Gary Arnoldson talks about the sweet service of missionary work at BYU Devotional


Students and faculty filled the JSB Auditorium to hear Gary Arnoldson, controller at the David O. McKay School of Education, speak at the Devotional Tuesday, May 14.

Arnoldson explained that one of his favorite candies is M&M’s and his favorite topic is missionary work so he entitled his remarks, “M&M’s of Missionary Minded Members.”

The first M&M is “miraculous conversion.”

“It is the start of the sweetest missionary desire,” Arnoldson said.

His family was inactive for many years and they would often go camping and hiking instead of going to church. As a teenager,

he worked hard and got a good job where he was tasked with vaccinating turkeys.

Gary Arnoldson relates M&M’s to missionary work for listeners. (Photo by Sarah Hill)

One day as he was vaccinating he threw a turkey in the truck and it came back out and hit him in the back of the arm which caused him to vaccinate himself with the needle.

“The doctor said he would have to take three fingers off to save my hand,” Arnoldson said. “I’m very attached to those fingers.”

At that time he said he began to pray.

“Probably the first sincere prayer of my life,” Arnoldson said.

He went on to say that his miraculous conversion was nothing more than an answer to simple prayer. He then encouraged those thinking about serving a mission to pray and ask God about serving a mission.

“It is important to know what the Lord wants of you,” Arnoldson said.

The second M&M is “a marvelous work and a wonder.”

“The Church is covering the whole earth,” Arnoldson said. “We are not only witnesses to it happening, but (we are) participating in it.”

He emphasized that the Book of Mormon is the most important part of this marvelous work and wonder by quoting President Ezra Taft Benson.

“God will hold us accountable if we do not move the Book of Mormon in a monumental way,” President Benson said. “[It will] feed the needs of a spiritually famished world.”

The third M&M is “magnify.”

Arnoldson remembers coming home from his mission feeling like he served with all of his heart, might, mind and strength.

“Forty years later my mission has not been dimmed by time,” Arnoldson said. “If it only brought salvation to one soul, me, it was worth it.”

The fourth and final M&M is “money management.”

“The Lord expects us to do all we can to prepare financially and not leave it up to someone else,” Arnoldson said. “Any young person who comes up with a desire to serve can definitely find funding.”

Arnoldson and his wife decided that they would save for their sons to go on missions and also to pay off their house. What they didn’t plan for was their daughter’s desire to serve a mission at the same time as their son.

From the time their daughter left to the time she returned, they did not have to make one full mission payment for her because members, family and others would consistently bring them money which allowed them to cover the cost of her mission.

“When Daina got home I thought we would get rich off these missions. Not one more dime ever came in, but what a blessing those donations were,” Arnoldson said. “I can’t help but feel it was because we had planned and saved for many years, and the Lord did the rest of what we couldn’t do.”

As he and his wife prepare for a couple’s mission, he is challenged by many of the things he did as a young man, but he knows what the focus of missionary work is.

“Missionary work is exactly what it is: hard, scary, consuming, exciting and fulfilling,” Anderson said. “However, just like the candy M&M’s that come in so many colors but all taste the same, missionary work looks different for every person but all leads to the same thing—bringing souls unto Christ.”

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