It is amazing how things have changed since the announcement of the lowering of the age for Mormon missionaries. I became a member of the LDS Church in 1985, and the number of missionaries was constantly growing at that time, and it kept growing until a few years ago, when it even started decreasing.
Many people (myself included) thought that the solution to the decreasing number of missionaries and the consequent limitations to reach all the people of the earth, would be the Internet, and that we would hardly ever see again an increase in the total number of missionaries.
Truly, the Internet is a very important tool, and it has become essential for missionary work. However, now even the number of missionaries is growing again, and at a pace never seen before. Now a lot more missionaries will use the internet, together with the more “traditional” ways of proselyting, to grow the work as never before.
It is amazing to see how the Lord moves forward His work. Some people may think that is just a group of smart church leaders who are doing this, but I know that there is something more. The Lord really directs His work, and He knows when it is the right time to make changes to accelerate His work.
SALT LAKE CITY — 14 AUGUST 2013
Since the October 2012 announcement that men can begin Mormon missionary service at age 18 and women at 19, the ranks of Mormon missionaries have swelled. Prior to the announcement, 58,500 missionaries were serving; as of this week, that number is now 75,000.
Family History has changed quite a bit in his focus recently. When I first became a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints it was more focused names, dates, and research. New technology now allows more people to get involved in Family History and share their findings. The purpose is still the same, and names and dates are still important, but there is more that can be added to this work now, to make it more interesting to a wider range of people.
9 Fun Ways to Participate
1. Interview family members and share stories online
- Preserving living memory and connecting with family members are important aspects of family history. Using a digital recorder, smartphone app, or camera allows you not only to preserve stories but also to share them online. FamilySearch.org allows patrons to upload and share transcribed stories.
2. Take and share photos
- Taking photos of living relatives, heirlooms, and so forth, can provide powerful experiences for future generations. The new photo sharing application on FamilySearch.org allows patrons to upload photos and add names, descriptions, and other information.
3. Print and share a chart
- A fun way to share what you are learning about your family is through an easy-to-understand fan chart. Make your chart online and share it with family, or help someone else create their own chart.
4. Prepare ancestors’ names for the temple
- Family Tree helps you find opportunities to do the temple work for your own ancestors, bringing great blessings to them and to yourself in the process.
5. Record what you learn on FamilySearch.org
- As you begin learning more about your ancestors, add their information to the Family Tree on FamilySearch.org and share it with family members.
6. Index records for online searching
- Indexing helps others who are searching for their family by making the world’s records searchable online. Millions of records are indexed worldwide each year. Learn about participating in indexing.
7. Start a personal or family blog
- Keeping a personal or family blog can be a fun way to record important life experiences for future posterity and also share them with living family and friends. Many online blogging services are free and easy to use.
8. Make use of social media
- Take advantage of the sharing tools on FamilySearch.org, to share photos, images of important documents, or other updates with your family through social media.
9. Create a digital scrapbook
- Creating a digital scrapbook can be easier than making traditional scrapbooks. It can take less time, requires no materials, allows you to undo mistakes, and makes sharing easy. Various digital scrapbooking programs are available online.
Filed under: General Conference, Mormon Missionaries
When the Prophet stands up to talk at the beginning of the LDS General Conference, I usually expect some interesting announcement. Not many years ago, we were surprised by President Thomas S. Monson announcing the construction of the Rome Temple. This time also, he started by announcing the construction of a couple of new temples.
However, since President Hinckley increased the construction of temples at an unprecedented pace, I am not surprised now when the Prophet announces “only” a couple of new temples (unless it is in Rome or perhaps in Jackson County, Missouri or in Jerusalem).
After informing us about the construction of the two new temples in Arizona and Peru, President Monson quickly changed subject, and said:
Brothers and sisters, I now turn to another matter—namely, missionary service.
The presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint, as the prophet himself mentioned in this General Conference, is a very demanding office, and a president needs oversee and direct all aspects of the work of the Lord on the earth. However, prophets are usually remembered for some specific aspects of the work that were emphasized during their administration.
For me, among all the many things that were accomplished by President Hinckley, one stands out above all the others, and this is the new emphasis and expansion of temples building.
For the first few months of President Monson’s presidency, I was asking myself what specific and perhaps unique contribution he would make as the new president of the LDS Church. Obviously he is making and will make many contributions, but after this announcement, it is not too unreasonable to assume that more is to be expected in relation to missionary work under President Monson. Perhaps the next few years we will see even more emphasis placed on missionary work.
