President's Pen 9-4-17 (Labor Day!)

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 that teach repentance and baptize converts and the best missionaries in the world!

Dear Elders & Sisters,

I love ya!  What a historic time to be a missionary in the Great Texas Houston South Mission!  You are now all survivors of hurricane Harvey, a category 4 storm and one of the largest to ever hit the United States.  The impact of Harvey will be felt for months to come and you were called to serve at a time when the people of South Houston need us most.  The Lord trusts you to bless, uplift, and invite all to come unto Christ both spiritually and temporally.  You have indeed been called to serve and labor in the vineyard.

Today is Labor Day, a day that celebrates the contributions that workers have made to strengthen and prosper the nation.  It is a symbolic day for our mission as our labor will be a great contribution to the many people that have been devastated by Harvey. For the work that is ahead of us, I like the Latin description of the term as it means, "toil, exertion; hardship, pain, fatigue, and work”.  You will likely feel many of these things on given days in our service, and yet, as we go forward in the strength of the Lord; we all things can do! We will be tested physically, spiritually, and emotionally, and I love that the Lord has seen fit to bless our mission and each of us individually to labor with all our heart, might, mind, and strength. 

I’ve been pondering today as I served if I am a laborer worthy of my hire. (D&C 31:5) The scriptures often refer to laboring or being a laborer in the Lord’s work. Mormon counsels his son Moroni in his service by teaching,”…let us labor diligently; for if we should cease to labor, we should be brought under condemnation.” (Moroni 9:6)  In the great allegory of the olive trees in Jacob 5, the call to go into the vineyard is followed by the invitation to labor with your might.  The Lord in the Doctrine and Covenants often reminds the early saints the importance of their labors, “And the inhabitants of Zion also shall remember their labors, inasmuch as they are appointed to labor, in all faithfulness; for the idler shall be had in remembrance before the Lord.”  To be a laborer for the Lord cannot be taken lightly and it is a blessing to serve Him. As we apply the scriptures to ourselves, our call is to also labor with all diligence, our might, and not just for a day, but all the days of our lives. 

Over the last week I have been blessed to labor in the homes of those impacted by Harvey.  With both elders and sisters I have worked together shoulder to shoulder, carrying out furniture, tearing down sheetrock, removing wood floors, and comforting those that stand in need of comfort.  With sweat dripping from our faces, I’ve felt so much joy that I thank my Heavenly Father each night for sending missionaries to the Great THSM that know how to labor.  I’ve seen very few stand idle, I’ve watched missionaries not wait to be told what to do, but act and be agents.  I’ve seen missionaries go from one house to the next house seemingly with no need to stop and rest.  It’s been awe inspiring to me and I thank you all for how you are laboring during this special season in the Lord’s vineyard.

Perhaps the greatest blessing of your labors has come as I’ve heard from those you’ve served.  They see the light in your eyes and ask more about you, what you do, and why you do it.  They’re amazed that you give your time and talents to come and bless people you don’t know without any desire for recognition.  There is also great praise from local government officials, friends and family back home, and the leaders of the Church.  Your labors are in the spotlight and they will be for many weeks and months to come.  The minute you put your yellow helping hands t-shirt on you are noticed, watched, and thanked for your goodness.  While we labor now, let us also remember that we need to connect with people as we do.  Ask their names, how long they’ve lived in their home, if they’ve ever had a Mormon missionary knock on their door. :) Make sure you make your labor memorable and connect as we’ll want to return and share more about the Savior’s message of hope and peace.

Elders & Sisters, one of the greatest Christlike attributes you will gain during the course of your missions is your desire and love to labor.  Call it diligence, hard work, persistence, tenacity, or grit, it is what distinguishes those who reach greatness verses those who live below their potential.  It is a great step on the road to becoming more consecrated as we go and do. During this season of your mission, you will need to develop this attribute perhaps like no other time.  You will be asked to go out and labor physically.  You will be asked to labor in your studies, your planning, and your proselyting efforts.  You will be asked to labor as you bless and serve both temporally and spiritually.  Like Adam and Eve, you are to labor all the days of your life and to do so by the sweat of your brow.  More work has just been added upon you and I bless you as your mission president to have the strength physically, spiritually, and emotionally to carry the extra service now laid before us.  Your future wives and husbands and posterity to come will be blessed because you’ve learned how to labor.  What better time is there to strengthen your backs as you labor for the Lord.  I invite you to also ponder if you’re a laborer worthy of your hire and commit to doing so with all your might each day.  I love ya, I’m grateful for your willingness to do hard things. I’m especially grateful that you’ll labor with positive attitudes and grateful hearts as one of God’s chosen servants.  Let us all make today our day of labor and love it.  I love ya!

President Hall