment changes, missionaries should not feel disappointed or guilty
  • Priesthood/Temple/Mission all go together
  • Emphasis should be given to all, not just mission

Bishop Gérald Caussé

  • Shared a story about his boss at work promoting him because he knew his faith and values that he had learned at Church
  • If we could follow the pattern of Jesus and John the Baptist, the priesthood work would move forward in ways unimaginable
  • Get the YM involved, don’t just entertain them

The choir and congregation sang Redeemer of Israel

President Dieter F Uchtdorf

  • Told of the Madrid Spain temple dedication and he did not receive an invitation
  • You can’t get honour in the kingdom of God by campaigning for it, nor can you power lunge your way to eternal glory
  • We need to see others as God sees them
  • Rejoice with those who are happy, weeping with those who grieve, lifting up those who are weak
  • God’s greatest reward goes to those who serve without expectation of reward
  • In the eyes of God there is no calling that is more important than another
  • One kind of service is not above another

President Henry B Eyring

  • We need to have confidence in the Lord that we can do what is required of us
  • He shared a few scriptural examples of people who were strengthened when they thought they couldn’t do it
  • Our ordination is an invitation to walk with Him
  • As soon as we accept the invitation, the nature of our service changes. It becomes more achievable
  • God will notice and support even the newest Deacon
  • The Lord’s work is not just to solve problems, but to build people
  • The most efficient solution isn’t always the best solution, as it won’t allow people to grow
  • Walking with the Savior in priesthood service will change the way you look at others

The choir sang Hope of Israel

The benediction was offered by Elder Carlos A Godoy


Read the recaps and other notes from the 187th Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

186th Semiannual General Conference – Saturday Morning General Session

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I wish I was at home watching this, but I’m working today, so I’m watching this during my lunch break (and then some). I’ll be able to get home before the next session, and then my sons and I will go out with my father and my brother-in-law for tonight’s session. We’ll watch both sessions at home tomorrow.

It is a brisk Fall day today, so it’s kind of nice to be inside. I’m looking forward to the warmth of the Spirit as we hear from the various leaders.


It looks like the First Presidency has changed the side they are sitting on. They used to sit on the left of the pulpit (when watching from the congregation). They are now on the right side. I wonder if that is so President Monson doesn’t have so far to walk.

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir sang Sweet Is the Work

President Henry B Eyring conducted

The choir sang With Songs of Praise

The invocation was offered by Sister Joy D Jones

President Dieter F Ucthdorf

  • computer analogy
  • see, that’s how you do it
  • 22 years later, he is comfortable with it
  • The more adept I get, the more I take it for granted
  • We can take the gospel for granted
  • We have been given by so much
  • we get distracted
  • we tread a path covered with diamonds, but we can’t tell the
  • ifference between them and pebbles
  • what shall we give for the flood of light and truth we have received
  • live by the truth we have received

The choir sang We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet (it sounded wonderful!)

Elder Robert D Hales

  • Elie Wiesel‘s grandson asked him, “If I loved you more, would I hurt less?”
  • If we loved the Savior more, would we suffer less
  • We may not be able to eliminate our physical suffering, but we can suffer less spiritually
  • Teach your family. Don’t let the time slip by
  • We cannot pray away another’s agency

Sister Carol F McConkie

  • We can commune with God personally
  • Prayer is a gift from god
  • We are never alone
  • Every moment of prayer can be holy time

The choir and congregation sang Redeemer of Israel

Elder Craig C Christensen

  • We don’t need to be timid about Joseph Smith’s mission
  • If any of us lack wisdom, we can ask too
  • We have prophets to this day
  • The priesthood authority of God is on the earth

Elder Juan A Uceda

  • Told a story about how he almost fell off a cliff when he was a missionary
  • Always pray with a sincere heart
  • Let us pray as Jesus taught us to pray

Elder J Devn Cornish

  • Others believe in us when we sometimes don’t believe in ourselves
  • We must stop comparing ourselves to others
  • Yes, you are good enough and yes, you will make it
  • God is not a heartless referee looking to toss us out of the game
  • The atonement is both for sinners and saints
  • This doesn’t mean sin is ok. It always has consequences
  • True repentence is not easy
  • Do not rationalize rather than repenting

The choir sang Take Time to Be Holy

Elder Neil L Andersen

  • Shared story of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream
  • This church is the stone cut of out of the mountain
  • We have a great missionary responsibility
  • The gospel must go to everyone

The choir sang If the Way Be Full of Trial

The benediction was offered by Elder Marcus B Nash




Read the recaps and other notes from the 186th Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

Tom Hanks’ brief exposure to Mormons

!! About a month ago Tom Hanks was on Fresh Air. Terry Gross mentioned that Mr. Hanks had been around a few different religions when he was younger and he went on to explain each of them. One of them was The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (although only the term Mormon was used).

