One of the memorable missionary moments in the MTC occurred during the Tuesday night devotional. Sister and Elder Lionel L Kendrick spoke to the large gathering of missionaries that included the 102 seniors in our group plus several thousand young elders and sisters. Sister Kendrick’s advice to the missionaries gathered was to be obedient.
She told the story of a young Elder Campbell who was serving in a mission in Florida. He was a big car race fan so he and his companion purchased tickets to the Daytona 500 car race, he rationalized that he was in Florida and Daytona wasn’t that far out of his area.
However, when race day came he remembered his covenant to be obedient. When he had his final interview with the mission president he presented the unused ticket. Sister Kendrick felt that his commitment to be obedient not only was a blessing to him on his mission but also will continue to bless his post mission life.
She also told a funny story about a stake conference they once attended where a stake primary chorus was scheduled to sing, “I’m trying to be like Jesus” but the printer made a mistake on the program, it read, “I’m trying to like Jesus”. That got a big laugh from the audience.
Elder Kendrick taught that joy, peace, and contentment are the reward for hard work in the mission field. He said that the missionaries should serve the Savior and not serve time. D&C 39:7 His eyes are upon us. The question we should ask each day is how are we going to get it all done? The way you start your day is the way your day will go. Get up on time; it will make a difference on your mission and in the rest of your life. Your season of service will set a standard for all who follow.
Elder Kendrick also taught that God answers prayers, but he never uses a flood light when a flashlight will do. He answers us through thoughts and feelings (which often is still and small). He reminded us that there is no rebellion that is exempt from complete forgiveness. God is in the details of our life.
He concluded his talk but telling several stories. One was about a senior couple where they were called to serve in eastern Russia. On the flight over from Seoul South Korea he happened to sit beside the director of a medical school in the town in which they were called to serve. He happened to mention the humanitarian work that they hoped to accomplish but he said that what he really was interested in was teaching an introductory course in human anatomy; the director, impressed with the Elder said that he could make that happen.
Over the course of their mission that position put this senior elder and sister in a place where they could introduce the gospel to many young professionals, some joined the church and from that leadership nucleus strong branches and ward have grown. God has a way to micro manage things from the other side—how improbable was it that those two would be on that flight and strike up a conversation which would be such a future blessing to the growth of the church in that area.
He also told the story of a stake reorganization where after prayer he and his companion were led to call a 24 year old man as the new stake president. However, they were worried about the feelings of the man who had been serving as 1st counselor in the previous stake presidency (an older but equally qualified candidate). When they called he and his wife in to explain that this young bishop had been called instead, the first counselor of the old stake president invited his wife to relate a vision/dream she had several months before where she saw this 24 year old Bishop being sustained as the new stake president and had told her husband about it. He had laughed it off telling her that at their next stake conference there was no general authority scheduled to come, and that there was no reason why the stake leadership should be reorganized. Elder Kendrick testified that there is much activity going on from the other side of the veil to make preparations for the Lord’s work.
While missionary work is not always a bed of roses, we should be of good cheer and be a miracle maker. We should serve the Savior and not serve time.