The stake president assigned my family to give a “presentation” on missionary work for stake conference. Presentation? Sounds like we should present an engraved urn or a commemorative plaque or something. What exactly would we present? I don’t know because we are not examples in missionary work and we did not have any grand stories to share, but we’d give it our best.
I studied for a couple of weeks. The more I studied, the more my focus changed – on up to the day of stake conference when my husband came home 45 minutes prior to the meeting and asked, “So, you ready?”
“Not exactly,” I said, regretfully informing him that I did not have a talk – just 11 pages of disjointed notes, and therefore would not be speaking. He and the boys would have to represent. He assured me that whatever I had was fine. I disagreed. This was a talk that couldn’t be improvised.
“Just take the first three pages of notes,” he said. I didn’t know how partial notes would help, but I grabbed them and out the door we went for our 6pm meeting.
As promised, I did not even sit on the stand, but parked myself on the front/side pew. The first counselor in the stake presidency conducted (who happened to be my husband) and as he introduced our family as the first speakers, he added, “and then there is my wife, my sweetheart, my bride, I love you.” While the congregation sighed, “Oh how romantic,” I just about gagged. The dirty Dog! He’s going to call me up to speak! Sure enough, not only did he call me up, he had me speak first.
The following is what the Spirit organized from some incoherent notes into an inspiring message for Saratoga, California Stake Conference.
Hastening the Work
This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
June 23, 2013 an important missionary meeting took place called Hastening of the Work. In that monumental broadcast, we learned about Members working with Missionaries, the responsibility of members and ward mission leaders, ward councils and bishops not only participating, but taking the lead in missionary work. But, there was something that made this meeting historical.
The Brethren said that that day marked the Beginning of the End. That meeting was the announcement of the Hastening of the work. Then the end will come – meaning the Second Coming.
What does this mean, exactly?
The “Last Laborers”
In Doctrine and Covenants 88 (the section called “The Olive Leaf”), the Lord describes sending out “First Laborers” and “Last Laborers” in his kingdom. Then he describes in detail what we must do to prepare for the Second Coming. It’s a really terrific section. The “Last Laborers,” he describes, are the final workers who will gather in haste directly before the Second Coming. Anticipating the time of the Final Laborers, the Lord uses the word hasten:
Behold, I will hasten my work in its time.
Brigham Young anticipated the time when that scripture would be fulfilled.
In an 1852 letter to European Mission president, Samuel Richards, Brigham Young wrote:
“We believe, as the time draws near [meaning the time of the Second Coming], the Lord will hasten his work, and nations will soon be gathered into the fold of Christ. The work urges and is becoming very much enlarged and extended, and requires a commensurate accumulation of men and means, and expansion of mind and energy, ability and perseverance.” (29 October 1852)
Well, guess what? This scripture is today being fulfilled. It is no longer I will hasten. It is currently I am Hastening my Work. Hence, the title of that meeting. The Lord is now Hastening His work to prepare the way for His Second Coming. We are in the very midst of history in the making.
Elder L. Tom Perry:
“This is the most remarkable era in the history of the Church. This is something that ranks with the great events that have happened in past history, like the First Vision, like the gift of the Book of Mormon, like the Restoration of the gospel, like all of the things that build that foundation for us to go forward and teach in our Father in Heaven’s kingdom.”
(Closing Remarks, Seminar for New Mission Presidents, 26 June 2013)
Elder Quentin Cook:
“This is the most important time in all of the History of the Church! Everything before has been leading up to this moment. Worldwide Communication (Satellites, Radio, Cable, Internet, etc), Worldwide Temples, Worldwide Recognition of the Church, New Youth Programs Preparing Youth for Missions, Age change for Missionaries: massive influx of missionaries, New Focus on Member help in Missionary work. In the next few years the Church will become more powerful than it has EVER been, and it will grow at an amazing pace!” (Peruvian Mission Conference, Sept 2013)
Technology Aids in the Hastening
Go ye into all the world; and unto whatsoever place ye cannot go ye shall send, that the testimony may go from you into all the world unto every creature.
For years I had assumed that missionaries would physically set foot in all nations and proselyte to the world. Didn’t we always hear that the gospel had to be taken to every nation, kindred, tongue and people before the Second Coming? But there is so much more to missionary work. It’s interesting that the Lord specifies in the scripture that there will be some places that we cannot go, but we will be able to send testimony.
How will we send Testimony into all the world?
