“What do you see in this image?” I asked in the online mission conference yesterday.
I invited all in attendance to take a long look at the image, and to carefully consider the thoughts that arose in their mind.
A few moments before, all 9 of our departing missionaries returning home in 7 days time, shared their final testimonies, one by one, with their peers in the mission field.
Throughout that intimate hour, the feelings of each of their hearts were intertwined with our hearts, being knit together in love, respect and admiration. There was a feeling of connection, togetherness and unity for a few special moments of time.
Deep and meaningful emotional connections come quite unexpectedly at times. When they do, don’t be afraid to welcome them, gently explore them, embrace them and cherish them….forever.
Each missionary has served faithfully, diligently and given their all throughout their service of 18 or 24 months and some a little longer. It is not easy to be a missionary!
In preparation for that moment, I hunted that morning for a picture that would capture the feelings of my heart, as I expressed my love for them one by one. I found this image below.
In my mind, the image depicts two Olympic champions.
The one on the right is more senior, older, more experienced, wiser, a winner, looking a little wrinkled and perhaps just a little tired.
The one on the left, is younger, a little inexperienced, ready to learn, ambitious, fresh and keen to pick up the torch of the older Olympian.
All of our missionaries have the capability to be champions of whatever it is they choose to pursue. But in that moment, I saw something very special.
The 9 returning missionaries, were just like the older Olympian on the right, having given their all, their flame of Gospel testimony burning brightly, filled with warmth, light and hope.
They were in turn passing the flame of their individual torches, as a beacon to the world if you will, to the new up and coming generation of missionaries already infield and those arriving next week.
Poised to move forward, these younger missionaries primed with their torches are prepared and ready to carry the flame of the Gospel ever faster, higher, stronger and together, emulating the journey of those who went before. Indeed they will be standing on the shoulders of giants.
Many years ago, Brigham Young said… “Let the fire of the covenant which you made in the House of the Lord, burn in your hearts, like flame unquenchable.” Without question, I am a personal witness of covenants burning like an unquenchable fire in each of these missionaries hearts.
As the torch passes from one generation to another, that fire and flame will continue to burn and shine, bringing light to an ever darkening world.
During this Christmas season as we remember our Saviour Jesus Christ, He is the light of the world, whose flame burns brightly in each of our missionaries hearts, wherever they serve around the world. Invite them into your homes, their message is sweet, beautiful and will alight a flame of hope in your life forevermore. Please consider the special gift they carry with them.