The following article originally appeared on LDS Living in 2015.
As a missionary, my favorite part of the day was the hour I had in the morning to do personal study. During those 18 months, I read many inspiring talks from apostles and prophets, and since then our Church leaders have continued to give inspiring messages on the topic. But the following five are still my favorites and helped me the most on my mission.
When a missionary comes home after a long and hard day, they can read this and realize the love the Savior has for them as a missionary. This talk is what got me through the hard times. It saved me! I recommend that every missionary have a hard copy of this.
“I am convinced that missionary work is not easy because salvation is not a cheap experience. Salvation never was easy. We are The Church of Jesus Christ, this is the truth, and He is our Great Eternal Head. How could we believe it would be easy for us when it was never, ever easy for Him? It seems to me that missionaries and mission leaders have to spend at least a few moments in Gethsemane. Missionaries and mission leaders have to take at least a step or two toward the summit of Calvary."
This talk focuses on how a missionary can change from being ordinary to extraordinary by making small improvements and becoming consecrated to our Father in Heaven.
No other talk has changed my life quite like this one. It is 30+ pages but very much worth the read. I would read it at the start of every transfer and evaluate what I could do better the next transfer to become more like the fourth missionary.
"Do you see that only in losing yourself, may you find yourself; only by enriching others, may you be enriched; only by giving, may you receive; only in surrendering, may you become free?"
This talk will give missionaries perspective on what conversion and activity in the Church requires. I especially love this talk because Elder Holland is talking about his experiences in Chile (where I served my mission), but the principles are powerful for every missionary.
"When we join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we board the Good Ship Zion and sail with her wherever she goes until she comes into that millennial port. We stay in the boat, through squalls and stills, through storms and sunburn, because that is the only way to the Promised Land. This Church is the Lord’s vehicle for crucial doctrines, ordinances, covenants, and keys that are essential to exaltation, and one cannot be fully faithful to the gospel of Jesus Christ without striving to be faithful in the Church, which is its earthly institutional manifestation."
Focusing on what a missionary has instead of what they lack will transform each missionary and allowed them to focus on others. I read this talk at the hardest part of my mission and it allowed me to forget what I was lacking and instead focus on what I was grateful for.
"My brothers and sisters, do we remember to give thanks for the blessings we receive? Sincerely giving thanks not only helps us recognize our blessings, but it also unlocks the doors of heaven and helps us feel God’s love."
This talk will help missionaries forget their inadequacies, the difficulty of the language, and the other trials in the mission field. I read this talk every week of my mission. Often while walking the streets of Chile, the words of this talk would come to mind and helped me to continue to work hard despite disappointments and trials.
"Don’t worry about the language. None of that matters. It will not matter. God loves you and this is the truth and you can do it! Just reach down, pull up your socks, and go to work. This is a time for you to go out. I plead with you. I plead with you, in the case of the Elders, to have a 24-month mission! Not 23, not 22, not 19, not 16, not 14…to have a 24-month mission! Sisters, have an 18-month mission—not 15, not 11, not 6. Start fast. Run hard, and to the tape! You can rest later."
Aubrey Porter is a history teacher and a lover of sweaters, the outdoors, a good hamburger, and her husband. Find more missionary tips and stories from Aubrey at her blog, gospelgirlrm.blogspot.com.