Tuesday, November 18, 2014

November 2014

Elder Hamula visited our mission and led zone conferences, a fireside for stake and ward councils, a dinner and FHE for senior missionaries, and our mission leadership council.  As we discussed his training during leadership council, we distilled the training into the plan of action outlined below. (Front: Sisters Goaslind, Judd, Pearson, Ballard, Clark, Jin, Syphus, Alder, and Heaton; Middle: Elders Holmes, Erekson, Meyer, Rodgers, Pres. & Sis. Eaton, Elders Russell, Wilcox, Gardner, and Quackenbush; Back: Elders Freeman, Dold, Thomas, Tuimaualuga, Downing, Elder Hamula, Elders Ludlow, Eliason, Berkheimer, Kim, and Bennett)

Expect Miracles
Five Righteous Routines for Exercising Faith

Elder Hamula inspired us all to exercise greater faith—the faith to succeed.   “When you give your best, you can expect miracles,” he promised.  As you exercise faith by internalizing these five righteous routines, expect miracles!

Ø  Every day and week, set inspired goals that stretch you and focus your efforts.  Elder Hamula taught us that “goal setting and planning are acts of faith.  If you’re sincere, they draw more effort out of you. Goal setting is intended to draw out of you full purpose of heart, full consecration.  The goal is your consecration, your full exercise of effort.  Not until you give in that way is grace extended to you to succeed.”  When you set goals in faith, you own them and care about them, whether they are personal goals to acquire the character of Christ or goals relating to key indicators.  They inspire you to do things you otherwise would not have done.
Ø  Study the life and teachings of Christ to become more consecrated.  “If you really want to go to the next level, individually or collectively, you need to consecrate yourself wholly and completely unto him,” Elder Hamula taught.  “A good number of you are still holding on to what you were.  Not until you are willing to give it all away do you get the most out of this experience.”  As you study the four gospels and 3 Nephi 11 – 27 over the next three months, ask yourself how you can become more fully consecrated.  Keep and study journal and write down ways you can live as he lived. 
Ø  Account to God daily and weekly for what kind of witness you have been.  Elder Hamula taught that “contacting earnestly and prayerfully everywhere you go is the price you pay to be trusted with the kind of people who will be baptized.”  Remember that “as in teaching, your efforts in finding will be effective if you are guided by the Spirit.  Have faith that you will know what to teach and what to do to find those who will receive you” (156).  Elder Hamula urged us to “stop talking yourself out of the first impression you get.  You are too worried about whether it’s you or Him.  Go with what you have.”  Each night “as you give the Lord an accounting of your day’s activities” (95), include an accounting of what kind of witness you have been that day.  And each week during the sacrament, ponder how well you have represented Jesus Christ during the past week and how you can better represent him the following week. 
Ø  Focus on people as you plan with faith, so that planning becomes a revelatory experience.  Elder Hamula said, “You have faith to be here, but you need to develop the faith to succeed here.  You do that by utilizing the faith-promoting tool of regular planning to draw out of you everything that there is to draw out.  As you utilize that tool and give all that you are, the miracle comes.”  Use those tools to focus on people, not just time slots.  Every night and every week, follow the 12 steps from page 3 of the planner to strategize about how to help each of your investigators progress and how to move the work in the area forward.  Talk about their needs throughout the day and soon your eye will become more single to God’s glory.

Ø  Update area books daily and use them regularly as a finding tool.  “The area book is a reflection of your planning and your faith,” Elder Hamula said.  “When the area book is being kept up and used regularly, there tends to be greater faith and greater outcomes.”  As you make your area book “the lasting record of your day-to-day efforts”—a record that is “neat, current and accurate” (140)—it becomes an invaluable time capsule for future missionaries.  Use the area book daily as a source of inspiration as you seek new investigators and help current investigators and less-active members progress.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

October 2014

     Mission Leadership Council was on the Sabbath Day and receiving revelation through Church Attendance. We tried a photo in front of the mission home this time. Front: Elder Davis, Sis. & Pres. Eaton, Elder Rodgers; 2nd Row: Sisters Alder, Syphus, Clark, and Taylor; 3rd Row: Sisters Muir, Goaslind, Judd, and Heaton; 4th Row: Elders Maxwell, Russell, Garner, Myers, Meyer, and Grandstaff; 5th Row: Elders Berkheimer, Bennett, Kim, Ludlow, Grant, and Dold;Back: Elders Thomas, Downing, Freeman, and Erekson

