Missionaries are interesting creatures. What they do is pretty remarkable, but they are, after all, still kids in a lot of ways.

The missionary handbook states: "Strive to fulfill what the President of the Church expects of you, as expressed in your call letter: 'You have been recommended as one worthy to represent the Lord as a minister of the restored gospel. You will be an official representative of the Church. As such, you will be expected to maintain the highest standards of conduct and appearance by keeping the commandments, living mission rules, and following the counsel of your mission president. You will also be expected to devote all of your time and attention to serving the Lord, leaving behind all other personal affairs. As you do these things, the Lord will bless you and you will become an effective advocate and messenger of the truth.'" That is a lot to expect of an 18/19 year old, but they do it day in and day out.

We have tried to help our missionaries understand that flashing signs in pictures is not maintaining the highest standards of conduct. That may seem like a little thing to some of you, but think about where those pictures go. I wonder how many missionary pictures are posted on social media in a day, and as Elder Bednar taught: "We should remember that the Internet never forgets. Anything you communicate through a social media channel indeed will live forever-even if the app or program may promise otherwise. Only say it or post it if you want the entire world to have access to your message or picture for all time." Signs mean different things in different places of the world. Just search the web; I think you will be shocked.

As representatives of the Lord, we need to be mindful of what we are saying when we flash a sign. What the world thinks of the Church, and surely the Church's missionaries, is driven by what they see missionaries doing in pictures posted online. I am so proud of our missionaries; they have caught the vision of this. I never have to remind them anymore. I still see pictures posted that were taken by someone else's camera and there are signs, but for the most part we are getting there. I am thrilled when I see a picture that I have not taken and our missionaries are portrayed as effective advocates and messengers of truth.

I have wondered about what this means in a global sense. What would happen if all of us who claim we are disciples of Christ appeared as His disciple in every post and every picture? Can you imagine the goodness that would flood the earth if we were mindful of Him just in pictures? It reminds me of Alma and his series of questions in Alma 5 of the Book of Mormon. One of the questions he asks teaches volumes about how we represent the Savior. He asks, "I say unto you, can you look up, having the image of God engraven upon your countenances?" I see that image over and over again as I look into the faces of earnest missionaries who are staving to represent Him and His truth.

April is interview month. We have been to Tutuila and Savai'i. President Tolman spends all day for ten days doing interviews. It is a joy to listen to him talk about how our missionaries are growing and changing and becoming true disciples of Jesus Christ. It is a blessing to witness!

Aren't they magnificent representatives?


I love the new Easter video by the Church. In case you missed it, you can view it here. I have seen our missionaries cry out, call out, reach out for the Savior. I have witnessed as they have found Him. I have seen them understand that it does not matter who they are or who they were, He is here. I see His influence reflected in the faces of His missionaries in the good, the bad, and the in-between. They see in their work He is here no matter who you are or who you were. They know there are no exceptions, no lost causes. He is here in all times and in all places. It is required of us is to find Him.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie offered this sobering counsel, "Now, the atonement of Christ is the most basic and fundamental doctrine of the the gospel, and it is the least understood of all our revealed truth. Many of us have a superficial knowledge and rely upon the Lord and his goodness to see us through the trials and perils of life. But if we are to have faith like Enoch and Elijah, we must believe what they believed, know what they knew, and live as they lived. May I invite you to join with me in gaining a sound and sure knowledge of the Atonement."

I do not understand how, but I know that Christ atoned for each of us individually. We have much evidence in scripture that He touched and healed individually. He invited the remnant of the people in the Book of Mormon to feel His wounds one-by-one. He washed the disciples feet one-by-one. He healed infirmities one-by-one. Somehow in the Garden of Gethsemane, He suffered for our sins and felt our burdens one-by-one. And one-by-one he will redeem us, perfect us, and resurrect us.

We invited the mission leaders at our most recent Mission Leadership Council to find a way to guide the missionaries they serve to a greater and expanded view of the atonement and resurrection of the Savior. It seems to be the least we can do because He lives.

As we study, ponder and pray about the atonement, we will more fully appreciate Him and His life and magnificent sacrifice. President Howard W. Hunter gave this promise, "As we come to understand His mission and the atonement which He wrought, we will desire to live more like Him." There is nothing more important for our missionaries and those they teach to understand because in this understanding we open our hearts to His grace to truly change who we are.

Because He lives, He forgives and saves and succors. What do we have to give because He lives? How will we find Him? He rose the third day! Because He lives, we also will live. What a glorious miracle it is!

Mission Leadership Council-April 2, 2015