Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Joy of Missions and Missionary Work -

On the day that Japan was hit with a large Earthquake and Tsunami; my first thought of course went to the people of Japan and the missionaries from our church serving there. My husband was home that day and called me into his office where he had just learned about this disaster and we immediately prayed for the Japanese people, the Japanese members of the church and for our missionaries serving there.
The church was notified that all of the missionaries were safe except they couldn't find out about the missionaries that were in the Sendai Mission. There were 20 missionaries in that area where the Tsunami hit. We have six missions in Japan with approx.150 missionaries in each mission.
Through the Stake and Ward organization lines, word was received quickly that 95% of the church members were found and accounted for. As I watched the news that day they were interviewing a family member of one of the missionaries that had not been found. At that time I prayed for the families of the missing missionaries. I felt at peace that all would be well with the them. When we finally found out that all the missionaries were safe; I felt such deep gratitude for their safety. Without any doubt at all I knew inside of me that Heavenly Father was watching over his missionaries. The statistics for a missionary losing his life while serving is very rare.
Our prayers are continuing on in behalf of all of the Japanese people. These kinds of disasters are horrible to watch on TV and with the medias ability to report news quickly; we are almost immediatly aware of the great distruction and loss of life. Our prayers will continue for our missionaries who will be doing a great work among the people in their efforts to serve them during this difficult time.  
Missionary work has always been dear to my heart. After my parents became active in the church my father was called to be a Stake Missionary. He would practise his lessons on my mother and I and it had a profound affect on my growing testimony. When I met my husband in High School, we discussed his desire to serve a mission. We grew in our love for each other and when the time came for him to serve his mission; I wanted him to do this with all my heart. He served a two year mission in Northern California. It wasn't easy to wait the two years for him to come home but it was worth every moment. He came home prepared to start our life together. 
 Often through the years we have had the missionaries over for dinner in our home. We talked about missionary work and encouraged our children to set a goal to serve a mission. My husband served four stake mission calls and was the President of the Stake Mission in Spokane. I served three Stake Missions. One in Las Vegas, Nevada and two in Spokane, Washington. I often would meet the missionaries at the home where they had a teaching appointment and I was able to assist with the lessons. Another sister in the ward was my companion and we would go visiting less active members and also assist missionaries. One time, the two of us were able to give all of the missionary lessons to a woman who didn't want the young missionaries to teach her. She was baptized and that was a very spiritual experience for us.
We have had 4 of our children serve missions. My  oldest son served in Des Moines Iowa Mission, my second son served in the Washington DC North Mission, my third son served in the Costa Rica Mission and our middle daughter served in the Venezuela Mission. It was such an awesome experience to have our children serve and they loved their missions and served faithfully. During their missions we communicated through letters and twice a year they could call home. All of them grew so much in their testimonies of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and also in their love for those they served. They taught many people and had many whom joined the church.
My parents in their later years served a mission in Cove Fort, Utah and that was one of their most cherished experiences.
My husband was raised in a home where missionary service was just part of their lives. Their father was always involved in missionary work. He served two Stake missions and served as a Stake Mission President. He worked under
Elder Gordon B.Hinckley as his assistant for 30 years. Later Elder Gordon B. Hinckley became  our Prophet and President of our church. While working as Gordon B. Hinckley's assistant, he worked in the audio visual and missionary department. He invented a small flannel board with the figures that would explain the Plan of Salvation and other aspects of the gospel for all of the missions throughout the world.  He did tours on Temple Square for years and would have firesides every Sunday where he would teach about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He was called and set apart as the first Presiding Elder for Nigeria in the late 1950's by President McKay. He was unable to stay in the country for very long due to Visa problems. While he was over there for a brief period of time he taught and baptized many Nigerian people. He continued to correspond with the people in Nigeria for several years as assigned by the church. He was later called with his wife to serve as the President of the Baton Rouge, Louisiana Mission for three years. Later on in the mid 1980's he and his wife served for 18 months in Nigeria and Ghana.They also served in Salt Lake City as missionaries in a Vietnamese ward. 
In 2003 while living in Spokane Washington my husband and I were invited over to meet with one of the Stake Presidency. I was at that time called to be the Nurse for the Washington Spokane Mission. I felt totally inadequate to take on this assignment. I had not been a practising nurse for over 15 years.  As the Presidency member was talking with us; I knew that I was to accept the call. The spirit spoke to my soul and I felt a warmth flow through me. As my husband and I were walking to our car I was telling him about the feelings that I had and when I told him about the feeling of warmth going through me; he said, " Yes, that was just the blood returning to your face." He said that when I was asked to do this calling, I went white as a ghost.  
The calling was for one year. I felt such fear and wondered how I was really going to do this calling. I did a lot of praying, soul searching and studying medical conditions.  My main responsibilities was to receive calls from the missionaries if they had any questions about their health. I had a cell phone so if I was not at home I could take a call. I took the cell phone with me  when I was on vacation or visiting children. I truly loved all of the missionaries and wanted to be there for them in anyway I could. I had a physician that I could call if I needed more information and also to direct the missionaries to him if the condition reported was more than I could handle.
I had many calls.There was between 170-200 missionaries serving in that mission. I could have 50 to 100 or more calls a month. There were very few months when it was lower than that. I had to chart on all of the calls and take care of insurance and other paper work. I would report the calls to the Mission President in a weekly meeting.  Also, I had to call in to the Church Offices to their medical department and request OKs on any treatment that the missionaries received or needed to receive. If there was a serious condition I would direct them to a physician, urgent care, ER or hospital. I had about 5 missionaries during that time that were hospitalized and I would make visits to the hospital to check on them. 
There were a few interesting health issues that happened. The one that I will share is the following. As two of the Assistants to the President were walking down a street one day, they saw a baby coyote on the road. One of the Elder's picked the baby Coyote up and was bit in the hand. He didn't let me know about it for two days. When I found out he was sent to the ER and had to have Rabies shots which was not a pleasant experience. I had to keep in mind that I was working with 19 to 21 year old Elders and Sisters. Sometimes, I knew they just needed to talk with their mother and couldn't so I became their mother when they were sick or just having a very bad time. The Mission President's wife would assist me at times when there were emotional problems with the Elders or Sisters. I was able to teach health, nutrition and exercise classes to the missionaries at Zone Conferences. I also did Medical orientation to the new missionaries that came in each month.  When the year was over I extended my mission for another six months and then extended another 6 months and even then I wanted to stay on my mission. I finally knew that I was to be released. The spirit told me it was time. A few months before my release my husband lost his job and we eventually had to move back to Salt Lake City area. I then knew why I had been directed to be released and available to train a new nurse.
My purpose in relating all of this is the fact that I know that Heavenly Father watches over his missionaries. There were countless times that I would receive a call from a missionary and would not know what to tell them and then I would receive through the spirit the exact words to explain what they needed to do for their condition. I do know beyond a doubt that our missionaries are watched over and protected.
 I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true and I have felt the spirit testify to my soul many times that it is true. I am so grateful for our Latter-day Prophet, President Thomas S. Monson. I am so grateful for the testimony of the Plan of Salvation the I learned at my fathers feet when I was very young.  I love missionary work and my husband and I look forward in the very near future to receiving a missionary call. We would like to serve on more than one full time mission when my husband retires. This is our goal. I am so  grateful for the missions that I have served and how much I have learned and grown in my own testimony of the gospel.
 I have a deep and abiding love for all the people of this earth and know beyond doubt that we are spiritual brothers and sisters and lived and knew our Heaven Father and our Savior, Jesus Christ in the Pre-existence.
All of this is why I feel great joy and love for missionary work and for the missionaries that serve throughout the world; they are always in our prayers. I know that they are protected and watched over by our Heavenly Father and our ever aware Savior Jesus Christ.