These guys, literally like The Book of Mormon [musical], they came around in white short-sleeved shirts and black ties and they rode bicycles. They convinced my Dad’s second wife that being a Mormon was just the greatest thing in the world.
My Dad said, “You know what, Whinnie?” (that was her name; sweet lady), “If you want your kids to be baptized in the Mormon church you go right ahead, but no way are my kids going to go through it.”

So we just kind of sat around and enjoyed some good Mormon Family Home Evenings that were choreographed by Elder Paul and Brother Bob and a few other people. They knew magic tricks with coins and were really funny. All the time my dad would sit in the living room with his hands around a can of beer.

From 31:23-32:07 of Tom Hanks Says Self-Doubt Is ‘A High-Wire Act That We All Walk’

If I had a chance to talk with Mr. Hanks, I would tell him that indeed, being a Mormon is the greatest thing in the world! 🙂 (j)

Missionary Work: Experiences Shape the Future

A while back, the Church Newsroom had a nice write-up about how missionary work shape the lives of missionaries. I know that this is put out by the Church, so people could say it was just PR work, but having served a mission myself, I definitely agree with the general premise of the article.

I served a mission in Taiwan back in the 90’s. I remember clearly sitting on the plane as I flew out of the Buffalo airport to go to the MTC, crying like I’d never cried before. It was the first time I had been away, and I was scared to death. Obviously I survived. The mission turned out to be one of the great experiences of my life.

Without getting into too much detail, I learned:

  • independence – from being away from home
  • respect for Church leadership – like many missionaries, I loved my mission presidents
  • respect for other cultures – at the time, Taiwan was still quite insulated from Western culture, so it was great to learn about and experience a culture so different from ours
  • hard work – if you want to be happy as a missionary, you’ve got to get to work
  • dealing with conflicts – dealing with a companion that you’ve never met before can be hard
  • trusting the Lord – it is His work, so we need to trust in Him
  • defining success – if it is based on the number of baptisms, I was pretty much a failure (a few people I taught were baptized, but not many). However, I feel like I had a very successful mission.

I can’t say serving a mission was the best decision I’ve ever made… my wife and my children might argue about that. However, at the time, it was definitely the right decision, and has helped shape who I am today. For that I will be eternally grateful.

My notes on the Work of Salvation broadcast

I’m sure many of you watched the Work of Salvation broadcast this past Sunday. It was a good broadcast, but I’d read so much “hype” about it online that I guess I was a little disappointed that there was nothing earth-shattering about what was shared. I acknowledge that is my fault for falling for the hype.

Overall it was a nice meeting. There were a few lines that really stuck out for me, and I’ve bolded them below and added a couple of comments in italics.


Look at all those missionaries… what a sight!

A choir sang Hark. All Ye Nations!

Ten of the Apostles were there

Elder Jeffrey R Holland conducted

  • You will never be part of a zone conference this large ever again
  • We’ve been thinking “there they go” but we need to think “here they come”

The invocation was offered by Elder Ludlow

Elder Holland

  • At Church Headquarters we counsel widely; we hear from everyone on all vital issues
    I loved the phrase (counsel widely)! I totally agree that leaders need to be open and discuss issues with everyone affected. Trust the other leaders that they have worthwhile things to say, and that they will keep the necessary confidences.
  • There was a Mission (Washington), a Stake (Peru) and a Ward (Hawaii) via satellite to represent all the other councils
  • The Seventy have clearly defined responsibilities for missionary work

Elder L Tom Perry (he almost jumped out of his seat… it’s hard to believe that he is 90 years old!)

  • As all these missionaries go out we ask “what will they do?”
  • They will do what they have always done
  • The nature of missionary work must change in order for the work to move forward
  • Missionaries will be able to use computers during less busy time
  • This will be phased in over several months
  • Internet safety is paramount
  • Missionaries will give building tours
  • 70,274 missionaries
  • 52 new missions this year for 405 total
  • 173 new mission presidents this year
  • What we are being asked to do has not changed, but how we do it has changed
    I think this is true for much of the gospel. The core doctrine does not change, but how we implement it in our lives can change depending on the time we live in.
  • If or greatest and most important duty is to preach the gospel than we all have the responsibility to invite everyone to come unto Christ
  • Every Ward should have a Ward Mission Plan
  • We should be anxiously engaged

Elder Holland

  • An invitation that is born of our love for others and our love of the Savior will never be seen as offensive and judgmental

