Sunday, October 16, 2011

"Missionaries Are a Treasure of the Church"

Elder Kazuhiko Yamashita of the Seventy spoke at the Sunday afternoon session of the recent General Conference.  His address, "Missionaries Are a Treasure of the Church," struck home and reminded us of the important work that Elliot is doing in Oklahoma and Texas.  Elder Yamashita started his remarks with a great story of a young missionary whom he met in Japan:
One night a number of years ago, a newly called missionary named Elder Swan and his Japanese senior companion came to visit our home. Fortunately I was home, so I invited them in. When I greeted them at the door, my eyes were drawn to the coat that Elder Swan was wearing. Without thinking, I said to him, “That sure is a nice coat you are wearing!” However, it wasn’t a new coat, and it was rather faded. I assumed that the coat was one that a previous missionary had left behind in the missionary apartment.  
Elder Swan immediately responded to my words, and it was completely the opposite of what I had been thinking. In halting Japanese he replied, “Yes, this is a good coat. My father wore this coat when he served as a missionary in Japan over 20 years ago.”  
His father had served in the Japan Okayama Mission. And when his son was leaving to serve a mission in Japan, he had given his coat to him. This picture shows that coat that two generations of Elder Swans wore in Japan.   [You can see the picture at 1:25 of the video, after the jump.] 
I was touched when I heard Elder Swan’s words. And I now understood why Elder Swan wore his father’s coat while he was proselyting. Elder Swan had embarked on his mission having inherited his father’s love for Japan and its people.
Elder Yamashita shared the story of his own conversion and baptism, and then offered the following advice to young men and women in the Church preparing to serve missions:
So I speak to my sons and to all of you preparing to serve missions. It is necessary to bring three things with you on your mission: 
  1. A desire to preach the gospel. The Lord wants you to search for His sheep and seek them out. [Ezekiel 34:11.] People all over the world are waiting for you. Please go quickly to where they are. No one strives harder than missionaries to go to the rescue of others. I am one of those rescued.
  2. Develop your testimony. The Lord requires your “heart and a willing mind.” [Doctrine and Covenants 64:34.]
  3. Love others, just like Elder Swan, who brought his father’s coat and his father’s love for Japan and its people with him on his mission. 
And for those of you who don’t know how to prepare to serve a mission, please go and see your bishop. I know that he will help you.
The full text of Yamashita's address can be found here.  And after the jump, you can see a video of his address.

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