I just recently celebrated my 5th year Anniversary as a Returned Missionary. I served my mission for 18 months in the Philippines Cebu Mission. And this privilege to serve changed my life forever.
My mission or I should say the Lord's mission since this is His marvelous work and His time taught me a lot of life's greatest lessons. It constantly guides me in all of my decisions.
It led me to where I am today.This mission is everything to me.
The best lesson I learned from serving is to love God above all things.
When you are on a mission, you are married to the Lord. Your loyalty to Him is a reflection of your faithfulness to your spouse(future spouse). Missionaries are not perfect. But no matter what disobedience you may commit, your love for the Lord will always turn your heart to repentance. You will not depart from your missionary purpose. This love will keep the fire burning in your heart so you can successfully return home with honor.
It will push you to work harder. It will strengthen you when times get rough.
When we arrived in Cebu, Mission Home, our mission mom gave each of us a copy of a talk by President Spencer W. Kimball entitled "Lock You Hearts". I love this talk. It was my reminder to lock my heart unto the Lord. Truly, when we are called to serve---
we should serve Him with all of our hearts!
If there are problems in the mission that you can give me light on so that I can help your president and help you, that's what I'd like. If there are situations that are difficult, if there are problems that are unknown—let me give you one example.
In one of the missions I found a bad situation. One or two missionaries had been breaking rules (as the president has talked about this morning). They began to break some rules, just—all they did was to just go over to a certain home every Sunday night for a dinner. The president didn't know anything about it. It wasn't very serious—they should have been home studying—but it was a regular thing every week. After a little while these missionaries were bringing others and pretty soon they were dancing on Sunday night, a few of them. And then they were doing a little flirting and then a few of them of to playing cards there every Sunday night. And then they were dancing in the dark with some of the Saints' girls!
The next thing we knew there was an excommunication. I came there and the things were revealed. found at there was only one boy who had actually gone to the extreme where he had to be excommunicated; ere were about eighteen missionaries in this area who had followed like sheep over the ledge. They had not intended to do anything wrong, but they had just kind of followed the leadership. They had gone there to the meals, and they had gotten into little flirtations—not too deeply, but the thing is that there were eighteen missionaries who knew that this boy had gone too far. They knew that he was necking and petting, but not one of them would ever tell!
When I interviewed them and visited with them, I said, "Why didn't you tell the president that conditions were bad?" One of them said, "Well, that's none of my business! This elder can do as he pleases! If he wants to wreck his mission, that's okay with me, it's his business, it's his mission! If he wants to ruin his life that's up to him; it's his life!"
And then I said to these elders, "Well, what about your mission? Isn't this your mission too? Are you willing that one person will do more damage than you can repair? Are you willing to have some missionary nullify all that you've done here? You've spent twenty months here, Elder, and done remarkably good work. Are you willing that one scandal—one scandal in this out-of-the world place should neutralize all that you've done? All of your efforts? That's what happens! Are you willing to do that?" He said, "Well, I hadn't thought of it like that."
"But that's what happened, isn't it, elders? This is your mission! This is your Church! One scandal in a community is enough to annihilate the work of all of you, maybe all the work you do cumulatively, for all your two years—neutralized by one scandal in the community! Do you think that you have a loyalty? Where are your loyalties? Are you loyal to yourself? Are you loyal to your companion? Are you willing to let him go on, and on, and on until he breaks his neck?"
When he was excommunicated, it was a sad day in that mission because he was a fine young man and all the missionaries loved him; and some of them were weeping at day. I remember! Some of them were weeping tears. Their brother was being excommunicated from the Church and sent home in disgrace!
And then I said to them, "Elders, do you know who excommunicated is boy? Not me, not your president, not the elders' court. It was you! You excommunicated your brother. How? Well, if you had gone to this boy when you saw him breaking mission rules and you'd said, 'Elder, let's not do at. That disturbs our whole program. We lose spirituality, all of us, when things like this happen!'" Now suppose that he didn't yield, and you said to him again, "Elder, you shouldn't do that. We can't be doing those kinds of things."