Elder Neil L Andersen

  • Our work begins on our knees
  • When we leave our meetings is when we bring about His most important purposes
    Attending meetings isn’t as important as committing to action at the meetings and then going forth to do it
  • He shared some stories from the Tampa Florida area. In the end, 32 men were sustained to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood at their recent stake conference
  • We often receive different help from the Lord than expected; but it is always better
  • There is a new section of LDS.org called “Hastening the Work of Salvation”

Elder Russell M Nelson

  • He showed a video with Sister Neill F Marriott of the General Young Women Presidency about her conversion
  • Too often we split the work into areas that seem unrelated
    The work is indivisible
    They are not separate but all part of the work of salvation
    Great points!
  • The Bishop and Ward Mission Leader set the pace of missionary work
  • Good leaders, like good parents, take actions because of love

President Boyd K Packer

  • Everything comes down to teaching
  • Live so you can depend on the Spirit
  • The greatest teaching that goes on in the Church is done by mothers
    I couldn’t agree more. My wife is a superb teacher to my children
  • The Atonement is the mighty healer
  • Just do it right; be better

President Thomas S Monson

  • Now is the time for us to come together to bring souls unto Him
  • Shared the story of how the St Thomas Branch in Ontario grew
  • Have faith in the work

The choir sang Called to Serve

Sister Estorga offered the benediction

182nd Semiannual General Conference – Press Conference Regarding Lower Missionary Service Age

This morning I watched the press conference that was held between the two general sessions yesterday regarding the lower missionary service age. It was pretty good. Michael Purdy, Director of Media Relations for the Church led the press conference. He briefly introduced Elders Russell M Nelson and Jeffrey R Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Elder David F Evans of the Seventy. Elder Nelson spoke for a few minutes, and then Elder Holland spoke for the rest of the time. Elder Holland fielded most of the questions, but did have Elder Nelson and Elder Evans contribute.

Here are my notes from the press conference. I didn’t make note of who said what, but most things were said by Elder Holland.

  • no one knew that this was coming. President Monson wanted to keep it confidential, so only the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles knew
  • the main qualification for missionary service is total personal worthiness
  • new missionaries will spend approximately 1/3 less time at their MTC, regardless whether they are speaking their native language or learning a new language
  • prospective missionaries need to have improved preparation
  • there is a fairly new 12-week training program that has been implemented that is done in-field by Mission Presidents that has helped
  • there are no new missions yet, but it is expected that there will be new ones (currently there are 347)
  • the Lord is hastening His work and needs more missionaries
  • parents need to take a strong hand in helping prospective missionaries prepare
  • prospective missionaries can be recommended for a mission up to 120 days before their 18th birthday or when they are finished high school
  • young men can enter the Missionary Training Centre after they have turned 18 and finished high school
  • young women can enter the MTC after they have turned 19
  • missionary work remains a priesthood responsibility
  • why the difference in age at which they serve? Years of experience has shown them this is the best way
  • young men can serve any time between the ages of 18 and 25
  • young women can serve from 19 onward. There is no upper limit
  • two years ago President Monson asked for more missionaries. In those 2 years, the number of YM becoming missionaries has increased by 6%, young women by 12% and couples by 18%
  • they considered many options when making this change including ages and length of service, but they decided to go with this for now. One miracle at a time.

Read the recaps and other notes from the 182nd Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

“When choosing where to play, Mormon recruits face unique issues”

Andy Staples, a writer for Sports Illustrated (and one whom I’m not familiar with) posted an excellent article last week about the challenges that active LDS athletes face in choosing a school and the possibility that they may leave for 2 years for a mission. I was an average athlete in high scho0l, and never had any dreams of even playing in university/college. I can only imagine how exciting it must be to be that good, and also to worry about what might happen to your scholarship and your abilities if you leave for two years.

A few highlights from the article…

On dealing with a potential school:

“I basically told them, ‘This is me,'” said Te’o, from Laie, Hawaii. “I’m LDS. I’m thinking of serving a mission, and I want that to be available to me. If that’s not in the cards for your university, I have to respect that, but I have to consider others.”…

Considerations other than serving a mission:

LDS players also must consider how their faith will mesh with the campus environment at either a secular school or one run by a different faith, and they must prepare for a backlash from some in the LDS community should they choose a school other than Brigham Young, the Provo, Utah, university run by the Mormon church…

Pressure to stay:

“The pressure came more from just knowing that your team is counting on you. You are in the mix of things. You have been practicing with them every day. They know you. You know them. So to all of sudden say, ‘I’ve got to leave you for a couple of years’ gets really hard for the young man to do. … The pressure to stay once you’ve gone there is tremendous”…