It's been 183 years since the Church was restored--in 1830. There were six members. There are now 15 million.
Last year at this time, there were 58,500 full-time missionaries. Today, there are 80,333. It's astounding to think that last year, it wasn't even a thought in our home that we'd have our own missionary out in the world, but here we are, a year later, and she's been gone for some time now. Someday soon, I'll share the miracle that that is.
"Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost" (Matthew 28:19).
"After all that's been said, the greatest and most important duty is to preach the gospel." --Joseph Smith
It is to fulfill these words that missionaries are out, all over the world, searching for those who are seeking the truth.
I got to thinking yesterday about my family's history in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
It was not a "family tradition" to be a member of the Church. I do not have many pioneer ancestors who joined the Church back in or around 1830. I have one--the Riddle (my paternal grandmother's maternal) family. My paternal grandmother's father joined the Church later on as did my paternal grandfather and my mother.
Specifically, I got to thinking about my mom yesterday. And even more specifically, her search for truth. I got to thinking about the remarkable person she was (and is).
I have shared this before, but my mom's mom died when my mom was six. It was 1934. This has always been an astounding fact to me. The world was at war. The Great Depression was on. A very unsure time in our world, and a little girl loses her mom to cancer. In my mind, a great tragedy.
I have often wondered what it must have been like for her. Yesterday, my mind retraced these thoughts but from a different angle. What was it that made her so wonderful?
I had concluded, a long time ago, that these experiences from her childhood, played a huge role in that. But, yesterday, I thought of her journey....of her faith.
When she was a teenager, she attended a Lutheran summer camp with a friend. While there, she stood at the meeting when the pastor announced, "If you desire to follow your Savior, Jesus Christ, please stand." Before the end of the camp, she became Lutheran. She became very active in the youth activities of the Lutheran church. I find it ironic that most of my dearest friends are practicing Lutherans. She continued to attend Lutheran services throughout her teenage years.
I don't think it was until she met my dad that she even knew what the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was. Her dad, when he found out that she was dating a "Mormon," was very unhappy. He got so he wouldn't let my dad step foot in his house.
When they married, to appease her father, they did so in my dad's parents' home. It was NOT to happen in an LDS meetinghouse.
In 1959, my mom joined the Church. When I asked her why, she shared with me that it was because my dad and she wanted to be able to answer my sister's questions as they knew she would have them as she grew. They wanted to be united in their answers. They felt that they were to be had in the faith of my dad's family--the LDS faith.
I never knew my mom as a new member of the Church, but I know people who did. I have met people who loved and helped her as she "got her feet wet" in her new faith. I am grateful to those people. It's been so fun to cross paths with them and learn a little about what it was like for her back then.
My mother was a very happy person. She was solid in her faith as long as I knew her.
The Church provided her with answers she sought for herself and for her family. She found that she could be bound to her family through the ordinances in the temple. I believe those are the things she searched for more than anything else--to be tied to her family eternally.
As I look back on these things, I have to chuckle when I reminisce on the fact that, just prior to his death, my mom's dad was listening to the missionaries. He passed away, before he could have baptized himself, but my, how his heart had softened. He saw the good it did in my mom's life and the great things it did for our family. He wanted that for himself as well.
I am grateful for the faith of my mom, and I'm so thankful for those who taught her. I am so pleased to watch my daughter change lives and give back a little of what our family has been given through this wonderful church.