Shortly before my wife and I commenced our three year assignment as mission president and wife, on June 26, 2009, we sat in the office of Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in Salt Lake City, Utah. Elder Nelson, looking directly into my eyes, said, “President, with those missionaries…” I leaned forward, anxious to hear every word of counsel, as I was about to begin the historical and most exciting, challenging assignment for me in the Church… “Help them to look up to the Savior,” Elder Nelson said pointing to the ceiling. The impact of this counsel came with great force when I was in the field of labor. For the first time I realized my inadequacy and asked myself, “Who am I that I might motivate and inspire these young people with diversified cultures and experience, to exercise faith and reach their full potential?”
The assistants to the mission president showed me some materials which my predecessor had used to motivate and inspire the missionaries and asked if our focus would remain the same. I requested a little time before endorsing what my predecessor had used with the missionaries. The material was professional and very impressive. The missionaries enjoyed them and had them pasted on their walls. As I thought of continuing with these, I felt very uneasy and could not understand why I had such a feeling. Then in the early hours, as I was taking a shower, the instructions from Elder Nelson rang and sank deep into my mind, “President, with those missionaries, help them to look up to the Savior.”
As we undertook some activities which focused on looking up to the Savior by applying Christ-like attributes found in chapter six of Preach my Gospel each day, we felt bonded to each other, we all wanted to be of service and focused on our purpose. Deep motivation then developed. True, lasting loyalties were formed. Our daily focusing and looking up to the Lord, inspired us as a mission, not only to be obedient and diligent, but to remove every growth restricting obstacle from our paths.
Preach my Gospel
As we all focused on the Savior, all other things fell off and became irrelevant. Our purpose as missionaries to “Invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end” (Preach My Gospel page 1), became our focus. Not only did our work move to greatness as we excelled in all aspects of the mission, but our lives and relationships with each other improved immensely. We enjoyed the blessings promised to Joshua, “turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest” (Joshua 1:7). We indeed gained that rare tranquility that comes from knowing that we have had a hand in creating something of intrinsic excellence that made a great contribution as we invited others to come unto Christ.
By looking up to the Savior, Brother Manuyewhor Samuel and Sister Chinyere Wordu from Rumuolumeni Ward in Port Harcourt Nigeria West stake, have found joy in their lives. They have made the most of their lives, as they kept the vision of eternity continually in their minds and the value of it in their hearts. They have discovered that there is far more in life than just here and now! We need to look beyond our daily activities, today is just the visible tip of the iceberg. What we do not see under the surface is eternity. This couple who have raised their five children with such a vision, imprints of eternity in their hearts, have imparted an eternal inheritance which will be carried throughout their posterity. “We are very rich, very rich, but not in worldly things, but through the atonement of Jesus Christ we can live forever. The knowledge of the atonement of Jesus Christ has taught us that as individuals, we are left with no option other than to be indebted to Him with our lives”, Brother and Sister Wordu commented. This couple has found the true meaning of life. The Savior Jesus Christ said, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 16:25).
If your time on earth were all there is to life, with no consideration of a life beyond death, you could forget some of the important things, such as being good and ethical. You would not worry about any consequences of your actions. You could easily indulge yourself in self-centeredness because your actions would have no long-term repercussions. Brother and Sister Wordu understand that giving of themselves and centering their lives on Jesus Christ is living according to the Lord’s plan to provide for his saints. (D&C 104:15).
With his open out-stretched hands, Christ extends this invitation to all: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30) He has given us a formula to do this.
The formula is simply; (1) serve others, “...inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Mathew 25:40). (2) Learn of Him, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” (John 5:39) True and enduring happiness and success lie in looking up to the Lord. The success we enjoyed with those missionaries, who came from different backgrounds and cultures, as we unitedly looked up to the Lord each day will go beyond this life because hearts were touched and changed. The success of Brother and Sister Wordu which they are now passing to their grandchildren, who will also pass to their children and great-grandchildren, is a quest for happiness, for which most people are seeking but do not know how to find. Will you put this to test and find true, enduring happiness and success in your life and in the lives of your loved ones by looking up to the Savior?