Just for a minute I want you to forget you are in priesthood meeting. I work at a new car lot, and I want you to pretend that you are looking for a brand-new car. You say, “Well, I am interested in a certain model; it’s nice looking, pretty sharp.” I know you personally, and I say, “Listen, I am going to do you a favor. How about if you wait until 1980? I just received word that they are going to have a great model out in 1980, and I’ll sell you one for $4,000, even though the retail price of it will be $7,000 to $8,000. Do you think you could save the money by then? Do you want the car?” So you say you do, and I add, “The only condition is that you have to pay cash on January 1, 1980. But you’ll be the very first one to get this brand-new 1980 car. Do you still want it?”
Now I want you to sit down there and figure out how much you make right now, and how much you would have to save every month until 1980 to save enough money to pay for that car in cash by January 1, 1980. Figure out how much you make a week and how much a month—from a part-time job, allowance, yardwork, etc.
How many here would want to try to save the money even if you didn’t have a regular job? Would you set some earning goals? I know some of you would, and you don’t even drive yet.
I have another question—here it is 1980 back at the new car lot, and I sell you a brand-new 1980 model. Since it is your car, how much care are you going to give it? What is going to happen if someone comes up and puts a little dent in it? Are you going to keep the engine tuned? Oil changed? Tires rotated?
Now let’s change the situation. Suppose your dad pays for the car. He puts out the $4,000 it costs for the car. How much care are you going to give it? If someone puts in a little scratch, are you really going to care about it, or are you going to think, “Well, I can always get another car from my dad.” It would really be better for your car, wouldn’t it, if you invested your own money in it.
Now let me ask you an important question. Would you work that long and hard for anything else besides a car? How much, for instance, are you willing to put forth for your mission? Suppose your dad pays the full amount for your two-year mission. How much are you going to put into it? You are going to try, of course, but how much are you really going to care about how that money is spent? I think you might really be surprised. I came to one conclusion on my mission, and I’m not saying that all missionaries who go on missions don’t try to do their work, but those who earn their mission money themselves seem to try much more of the time. I know one elder who saved for six years to go on his mission. He came from a little town in Idaho, and he went all out just to make sure he got his money’s worth. I will never forget when he finished his first year. He said he was going to make a new resolution to make sure he got full value for his money. Instead of starting at 9:00 in the morning to go out and do his missionary work, he resolved to start at 8:00. Instead of getting up at 6:00 to study, he started getting up at 5:00. Why? Because he wanted to get his money’s worth.
Who knows how much it costs on an average to support a missionary in the United States? $8,000? $3,000? $1,500? Well, it’s about $4,500. The United States is a very expensive area to serve on a mission, but many of you could receive your calls to serve here. On my mission I spent about $4,200 during two years—which is close to the average. Now I figure that as teenagers you probably only earn about $2.00 to $2.50 an hour, so it can be really hard to save that much money. Most young people want a car first. How many of you want a car before you are a senior in high school? How much money do you figure that is going to cost you? About $700 to $800? Okay, that’s $800 plus gas and upkeep. Where else could you put that $800 plus if you really wanted to?
I am going to prove to you how simple it is to save for a mission in three or four years, and how easy it is. Look at it this way: most of you here are living at home. How many of you pay rent for the home you are living in right now? How many of you have to pay the food bill in your homes? Where does your money go—for things like dates, cars, clothes, activities at school, and different things like that? Would you be willing to work to save $10, $25, or $50 a month? How many here could save $50 a month? How many hours do you work a week—about 10 or 15? How much do you make a week—$25 or $30? Okay, that is $100 to $120 a month. If you put $50 a month away, you still have that other $50 or $70. It’s really simple when you look at it. All you have got to do is sacrifice a little time to plan financially to save that mission money.
If you want to save $50 a month, that’s about $12.50 a week. How much do you think one baptism is worth to you? To me there is no price on it. And the Lord even told us in the Doctrine and Covenants, “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!” (D&C 18:15.) I know one missionary who said, “I figured out that every baptism I had on my mission cost me nearly $1,200. But if I had to, I would spend $10,000 just to see one person come into the Church because of the joy I received and the joy of sacrifice and the blessings that came to me.”
I can testify to you of the blessings and joy that will come to you as a missionary when you take into the waters of baptism that special family or that worthwhile individual and see the great changes that come into their lives. What else in the world could be more rewarding than these moments? And then another great blessing is coming home and receiving a letter saying, “Elder, I was wondering if you could meet us in the Salt Lake Temple and be one of the witnesses when our family is sealed for all time and eternity.” And I know this is a great blessing because I have twice had the opportunity of doing this since I’ve been home. It really brings tears to your eyes, and you think, “Boy, was it ever worth it!” The time I spent earning that money was well worth what I sacrificed. I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to go on a mission. And I am especially thankful for my Heavenly Father, because I know if it weren’t for his help, I couldn’t have served a mission. I am grateful that I learned how to spend my time and my money wisely. But most important, I know the blessings that come as individuals enter the waters of baptism.