As Exciting As Having a New Baby! Missionary Homecomings and the Power of the Holy Ghost

We made it to March guys! Reaching March every year is always such a milestone for me, because winter is not my favorite time of year. I am loving it more, as I write here. It’s still winter, and boy does it ever definitely feel like it, as it snowed the past few days. But hey, it’s March! Yayyyy!

March means my missionary son, who is serving in TX, is coming home in less than one month! Hooray! The photos I’m showing here are from when we said goodbye to him outside the airport entrance, almost two years ago. He’s my third son to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is always a bittersweet time to say goodbye to a child about to serve a mission. These photos show our goodbyes, and in just a few weeks we get to reverse the process and say “Hello, Welcome Back!” If I had a extra time, I would spend a lot of it hanging out at airports witnessing missionaries coming home after being gone for two years. I would talk to the families and the missionaries and hear their stories of change. I’d compile all the stories and pictures in a book. It is just such an amazing thing! That’s because it’s the end of a Hero’s Journey. (More on the Hero’s Journey here.) I wish I could bottle all that splendid feeling and open it anytime I want a lift. Now that I think about it, I can feel that same energy by reading the story of Christ in the scriptures, as He is the Ultimate Hero with the Original Hero Story. All other hero stories are mere reflections of His.

Over twenty years ago, I lived next door to some neighbors, the Ogdens, who served as mission president and wife in Santiago Chile. I remember distinctly when they came home and reported on their mission at one of our Sunday meetings. Sister Ogden said that the whole three years that they served on their mission, they felt like spiritual midwives. She wasn’t talking about the book Spiritual Midwifery, which I read a lot from during my child-bearing years, LOL. She was talking about assisting with the process of spiritual birth that happens with becoming born again in Christ. She said it was so exciting and fulfilling to see young people serve a mission for the Church, inviting people to come unto Christ and make the covenant of baptism. As they did so, they experienced a spiritual birth, just as they watched other people experience a spiritual birth. So that’s why she felt that she and her husband were spiritual midwives. Jesus has told us that “Except a man be born of water and of the spirit, he can in nowise enter the kingdom of heaven.” (John 3:5)

This spiritual birth happens as we receive the gift of the Holy Ghost after baptism. The Holy Spirit refines a person and facilitates this birth. This birth involves water (baptism), spirit, (the Holy Spirit), and blood (the atoning blood of Christ), just as physical birth does. Water = amniotic fluid, blood= the blood of the mother, and spirit = the spirit of the child animating his or her body. This scripture from the Book of Mormon Another Testament of Jesus Christ describes how a person is changed, or spiritually begotten by Christ:

“For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.” (Mosiah 3:19)

As missionaries, or anyone live this scripture, after baptism, they become a new creature in Christ, as it says in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

I am just as excited to see my son as a new creature in Christ as I was when I was pregnant, so eager to hold him and see him as a tiny new mortal creature. It is so wonderful to see that he has felt the power of the Holy Ghost on his mission, guiding him, refining him, and sanctifying him, to become this new creature in Christ.

Here is one example of the power of the Holy Ghost guiding him. He sent an email saying he is on fire with the power of family history research and temple work. Yayy!!! As I’ve blogged many times, I am such a huge fan of all that.

He told a story of meeting with a man who I will call Jack. Jack was thinking about getting baptized. My son and his companion had an appointment with him. Here is the rest of the story in his own words:

“I had one of my most powerful moments as a missionary and a person today. We had a lesson with Jack scheduled and had planned to teach about family history and show him how FamilySearch works. We were going to bring Brother Smith and have him lead in this, but he wasn’t available to come so he told us to do it without him. We forgot this and planned a different lesson about the sacrament and enduring to the end. As we were driving to Jack’s lesson, I looked at our notes to review the lesson plan, and had the prompting that we should still go over family history. A look at Brother Smith’s text reminded us that he wanted us to do this, so we quickly planned for it as we went. Providentially, we had our laptops with us (we usually don’t when we’re out and about), so we planned to show him the website and how adding names works. As we went in and sat down, we got everything set up and he told us how he had had a grueling day at work. I was impatient to get into it, but I had another prompting to teach more of the doctrine of the temple before showing how the system works. I had the words ‘behold I will send you Elijah the prophet’ come into my head, so I looked up the verse (Malachi 4:5-6) and we began by having him read it. We explained how the Lord’s work is to unite families for eternity and how the sealing power is what was spoken of in the verse. His eyes got big as understanding set in. I felt the Holy Spirit so strongly. Next, I had the thought to show how Elijah came to Joseph Smith to fulfill that prophecy and was led to the D&C 110:13-16 by the footnotes in Malachi 4. Melvin read it and the Holy Spirit came again. I had the thought that he needed to understand two things from the verse. First, that the sealing power had indeed been restored to us in modern day, and, second, that the coming of the Lord is near. Moments later, without any of us being able to get a word in, he said those exact things and the Holy Spirit bore witness of their truth. Then, we turned to Family Search and showed how the process of creating records and such works. He started to understand the magnitude of it all and made comments like ‘Wow, I guess I have a lot to do after I get baptized’ and ‘I need to begin by having these ordinances done for my parents, my son, my brother, etc.’ Again, the Spirit was so strong. Lastly, we closed by talking about how God made a covenant with Abraham and how that became the covenant for all Israel. I found myself tearing up as I testified that God’s work is the gathering of Israel and that it is what he is doing right now as he makes a covenant and prepares the way for his ancestors to do the same. I felt the Holy Spirit more powerfully than I ever have before tonight as we taught him and as I said that the gathering of Israel is the most important thing going on in the world today.”

That story just makes so happy on so many counts!

I love that the Holy Ghost inspired them to take their laptops, even though they don’t usually do that. I love that the Holy Ghost inspired my son with the words about sending Elijah. I love that the Holy Ghost was there in the room to testify that these words they read in the scriptures are true.

Here are four important points I draw from this story:

#1. Missionary work, that is, teaching about Jesus and His restored gospel, is more powerful when it’s tied to family history research and temple work.

#2. Jesus is real, He is the God of the Old Testament, Jehovah, who has spoken to prophets as he did with Malachi, Some of his words have been fulfilled as with Elijah’s coming to Joseph Smith, some of his words are yet to be fulfilled.

#3. Jesus loves us and wants us to be united as families in the temple, on both sides of the veil. 

#4.  Jesus, as God, and His Father, our Heavenly Father, are all knowing. As such They know the words we can share that we come to know thru the power of the Holy Spirit. Just as the Holy Spirit put those words about Elijah in my son’s mind, to teach Jack, and the words he put in Jack’s mind to speak out loud, the Holy Spirit has put words in my mind to share with people, or in others’ minds to speak to and bless me. You too can probably think of times when you felt words put in your head by the Holy Spirit.

I have prayed many times for help. Then often that very day or the next day an email, text, phone call or someone shows up on my doorstep to bless me with words and ideas. I feel evidence that God is putting words in someone’s mind to help me.

For example, almost a year ago I had something happen in my life that broke my heart. After this traumatizing event, I knelt in prayer, sobbing and crying to God, asking God to show me that He loved me that day. I felt the lowest I have felt in years, bereft of love. Several hours later, my ministering brother, a man in my Church congregation, showed up on my doorstep, asking if he could help with anything. He commiserated with me. I felt very blessed and noticed by God. I knew He cared about me and heard my prayer. 

I love knowing that we can tap into the knowledge of God when needed to get the words He wants us to give to bless us and those around us, through the Holy Spirit. It’s not something we can demand. It’s something that happens if we qualify for it and if God deems it needful to happen. It’s so exciting to think how our prayers will be answered each day as we see how His inspiration unfolds through all of us. 

Pres. Nelson said in the October 2022 General Conference that we have yet to see the greatest manifestations of Christ’s power in the coming years. It’s such a wonderful thing to ponder how this power will be manifest at the micro level in our individual lives as we minister to each other and gather Israel on both sides of the veil, then at the macro level with how Christ will affect global events. Bring it on!

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