President Baird’s Message
Ammon is a Book of Mormon Hero and a model missionary. Some of the lessons he teaches modern readers of scripture are found in his first encounter with the Lamanites in Alma chapters 17-19.
Separating from his brothers, Ammon made his journey to the land of Ishmael. He was quickly captured and taken to the king who had power to imprison, enslave, or even kill him. Questioned by the king about his intentions among the Lamanites, Ammon did not say, “It’s tough to be here. I miss my family and my girlfriend. I wish I were back at home in school.” Rather, he responded, “I desire to dwell among this people for a time; yea, and perhaps until the day I die.”
Ammon’s response was pleasing to the king who invited him into the king’s own family. Ammon declined choosing servitude. The king did not enslave Ammon. Ammon CHOSE to be servant to the king.
The Book of Mormon story that follows is a favorite among members of the church, but especially to young men and missionaries. Ammon joins other servants of the king, caring for his flocks. Wicked rivals scatter the king’s flocks and Ammon’s fellow servants “murmur” and “wept” for they knew their lives would be forfeit because of the loss of the flocks. Ammon’s heart, on the other hand, “was swollen with joy” and he encouraged them to “be of good cheer” and he rallied his fellow servants to work. He helped all around him to fulfill their stewardship.
Ammon and his fellow servants gathered the scattered sheep. His companions stood close guard while Ammon alone went to contend with their enemies. Six of them he slew with his sling and stones; their leader he slew with his sword. Others came to contend with him and each lost his arm to the sword of Ammon.
A Hollywood movie might end at that—the hero having defeated the enemy. There would be a great victory celebration. Ammon would be carried on the shoulders of his fellows. There would be a lot of back slapping and plenty of pizza and root beer—all with Ammon as the center of attention. But scripture isn’t Hollywood and there are yet great lessons to be learned.
While his fellow servants go to report to the king, Ammon goes about his duties as a humble servant. When informed that Ammon had gone to prepare the king’s horses and chariot as commanded, King Lamoni was “astonished because of the faithfulness of Ammon.”
As a young man and a young missionary, my attentions were drawn to Ammon’s great feat at the waters of Sebus. As a more mature priesthood leader, I have become ever more appreciative of what happened AFTER the waters of Sebus. Ammon’s focus on his stewardship earned him remarkable praise from the king in verse 9 of Alma chapter 18. “Surely there has not been any servant among all my servants that has been so faithful as this man; for even he doth remember all my commandments to execute them.”
In the story of Ammon, we learn what it means to be trustworthy. Ammon was indeed a Master Teacher as evidenced by the lesson he teaches King Lamoni and the converting power with which it is taught. He used inspired questions, he listened, and he followed the spirit. Ammon demonstrated his Master Planning skills when confronted with a deadly challenge which he turned to eternal opportunity. Ammon was a Master Finder expanding his teaching pool to include all the king’s household, his people, and even his very hantai father and his kingdom. The evidences of Ammon as a follower of the Master are abundant in the story. He was clean, Alma 17:3; he was determined, Alma 17:31; he was united with his fellow servants, Alma 17:32; he was faithful, Alma 18:2,9,10; he was obedient, Alma 18:9-10.
In Elder Holland’s blessing on our mission, he promised a new chapter of higher achievement and greater success. He also reminds us that, “such success can only come from heaven.” Elders and Sisters, if we are to have part in the success, we MUST tap the powers of heaven. Elder Holland’s blessing continued with ways we can do that. We can “honor Him, give praise to Him, vow to be clean and worthy, and diligently labor.” Personally, I have sought guidance from the spirit for ways that I can follow Elder Holland’s council and, thereby, “deserve success”. I have made commitments to our Heavenly Father and asked for His help to become a more Trustworthy missionary.
I love you and pray for you each day.