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How to be a Missionary...

               "If I were an angel, I would stand on the rooftops and sing
                          until all my brothers and sisters; to the Lord I did bring."
               Yes, we all want to be a missionary and share the word of God
                          telling family and friends that the wine press has been trod.
               Well, in here, you will find ideas and a special prayer to use,
                          and a tried and true missionary formula whereby you won't lose. 

I've always wanted to be a missionary as long as I could remember. But when it came time age wise, the opportunity was just not there for me. So I counted on it coming later in life. One thing I did notice however, is that those who did serve missions received more blessings than those of us who didn't serve. All other things being equal, opened doors and opportunities seemed to be more plentiful for them than for those of us who stayed at home. All throughout my life I found myself competing with return missionaries who always seemed five steps ahead of me. I saw that in my own son as well. He left for only two years but he came home 5 years older and far more mature than his friends he left behind. I saw it again serving on the high-council in our stake, watching the young return missionaries report back to the stake president. They were noticeably more mature and had more things going for them than their stay at home peers.

          I can bear solemn testimony to any young man contemplating a mission,
                  that the Lord gives extra blessings to those who keep themselves clean
                            and serve an honorable mission. And I can promise you
                                       in the name of the Lord that life will be better for you.

But one doesn't have to leave on a mission to be a missionary, one can serve even at home. Julie and I had the opportunity to serve a 2 year, 8 month stake mission and during that mission, we had several great experiences. The greatest came in the form of totally unexpected adversity. Our children fell prey to an onslaught of anti-Mormon attacks. Through this adversity, came great strength. Though I could say more, I'll only tell you that it culminated with the bolstering of our personal testimonies and the book, "Think About it..."  

Later on, Julie and I were called to serve a 2 year mission at the Mesa Family History Center where we developed a strong testimony and love for doing work for our ancestors. I could share many neat experiences, but I'll only share one. We had the chance to meet a remarkable lady by the name of DeAnne Shelley who is a walking, talking miracle. A young California girl who got married, had two children, then contracted polio, MS, and many other complications. She lived in and out of a hospital for 15 years, was spared death by a Melchizedek Priesthood blessing. When strong enough she was baptized in her wheelchair and then,

            went to the temple in her wheelchair. There she received her endowments
                    and to make a long story short, she walked out of that Temple,
                            pushing her wheelchair. That whole story is recorded in the poem,
                                                                      "DeAnne's Story"

I've also served a 2 year, 3 month mission at the Arizona Prison in Florence, AZ. under the direction of the LDS, Gila River Branch Prison Ministries. Some of my choicest spiritual experiences have come from inside those prison walls. I never cease to be amazed at how strong the Spirit is inside those walls with Brethren who have crossed the line so far they have been cast away by all  ...except the Lord. Time after time I have felt Him reaching out to them and calling them back. The poem, "The CoinMaker and the Coin" was written as I pondered this unexpected phenomena. And the Brethren in prison? They are reaching back to the Lord and you can feel it. I could share dozens of stories but I'll only share two.

One is about an inmate by the name of Charlie. He and his "cellie" received a Book of Mormon from someone and they were tearing the pages out and using them to roll cigarettes. One day Charlie started reading the pages he was tearing out before rolling his cigarettes and then later got to the point where he stopped tearing out the pages and read the rest of the book. He got to Moroni's promise and then prayed and asked for himself if the book was true. In short, Charlie has been coming to church for over 8 months now and is one of the strongest there.

The other story is about an inmate by the name of Herbert. Herbert asked for a Melchizedek Priesthood blessing and so Brother Clark and I gave him one. We started with a prayer among ourselves first to ask for guidance in what to say in Herbert's blessing. After we gave him a blessing, Herbert wept and told us, "Many of the things you said were things I had already dreamed  ...but hear them said in a blessing..." then he stopped and wept again. I couldn't help but think about the many Melchizedek Priesthood blessings I have given in the name of the Lord and by the whisper of the Holy Ghost and how grateful I am to be endowed with this holy and sacred power. This special gift given to us to bless the lives of others.

I have given away about 18 Books of Mormon to different people in my life. I don't say that to brag but to tell you how easy it is to give one to someone you like and care about. I could tell you many different stories but I'll only share one. It's about a guy by the name of Woody.

Woody, an interesting fellow, is one of those who seems to draw a lot of unkind remarks from others because of characteristics peculiar to him. But I like Woody. He's a little grumpy and different but I like him. One day I went into where he works and ordered some food. I hadn't seen Woody for several months. I called him by name, asked him how he was doing, then sat down to eat. Soon, Woody came and sat down with me and began to small talk. It led to bills and the cost of living. Then he began complaining how much his renters were tearing up his house and his bills were too much for him. As Woody continued on, I felt the desire to share the gospel with him. So as he talked, I said these words in silent prayer;

                              "Heavenly Father, if you'll give me an open door,
                                                                      I'll go through it." 

