President's Pen 9-6-16 (Laborers in the Vineyard)

As missionaries in the Texas Houston South Mission, we know our purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ, by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end. We do this through our constant efforts to find, teach, invite, retain, and activate God’s children; we love it, we live it, and we do it! We begin with the “End in Mind”, and see God’s children as he does. We are Disciples of Jesus Christ and the best missionaries in the world!

Dear Elders & Sisters, 

We love you!  It was a blessing for us to be with you at zone conferences last week and to be strengthened and edified together.  We feel and recognize your commitment to write the Doctrine of Christ on your hearts and we love and appreciate you for it.   

Yesterday we celebrated Labor Day, a day that was set aside to recognize the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our nation. We celebrate you each day as you labor to invite and help people come unto Christ. 

Shortly after the Church was established in 1830, the Prophet Joseph Smith received revelations to call “laborers into the vineyard”.   As we are taught in D&C 33, this would be in the eleventh hour and the last time laborers would be called.  We join this group of laborers who have been called in these last days to prepare men and women for the second coming of the Savior. 

I like the term laborer as it is a very descriptive way of defining our assignment.  It includes the characteristics of hard work, toil, sweat (especially in Houston), industry, and exertion.  It also recognizes that the work won’t be easy, simple, or without its share of difficulty. There is no question that to be an effective missionary, one must labor diligently if we hope to see success.   

Elder Holland, in one of his great missionary talk, speaks to the idea of the labor/effort that is involved in our work…  “Anyone who does any kind of missionary work will have occasion to ask, Why is this so hard? Why doesn’t it go better? Why can’t our success be more rapid? Why aren’t there more people joining the Church? It is the truth. We believe in angels. We trust in miracles. Why don’t people just flock to the font? Why isn’t the only risk in missionary work that of pneumonia from being soaking wet all day and all night in the baptismal font?

You will have occasion to ask those questions. I have thought about this a great deal. I offer this as my personal feeling. I am convinced that missionary work is not easy because salvation is not a cheap experience. Salvation never was easy. We are The Church of Jesus Christ, this is the truth, and He is our Great Eternal Head. How could we believe it would be easy for us when it was never, ever easy for Him? It seems to me that missionaries and mission leaders have to spend at least a few moments in Gethsemane. Missionaries and mission leaders have to take at least a step or two toward the summit of Calvary.

Now, please don’t misunderstand. I’m not talking about anything anywhere near what Christ experienced. That would be presumptuous and sacrilegious. But I believe that missionaries and investigators, to come to the truth, to come to salvation, to know something of this price that has been paid, will have to pay a token of that same price.

For that reason I don’t believe missionary work has ever been easy, nor that conversion is, nor that retention is, nor that continued faithfulness is. I believe it is supposed to require some effort, something from the depths of our soul.”

I love this quote as it gives me perspective on why the work doesn’t come easy, but also an understanding that nothing worth value ever comes without a price.  The reason why we love our missions, even on the hot, muggy, rainy, cancelled appointments, frequent disappointments, and long hard days is that without this experience, we wouldn’t couldn’t become the men and women God wants us to become.  We don’t grow when it’s comfortable and labor has never been nor ever will be easy.  We don’t necessarily see the growth at times, but it is there and I promise you the Lord is refining and strengthening you. We love our missions because we have worked for something that has infinite worth.  

The blessing is we never truly labor alone.  You have the prayers of millions of Latter Day Saints expressed on your behalf every day.  You have family and friends who pray for you by name.  You have the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles who pray for you in the temple every Thursday at 4pm.  There are countless prayers offered in the temples around the world on your behalf.  We pray for you constantly.  Most important, however, is that the Lord is with you in the vineyard and he labors right along side of you.  With all that the Savior suffered and experienced would you think for a moment that He has stopped praying to the Father in your behalf? 

How is it that you can go and labor??? When you entered the temple and received your endowment you were blessed with power, with the Savior’s name upon you, and with angels who have charge over you. (D&C 109:20) As authorized representatives of Jesus Christ you have been set apart to diligently labor with your whole soul.  You gladly accepted the assignment with the understanding that you sacrifice and consecrate all you possess to building up the Lord’s kingdom.

For these reasons I love seeing you exhausted at night after a full day of effort.  I love seeing you toil as you set goals and make plans.  I love seeing you study and discipline your mind to help your investigators progress.  I love seeing you work with members as you enlist their help.  None of this for the natural man is easy, but you do it, and the blessing is that our burdens are made light as we are yoked to the Savior.  You are not alone, the work is not yours, and it is our blessing to be called to it…

Elders and Sisters, I hope you love that the work is hard, that it doesn’t come easy, that you have to be consistent, persistent, and tenacious each and every day.  As a laborer you are worthy of your hire as you thrust in your sickle.  You are then promised that your sins are forgiven you, that your families are blessed, and that you will find those who God has prepared.  Sweat a little more, work a little harder, feel the joy that comes after a day of hard work.  We are commanded not to idle away our time, nor hide or talents, but to labor with our might.  This is the nature of your call, to labor for the souls of men.  Embrace it, love it, and then rest from your labors for a season after the mission comes to a close. 

We love you, thanks for your hard work and know that what you do every day makes a difference in your life and the lives of others.

Mission Update

Please find attached the slides from zone conferences.  The temple is closed until September 27th for annual cleaning, prepare your recent converts and those you’re teaching to be ready to join us at the temple when it reopens.  Keep up the great work, love ya!

President Hall