June First Presidency Message for home teaching:
“Always in the Middle,” by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf
Always in the Middle
By many world calendars, July marks the middle of the year. While the beginnings and endings of things are celebrated and remembered, the middle of things often goes unnoticed.
Beginnings are times for making resolutions, for creating plans, for bursts of energy. Endings are times for winding down and may involve feelings of completion or loss. But with the proper outlook, considering ourselves as in the middle of things can help us not only to understand life a little better but also to live it a little more meaningfully.
The Middle of Missionary Work
When I speak to our young missionaries, I often tell them they are in the middle of their missions. Whether they just arrived the day before or are to depart for home the day after, I ask them to think of themselves as always being in the middle.
New missionaries may feel they are too inexperienced to be effective, and so they delay speaking or acting with confidence and boldness. Seasoned missionaries who are close to completing their missions may feel sad their missions are coming to a close, or they may slow down as they contemplate what they will do after their missions.
Read from Elder Lance B. Wickman's April 2008 General Conference message, "Today":
Our infantry battalion had been in Vietnam for several months. I was a lieutenant, the leader of a rifle platoon. We were involved almost constantly in combat operations. That day dawned with our battalion deep in hostile territory. Very early we sent out a reconnaissance patrol of about 10 men. One of them was Sergeant Arthur Morris. Several of the men were wounded in a firefight, including Sergeant Morris, who received a slight flesh wound. Eventually the men of the patrol limped back to our lines.
We radioed for a medical evacuation helicopter. Loading the wounded men on the chopper, I urged Sergeant Morris also to get aboard. He demurred. Again I urged him. Again he demurred. Once again I admonished him. Once again he refused. Finally I said, “Sergeant Morris, get on that chopper.”
He looked at me, his eyes earnest, pleading. “Please, sir,” he said, and then these words that will forever haunt me: “They can’t kill a tough old bird like me.”
The entire scene is etched in my mind like a battle tableau: the jungle clearing; the impatient, throbbing rotor blade of the helicopter; the pilot looking at me expectantly; and my friend begging to stay with his men. I relented. I waved away the chopper with its lifeline to Tomorrow. Before the sun had set that very day, my dear friend Sergeant Arthur Cyrus Morris lay dead upon the ground, felled by hostile fire. And echoing in my mind over and over again, I hear his exclamation, “They can’t kill, they can’t kill, they can’t kill …”
Of course, in one sense he was dreadfully wrong. Mortality is so fragile. Only one heartbeat, the drawing of a single breath, separates this world from the next. One moment, my friend was a vital, living person; the next, his immortal spirit had fled, leaving the mortal tabernacle a lump of lifeless clay. Death is a curtain through which each must pass, and like Sergeant Arthur Morris, none of us knows when that passage will occur. Of all the challenges we face, perhaps the greatest is a misguided sense that mortality goes on forever and its corollary, that we can postpone until tomorrow the seeking and offering of forgiveness, which as the gospel of Jesus Christ teaches, are among mortality’s central purposes.
This profound truth is taught by Amulek in the Book of Mormon:
“For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors.
“… Therefore, I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; …
“… For that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world” (Alma 34:32–34; emphasis added).
For children: The Church's home teaching message has a great visual activity for kids. They list their talents, then use picture prompts to see how they can use their talents to help others. Click here for the picture "Everyone Can Do Something Now."