Region-specific sites tied to lds.org
plus many more including one titled “Hastening the Work”
Ashley’s Mission Blog
Before Ashley went on her mission, she set up a blogsite to document her mission. We decided early on that this was going to be an extension of her missionary service. Ashley emails weekly. She is allowed only one hour/week to read/write emails, including a letter to her mission president. She’s a fast typist, and writes as detailed as she can, and it is my job to transfer her letters to the blog. I fill in a bit of history and tie everything together with a spiritual thought.
One of the amazing things with her blog is that it is reaching countries all over the globe. Last week there were two days which she had more hits from Malaysia than from the United States. People in China have been following her blog. China is not open to missionaries. People from Saudi Arabia have been following her blog. Saudi Arabia is not open to missionaries. Ashley’s blog, in its own little way, is preaching the gospel to closed nations.
Are our missionaries setting foot in every country? No, but the internet is in every country. It may be more/less available, more/less censored, but it is in every nation, in every nation’s language. The lds.org site now says it is the largest religious website in the world, with more than 20 official church websites.
The new missionaries have been asked to create a profile on Mormon.org and utilize Facebook as part of their missionary work. Even the Brethren now have Facebook and Twitter accounts. This is not happenstance.
Prophet Joseph Smith:
“We ought to have the building up of Zion as our greatest object. When wars come, we shall have to flee to Zion. The cry is to make haste. The last revelation says, Ye shall not have time to have gone over the earth, until these things come. It will come as did the cholera, war, fires, and earthquakes; one pestilence after another, until the Ancient of Days comes, then judgment will be given to the Saints… The time is soon coming, when no man will have any peace but in Zion and her stakes.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 160–61)
Seeing Eye to Eye
With some missions receiving iPads, that media, alone, has hastened the work dramatically.
And now, it came to pass that after Abinadi had spoken these words he stretched forth his hand and said: The time shall come when all shall see the salvation of the Lord; when every nation, kindred, tongue, and people shall see eye to eye and shall confess before God that his judgments are just.
What is the significance of that verse? “Every nation, kindred, tongue and people shall SEE EYE to EYE.” How can people here in California see eye to eye with people in Europe or in countries that are closed to the gospel? Skype is how they are seeing eye to eye.
As some of our missionaries in Santa Rosa were getting the first iPads, the leaders who were training for the iPads had, within the first hour, taught 4 lessons via chat. That’s usually how much missionaries teach on a good day! Now accomplished in an hour. And they were not only teaching people in their area – they were teaching people in Europe, Estonia, Russia. They saw EYE TO EYE.
They have found that most people are online from like 9pm to 12pm. How will we teach those people if our missionaries are asleep? Missionaries on the other side of the world in Japan, Spain, Europe, and Russia will teach our people during our night hours, and in return we will teach their people in their night hours.
Missionary work has dramatically changed. Online work is opening the door for teaching up to 80 lessons/week. An elder in Santa Rosa got over 50 referrals in one day, mostly for people in different countries. So, while a missionary may be physically called to the California mission, his/her teaching is, in reality, world wide.
Elder Russell M. Nelson said that there are currently 70 million people ready to hear the gospel.
Fellow Workers in the Vineyard
Let me make something clear, our family does not claim to be an example in missionary work. For instance:
How many people has my family brought into the Church? Zero.
Of the many copies of the Book of Mormon we’ve handed out, how many people have taken Discussions? Zero.
Of the dozens of discussions we’ve held in our home, how many of those people did WE find? Zero.
This family – an example? Hardly. We’re merely fellow workers in the vineyard with everyone else. If you look at our statistical track record, it’s far below stellar. But does that make us failures? No. We are missionary minded. We love our neighbors and try to be good examples and reach and serve. We are doing our best and that is all that is required of any of us. Like Elder Ballard stated this past Conference, we cannot fail when we do our best.
Importance of Having the Spirit
The most important thing in Hastening the work is to have the Spirit.
The Patriarch in Italy, Michele Calabrese, has a great conversion story. After hearing just one discussion from the missionaries, his wife, Sister Calabrese, was convinced of the truthfulness of the Church, but Michele wanted nothing to do with the Church, and refused to let her get baptized. This went on for quite a while. She was converted and waited patiently for her husband’s heart to soften. Then one day Michele was walking down the street and passed by some missionaries. He felt such a strong spirit radiating from this set of missionaries that he felt compelled to turn around and talk with them. Now he is the Patriarch in Rome.
Missionaries – make sure you carry the Spirit. Members can tell if you have the Spirit or not. Just like you feel a different spirit in every home you visit, members can feel a different spirit with different companionships. Make sure you obey every mission rule so that you are entitled and endowed with the Spirit at all times.
