End of Mission Advice

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Dennis B. Neuenschwander

As missionaries left the mission field (while serving as a mission president), I asked them to identify and write down for their final missionary interview with me the major lessons they had learned through the course of their mission. What I heard most often was, "I learned the importance of prayer," "I learned that God answers prayer," "I learned the importance of regular scripture study," or "I learned to appreciate hard, disciplined work." Never did I hear anything that related to the goals of the mission, the number of baptisms, or the number of hours worked. After reviewing what they had learned, I returned their written accounts to them with the counsel that they keep them in a safe place. I told them that a time would come in their lives when matters would not be so clear to them as they had been in the mission field. It was then that they were to retrieve and read what they themselves had written about their own spiritual experiences.

You may know that before one is considered for employment at BYU, or at any other Church institution, an interview with a General Authority is required. Not long ago I interviewed a very brilliant individual for a position at BYU. His training was in a discipline that could possibly pose some challenge to his testimony. I asked him whether he had ever wavered in his faith or whether he had, in the course of his study, ever lost his testimony. He answered the question very candidly and told me, yes, he had. His integrity was impressive. I asked him how he had overcome the challenge. The answer was very simple. He said, "I went back to my missionary journals and read them in order to rediscover what I once knew to be true."

Dennis B. Neuenschwander shared this bit of advice at a BYU Devotional given May 19, 1998