“Yeah, Like That Will Ever Happen”

Courtesy Gospel Media Library

I was reading last week about a dream that a young missionary had while in the Missionary Training Center (MTC). Here’s what his mission president reported it:

This elder of ours from southern Idaho had been serving in a neighboring mission. The creation of new Scottsdale and Gilbert missions in 2013 resulted in boundary adjustments throughout Arizona and into New Mexico. This happened just before our use of digital devices. This elder was among 18 missionaries who joined us from a neighboring mission that would not be using digital technology.

After the iPads were distributed zone-by-zone to our missionaries, he sent me an email citing a journal entry recounting a dream he had while in the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah. He had dreamed about being among missionaries gathered in a meetinghouse cultural hall, where they were each given an iPad and directed to do online proselyting on social media platforms, such as Facebook. He ended his entry noting he woke up and said, “Yeah, like that will ever happen.”

It did happen — through boundary realignments and a reassignment, he joined the Arizona Phoenix Mission that was using tablets. He then used online methods to share the gospel from Arizona to his hometown friend in Idaho.

From an email from the Church News, “The Power of Missionaries on the Internet,” by managing editor Scott Taylor, June 23, 2020.

This reminds me of something the prophet Joel told us centuries ago:

And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: and also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke.

(Joel 2:28-30.)

We are living in the prophetic times that Joel saw. The Spirit of the Lord is present in the lives of His saints who are seeking His will and His face. The gifts of God are available to anyone who will prepare to receive them.

Convert Baptisms Since 1970

https://www.lds.org/media-library/images/mormon-missionaries-riding-bikes-1178927?lang=eng

The following data, taken from the General Conference site, lists in table form the number of convert baptisms in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since 1970—over 11,000,000.

Year Convert Baptisms
1970 79,126
1971 83,514
1972 91,237
1973 79,603
1974 69,018
1975 95,412
1976 133,959
1977 167,939
1978 152,000
1979 193,000
1980 221,000
1981 224,000
1982 207,000
1983 189,419
1984 192,983
1985 197,640
1986 216,210
1987 227,284
1988 256,515
1989 318,940
1990 330,877
1991 297,770
1992 274,477
1993 304,808
1994 300,730
1995 304,330
1996 321,385
1997 317,798
1998 299,134
1999 306,171
2000 273,973
2001 292,612
2002 283,138
2003 242,923
2004 241,239
2005 243,108
2006 272,845
2007 279,218
2008 265,593
2009 280,106
2010 272,814
2011 281,312
2012 272,330
2013 282,945
2014 296,803
2015 257,402
2016 240,131
 Total 11,031,771

 

Walking into the Future

Forty years ago today, alone and scared, I walked into the front doors of the Salt Lake Mission Home—the old Lafayette School—at 75 North Temple in Salt Lake City. It was terrifying, but it was also one of the best investments I have ever made.

Mothers and fathers were weeping with their departing missionaries. My parents were 800 miles away. I was there against their will, so I was alone. I was rebelling against them by going on a mission.

I had joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 14 months earlier. Nobody talked me into going on a mission, and no one could talk me out of it (except myself, but I didn’t). I knew from day one of my conversion that a mission was my destiny, that this is what I should be doing with the end of my second decade and the beginning of my third. And I am so glad I did.

My mission was really hard, but I loved it. I loved the people of northeastern Ohio. I loved my companions. It was so hard it was funny. Not just in retrospect, but while I was in the middle of it, it was funny. Sometimes our trials can be so incessant and ridiculous, we just have to laugh.

Here’s an example. I was in my first area, Alliance, Ohio. My trainer and I were knocking a door. A man came to the door and said “not interested!” in 3.22 seconds. He tried to close the glass storm door, but it was cold and windy. The wind caught the door and blew it open again, and the glass broke on my hand. It started to bleed, a lot. Our erstwhile antagonist softened. He apologized profusely and invited us in so he could get a bandage for my hand. That door approach still makes me laugh!

I’m grateful beyond measure for those trials—and for my current “great fight of afflictions” (see Hebrews 10:32)—because they do three very important things for us: they make us grow up; they prepare us for upcoming trials; and they open the door for us to draw closer to God.

On that cold Saturday morning in January 1977, I had no one and nothing to turn to except the true and living God. He did not let me down that day. He never has. It’s through extremity, when we can feel Him carrying us, that we come to know Him best.

The old Lafayette School was torn down in 1994. Behind it was an office building, built in 1973, that is still there. I have no memory of that other building, but I no doubt noticed it at the time. It’s the building where I now work. Incidentally, I am currently a ward mission leader. I go out with the missionaries almost every week.  Where will I be in 40 years? I don’t know for sure, but I hope missionary work is involved.

What Does MTC Mean to You?

Missionaries in Africa. Courtesy LDS Media Library.

Missionary Training Center. That’s what MTC stands for, right? Well, it depends on you.

I remember in a previous ward where we lived, around the time a young man was about to leave on a mission, his younger sister was worried because she thought her brother was going to the Empty Sea. You know, that big, vast, scary waterless ocean? That’s what she thought until her dad sat her down and gave her a little better explanation.

Then there’s the teenager who thinks that MTC stands for My Trial’s Coming. A mission is an ominous, mysterious obligation to outwardly anticipate but to inwardly dread. No fun.

And what about the moms? Some think it’s short for Mother’s Torture Chamber. It’s where they separate from their babies. Which is really hard. (It’s not so easy for the dads either.)

Finally, there’s the dedicated missionary, the one who’s there because she wouldn’t rather be any other place in the world, the one who willingly forgets how to complain, the one who feels the Spirit so strong that she finally feels like she’s found home. For such a missionary, MTC means My Time with Christ.

Your definition of MTC might be different than others’, depending on where you are in your life. It’s not so much a matter of age or station, but it has a lot to do with attitude and spirit, two things that determine what road you’ll travel.

I prefer the high road. The view’s a lot better. The road signs are much easier to read. And there’s always 24-hour roadside service. And no matter what, you’ll always arrive at your destination in one piece.