Everybody who is interested in Mormonism, by now already know what happened, President Thomas S. Monson announced during the Church 182nd Semiannual General Conference that men may now begin serving missions at age 18 and women at age 19. He said:
I am pleased to announce that effective immediately all worthy and able young men who have graduated from high school or its equivalent, regardless of where they live, will have the opportunity of being recommended for missionary service beginning at the age of 18, instead of the age of 19, – said President Monson. – As we prayerfully pondered the age at which young men may begin their missionary service we have also given consideration to the age at which young women might serve. Today, I’m pleased to announce that able, worthy young women who have the desire to serve may be recommended for missionary service beginning at age 19, instead of age 21.
When he made the announcement I was very happy, and as it happened before, I had the feeling that the change was right, done at the right time, even if I absolutely didn’t see it coming. This is one of the things that impress me about the Mormon Church and the prophets, and which confirms to me over and over again that they are inspired instruments of the Lord: the fact that they make announcements that are revelations, and like all revelations, they are a surprise, but they have a good taste. They make sense, and since they are so necessary and appropriate, we usually end up thinking that those changes should have made before. However, usually they are right also because they happen at the right time.
I had always wandered why sisters were supposed to wait for so long, and why elders could not serve at eighteen. I had been happy to discover last year that in some countries elders were beginning to serve at age eighteen. Based on that, I could have expected such change to be extended to the rest of the world, but the lowering of the age at which sisters can serve, it was a completely different story. The two changes combined have more implications for missionary work.
I have read the comments of several people about this change, especially sisters, mostly happy but at times a little sad because the change did not arrive earlier, so that they could have gone on a mission. Among many other more important consequences, someone suggested that now perhaps young men will suffer a little smaller competition from girls to access BYU and other LDS schools, because more of them will go on missions!
I had asked myself in the past why there was such a difference in age between missionary callings for elders and sisters. There is really no point to speculate about it, especially now that is all in the past, but focusing on the future, I can see many good outcomes following this announcement.
What really matters, however, is contained in President Monson’s words:
What does this mean for you? First of all it means that God is hastening His work. And He needs more and more willing and worthy missionaries to spread the light and the truth and the hope and the salvation of the gospel of Jesus Christ to an often dark and fearful world.
The Lord ia hastening His work. This is the essence of what just happened. Before we could do without the 18 years old elders and the 19 years old sisters. Now we cannot. Since President Kimball especially, the total number of missionaries had been growing quickly for years, until they passed the 60,000 mark. However, in the last few years, that number had declined, until it went below 52,000. Now the number is back close to 60,000, but with this change, I suppose it could reach 100,00o in a few years. This will make a huge impact at all levels and in all aspects of the Church.
Finally, many missions that were starving for more missionaries will receive more of them, and many new missions will be opened and the work will be hastened.
This is obviously another sign that the Second Coming of the Lord may not be too far away.
It may be easier than you think
I started doing Family history or Genealogy many years ago, when I still lived in Italy. I started by simply asking my living relatives about what they remembered about their families. It is always interesting to see how different people react to questions about their ancestors, but most of them are happy to talk about it, and wonder why you are so curious.
After asking my closest relatives all that they knew, I then went to the next stage, I spent a good amount of time researching in catholic parishes information that could help in my search. Fortunately, at least some of my ancestors (and many of my wife’s) used to live relatively close to where we lived at that time (in Piedmont).
I could have waited to do that work, after all, those parishes were close to my home!
However, I am glad that I decided not to wait, and moved by a strong desire and urgency, in a few months I found all that I could in that area.
What happened next was that I had the opportunity to move to Brazil and for many years I had no chance to go back to Italy. Even now, when I travel to Italy, I really do not have enough time to work extensively on my family history.
While living in Brazil, I worked as a volunteer for the family history center of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, assisting members and non members of the church to find their ancestors (many Brazilians have Italian ancestors).
One day, almost by chance, I decided to take a look to the microfilms of Italian records of another part of Italy (Puglia), from where 25% of my ancestors came from. I was surprised and happy to find out that the Church had many microfilms of those areas, and that gave me the opportunity to move forward my work.
Those were the pioneer days of family history. Now we have many new resources made available to genealogists, thanks to the internet and the new programs created by the church and others.
As the Family Search website suggests, to search for our ancestors “can be a life-changing experience. Learning about our ancestors can bring perspective and understanding to your own life. It only takes a few minutes to learn how to get started.”
I have tried it and I can say that it was and still is a life-changing experience
When I was a little child I was baptized by a Catholic priest without my permission. Obviously I had no clue of what was going on.
