Based on a letter I wrote to my beautiful niece, who is preparing to go on a mission, and shared with her permission.
I want to tell you a story.
The parable of the pearl of great price is found in Matthew 13:45-46
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls:
Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.”
This parable is only two verses long, but I think it’s one of the most relevant when it comes to missionary work, as it is a clear metaphor for finding and accepting the gospel.
It may not seem very significant, but there are some subtle things we can pull from this story.
Here was a man who spent his life searching for pearls. I think it’s interesting that, upon finding one pearl of great value, he sold ALL that he had to obtain it. He gave up everything.
This teaches us a few things. First, it shows us how precious the pearl was, that it took all he possessed to match its value.
It’s also a reminder that the pearl, and the blessings of the gospel, come at a price. It’s not free, and we must sacrifice something in order to obtain it. In our case, that is a willingness to give over our very lives to God.
But it also implies something else. When all was said and done, the man had nothing left over with which to purchase more pearls. But he was ok with that.
Why? Because his search was over.
That single pearl was worth giving up a lifetime of pearls if he could just obtain it.
The reason I tell you that story is this:
There are many people in the world today who are seeking for pearls. They long for something of value in their lives, and whether they know it or not they are searching for truth and the peace that living the gospel brings.
Many of them have found pearls, pieces of truth. Good pearls. Many are satisfied with that.
But what they don’t know is that ultimately what they want (and need) is the pearl of great price- the gospel of Jesus Christ.
When they find that pearl, it is worth giving up everything to obtain because, when they do, their search is over.
Like the man, you have found the pearl of great price. And for the next two years you are giving up everything – not to obtain it- but to share it with others.
On your mission, show the people you teach how precious this pearl is. Show them why it is worth giving up anything to obtain. Tell them the good news- that their search is over, because the peace, fulfillment, and happiness they long for is found in this gospel.
Do this through your example and (with the guidance of the Spirit) by your words. You have the opportunity to offer the people in your mission something more precious than they could possibly imagine. In doing so, you are going to experience a joy that can only be found in playing a role in the salvation of souls.
D&C 18:15 “And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!”
The love and joy that you feel as you watch someone you care about accept the gospel, accept Christ- as you watch the spirit change them from the inside out- it’s indescribable. It’s such a special spiritual experience, and as a missionary you will get to experience it over and over. Whether it be in small ways or large.
I know that the Lord is eager to utilize you in order to bless the lives of His children.
Work hard, follow the Spirit, and have faith that the Lord will lead you to the people who need you to teach them.
Trust Him, even when it seems scary or uncertain. And don’t be discouraged if not everyone you teach makes it to baptism.
Sometimes the most important thing you can do is simply plant a seed, and when the conditions are right that seed will grow and produce fruit- whether you are there to see it or not.
Remember D&C 18:15. Even if you bring only ONE soul unto Him, how great shall be your joy.
Even if that one soul is you.
Remember the pearl of great price, and the precious gift you are sharing with the world.
Remember who you are and why you have been called to serve, and your mission will be a success.