I asked my students what those numbers have to do with them.
They were right in the ball park with their answers.
700 is the average number of missionary applications submitted each week.
4,000 is the approximate number of applications received last week, with a little over half of the applications from young women.
Wow! We are truly living in a blessed time of history.
As often as possible, I point out that Seminary is the best Missionary Preparation class, and in many cases, the ONLY Missionary Preparation class they will have. For the boys, if they choose to serve a mission at 18 years old, they will go straight from Seminary to the MTC (MIssionary Training Center) No more Institute or Missionary Preparation classes during the first year of college.
As one of my students stated, the age change for missions just made a mission feel "real" for him. In other words, a mission is closer than he thinks.
I discussed how this number and the opportunity to serve a mission earlier than anticipated should affect the way they study the scriptures.
This week, we are spending most of our lesson time learning HOW to read and study. We teach that reading the scriptures is a commandment, but all too often, many youth (and adults) are discouraged when they don't understand what they are reading or don't know how to use footnotes, topical guide, etc.
I used the points at the beginning of the New Testament Student Manual to break down scripture study in to 3 areas:
Before, During, and After. This is information I know I will need to refer to all year long as I encourage scripture study.
The most important aspect of Scripture Study is APPLY.
To illustrate this, I had one of my students come up front and I pinned several bags containing healthy food all over his shirt. I asked how this related to scripture study..the food won't do his body any good on the outside, it needs to be eaten, digested, and become part of him to give him nourishment. This is the same with spiritual food. We must ponder, digest, and make it part of us. As President Eyring taught, we must get the doctrine deep inside our hearts.