August 4, 2014
This week was certainly a busy one. On Tuesday we had an all-day zone conference with President Hall, which was really needed. Since the changes to Preach My Gospel in June, we’ve been trying to find better ways to teach lesson five (“Laws and Ordinances”) more effectively, and President Hall is an incredible example of an excellent teacher. We were able to spend about 8 hours with him, all of it focused on teaching the priesthood and eternal marriage. It was a little awkward at first, because President definitely slipped into his dad mode, as well as his marriage counselor mode, and we all felt like we were in a marriage prep class for about two hours. But we’re here to learn, and that’s all that matters.
I figured I’d share a few things I learned that I really appreciated.
The entire purpose of missionary work isn’t simply to bring people to the church to get baptized. We serve because we want to see people return to their Father in Heaven, to be sealed as a family, and to receive all the blessings of the Gospel. It’s all about beginning with the end in mind, which was one of the themes of our conference. Are we starting to teach, just to teach? Or are we teaching with a focus on eternity, on helping others increase their faith and their obedience, as well as their desire to make and keep sacred covenants? Hopefully it’s the latter. I loved a quote by Elder Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles that was shared, “Missionary work is all about gathering people out of the world, ennobling them, and enabling them eventually to dwell with God forever.”
An idea that I’ve been thinking a lot about lately is consecration. Not just the consecration of what you have, but who you are, to the Lord and His kingdom. We talked a lot about that too. The decisions we make as missionaries right now truly impacts our future, and the lives of our children and grandchildren, as well as our families back at home. I know that what I’ve learned over the past 11 months will prove integral to raising a family and having a successful marriage down the road. We watched a the video “Follow Me, and I Will Make You Fishers of Men,” based on Matthew 4 (watch it here: https://www.lds.org/bible-videos/videos/follow-me-and-i-will-make-you-fishers-of-men?lang=eng
), and discussed the differences between the words “come” and “follow.” It was something I hadn’t really thought about in depth before, and it was good to have President share his thoughts with us, and how it applied to us as missionaries. The short of it is that ‘come’ requires sacrifice, and ‘follow’ requires consecration. Sacrifice is well and good – we all need to sacrifice in order to really live the Gospel and receive the blessings of it. We are called to “straightway leave [our] nets,” or leave the things of the world behind us. “Follow” is more about consecration – giving it all up for the Lord, knowing that His will is much better than ours. Consecration, or giving your will to the Lord, allows us to call upon the powers of Heaven. I’ve begun studying this idea this week, and am loving the insight I’ve been receiving.
During conference, I was thinking about a fireside at SVU from a few years ago, where Elder Ritchie and his wife spoke. He explained to us the formula of success, or “The Easter Formula” which has really helped me stay focused on my mission. Here are the two formulas:
1. Believe that there is a God.
2. Believe that He wants us to be like Him.
3. Believe that the Lord has a plan.
4. He (Heavenly Father) knew that we would fall short.
5. So He gave us Easter (the atonement and resurrection).
The applicable formula is one that I’ve really been thankful for over the past couple years.
1. Get up early.
2. Work hard.
3. Get an education and study.
4. Find oil.
5. Make your mark, leave a legacy.
6. Be prepared to serve, build the kingdom of God, make a difference, and give back.
Finding oil is all about using your skills and talents, something that I’m really appreciative of. If you, as a missionary, use things you love to share the Gospel, and you’ll be able to enjoy the work, and do good work. It takes some trial and error, but it’s definitely worth it.
We had a bit of a scare with Sister Finau, but saw some incredible blessings (don’t freak out!). She’d been sick for about a week, and was finally convinced to go to the hospital. Two days later she came home, minus and appendix and plus some antibiotics for a pretty bad kidney infection. That’s the scary part. The awesome part is the series of blessings she was a recipient of. While she was at the hospital, her initial nurse in the ER is a member of the Solemint ward, Sister Ziegler, which brought a lot of comfort while she was having tests run. Another blessing was the speed with which the surgery was able to happen. If I listed all the little blessings that she saw, and we’ve seen over the past week or so, it would be a record length email. I’m so thankful she’s home safe and sound, and in one relative piece. She had me scared for a while.
This past Sunday was fast and testimony meeting, and it was a real treat. Bishop Bradford had challenged all of the members of the ward council to bear their testimony during the meeting. I loved hearing each of the auxiliary leaders share their testimonies, as we don’t often get to hear from them (especially if they’re in the elders quorum, and we’re in Relief Society). Sister Ryane’s had me in tears. I love her so much, and she’s such an incredible example of strength and love to me. No matter what life has thrown at her, she’s kept strong and faithful, and really understands the power of forgiveness and charity.
We issued a challenge to our ward for the month of August, which I know will really help them. Our challenge is to a) bring their scriptures to all meetings, b) mark their scriptures during meetings, talks, and personal study, and to c) have daily personal and family scripture study. I’ve seen such blessings from regular scripture study. My favorite part of the day is definitely my personal study at 8:00 each morning. It’s the time that I get to meet with the Lord and learn from Him through the scriptures and other materials like the Ensign, my patriarchal blessing, notes from conferences and meetings, and especially from the Holy Ghost.
Our efforts with the Family History Open House is rolling steadily onward. Has anyone used the FamilySearch Memories App? It looks so cool! You’re able to immediately upload photos, take videos and vocal recordings to add to Family Tree, and share them on social media sites like pinterest, facebook, twitter, and instagram. It’s incredible to see how family history is keeping up with the times, and becoming more user friendly and accessible! I love it!
Til next week,