Similarly, the day I die, perhaps some of my relatives in Italy will decide to ask another Catholic priest to perform a mass for me. I can already see some of them very concerned that because I am now a Mormon, and I am still planning on dying as one, I may not go to heaven, and so they will want to speed up my stay in purgatory (hopefully they will not think that I deserve a worse place than that) and pay a priest to do a mass for me.
What should be my attitude or the attitude of my children toward them?
I think that we should apprreciate their effort and offer, instead of complaining. I do not believe that a Catholic Mass when I die will do me any good, but why getting upset over that then? I should appreciate that in their mind they are trying to help me.
Similarly, I do not understand why people get so upset when they discover that someone performed a Mormon baptism for the someone – famous or not – that was member of another religion.
For example, some are upset when a Mormon baptizes a victim of the Holocaust. On one hand I understand their feelings, because we are talking about a people who suffered greatly, and about something horrible they had to go through. So, I understand their initial reaction.
However, since they do not believe in what the Mormons do, I think that they could simply ignore it, as something useless, and absolutely not dangerous or malign, and focus more on problems they may have with others who hate them and want to kill them.
It is like the Catholic Mass, that someone may perform for me when I die. What harm can it do to me? None.
Similarly, why getting so upset because someone out of love baptize them? Instead of being killed by bombs, I think that it is a lot safer to be baptized by Mormons (when you are already dead anyway)!
Filed under: Mormon Church, Mormon Videos, Videos
There is a video out there that tries to make a case for hating religion while at the same time loving Jesus. There is nothing necessarily new in that message, just the way it is presented is captivating and many people probably like it.
However, the message is wrong, because to say that we hate religion does not produce good will among men, and complete lack of religion never created a happy society.
Moreover, the author of the video does not understand that Jesus in fact established a church when he lived on this earth, and Jesus does not hate religion. If it is true that in the name of religion many atrocities have been committed, it is also true that many great things have been done because of religion. So, the problem is not “religion” but what we do in its name, and I think that the good things done in its name still outweigh the wrong one (but they are usually less glamorous).
The following video is a Mormon or LDS reply to that video, Why I Hate Religion But Love Jesus. I prefer this one
Someone wrote on facebook:
There are two new entrants in the top 10 men — Buffett and Monson. Buffett and Monson have been mentioned in recent years but never made the top 10 until now. It is common for the president of the Mormon Church to receive mentions, but Monson is the first to make the top 10.
This is good news, and it is significant that someone like the president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a religion that was persecuted in the beginning of its history in this country, is now among the top 10 Most Admired Men.
This being said, it is however someway puzzling that most admired men and women of all times have been mostly politicians and/or wives of politicians.
I said puzzling, but it is not really that. It is probably obvious because politicians (or those closed to them) are the kind of people who get the most coverage from the media, and they have a lot of opportunities to show what they do (good or bad).
Apparently Americans, like people in many other countries, are very influenced by what they hear day after day on TV and the radio, or now on the Internet. I wonder however, if they also think critically about the relative value of politicians versus other great contributors to our society. Or perhaps people envy those politicians, because of all the attention and power they have, and they admire them because they were able to obtain it (and they did not).
Among the most admired men, every single one was a US president, and among women, only Mother Theresa was not a politician herself or the wife of a US president.
I wonder why people complain about politicians, since they admire them so much!
However, I feel grateful that at least a few religious men have been mentioned this year, includind Billy Grahams, the Pope, and President Thomas Monson.
However, this poll mostly confirms to me that the power of the media is too great on the mind of the people!
Following is an interesting article written by Ford Motor Company for its employees.
It was presented by the ‘Ford Interfaith’ group as a message about the LDS Church .
The Ford Interfaith group promotes unity by sharing information about all faiths and features these types of articles about various religions and faiths.
QUICK FACTS & INTERESTING TIDBITS about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Fleeing continued mob attacks 158 years ago, the first Mormon
pioneers desperately started their Westward trek from Illinois in the dead of winter. Of the 70,000 who began this 1300-mile journey, 6,000 were buried along the way, including many children. The following are quick facts and interesting tidbits about this now flourishing church.
* Named “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints”; informal nicknames are “LDS” or “Mormon” -named after the prophet-historian
* Believes it is the Lord’s restoration of original Christianity as foretold to occur before Christ’s Second Coming.
* Core focus is that Christ and His teachings bring happiness in this life and exaltation in the next.
* In 1820 14-yr-old Joseph Smith told of a vision of God and Christ foretelling a church restoration.
