Doctrine and Covenants Lesson #26
The Kirtland Saints made great sacrifices to serve missions, keep unity among the members, and to support the Church financially. While the Twelve and other men served missions in this era, their wives and children also sacrificed at home.
"The Record of the Twelve, 1835: The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles' Call and 1835 Mission," Ronald K. Esplin, Sharon E. Nielsen, BYU Studies, Vol. 51, no. 1
Here is the story of the Twelve Apostles' first mission. The "Record of the Twelve" contains minutes of the 1835 meeting in which the Twelve Apostles (Thomas B. Marsh, David W. Patten, Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Orson Hyde, William E. McLellin, Parley P. Pratt, Luke Johnson, William Smith, Orson Pratt, John F. Boynton, and Lyman E. Johnson) were called. Then Joseph Smith proposed that their first mission would be to the Eastern States. They left Kirtland in May 1835 and travelled (usually two by two) to New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and Massachusetts, preaching along the way and meeting with groups of Saints, and returned to Kirtland in September 1835. They experienced many trials, as described by Heber C. Kimball: "I suffered severely from fatigue and blistered feet, which were sometimes so sore I could not wear my boots nor proceed without. I was frequently threatened and reviled by unbelievers, and had great difficulty in finding places to sleep and procuring food to eat."
Although Brigham Young's missions required arduous travel, often in the face of poverty, sickness, and harsh weather, Brigham went willingly. "It has never entered into my heart," he later declared, "from the first day I was called to preach the Gospel to this day, when the Lord said, 'Go and leave your family,' to offer the least objection."
His wife, Mary Ann, did not offer any objection either, even when missions and Church service took Brigham from home about half the time during their first five years together.
Missionary Work, in all the world
"The Mormon Missionary: Who Is That Knocking at My Door?," Robert L. Lively Jr., BYU Studies, Vol. 55, no. 1
Robert Lively describes the life of modern missionaries from an outsider's perspective. He conducted hundreds of interviews and compiled them, describing missionaries of the 1940s traveling without purse or scrip, missionaries learning languages, and the experiences of sister missionaries.
"I grew up in a multi-ethnic neighborhood in the San Francisco Bay Area, so from a very early age I was aware of China and things Chinese. In 1961 at Modesto Junior College, I met two international students from Hong Kong and was fascinated by their culture. When I heard a young man from our stake speak about his mission to Hong Kong, I said to myself, 'That's where I would like to go!' When I applied for a mission, I was interviewed by a General Authority, who asked, 'Would you be willing to serve overseas and learn a foreign language?' I replied, 'Yes.' He then asked, 'Which language?' When I answered, 'Chinese,' he started making notes. I was thrilled to be called to the Southern Far East Mission and serve in Taiwan from 1962 to 1965."
The Latter-day Saints' assumption of Christ's great commission—the command to teach and baptize all nations—can hardly be overstated as a motivational force for sending missionaries to far-away places to testify of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. An 1831 revelation authorized and empowered Joseph Smith to send missionaries "unto the ends of the world" and "to lay the foundation of this church, and to bring it forth out of obscurity" (D&C 1:23, 30). What better manifestation could be found of the power of these words than the events of the first decade of Mormonism in Mongolia, perhaps the most obscure place in which the Church has emerged?
B. H. Roberts was a highly complex person, impossible to characterize fully in any simple terms. With respect to his mental capacity and scholarly activities, however, he has frequently been identified as perhaps the most eminent intellectual in the history of the Church. Roberts himself probably would not have flaunted such a distinction, but it is one he may have appreciated hearing. As a young, illiterate British immigrant to Utah, he was bright, eager to learn, and anxious to master all the knowledge he could. He attended Deseret University (predecessor to the University of Utah). He graduated at the top of his class. Mainly, however, he was self-taught, reading everything he could get his hands on and eventually becoming one of the most learned men in Utah. As a scholar, writer, and Church leader, he showed all the characteristics of one who loved the life of the mind, thirsted for both secular and spiritual knowledge, and was willing to discuss all the implications of anything he learned.