Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Why, What, and How of Missionary Service

By Rodger Dean Duncan

It's been said that you must define your "why" before you can begin with the "what" and "how."

That pretty much sums up how we feel about our missionary service.

We've been asked by a lot of our friends (and even by people we've just met) why we made ourselves available for full-time missionary. We did so because:

  • we know the restored gospel of Jesus Christ is true and it blesses people's lives beyond measure
  • we have made covenants to consecrate ourselves for service in the Lord's kingdom
  • we want to share the gospel message with others
  • we love the Savior and want to follow him in deed, not just in word
  • we are blessed with gifts that that should be used to help others, not just ourselves
  • we know that being an answer to someone else's prayer is often an answer to our own prayers
  • we are able ... so why not?
Those are only a few of the "whys" of our missionary service.

The "what" and "how" are still evolving. In the area where we're serving in Texas we have spoken in multiple Sunday services, made presentations at leadership retreats, taught the gospel to investigators, participated in baptismal services, helped reactivate members, participated in training for bishops and branch presidents, and made significant inroads in establishing collaborative relationships with government and civic leaders. In addition, of course, we have the opportunity to provide support for the many younger (single) missionaries who are assigned to our area. As we've mentioned, these young missionaries are a special treat to be around.

On Saturday, we keynoted the Waco Stake's Relief Society Women's Conference. We especially enjoyed that opportunity. The conference theme was "service." We told many stories about the wonderful service we've seen church members render over the years, ranging from visionary visiting teaching service to the time an entire congregation collaborated in building a complete new home for a widow. We also shared some examples of how our own lives have been blessed (in some cases, through multiple generations) because of the inspired service of others.

We kicked off the conference by playing a music video featuring a rousing rendition of "Have I Done Any Good in the World Today?" by Alex Boy√© and Carmen Rasmusen Herbert. This really is an excellent piece. Click here to watch it. If you're a Latter-day Saint and familiar with the song, you'll delight in this arrangement. If you've never heard the song, you will love the message. Either way, you'll be tempted to play it more than once. Toe-tapping encouraged. For us, this song tells a lot of the "Why" of our missionary service, and provides a number of clues regarding the "What" and "How."

Meanwhile, all the missionaries in the Texas Fort Worth Mission are getting iPads. Each and every one. We senior couples already had access to any technology we want, but for the younger missionaries this is a new development. Most of them, as you might imagine, are very tech savvy. Since the Internet became widely available years ago, it's been used by missionaries only on their weekly "preparation" days for writing letter to their families. (They've used computers in public libraries.) With their own iPads, they will communicate with their families more easily. But the primary use of the iPads will be for missionary purposes: identifying people who are interested in the gospel message, tracking the progress of investigators, communicating with local church members.

We love Waco, but let's just say we
prefer the weather at our home in
Liberty, Missouri.
In this digital age, social media and other electronic platforms make communication so much easier than in the past. It has its risks, of course, but our missionaries have been taught that obedience and personal discipline are the most important filters for keeping trash out of our lives. The iPads used by the missionaries are outfitted with several custom apps (for the uninitiated, that's geek talk for "applications") to help them in their work: scriptures, videos, manuals, magazines, and other teaching materials.

Thanks to all of you who accepted last week's invitation to drop us a note, email, or blog comment. We love hearing from you. And promise to remember you in our wills.


  1. Oh man this is the second time that I have goofed up on this. I wrote a comment but it was lost. Somehow, you have to sign in with your Google account before you type a comment. Aarrgghh... Very frustrating. You would think I would learn.
    But... Because I have been lifted up by the toe-tapping song that you suggested in your blog, I will not stay frustrated!! I also listened to another YouTube suggestion which was David Archuletta's version of "Glorious.". Now I am really ready to start my week off on a good note!! Uplifting music can be such a positive force in life... I'm glad you put the link out there.
    I hope you two have a good week. Glad to hear the the Texas rivers are receding... You have been put through quite a bit of Texas-sized mayhem in the past few weeks... Stay safe!! I bet you almost kind of miss those pesky little Clay County mini tornadoes that liven things up from time to time in Liberty.

  2. We have occasional tornadoes in Texas, too. But we have been blessed that they haven't been close to us. And we're managing to stay dry.

  3. If your email came to my inbox instead of my spam folder, I'd read the blog more regularly. FYI.

    1. Well, then, check your spam box, please. Or tell your tell your computer its safe. :)