Editor’s note: These insights came from a sister missionary currently serving in Europe. Although she is writing about missionary work, I think the principles she shares are profound for any of us who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (sometimes nicknamed the “Mormon Church.”)
The Church and its programs provide scaffolding, and we each bring our uniqueness to the table. There is no one Mormon Mold. Yes, God invites us each to follow His Son through His restored Church and divinely-called prophets. But we are also each individual children of our Heavenly Parents, and God gives us our experiences and gifts that can allow us to serve in our own unique ways. There can be — and should be — diversity in our unity.
Be sure to read through to the end. The quotes she includes are excellent.
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The way I see missionary work now is this: We have Preach My Gospel, we have the scriptures, the white handbook, and key indicators—all these things that the Apostles gave to us so that we can measure, be effective, and do it how the Lord wants us to bring the gospel to people. This is all like a framework. Scaffolding. These are our boundaries, our frames, how we work. But there NEEDS to be filling. A sidewalk cannot be created without cement. And what goes into that frame, that scaffolding, that filling, that is where we are individual. It is really HOW we connect with people. It is HOW we use our talents and abilities to connect and love and serve the people we are working with. It is so important that we connect with them, that we help them. We use those talents and gifts and the things that make up US, ourselves, our backgrounds and experiences, which are all so different, which are all so special. And we plug all of those in to helping others—teaching and working as Preach My Gospel teaches us to, but plugging all of our talents and gifts through it so WE become the best missionaries and best people we can be. We change because we are doing things the way the Apostles have directed, which comes from the Lord, AND we are being ourselves—not just “Elder” and “Sister,” but that I am being [me]. We NEED the scaffolding, otherwise the cement—the filling—has no form, and it doesn’t go anywhere. It doesn’t become what it needs to be. But on the other hand, the scaffolding alone is absolutely NOT enough. It doesn’t work. Only, solely, focusing on achieving the numbers fills the quota, it gets the frame, but it is so dry. It has no meaning. There is no point if there is no filling.
I wondered for a long time why I was sent here. I’m 20 years old. I’m a girl who has been a member my entire life, born and raised in Utah and never moved outside until I came on a mission. And I am supposed to tell people about God and how much He loves them, and that this little blue book [The Book of Mormon] will change their lives and improve them and pull them out of the deepest pits and darkest places in the world. My life has been really, really good. I’ve had challenges, which for me were difficult. But in comparison with others’ challenges, they were pretty minimal. But the thing I think I’ve seen is that I am ME because of all the experiences I’ve had. The person that makes up who I am comes from my relationships, my background, my story, and my story alone. I can’t be someone else’s story. This is ME. I am a 20-year-old woman, a daughter of God who is a missionary to tell these people here right now that the gospel has been restored. And I’m here to help people see that they are special. Each of us is a child of God, with our own story. Background. History. And no two of us are the same.