And then suppose you'd gone a third time and said, "Elder, I'm sorry, but if you don't desist I'm going to have to report to the mission president, because I'm not going to have you destroy yourself. I think too much of you. I'm not going to have you destroy this mission. I think too much of it. I'm not going to have you destroy my work. I've worked too hard to have it all go to the wind. If you don't desist I'm going to tell the president, not as a tattle-tale but so that he can protect the whole program."
You see, there is nothing ugly about that, is there? That's the way it should be because our loyalty is first to the Lord, to the Church, to the mission, to the world, isn't it?
One more little incident that is connected: In one United States mission, one day a neighbor came into the home of a new member. The neighbor was not a member, but she came and she was just used to walking through the door—you know, she didn't always knock. So she came over to this house one day and she saw her friend, the Latter-day Saints sister, sitting on a chair here and an elder at her feet—this will shock you—trimming her toenails or painting her toenails or something.
Well, now, that isn't unpardonable sin, but it was indiscreet, wasn't it? Even if nothing else happened, he was sitting on the floor and didn't have on his tie and coat; and here was a woman partly dressed, and he was painting her toenails or something! Anyway, that city was closed, absolutely closed to missionary work for twenty years! Do you think missionaries could go into that city? Why, of course, they couldn't! Because there w still the memory of this indiscretion. They hadn't committed sin; at least, I' quite sure he had never committed an immorality. I think it wasn't any more than an ugly indiscretion. It was ugly enough, wasn't it? It was what it led to—you see.
That's why I say this mission belongs to you. There are 150 of you, and this mission belongs to all of you. If anything happens to any part of this mission it gets a black eye. It makes it more difficult for us to get missionaries in. It makes it more difficult to do anything! And it makes it more difficult for you to go into the homes where they have heard ugly things about the Church. That's why one elder isn't by himself. He can't be a loner. He has got to fit into the program, hasn't he? And every one of you is interested. Every one! And you can't afford to let your companion or anyone you know do anything very serious because it all brings trouble to you and to the whole program.
Well, think about that a little because some people say, "I'm not going to be a stool pigeon! I'm not going to tattle. I'm not going to be telling on people." It isn't that at all. It's a reporting, just as if you saw a couple of robbers going into your neighbor's home. Would you say, "Well, I won't tell on the robbers. I won't do anything about it. Let them go. It's up to them. It's up to my neighbors." No! We do become involved. We'd rush to the telephone, we'd call the police, in every case, wouldn't we?
If we saw somebody being injured, being killed—in New York, some time ago, a girl was stabbed and cut all to pieces by some maniac; and there were many people who saw it and did nothing about it! She yelled for help, screamed for help, said, "He's killing me," but nobody would move. They didn't even call the police, and there she lay—finally dead on the street. Nobody would involve himself.
It's time we begin to get involved when involvement is proper. And when any missionary in any mission begins to break mission rules, it's time that all his companions should become involved. It doesn't mean that they take over. It doesn't mean that they get ugly and mean. It just means that they are interested and involved. There is a nice way to do it. I tell you that there wouldn't be very many broken rules if one missionary would just say to the other, "Brother, let's not do that. Let's not stand there and talk to those girls. That isn't good."
And if we stop it when it's fresh—when it's young you can stop it, but when it gets deeply entrenched, that sin is awfully hard to dig out. And many times we have to send missionaries home to their families in disgrace, with excommunication frequently because maybe their companions didn't love them enough. Maybe their companions weren't helpful enough to say, "Well, now, you're getting off the line just a little here. Let's not do that! Let's get busy and do this, and this, and this."
This one program we are all concerned about. These mission rules, you see, are very important. We've had 137 years of experience. Now, that ought to be enough experience to prove something, shouldn't it? Through 137 years we have come to the conclusion that if two people will stay together, the chances for sin or serious trouble are reduced about 98 percent. Once in a great while two companions will both go sour at the same time, but it isn't the usual thing.
