Hi all. We have had a couple of incredibly busy weeks. We welcomed new missionaries and said good-bye to some returning. We had another Mission Leadership Council, which was remarkable, as always.

The failure occurred because I did not do a good job with the pictures. I am sorry! I know how important it is to parents to see their missionaries in their new environment. Please forgive me. Here are the pictures I did take. There are more on the Life with Missionaries page.

Our Mission Leaders

Our New Missionaries

Some of Our Departing Missionaries-forgot to get the whole group.

Failure is an interesting thing. We angst and worry and ultimately in the end somehow we come to grips with our shortcomings and hopefully change and grow in the process. I loved President Uchtdorf's talk in the priesthood session of the most recent General Conference. He said: "None of us likes to admit when we are drifting off the right course. Often we try to avoid looking deeply into our souls and confronting our weaknesses, limitations, and fears. Consequently, when we do examine our lives, we look through the filter of biases, excuses, and stories we tell ourselves in order to justify unworthy thoughts and actions.

But being able to see ourselves clearly is essential to our spiritual growth and well-being. If our weaknesses and shortcomings remain obscured in the shadows, then the redeeming power of the Savior cannot heal them and make them strengths. Ironically, our blindness toward our human weaknesses will also make us blind to the divine potential that our Father yearns to nurture within us."

Serving a mission strips away many of our excuses and helps us look "deeply into our souls and confront our weaknesses." It is truly a privilege to watch these young men and women wrestle through things and discover their strengths and weaknesses. I have experienced much of the same thing. We get to a certain place in our lives and think that we kind of have it all figured out. Serving here in this capacity has taught me very clearly that the Savior is never done tutoring and sanctifying us. It is humbling to realize that He continues to be busy in our lives; why would we think we are ever done growing and changing? I have experienced a greater gratitude for and power in the Atonement as my weaknesses have become clear through this experience. I know that many of our missionaries have experienced the same thing. It is a blessing to watch their progress and witness even their countenances change. 

President Uchtdorf went on to counsel, "Those who want to improve and progress, those who learn of the Savior and desire to be like Him, those who humble themselves as a little child and seek to bring their thoughts and actions into harmony with our Father in Heaven-they will experience the miracle of the Savior's Atonement. They will surely feel God's resplendent Spirit. They will taste the indescribable joy that is the fruit of a meek and humble heart. They will be blessed with the desire and discipline to become true disciples of Jesus Christ."

This mission experience for these young missionaries is meant to change them. It is meant to teach them to be good fathers and mothers and leaders. It is meant to teach them how to create eternal families. It is meant to teach them to be disciples of the Jesus Christ. It truly happens that way for the ones who are willing to look deeply into their souls.

The Blessings of a Mission Tour

We had the powerful experience of spending three days with our missionaries and Elder and Sister Pearson of the First Quorum of Seventy. Elder Pearson is the Pacific Area President. They met with our missionaries, provided training for them and for us, assessed the spiritual strength of the mission, and lifted every one of us. It is an experience that I will treasure. There are so many blessing that come from serving a mission; this one, however, doesn't come very often. The combination of being set apart from the world to do His work and the spirit they carried brought about remarkable learning and growth for all of us.

I could share their teachings every day between now and the end of the year and not cover everything. Sister Pearson helped us understand that becoming a powerful missionary is very different than acting like one. She gave us some assignments to help us become. She asked us to be willingly obedient; this is how we will find success. She asked us to read the Joseph Smith Story once a week for a month and apply his experiences to our own lives. I invite you to do the same.

Elder Pearson explained that as we come to understand our identity, it changes everything we think and do. Ultimately, our reality is shaped by our identity. We act based upon our beliefs and who we understand we are. As we come to know that we are all children of our Heavenly Father, it reshapes our reality. As His children, we will want to pray to Him and to follow Him. Our actions always align with our identity. The first thing that missionaries teach new investigators is they have a loving Heavenly Father who wants to bless their lives. For many, this knowledge alone brings a great desire to change.

Nephi states, "I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life." Elder Pearson asked us if we were missionaries who used to be something else or were we still our old selves on a mission. As His disciples, what must we let go? He asked us to fill in the following statement: "Because I am a disciple of Jesus Christ I am no longer . . .." He gave some examples like lazy, disobedient, afraid, homesick. After we had considered that statement, he asked us to finish this one: "Because I am a disciple of Jesus Christ I . . .."

