I forgot to tell all of you that I've gotten to perform a few times at the MTC. I was part of a boy’s choral group singing "Come Thou Fount" for a fireside, and I accompanied Sister Chord in Sacrament and Relief Society meetings. They went really well, it was a lot of fun.
This week I got a real wake-up call as far as the seriousness of my calling to serve as a missionary. Yesterday, we had the Director of Proselyting, W. Tracy Watson, speak to us yesterday about the importance of The Book of Mormon. He then did something I wouldn't have expected in a million years in the MTC: he showed us a video of the opening number of the Broadway Musical "The Book of Mormon". It was weird hearing it. Before I came on a mission I probably would have laughed at the jokes. But now, when I am actually a missionary, I just felt uncomfortable and sick. We are supposed to be viewed as representatives of Jesus Christ, not as overzealous, earnest young men with badges.
We are at war. Satan is using every tool in his arsenal to confuse the children of God to keep them from ever discovering their true divine identity and potential; he desires that "all might be miserable like unto himself." How do we combat the degrading images of Mormons that the adversary is displaying? My opinion is that we should love. It really is that simple. We love. Only then will people see us for who we really are as disciples of Christ. We, all of us members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, have been given a charge to share the gospel. Every member a missionary! It is time we shared this message, to step out of our comfort zone and show the world who we really are. I believe very strongly that our timidity and shyness to share the gospel, our fear of rejection, is what has caused Anti-Mormon literature like the musical "The Book of Mormon" to have so much prevalence and critical acclaim in our world today.
Did you know that in 1999 (I think), President Hinckley said that we were having on average 300,000 convert baptisms each year. That's great! That means 300,000 people are taking part in the necessary covenants to start on the path to salvation. But he said we could double that number. 600,000. That was the benchmark he set. And as of last year, we had about 280,000. The fact is, in order for us to be able to meet this goal, everyone must be missionaries. Not officially, but just sharing the gospel with your community, with your friends. It really is that simple.
Now if you are reading this, and you are not Mormon, I challenge you to read The Book of Mormon. Read it. Study it. Ponder it. And then pray about it. For if it is false, then Joseph Smith was not a prophet, and therefore the doctrines of the church crumble. But if it is true, then this gospel truly is from God. Read the book! Only through The Book of Mormon can you know if this church is true, that our claims are correct. Yes, I concede, Google can tell you a lot of answers. But Google cannot give you the divine witness from the Holy Ghost that this church is true. The Book of Mormon can do that. You may have many questions about the validity of the church, some of which may not have any answer. But in the end, if you know the book is true, you have no more questions. If you know it is true, then so is everything that goes with it.
I promise you that if you have a sincere desire to know if it is true, you will receive an answer that it is true. I have done this myself, many times. As a missionary, I stand as a witness of the divinity of The Book of Mormon, that it indeed contains the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ as we claim, and that "a man can get closer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book" (Joseph Smith, Introduction). I know it is true, beyond a doubt. I add my testimony to millions of others, that Jesus is the Christ, and that he is the head of this church.
Elder Jorgensen and Elder Bastian, a friend from our Stake who will also be serving in Taiwan.