From Rugby Pitch to Mission Field
Missionary service requires sacrifice. There will always be something you leave behind when you respond to the prophet’s call to serve.
Those who follow the game of rugby know that the New Zealand All Blacks, a name given because of the color of their uniform, is the most celebrated rugby team ever. To be selected for the All Blacks in New Zealand would be comparable to playing for a football Super Bowl team or a World Cup soccer team.
In 1961, at age 18 and holding the Aaronic Priesthood, Sidney Going was becoming a star in New Zealand rugby. Because of his remarkable abilities, many thought he would be chosen the very next year for the national All Blacks rugby team.
At age 19, in this critical moment of his ascending rugby career, Sid declared that he would forgo rugby to serve a mission. Some called him crazy. Others called him foolish. They protested that his opportunity in rugby might never come again.
For Sid it was not what he was leaving behind—it was the opportunity and responsibility ahead. He had a priesthood duty to offer two years of his life to declare the reality of the Lord Jesus Christ and His restored gospel. Nothing—not even a chance to play on the national team, with all the acclaim it would bring—would deter him from that duty.
He was called by a prophet of God to serve in the Western Canadian Mission. Forty-eight years ago this month, 19-year-old Elder Sidney Going left New Zealand to serve as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Sid told me of an experience he had on his mission. It was evening, and he and his companion were just about to return to their apartment. They decided to visit one more family. The father let them in. Elder Going and his companion testified of the Savior. The family accepted a Book of Mormon. The father read all night. In the next week and a half he read the entire Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. A few weeks later the family was baptized.
A mission instead of a place on the New Zealand All Blacks team? Sid responded, “The blessing of [bringing others] into the gospel far outweighs anything [you] will ever sacrifice.”
You’re probably wondering what happened to Sid Going following his mission. Most important: an eternal marriage to his sweetheart, Colleen; five noble children; and a generation of grandchildren. He has lived his life trusting in his Father in Heaven, keeping the commandments, and serving others.
And rugby? After his mission Sid Going became one of the greatest halfbacks in All Blacks history, playing for 11 seasons and serving for many years as captain of the team.
How good was Sid Going? He was so good that training and game schedules were changed because he would not play on Sunday. Sid was so good the Queen of England acknowledged his contribution to rugby. He was so good a book was written about him entitled Super Sid.
What if those honors had not come to Sid after his mission? One of the great miracles of missionary service in this Church is that Sid Going and thousands just like him have not asked, “What will I get from my mission?” but rather, “What can I give?”
Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
It Happens in the Family
It is here in our families, in an atmosphere of love, where we see and appreciate in a more personal way the divine attributes of His spirit children. It is here in our families where our hearts can be softened and in humility we desire to change, to become more childlike. It is a process by which we can become more Christlike.
Jean A. Stevens, first counselor in the Primary general presidency
The love the Savior described is an active love. It is not manifested through large and heroic deeds but rather through simple acts of kindness and service.
Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Sharing Your Testimony
Teaching someone else what we know strengthens our own testimony as we build that of another. When you give someone money or food, you will have less. However, when you share your testimony, it strengthens and increases for both the bearer and the hearer.
Elder Cecil O. Samuelson of the Seventy
Love Is Powerful
Love is a powerful influence in our hearts in our effort to be obedient. Love for our Savior inspires us to keep His commandments. Love for a mother, father, or spouse can also inspire our obedience to gospel principles. The way we treat others reflects to what extent we follow our Savior in loving one another. We show our love for Him when we stop to assist others, when we are “perfectly honest and upright in all things” [Alma 27:27], and when we make and keep covenants.
Elder Walter F. González of the Seventy
Caring for the Poor
We honor those innovative giants whom the Lord raised up to organize and administer the institutional outreach to needy members of His Church. We honor those who in our day reach out in countless and often silent ways to be kind to the poor, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, minister to the sick, and visit the captive. …
The work of caring for one another and being kind to the poor is a sanctifying work, commanded of the Father and divinely designed to bless, refine, and exalt His children. May we follow the Savior’s counsel to the certain lawyer in the parable of the good Samaritan: “Go, and do thou likewise” [Luke 10:37].
Bishop H. David Burton, Presiding Bishop
This conference was especially meaningful to me, because I’m leaving to the Missionary Training Center in a couple months. All of the talks about serving and helping others really touched my heart. I know that the speakers were inspired in the messages they gave. I am grateful for the opportunity I had to watch conference this April, and I will do everything I can to apply what they said into my life and become a better person because of it.
Joseph C., 18, Utah, USA
This conference reminded me that not only can I help others when I serve, but I can also get the spiritual edification that I may be seeking. Jesus Christ Himself served His fellow men whenever He could. Sometimes in my life, I am so wrapped up in the things that I am currently involved in that I forget about those around me who may need my help. I know that God wants me to serve others.
Laney W., 14, Missouri, USA