An apostle called for more senior missionaries — thousands more — during his talk in the Saturday afternoon session of the 193rd Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles described taking his turn in the weekly meeting where mission calls are issued and finding that there were 10 senior missionary couples to fill the 300 requests for senior missionaries from the church’s 411 missions.

“As an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, I ask you to serve as a missionary in the gathering of Israel and perhaps serve again. We need you — we need you,” said an emotional Elder Rasband, who spoke with tears in his eyes.

“I pray that the next time I sit down to assign senior couples there will be hundreds of you waiting anxiously for your call,” he said.

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Why and how to serve a senior mission

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Speaking to senior church members, Elder Rasband invited them to take their “know-how,” and “time-honored testimonies” and go on a mission.

  • “What are you doing at this stage of your life?” he asked. “There are so many ways senior missionaries can do what no one else can. You are a remarkable force for good, seasoned in the church and poised to encourage and rescue God’s children.”
  • “Mission fields around the world are pleading for your help.”
  • “The particulars of ways to serve, what best suits you, where you are needed and how you can get ready to go are addressed on the website ‘Senior Missionary.’”
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Elder Rasband counseled seniors to pray for the Lord’s guidance and said those who cannot serve for health or other reasons might find ways to support those who can go.

  • “For some, and we hope thousands of you, full-time missionary service in another corner of the world will be the right place. For others, serving a church service mission at home might be preferable.”
  • He said returned senior missionaries “have described growing closer to the Lord and closer to one another, feeling the spirit of the Lord pour down upon them and knowing they are making a difference. Who would not want that?”

Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

“God-given gifts make gifted people,” Elder Stevenson said, but “Exercising spiritual gifts requires spiritual exercise.”

  • Your ability to invite and recognize the promptings of the Spirit will develop a step at a time. Becoming more attuned to the language of the Spirit is like learning another language. It is a gradual process that requires diligent, patient effort.”
  • “What is the fruit of exercising spiritual gifts? They include promptings from the Spirit that help us face our daily needs and show us what to do and say. Blessings of peace and comfort. As we listen and act on spiritual promptings, the Holy Ghost magnifies our abilities and capacities, to far exceed what we can do on our own.”
  • How important is this gift? President Russell M. Nelson answered this question categorically when he stated that ‘in coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost.’”

4 ways to invite and recognize the promptings of the Spirit

Elder Stevenson provided four guiding principles for exercising the spiritual gift of learning the promptings of the Holy Ghost.

  • Stand in holy places — “Our temples and homes are the most sacred of these dedicated spaces. In them we more easily invite and recognize the Spirit. Other holy places include meetinghouses, seminary buildings and institutes, and church history sites and visitor centers.”
  • Stand with holy people — “The Spirit cannot be restrained from attending a gathering of holy people. If you hope to feel the Spirit, be with people where the Spirit can easily dwell.”
  • Testify of holy truths — “As you seek and take opportunities to share your testimony with others, you will create moments to recognize the Spirit for yourself.”
  • Listen carefully to the Holy Spirit — “He can be our constant companion but speaks in subtle, quiet tones.”

Other speakers

  • Elder Yoon Hwan Choi of the Seventy — “Do you want to be happy? Stay on the covenant path. Your life will be easier, happier and filled with joy.”
  • Elder Alan T. Phillips of the Seventy — “Many people feel overwhelmed, alone, isolated, or exhausted. When things are difficult, we may feel that we have wandered or fallen behind. Knowing that we are all children of God and members of his eternal family will restore a sense of belonging and purpose.”
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