Recently I had the opportunity to meet with the sisters and elders who were preparing to enter the mission field at the Preston Missionary Training Centre. I showed them a picture taken from my experience as a young missionary in the Austria Vienna Mission. It was a photo of me stood in a vineyard with the caption above “labouring in the vineyard” which led to a discussion about one of my favourite parts of the Book of Mormon, the allegory of Olive Tree as recorded in Jacob Chapter 5. In the allegory, the House of Israel (the olive tree) is scattered across the earth (the vineyard)  and then after a period of apostasy the Lord of the Vineyard who is Jesus Christ gathers them safely home.
My favourite section of this chapter starts with verse 70. The Lord of the Vineyard sends his servant, identified in Doctrine and Covenants 103:21 as the prophet Joseph Smith, along with the other ‘few’ servants to labour in the vineyard with all their might for this last time. This signifies the beginning of the dispensation of the fullness of times and the ongoing restoration where we labour together alongside the Lord of the Vineyard, even Jesus Christ.
What a wonderful insight and comfort to know that we are not working alone, nor is this the missionaries work or just the members work, it is the work of the Lord and He has sent us all, missionary and member to gather Israel. Prophets and Apostles of this dispensation have repeatedly told us that “now is the time for members and missionaries to come together (...) [and] labour in the Lord’s vineyard to bring souls unto Him” .
President Russell M. Nelson spoke of these great gathering work in these latter days at the worldwide youth devotional in June 2018. He said:
“these surely are the latter days, and the Lord is hastening His work to gather Israel. That gathering is the most important thing taking place on earth today. Nothing else compares in magnitude, nothing else compares in importance, nothing else compares in majesty. And if you choose to, if you want to, you can be a big part of it. You can be a big part of something big, something grand, something majestic!
“When we speak of the gathering, we are simply saying this fundamental truth: every one of our Heavenly Father’s children, on both sides of the veil, deserves to hear the message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.”
In verses 52 to 68 the Lord of the Vineyard explains the work that will be involved in the gathering or grafting in the branches of the olive tree. He calls upon the servants to “dig about them and prune them and dung them once more… that all may be nourished once again for the last time” . During our discussion together, I asked those young missionaries to describe in one word what this combined effort of gathering Israel as missionaries and members working together looks like. Those words included terms such as love, kindness, friendship, trust, understanding, acceptance, happiness & joy.
Alma & Amulek in the city of Ammonihah are a great example. Alma, the missionary, builds upon the teachings of Amulek just as our full-time missionaries are set apart and trained to do, but it is Amulek (the member) who gains the attention of the people.
I testify that as we accept the invitation from the Lord to labour side by side with Him, with each other in this great gathering, we will become more like the true disciples of Christ, and experience that blessing of joy that He has promised.
 Jacob 5: 14
 Jacob 5: 72
 Thomas S Monson, Welcome to Conference, Oct 2013.
 Jacob 5: 63-64
 Alma 10:12 (See Chapter 9-14)
 Jacob 5:75 ; Jeffrey R Holland, Be with and strengthen them April 2018 General Conference