Each fall as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints holds its semiannual general conference, there are typically a couple topics that are emphasized. In the previous year, assisting refugees has been a heavy focus for the church and its members.
Since that time, more organized efforts by members have taken place to provide various types of assistance.
On Saturday, members that viewed the conference heard similar counsel as in past years, with an emphasis on being recalled to the basics of the faith.
Elders Dallin H. Oaks, Kazuhiko Yamashita, Neil L. Andersen, Robert D. Hales and Jeffrey R. Holland spoke on the need for additional missionary work and being a source of help.
The spike in missionary service has tapered a bit since the 2012 age change for young adults, however nearly 74,000 men, women and couples are currently serving as missionaries.
According to the church, more than 1 million LDS missionaries have served since the church's organization in 1830.
Growing its members and providing service is obviously still a high priority for the church. Those efforts play out locally as well.
Provo, is of course, home to one of the church's 15 missionary training centers. From previous interviews, it was reported that the first expansion on the Provo MTC, where it is adding state-of-the-art technology, is expected to be completed in 2017. In this MTC, the church has said missionaries undergo "intense gospel classroom instruction from teachers who are former missionaries, weekly devotional addresses from Church leaders and MTC staff, and weekly service opportunities.”
In our LDS Guide published Sept. 25, we also delved into Utah County families who have been deeply impacted through the church's emphasis on providing missionary service, like the Kaufusi family living in Provo whose children have balanced sports careers with dedicated church service. There are also hundreds of other athletes in the valley who have altered their collegiate careers to serve as missionaries.
And while there is the 18-month or 2-year service (which many have shared stories as being both rewarding and/or quite challenging), there is the coming home. The adjustment.
The struggle is real, as they say.
As reported in the Daily Herald earlier in the week (and for those that have personal experiences) some missionaries come home early, their mission cut short for one reason or another. Returning home early sometimes brings guilt, feelings of being alone and maybe even feelings of being unfaithful. It's a missionary issue that still needs work in being addressed.
While Elder Andersen may not have been speaking to this specific issue among Latter-day Saints, he did say on Saturday that "Each of us is a piece of the puzzle and each of us helps to set in place other important pieces."
Whether of the LDS faith or not, we likewise believe that residents in this community can help set in place other important pieces that will lift us all. You do not need to be a Mormon missionary currently serving to be the first source of help to a neighbor, friend, child, or loved one struggling for solutions.