Darlene said...

Oh LeAnn, what a beautiful post. I'm not sure my comment will do it justice. I am still crying from the deep feeling of humilitly I felt from reading your wonderful testimony. It was so heartfelt and I am just overwhelmed.

Your whole life has been a lot about missionary work. It's just amazing how close you have been, with parents, grandparents, and yourselves so very involved with it. I am so inspired by your dedication to missionary work.

I was happy too, to read about the feelings you have about the people in Japan. I, too, am so grateful that all the missionaries are well and accounted for. You had more information than I had on the rest of the situation and I know that it is critical. So very many lives were lost in that horrile tragedy. It is so hard to take in all that has happened over there. I have never seen anything like it and I hope I never do again. Such terrible destruction. We must all pray for the people of Japan. Those people are strong and one day they WILL recover, but I am sure it will take years.

Thank you for this post. You are such a good writer. It was almost overwhelming for me to read your words.

Sue said...

We were so relieved that the missionaries in Japan were okay, too, and we know they will be a blessing to the people there, serving where and how they are needed.

My sister waited for her husband while he served his mission, too, and it was not easy. I admire your willingness as a young girl in love to support your then boyfriend in that way.

Our eldest son served in the Louisiana Baton Rouge mission and loved that experience. The other son served in the Philippines Naga mission. Both learned things they could not have learned in any other way, and we are and were grateful they chose to serve.

The Lord does look out for His missionaries. And they look up to Him for the inspiration and strength they need to be His representatives. What a blessing to all concerned.


Marie said...

Leanne, I was so pleased to read on the church news page yesterday that all the missionaries were safe. Todd and I were Stake Missionaries at one time. That was my favourite calling of all time. I was so sad when the church decided not to have Stake Missionaries anymore. Todd and I go with the missionaries as often as we can to help them teach investigators. We just love to share the Gospel with seeking hearts and to feel of the special spirit that is always there. I also love to feed the missionaries and do it as often as I can. The Lord does care and look out for His missionaries in a very special way. I have had testimony of this time and time again. Once again a beautiful post Leanne. You are such a wonderful missionary still with all your beautiful words. xxoo

Dolly said...

My friend Maureen in Cedar City has a son there on a mission in Japan. We all eagerly waited for her to give us word of his safety. She posted his text from his cell phone-explaining how the mission president encouraged the missionaries to contact their families swiftly. He calmed her worries and wrote that people are eager to have aid and a kind word from these young men now:) I was so touched with his eagerness to return to the missionary work for the day. What a great blessing to this family!

Julie said...

I served in the Sendai mission, and I have also been so worried about the missionaries there. Thank you for your wonderful testimony here. So uplifting to read.

Joy For Your Journey said...

What a beautiful post and tribute to missionary work. We joined with others who were so grateful all the missionaries were safe. The first report we received was that only 18 had been contacted. I just cried when I read that all had been found. I am still heart sick however, for all the other people there who have lost loved ones, especially children whose parents have disappeared.

On a happier note . . . I noticed you had a son who served in Costa Rica. I lived there as a little girl and loved it. We went back a few years ago and it was so much fun to find my old house in San Jose.


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