David Bednar said " I testify that the tender mercies of the Lord are real and that they do not occur randomly or merely by coincidence. Often, the Lord’s timing of His tender mercies helps us to both discern and acknowledge them."
I would like to acknowledge that today is my mother's birthday. She past way in 1996 and would have been 85 years old today. Although she is not here I know that she is proud of me and someday I will see her again.
I am going to talk about the "sharing the joy of the gospel." When my mother married my father in 1950 my mother was not a member of the church and had been raise in the another Faith. My father was an less active member of the LDS church. His father had been a miner and for most of my fathers grow up years he had lived in places where the church was not well established so he did not go to church often. Soon after their marriage my mother discovered she was expecting a child. Their first son William Robert Merrill was born early and died a month after his birth. The death of their son devastated them. They started looking for answers to life's most important questions. "Where did we come from?" "Why Are we here." And " where are we goings after this life is over?" These are life's most important questions. My parents made a decision that they need God in their lives and answers to their questions. The Mormon church that my father belonged to had helped them with the funeral of their baby so they decided to start attending church there. They learned that they had lived with our father in Heaven before they were born. That families could be together forever. Their baby was not lost to them and someday they would see him again. My family growing up called our older brother "our little missionary." A small baby taught my mother more about life and the gospel then she had learned growing up in a different church.
The " joys of the gospel" brings people to Christ and that is the joy of missionary service. Both Mark and I served missions in our youth. Mark served in the England London Mission and I served of all places in Southern California in the very place my parents had lived when they 1st got married. Many times on my mission I visited the cemetery where my brother was buried and I promised him to be as good a missionary as he was to our family. This was another tender mercy.
Many people have asked me how I talked Mark into serving a mission? I have to explain it was not because he did not draw out elk or deer. It took a lot if pray and soul searching to know this was the time to serve. The joys of missionary service is in Mark's blood. His own father has served five mission as Senior Couple. Two of those missions were hardship mission to Vanuatu and Cape Verde. oh but what an adventure they were. My parents served a temple mission in Denver and served in the Mesa Temple for many years. For health reasons my father was just released from his service as a temple worker in the Fresno, California temple.
During our dating period and soon after Mark and I were married we made a commitment that we would someday serve a mission again when our children were grown. Note I didn't say we would serve when we were old but when our children were grown. Neither one of us are 60 nor are we old enough to collect social security.
***** President Franics of the New York Rochester mission said there are three different kinds of sins. The sins of commission, the sins of omission and the sins of NO mission. In the May 2013 Ensign on page 135 it states "along with the increase in the number of young missionaries due to the lowering of missionary age, senior couples will be needed."
When Pres. Ostler taught a fifth Sunday lesson a few years ago about serving missions as couple missionaries, I had my doubt. To be honest I did not know if Mark and I could get along 24/7. Don't get me wrong. Mark and I love each other very much but...I still had my doubts. So when we heard about a service opportunity to serve in Palmyra, New York as site missionaries for two weeks during the Hill Cumorah Pageant we decided to give it a try. I found when I left home, work and the world behind and turned my heart to the Lord all doubt went away. It was a wonderful experience and this year we requited Steve and Jan Harrison and Mark's uncle and aunt Bob and Sue Allen to go with us this year. Believe it or not we are still friends.
Our daughter Summer when she spoke a few months ago before her mission she told you that her father blessed her as an infant that she would serve a mission. We thought that when she turned 21 and when she left on a mission then perhaps we would consider serving also. Last Oct changed everything for her and us. She reminded me that I had often told her over the years that "if she served, then we will serve" and she called me on it. A tender mercies to me is that when Mark and I step foot in England it will be the day before Summer's 21 birthday. Coincidence. I think not. It is another tender mercy to me that The Lord is in charge.
So what do missionaries have to say about the "sharing the joy of the gospel" ? Here are some comments for missionaries serving today.
My daughter Summer said in here last email to me "Life as a missionary is just amazing! The Lord is AMAZING! He is always there to bless us if we do our part. We have been doing so well finding lots of people and I know it is nothing we do. We just are obedient and try our hardest and the Lord puts people in our path. We are just his instruments. It is amazing! I love life! .."
My niece Lacy Gray in Canada said "Yeah it's crazy how often you feel the spirit as a missionary. Literally it is a constant companion! I love it!"
Jacob Sorenson "I love being a missionary! Helpin people like this is incredible. I am learning tons"
Courtney Margaritis in Seattle "God lives and is guiding us every day, that is evident when we really look at the small and simple things through out the day."
Karlie Harrison in Norway said " Every mission call is perfect for each missionary and I’m learning more and more that this call is perfect for me. I’m grateful for this opportunity to struggle and rely on the Lord. It is tough though. I just want to express and share but I’m learning to rely on Him and not myself. It’s all about having confidence in Him and not in my own. "
Wr have found out that we will be serving in Sheffield England is a Slovakian Branch. Sister Hayley Burningham serving in the Slovak Branch in England Leeds Mission "I love being a missionary and really seeing a change in these people and how they just become more loving and selfless and happy as they read the Book of Mormon and pray and really use the Atonement of Jesus Christ to change and to become better happier people!"
Do you see a pattern here? The joy of missionary service is giving and loving. The more we give and love the more the Savior gives back to us. I am so grateful to be serving a mission with Mark and serving at the same time Summer is serving. I am grateful for missionary experience I have had. It is amazing to see the growth and changes people make in their lives.
******* Our neighbor Leigh Root from our old neighborhood joined the church soon after we moved to this ward. She was 17 at the time. She has since married in the temple and is now expecting her 5th child. I have been Kandi Tresslor's visiting teacher before and after she joined the church. I think I have learned more from her then she has from me. And Heather my cousin I met from doing Family History has changed my life forever. When she was baptized I felt so much love for her and I could only imagine how Our Heavenly Father felt. Words can not express the wonderful experience I had with her when she entered the temple this past year. This is the love I want to share with the people in England.
England is the home land of my ancestors and the Mission office is in the very town where they lived in Horsforth, England. Coincidence? I think not. I know The Lord loves me and he lives. I know the gospel of Jesus Christ is true. I know we have a living Prophet who has called us to serve.