If missionaries will, when they leave Salt Lake City, the Mission Home, the day they are set apart—if they will just lock their hearts! If you've got a girl in there, that's all right; lock her in. But if you haven't got one in, then lock it against all other girls of every description! Though the same applies for young women, I am talking mainly to you elders. You lock your heart and you leave the key at home. And you never open it here. It's impossible to fall in love with someone unless you open your heart. Your heart is the only organ that has any ability to get into love, you see; and when a missionary says, "I just fell in love with a girl," well, that's as silly as it can be. Nobody falls in love unless they want to, unless they're trying to. Nobody does, nobody ever did.
So we just don't fall in love unless we are fooling around. We never fall in a crater unless we are somewhere near the edge of it. I have been up to Vesuvius and on a number of craters and volcanoes, and I know you just don't ever fall in a crater unless you are on the edge of it. And so you just keep your hearts locked. I said lock them in Salt Lake when you leave the Mission Home, and don't give a thought to it. But if you go around and say, "Well, she is kind of a pretty girl. She surely is a sweet little thing. She's a nice girl. I'd like to talk with her—I'd just like to visit with her," well, you are in for trouble and that trouble can bring you a lifetime of trouble, a lifetime of regrets if you continue on with it.
So, can I impress that again? Lock your hearts and leave the key at home! Wherever you live, leave the key home with your folks. And your heart—it's only that part of it that deals with people generally that you open up. We just can't tolerate it, can we? We can't individually, we can't totally.
Someone said, "Well, is ere any harm in marrying a Mexican girl if you are working in Mexico?" No, that isn't any crime, but it proves that some missionary has had his heart open. He has unlocked it. Is it wrong to marry a German girl when you have been on a German mission? Why, no, there is no crime in that, if you met her some other way. But when you meet her in the mission field and you have opened, I tell you it isn't right! And you have shortchanged your mission.
Just keep your hearts locked. Your whole thought should be missionary work. How can I make it more plain and more important than that? I'd like to because there is no reason whatever for any missionary to ever become involved, not even in a decent way, with any girl in the mission field. It isn't the place! You guaranteed, you promised. You went through the temple. You remember what you did in the temple? Remember you promised you'd do all the things the Brethren request of you, to live the commandments. That's one of the commandments when you go into the mission field: "Thou shalt not flirt. Thou shalt not associate with young women in the mission field, or anyone else, for that matter, on any other basis than the proselyting basis." You promised, and you would not want to break a promise you made before the Lord in the Holy Temple of the Lord. And when you wrote your letter (of acceptance) to President McKay, that was implied in it. You knew, of course—every missionary knows— that he isn't going out to court, at he isn't going out to find a wife. He's got plenty of opportunity when he gets home, and the mission field isn't the place.
Sometimes we find a young man who has not been popular at home; he has been very, very backward at home and he hasn't had many dates. And so when he gets out into the mission field and somebody flatters him a little—some girl shows a lot of interest in him—why, he's flattered. He thinks all at once, "Well, that's whom I should marry." I say this once more by repetition and for emphasis: you lock your hearts at home, and if you haven't done so, do it now and send the key back. You will not permit any impression, any romantic thought or impression in your mind. For two years you have given yourself to the Lord, totally to teach the gospel to the world. When you have done this perfectly for two years and then you go home, you are infinitely more attractive, more able, more dignified, more mature to make those important decisions for your life in the matter of personages to enjoy eternity with you.
Well, I didn't intend to get on that, either, but I've been on it, and I hope I have not been offensive in it at all. But I hope you got the spirit of it. And should you know of any problems that are aborning, problems that are beginning to develop, some missionary who is getting off the tract, some group that is getting a little careless about mission rules, you can talk to them in a sweet, kindly way. If they persist, then there is something else to do and you have a loyalty to it.
God bless you, missionaries, and I hope to visit with you a little longer later.
(These remarks were made by President Spencer W. Kimball, then a member of the Council of the Twelve, while on a mission tour in Latin America sometime in 1967 or 1968. They were spoken prior to Brother Kimball's interviewing the missionaries in that mission.)