* Organized in New York in 1830, the church moved to near Cleveland, then near Kansas City, then Illinois .
* Fleeing Illinois , Mormon pioneers founded Salt Lake City in Utah and over 600 other Western communities.
SALT LAKE CITY
* Temple Square in Salt Lake has over 5 million annual visitors, more than the Grand Canyon .
* The Mormon Tabernacle Choir is the world’s most famous choir and has the world’s oldest radio program.
* The Salt Lake Temple is the most famous, but there are 128 other temples built here and around the world while
others are under construction.
* Home of the world’s largest genealogy database; visit it online or through 3,700 free branch libraries.
* Sunday services entail a three-hour block of three meetings; about 27,000 congregations exist worldwide.
* Highly vibrant programs exist for youth, children, singles, men, and women; very strong family focus.
* Everyone has a calling; some surveys show LDS have the highest U.S. attendance and service rates.
* Families receive personal fellowship visits at home from other members on a monthly basis.
* Members tithe 10 percent, plus donate generously to the needy the first Sunday of each month.
* Clergy and all other congregational positions are unpaid (however, much of the janitorial is paid).
* The church has no debt; all buildings are paid for in cash (average of two new congregations a day).
* The paid positions in Salt Lake are famously low-salaried; funds are frugally used and tightly audited.
* With a health code from 1833, LDS avoid alcohol, tobacco, illegal drugs, coffee, and tea (herbal tea is ok).
* This 1833 code also teaches grains (especially wheat), fresh fruits and vegetables, and sparing use of meat.
* A UCLA study showed that active LDS live longer than most Americans, men by 11 years, women by 8.
* Utah is 50th in smoking, alcohol consumption, drunk driving, heart disease, cancer, and sick days.
* With four colleges, Utah ‘s BYU with 30,000 students is the largest single-campus private college.
* BYU Independent Study with 130,000 students is North America (340 web courses, 530 via mail).
* Seminary, a daily class usually held around 6:00 A.M., serves 376,000 high school students.
* There are Institutes of Religion at 1,950 colleges worldwide that serve 367,000 college students.
* The church operates schools in parts of the Pacific Ocean and Mexico for 10,000 students.
* Utah is 50th in spending per pupil, but first in adults that graduated from high school and attended college.
* In 1842 the “Relief Society” was organized; it’s the largest women’s organization in the world.
* Wyoming was first to allow women to vote; Utah was second, two months later, in 1870.
* Women preach from the pulpit and serve as organization presidents, teachers, committee chairs, etc.
SHARING CHRIST’S GOOD NEWS
* 61,000 missionaries serve in 165 countries; 93 percent are college-age; 22 percent are female.
* Unpaid and paying their own way, most work 65 hours a week for two years, often in a new language.
* LDS are 70 percent of Utah, 30 percent of Idaho; after Catholics, LDS are the largest sect in 10 states.
* The church has 5.5 million members in the U.S., making it the fourth largest individual U.S. denomination.
* Some memberships: New Zealand 95k, Japan 115k, UK 175k, Philippines 500k, Brazil 900k, Mexico 925k.
* Worldwide 51 percent are female; about 55 percent are not Caucasian; about 70 percent are converts.
* For the last 15 years, every day an average of 800+ people worldwide joined the LDS church.
* Half of the growth is in Latin America, but the rate of growth is highest in Africa and the former Soviet bloc.
* Worldwide membership just passed 12 million, a tenfold increase in 50 years.
* In 1984 a non-LDS professor estimated 265 million members by 2080; so far growth has been faster.
* As this growth has been steady, it will be the next major world religion since Islam.”
* Members in need obtain welfare from the LDS Church (thus Utah government welfare spending is very low).
* LDS donate time at 220 welfare storehouses or canneries and about 400 farms.
* There are 210 employment centers placing over 175,000 people annually, and 64 family service centers.
* The church operates 46 thrift stores, in part to provide employment for the disadvantaged.
* The 61,000 missionaries spend half a day each week doing non-proselytizing community service.
* Over 200 million pounds of food, clothing, and medicine were donated in the last 20 years in 147 countries.
* Almost all of this help is to non-LDS; LDS charities also work with and donate to many non-LDS charities.
* Very rapid disaster relief has been given in 144 major disasters since 1986.
* Almost 3,000 welfare “missionaries” work without pay in 55 countries (farm instructors, doctors, teachers, etc…).
* LDS charities fund a wide variety of projects like drilling water wells or funding small business startup loans.
