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The Lost Sheep
For behold, this is my work and my glory - to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." Moses 1:39
Each soul is precious in the sight of God. How can we assist Him in His earthly mission, which is to help to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of every man and woman? How can we reach the so-called Lost Sheep and bring them back to the fold?
I know the time of our life that we were the happiest is when we concentrated on assisting in the Lord’s mission of finding His Lost Sheep. For three years we had the exhausting but rewarding stewardship over several hundred young men and women in the prime of their life.
My husband was called as mission president in Tonga when our two oldest children were in high school and the younger two were in elementary. So, as a mother, I had to learn to budget my time between my own four children and the other Saturday’s warriors that we had temporarily been given.
I appreciate what President Gordon B. Hinckley said an in 1995 in the Ensign: Prepare to consecrate two years of your lives to this sacred service. That will in effect constitute a tithe on the first twenty years of your lives. Think of all that you have that is good – life itself, health, strength, food to eat and clothing to wear, parents, brothers and sisters, and friends. All are gifts from the Lord.
I will be turning 60 this year. I figure I owe at least six years of missionary service to God at the bare minimum as tithing on my many blessings. So far we have served for three years. We look forward to serving another mission or two when we have retired
President Hinckley also went on to say: You will yield a greater return on the investment of service on a dedicated mission than any other two years of your life.
Young men and women who serve missions are never the same. They return home with qualities and strengths that seem to come from no other experience. They come to realize that this work is the most important work on the earth.
A few years ago the church announced that they were raising the bar for missionaries. This can only happen if parents also raise the bar in their home and activities. Their examples are the best motivator for a son or daughter’s decision to go on a mission. If the parents hold daily scripture study and family prayer, it will become a habit that will influence their children.
I remember as our children grew up getting up at 6:00 each morning to read the scriptures. Our youngest, Jacob always seemed to get the longest scriptures. They were effective in helping him learn to read. As each of our children chose to go on a mission, I am sure these early morning routines helped them in their adjustment to missionary life.
I also remember when we were first living in Tonga in the 70s. We made $380 a month. Our rent was $150. We had little envelopes that we would use to budget our money. We put enough away for tithing, rent, food, gas, and clothes and always put away a little bit for missions. We would sit around at FHE and do this with the children so they could see how much money we had to work with and where it went. We had no credit cards in Tonga, so we only dealt with cash.
As the children got older, we would give them chores to earn a little bit of money and pay them. Then we made each a set of envelopes so they could also pay their own tithing, buy treats, toys and suggested they also put aside a little for their missions. They are more likely to choose to go on a mission that they have worked for.
Now as our grandchildren get older, we have decided rather than giving them games or money that they can spend right away, we suggested they open a bank account and we will put money in it for their birthdays and Christmas towards their missions.
Some families have a tradition of requiring the children to be responsible for paying one half of their mission. A 2-year mission today costs around $10,000. If the youth start young enough with this goal in mind, they can grown and learn so much while working towards this goal.
We also made appointments with the Patriarch in our stake at the right time to schedule their patriarchal blessings. Patriarchal Blessings are like a map for your own life. Often these blessings give guidance to help youth make decisions regarding their future. They are also a source of comfort and protection. Regard your patriarchal blessing as personal scripture to you—for that is what it is. Of course all blessings you are promised are hinged upon your being faithful.
I feel that the biggest influence on our children were the many faithful and loving missionaries we served with. When new missionaries arrived in Tonga, they got to stay in our home and have their first meal.
These young men and women were those that were willing to give up their time in service to find the lost sheep in Tonga. Some came from the mainland USA and the food, language, culture, and climate were all new to them. Our children got to interact with the missionaries often.
We would attend missionary conferences, p-day activities and spend some holidays with them. Many of these missionaries had a light that shown very brightly. I have seen that same light as we have invited the missionaries from the Laie Temple Visitor’s Center to share a meal in our home. They come with the love of God and pure intentions. These missionaries were willing to give up their possessions, families, jobs, careers, cars, schooling and many more things to serve full time for the Lord.
One of our sons was able to spend a mini mission with the full-time missionaries for two months. With special permission, he went on a tiny boat to a small island with the missionaries. He learned to speak fluent Tongan in a short time and it helped prepare him for his mission in the Philippines.
When our own children were serving their missions, money was pretty tight at times. Fortunately our parents as well as some of our siblings contributed to help pay for the expenses each month. At one time, we had two children on a mission at the same time. We felt very blessed when a senior couple offered to pay the expenses for one of our missionaries. You can also be the source of support and joy to a family who may be struggling to support their missionary. Either in your family or in our own ward.
As the mother of the Tonga mission, my main responsibility was to look out for the physical well being of the missionaries. I would ask about their health, personal hygiene and make sure they were getting fed.
Two Tongan sisters that were raised in America were brought back to Tonga to serve a mission. They were assigned to the Northern-most island in Tonga, Niuatoputapu. This island is near to Samoa, very hot and has no running water. Unfortunately, we heard that their living conditions were very poor, and that some of the members were taking the food that we were sending them and selling it in their little store.
My husband and I decided that we needed to go to the island to check on these two sisters. When we arrived on the little plane, we discovered that the two sisters living quarters were way worse than we had thought. The members of the church were not treating them well at all. The two sister missionaries had flea and mosquito bites all over them and they had become so skinny from lack of food.
I suggested to my husband that we should move them off the island to a better area. But when my husband suggested a transfer, the sisters cried because they had learned to love the people there so much and they didn’t want to leave. They held no grudges, but wanted to help find the other lost sheep on the island.
Finally, we were able to locate and move these sisters to a home owned by people of another faith who took very good care of them. They were great examples to my family and me. We are still in touch with these sisters today, and they have been blessed with beautiful families and are very active in the church. Sister Takapu and Sister Muti are two stalwart missionaries I will never forget.
1 Samuel 7: 3 says Prepare your hearts unto the Lord.
Our young children are taught in Primary lessons and songs about being a missionary. The youth of our church are prepared in seminary and Sunday School. What about in our own families? Are we making it a priority to give missionary service even though it may mean postponing a scholarship, a marriage, or employment? The family’s influence can include preparation in setting goals, taking care of emotional health, and helping youth learn how to work. Leaders in the ward can, and do motivate and give direction in interviews from an early age so that youth always have a mission in their mind.
I read that a missionary today must be able to walk an average of six miles per day and ride a bicycle 12 miles per day, so it does take much physical preparation as well as spiritual preparation to go on a mission.
I often see the new walking path between Laie and Kahuku being used for running, biking and walking. Are we spending as much time setting goals and preparing our missionaries for a mission? Are we sincerely part of our youth’s lives and are we as active in guiding them to achieving success in their spiritual lives as much as we care about their physical well-being?
I can think of no better way that a young man or woman can prepare themselves for the rest of their life than serving an honorable full-time mission. And it is all of our duty and obligation to support them by being good mentors, examples and cheerleaders on the Lord’s rescue team.