In the Book of Mormon, Lehi was willing to give up his house, the land of his inheritance, his gold, his silver, and his precious things and took nothing with him, save it were his family, and provisions, and tents, and departed into the wilderness. He was willing to sacrifice because he loved the Lord.
When Jesus said to Peter and his brother Andrew, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” “… they straightway left their nets, and followed him.” (Matthew 4:19-20). They made their sacrifices to follow Him.
In the early days of the restoration of the gospel, the saints moved from New York to Pennsylvania to Ohio to Missouri to Nauvoo and finally to the Salt Lake Valley.
In October 2020 General Conference, President Dallin H. Oaks talked about those early saints and their sacrifices and challenges of establishing their homes and the Church in a wilderness, “Two years after the initial band of pioneers arrived in the valley of the Great Salt Lake, the pioneers’ grip on survival in that hostile area was still precarious. Most members were still on the trail across the plains or struggling to get resources to do so. Yet leaders and members were still of hope and good cheer.”
“Even though the Saints were not settled in their new homes, at October 1849 general conference, a new wave of missionaries was sent out to Scandinavia, France, Germany, Italy, and the South Pacific. At what could have been thought their lowest level, the pioneers rose to new heights. And just three years later, another 98 were also called to begin to gather scattered Israel. One of the Church leaders explained that these missions “are generally, not to be very long ones; probably from 3 to 7 years will be as long as any man will be absent from his family.”
For young missionaries today, called to serve 18 to 24 months, your sacrifices are greatly appreciated here and in heaven. Your sacrifices may include being far from family and friends; delaying education and careers; giving up personal comfort; learning a new culture, a new language, new customs and dealing with new people. This experience provides great opportunities! And it can bring new challenges. In missionary service and in life, there will be challenges: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Please remember: you are not alone. You can rely on our Savior and on the enabling power of His infinite and eternal Atonement. In addition, the Lord has provided you with an excellent support group including your family, friends, companions, mission leaders, counselors, medical professionals and more.
For senior missionaries, Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said: “Some of you might be thinking: “But what about leaving the grandchildren? We would miss family milestones, birthdays, friends, and even our pets.” If I had asked my mother why she and Dad went on a mission, I know she would have said this: “I have grandchildren. I want them to know that your father and I served in the mission field, we wanted to set an example for our posterity, and we were blessed, so blessed.” (How Great Will Be Your Joy, General Conference, October 2023).
Elder Rasband concluded with a promise: “I also promise that as you serve, you will feel the love of the Lord in your life, you will know Him, He will know you, and “how great shall be your joy.” Your dedicated service to Jesus Christ will inspire and bless your family, your grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. “Peace, and love [will] be multiplied” in their lives for years to come. I promise. In the name of Jesus Christ.”
May the Lord bless us as we exercise faith, press forward with hope, and be of good cheer while offering our sacrifices. May we feel that joy as we love and serve the Lord!