* New in 2001, members in poor areas can get low-rate college loans; 10,000 loans have been made to date.
* Utah is first in: charitable giving, producing scientists, household computers, children with two parents, and birth rate.
* Noted LDS included five senators, and other famous dignitaries the Osmonds, Gladys Knight, Steve Young, and the inventor of TV -Philo T. Farnsworth.
* LDS played a key role in the 2002 Winter Olympics; the chair was the former governor of Massachusetts .
* Hawaii ‘s #1 tourist site is the LDS Polynesian Cultural Center ( Tongaand the Samoas are one-third LDS).
* LDS have sponsored Boy Scout troops since 1913; 23 percent of all Scout troops are LDS.
* The BYU Women’s Cross Country were national champions or in second place each of the last seven years.
* The Detroit metro area has 30 congregations; the Dearborn chapel is on Rotunda by Ford’s Building #5.
* Detroit has a temple, storehouse, cannery, employment and family service office, and family history libraries.
* LDS include former Governor Romney, three former Lions quarterbacks, and hundreds of Ford employees.
According to a recent new survey by the Pew Research Center finds that
about half of all voters, and 60% of evangelical Republicans, know that Mitt Romney is a Mormon. That knowledge may have implications for the former Massachusetts governor’s nomination run because white evangelical Protestants — a key element of the GOP electoral base — are more inclined than the public as a whole to view Mormonism as a non-Christian faith. But evangelicals appear ready to back Romney overwhelmingly in a race against President Obama.
Perhaps what happened four years ago has taught evangelical protestant to lay aside their bias against Mormonism and focus on what is really important for them, if they want to have a chance to win against Obama.
Many Americans continue to see the Mormon faith as unfamiliar and different. Half say they know little or nothing about Mormonism, half say it is a Christian religion while a third say it is not, and roughly two-thirds believe Mormonism is “very different” from their own beliefs. There has been virtually no change in these impressions over the past four years.
Link to the full article Romney’s Mormon Faith Likely a Factor in Primaries, Not in a General Election
The Internet is really a great tool for learning. I remember when I went to school, there was no Internet to turn to when I did not understand something in school, and the text book was not clear enough. When I needed information about something I had to go to the library and hopefully I would find something. But it was really time consuming.
How different is today. If I have a question I can probably find some kind of information online.
So it was when I first joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons). The material about the Mormon Church was limited, and to find a book translated in my language (Italian) was also rare, we only had a few books. In fact, my initial reason to learn English was to be able to read Church books, including some very interesting book by Elder Bruce R. McConkie (The Messiah series).
However, now is so different, and the material available on the Internet is growing daily. For example, last week someone mentioned to me the well-known (but not well understood, including by me) principle of making our calling and election sure and asked me if I had the book Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith or Bruce R. McConkie’s Doctrinal New Testament Commentary.
I had to say that I did not have them. However, I just did a quick internet search a few minutes ago, and I found very easily what I was looking for, without the need to buy them, or even go to the library.
On page 321 of the Teaching of the Prophet Joseph Smith we read:
That which hath been hid from before the foundation of the world is revealed to babes and sucklings in the last days.
The world is reserved unto burning in the last days. He shall send Elijah the prophet, and he shall reveal the covenants of the fathers in relation to the children, and the covenants of the children in relation to the fathers.
Four destroying angels holding power over the four quarters of the earth until the servants of God are sealed in their foreheads, which signifies sealing the blessing upon their heads, meaning the everlasting covenant, thereby making their calling and election made sure. When a seal is put upon the father and mother, it secures their posterity, so that they cannot be lost, but will be saved by virtue of the covenant of their father and mother.
It is a comforting doctrine for fathers and mothers who may be struggling with some of their kids. There is a lot more about calling and election made sure in the Bruce R. McConkie’s Doctrinal New Testament Commentary 3:325-353.
If you are interested in this topic, it is worthwhile to spend some time reading those pages. Below I copied just the first paragraph, to give you a taste of it.
Among those who have received the gospel, and who are seeking diligently to live its laws and gain eternal life, there is an instinctive and determined desire to make their calling and election sure. Because they have tasted the good things of God and sipped from the fountain of eternal truth, they now seek the divine presence, where they shall know all things, have all power, all might, and all dominion, and in fact be like Him who is the great Prototype of all saved beings–God our Heavenly and Eternal Father. (D&C 132:20.) This is the end objective, the chief goal of all the faithful, and there is nothing greater in all eternity, “for there is no gift greater than the gift of salvation.” (D&C 6:13.)