Having the Spirit will increase the Lord’s confidence in you, it will increase the members’ confidence in you – they will trust you with teaching their friends, and you just don’t know who might pass you on the street that will feel something and turn around to talk with you.
Members, invite missionaries into your homes for dinners and discussions so you can partake in that spirit. As you get to know the missionaries and the names of investigators, you will be able to pray for them by name in your family prayers. This will add great strength and blessings to their work. And it will also bless you.
Missionaries, Always Leave a Blessing on the Family and Home
Years ago, Elder Barclay and his companion taught an elderly woman in my home. It was a wonderful experience. After every discussion, the elders would linger and we’d talk about how the discussion went, and they would say a quick prayer before leaving. One day, Elder Barclay said the prayer, but this time he asked for a blessing of safety to be on our home and us individually.
The following morning, I went on my power walk, and when I was about 40 minutes into my walk – on a quiet, remote street – I noticed a brown beat-up van drive slowly past. Minutes later, the van returned. My warning radar went up, but I thought that maybe they were looking for an address. Moments later, however, I heard a motor behind me. I looked over my left shoulder and found the van creeping along behind me with two scruffy guys in the front seat. At this point, I was both mad and scared.
Now, I grew up on the street. I’m aware. I’m savvy. I’m tough. Don’t mess with me, man! But, I knew I was running on a deficit. I didn’t have a phone, or a whistle, or pepper spray. So, I walked faster. That’s when they pulled ahead, stopped the van, and a guy came from the van’s side sliding door.
As I’m trying to conjure up some deadly Judo moves (that I know are latent spiritual gift that I haven’t tapped into yet) – and nothing comes – the gravity of the situation hits: There are 3 of them, a beat-up van with no license plate, 1 of me, and I’m several blocks from a street that connects to a busier street – so I take off. I run. I bolt with adrenaline filling every part of me. It didn’t take long for them to be right on my heels. I know I can’t outrun them, but I can outsmart them. I’m just waiting for some smarts to kick in and tell me what to do to lose these degenerates.
Heart pounding, legs racing like the wind, I finally round a corner and encountered…MY HUSBAND driving toward me! He came looking for me. What a relief! Heaving for air, I pointed out the van and they sped off. But I was safe. I was safe.
I asked my husband what brought him out to find me, and he just said that he had a feeling. Immediately, I knew that that feeling was a direct answer to the missionary’s prayer for my safety. He never comes out to look for me. But that was an answer and blessing for my having the missionaries in my home, and for their prayer for my family.
The Lord told Joseph Smith in 1832, “Behold, I will hasten my work in its time”
We are seeing the time when this is being fulfilled! The Lord is hastening his work – in all its facets; Families are being prepared, Temples are being built, Family History is expanding, New Youth curriculum is preparing future missionaries. Even the Primary programs have become more spiritual-based from when I was a youth. Instead of Popcorn Popping on the Apricot Tree and Give Said the Little Stream, they now sing Follow the Prophet and I Know the Scriptures are True. Families are being prepared.
Elder Allan F. Packer of the Seventy said:
“The new MTC is the home. The new family history center is the home. The new curriculum is going to help the youth and the parents both in that role.” (Church News, Church Leaders Discuss the Hastening of Work, April 2013)
A year and a half ago the missionary age-change announcement was made (10/2012), and last year Elder Russell M. Nelson encouraged everyone to “catch the wave” (4/2013). In other words, this won’t be lasting long; catch it, or you will miss the swell.
President Gordon B. Hinckley:
“The Lord said…the field is white already to harvest… [Are we going to debate with Him], or shall we take Him at His word?” (Feed the Lambs, Feed the Sheep, May 1999)
What can we do to Hasten the Work?
Serve a mission.
Contribute to the missionary fund.
Reach out to neighbors and acquaintances.
Share the Book of Mormon and the joys and peace of the Gospel.
Carry the Spirit.
Be an example. Your example is your best missionary tool.
Prophet Joseph Smith:
“The work which has to be accomplished in the last days is one of vast importance, and will call into action the energy, skill, talent, and ability of the Saints, so that it may roll forth with that glory and majesty described by the prophet [Daniel] [Dan 2:34–45]; and will consequently require the concentration of the Saints, to accomplish works of such magnitude and grandeur.”
(History of the Church, 4:185–86)
The time is now. The golden age of missionary work has arrived. Opportunities to participate in building the kingdom and prepare the way for His Second Coming are vast and varied. The Lord is counting on us. Let’s make it count by making missionary work a priority.
They are starting to put ads on our blog. We do not approve these and are not getting any residuals whatsoever, so I apologize for the content. I’ll see what I can do about it.