Woody continued on and then he said, "If my wife had not brought in these renters, I would not have had them. Now I need them to pay the rent on my home." It was then that I remembered Woody telling me once that his wife had died. I asked him, "Woody, didn't your wife die?" He replied, "Yeah." I then said another silent prayer saying, "Thank you Heavenly Father. Thank you for that open door." Then I said, "Ya know, Woody, your wife still lives!" Woody just looked at me and gave me a funny look then turned away. He then said, "My grandson and I went out to her gravesite a few weeks ago and my grandson took my hankie and wiped the dust off her headstone." Woody then turned away and began to cry. As he wiped his tears I reverently said, "Ya know, Woody, she was right there when that happened." He looked at me funny again and said, "Yeah, up there!" (pointing to the sky). I replied, "No Woody, she was right there. Right there along side you and your grandson."

Wood's tone changed and he said, "Ya know, I believe in life after death. About 4 months ago I had a heart attack. They said I died for 3 minutes! I don't remember that, but I do remember seeing my mom and dad. They came to me and said, "Not yet, Woody, not yet! You can't come yet! You have a mission to fulfill." Then he said, "I don't know what that's all about!" I, emotionally replied, "I know what that's all about, Woody. Are you going to be here tomorrow?" He said, "I'm always here." I then told him I had something I wanted to give him.

I went home, took a Book of Mormon off my shelf and inscribed and marked some scriptures just for him. The next day I brought it to him and he said, "I've been working here for two years and only two people have ever given me anything. One guy gave me a hat-pin and now you have given me this." Then he stuck out his hand and said, "God bless you!" I took his hand and said, "God bless you too, Woody." It was an emotional moment. I was so grateful for that little prayer I had offered that led to such a wonderful spiritual moment.

                              "Heavenly Father, if you'll give me an open door,
                                                                      I'll go through it." 

We all have people we know and love and want to share the gospel with. I bear testimony that Heavenly Father will open a door for you too so you can share the Gospel with them. Just say: "Heavenly Father, if you'll give me an open door, I'll go through it" and He will not only open the door for you, He will be there with you and help you.

Lastly, I want to share portions of a letter with you, written by a young elder while serving on his mission. His father shared this letter with me and I asked if I could share some of it with you here on Though the letter was directed to his mother and father and written by a committed and zealous missionary, it contains thought provoking and interesting insight into how to find someone to share the gospel with. In short, it bares much truth. I hope it helps you in finding someone who is ready to have the gospel shared with them.

             "Dear Mom and Dad,

            "...I can testify that Satan knows how to put less effective people into your
            teaching pool. He helps distract us from the good work by giving us the 99 and
            keeping us from finding the 1. The 99 are just too good [content] for repentance.
            They don't need it. They just meet with us time and time again and never get
            baptized and we end up missing that 1 out of the 100 that would get baptized
            in a second if we could just find them.

            "That's why I wish members could understand the importance of the make a
            list program. It's so awesome. As missionaries, we only meet the 99 all day,
            everyday. They are the ones who won't keep commitments and aren't searching
            for anything and as Joseph Smith said, 'they are so righteous they cannot be
            saved and will be dammed' [halted].

            "Satan knows where we are going and what we are doing and he makes it
            possible for the 1% to always be gone and never home when we tract. We still
            get a small amount of baptisms only because we work so hard and occasionally
            because of our faith we beat Satan and find one who is interested. But the
            question is, where are the 1% who are ready right now?

            "I'll tell you where they are. They are at work everyday, or busy somewhere
            that we missionaries can't find them. They are out of our reach and Satan likes
            it that way. On Saturday and Sunday, Satan sends them away so we can't find
            them. But guess who comes in contact with the 1% everyday? The members
            of the Church. You guys are the only way that we can double the number of
            baptisms. You're the only way we can find the 1% who is ready to join but
            just needs the invitation. God knows who is ready and has provided a way
            [for you to help]. It's the principle of making a list. It's always been a very
            powerful form of revelation.

            "Whenever a bishop is chosen or an elder's quorum president or relief
            society president, etc., they make a list of all the possible candidates and
            ponder over each one. Then they pray and ponder and pray and ponder
            some more until the Lord feels they have exercised enough faith and then
            He puts the name of the one He has chosen into the mind of the seeker.
            In this way a ward of 200 active members can bring 200 people into the
            Church each year. In this way we can double the number of convert
            baptisms every year just like President Hinckley has said. I testify that
            the make a list principle is the key to revelation in every part of our lives.
            I know that it is the key to member missionary work..."

                                                             Love, Elder Ethan Stradling 

"Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together."
                                                              (New Testament | John 4:35 - 36)

                                                                    God bless,



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