It was enlightening and somewhat troubling as I searched my heart. Am I truly a disciple? Am I acting like a great missionary or becoming a great missionary? Elder Pearson counseled us that the most important decision we have to make is will we become a disciple of the Lord, Jesus Christ. As each of us considers if we are His disciples, we have to consider what is holding us back. Is it our lack of obedience? Is it our pride? Is it being selfish with our time? Is it fear? Is it doubt? Not everyone can be a missionary, but each of us can be the Savior's disciple. I invite you to search your heart. Are you a disciple? What do you need to let go? What do you need to change? The hastening of His work involves so much more than missionary work. He needs strong disciples raising strong families. He needs strong leaders prepared to support the people who will flock to the Church as the last haven of safety. He needs us, every single one of us.

Elder Pearson reminded us that disciples carry as their motto, "I never give in. I never give up. I never give out." I want to be that kind of disciple. I want to "stand blameless" at the last day. I want to stand shoulder to shoulder with each of these wonderful missionaries knowing that we never gave in, never gave up, and never gave out!

Savai'i Conference

Upolu Conference

Tutuila Conference


We met together for another Mission Leadership Council. I cannot believe how quickly the month passes and another meeting is upon us. These missionaries represent the very best of the mission. We are grateful for their courage, obedience and dedication. They are valiant in their testimonies of Christ and full of hope for His promised blessings. Every month, we have new leaders. They bring new insights and desire to help. It is exciting to watch them grow and learn from those more experienced. We see future leaders in His kingdom, future fathers and mothers and committed disciples of the Savior.

I love the war chapters of the Book of Mormon. Embedded in the record are life-saving and life-guiding principles. When I look at these missionaries who are part of the Mission Leadership Council, I see brave warriors who are willing to carry the cause of Christ full of hope for a better world.

Helaman teaches this great principle of hope. In the 58th chapter of Alma, we read an account of a time of great discouragement and despair. He shares they were without aid and provisions for many months. "And we did wait in these difficult circumstances for the space of many months, even until we were about to perish for the want of food." In fear for their lives and their homes, full of grief and fear, they began to pour out their souls to God, "that he would strengthen us and deliver us out of the hands of our enemies, yea, and also give us strength that we might retain our cities, and our lands, and our possessions, for the support of our people. Yea, and it came to pass that the Lord our God did visit us with assurances that he would deliver us; yea, insomuch that he did speak peace to our souls, and did grant unto us great faith, and did cause us that we should hope for our deliverance in him. And we did take courage with our small force which we had received, and were fixed with a determination . . .."

The trials missionaries and all of us face most likely are not of this nature. Our enemies might be the heat and humidity, the dirt, the strange food, physical illness, homesickness. We may feel abandoned by God and "wait in these difficult circumstances" for a very long time. Helaman and his band of men teach us that as we pour out our souls to God he will strengthen us and in some way deliver us from the hands of our enemies. Waiting can prove to be difficult. The kind of strength He sends may not be what we had in mind, but eventually, and in His time, it will come.

Preach My Gospel on page 117 teaches: "Hope is an abiding trust that the Lord will fulfill His promises to you. It is manifest in confidence, optimism, enthusiasm, and patient perseverance. It is believing and expecting that something will occur. When you have hope, you work through trials and difficulties with the confidence and assurance that all things will work together for your good. Hope helps you conquer discouragement." 

President James E. Faust taught: "Hope is the anchor of our souls . . .."

It is amazing to see the hope in the eyes of these missionaries. They struggle through difficult experiences holding onto the hope that He surely provides. It is a sacred moment to watch how the Savior provides His relief and in His time. It isn't always a big change or a miracle. It sometimes is as simple as noticing that when they come to meetings in an air-conditioned building they are wearing their long-sleeved shirts. The Lord has lightened their burden by blessing their bodies to adjust to the intense heat and humidity. We see them understanding and growing in Gospel knowledge. We see them being motivated to be obedient. We see them solving problems and supporting other missionaries as they struggle. They truly understand Mormon's counsel to his son, Moroni: "My son, be faithful in Christ; and may not the things which I have written grieve thee, to weigh thee down unto death; but may Christ lift thee up, and may his sufferings and death, and the showing his body unto our fathers, and his mercy and long-suffering, and the hope of his glory and of eternal life, rest in your mind forever."