     Our October departing missionaries are front: Sisters Taylor & Olson, Sis. & Pres. Eaton, Sisters Lee & Hopkins, and Elder Davis; back: Elders Garner, Grandstaff, Bushman, Warren, Jenkins, Bodily, Butt, and Myers

     Our incoming missionaries are Front: Sisters Loeak & Singer, Pres. & Sister Eaton, Sisters Davis and Frischkneckt; Middle: Elders Nelson, Allen, Brice, Lee-Wen, Li, and Nelson; Back: Elders Vuyk, Willardsen, Chambers, Davidson, Mousser, and Polson

     President Eaton's article from the October edition of the Mission Newsletter:

 Simple Formula to Facilitate Conversion

     I always enjoy reading your letters, but these last few weeks have been especially delightful as you’ve focused on helping investigators seek learning by faith. I particularly love how you are helping them discover principles in the Book of Mormon that can bless their lives.

     So what will you do personally to sustain these changes? How will you make sure that helping investigators act to seek learning by faith—especially using the Book of Mormon to do so—is something that becomes engrained in what we do? What can we do now so that missionaries in this mission a year from now are still helping investigators discover truths from the Spirit for themselves?

     Let me suggest a three-step formula to apply to every investigator for the rest of your mission. If you use it daily, I believe it will soon become a lasting part of you and of this mission. I am encouraging zone leaders and district leaders to use these questions with you about one investigator each week during your calls. The purpose of their calls is not to audit or inspect your plans but to collaborate with you and help you help your investigators. Here are the questions:

1. What is each investigator’s real need?

2. What doctrine or principle—especially one from First Nephi—can best meet their need?

3. What questions can we ask to help them discover those truths for themselves?

     Identifying real needs. Preach My Gospel repeatedly says that we must teach to meet the needs of our investigators. But to do that, we must know what those needs really are. Occasionally, an investigator’s greatest needs are obvious, but often, they are hidden. As Preach My Gospel states:

     "Sometimes people’s concerns are like an iceberg. Only a small portion is visible above the surface. These concerns can be complex and difficult to resolve. For this reason you need to follow the Spirit and respond in a manner best suited to the situation. Pray for the gift of discernment and follow your impressions. Heavenly Father knows the hearts and experiences of all people (the complete iceberg) and will help you know what is best for each person."

     When you help others resolve their concerns, first seek to understand their concerns by asking questions and listening. Rely on the Spirit to help you know how to help them resolve their concerns.

     To this analysis, I might add that we need to look beyond behavioral issues, such as drinking alcohol or not attending Church, to discern what mistaken belief or lack of belief gives rise to the behavior. Recently, I taught a wonderful less-active member with the assistants. What stood between him and the temple seemed to be smoking. But as we asked questions, we learned of some deeper concerns that helped explain why he had not yet been able to overcome his habit. First, after smoking for over 40 years, he doubted it was possible for him to stop. Second, his lack of faith in his ability to overcome that habit kept him from truly pouring out his heart in prayer, he said. He didn’t want to kneel down and really pray because he was afraid of what God would tell him. Yes, overcoming his smoking habit was a need, but to know how best to meet that need, we had to understand these deeper issues that were beneath the surface.

     Identifying the principle that can help. When we discover our investigators’ real needs with the help of the Spirit, we can then ponder what doctrine or principle can best help them meet their need and overcome their problem. We can point them to principles anywhere in the scriptures, but when we can draw them from the first few chapters of the Book of Mormon, it will be especially helpful. It will allow us to give them a reading assignment that can jump start their reading of the entire Book of Mormon. Certainly there will be times where we will include other scriptures to help them. But like most of you, as I have searched First Nephi recently for principles to help our investigators, I have been impressed. The Lord inspired Nephi and Mormon to fill those early chapters with examples of such critical principles as walking faith, doing hard things with God’s help, resisting the mockery of the world to receive God’s sweetest blessings, making sacrifices to receive blessings, and obtaining confirming revelation from God for ourselves.

     Helping them discover the principles. This final step is beginning to come naturally already for some of you. You have learned that if you can help investigators discover truths for themselves, they will retain and cherish them so much more than if we simply teach the doctrine or principle to them. Thus, coming up with simple but inspired questions is a critical step in the process of helping investigators act and seek learning by faith.

     Occasionally, you may do this when using a scripture chain with investigators during a lesson. For example, before studying 1 Nephi 4:6, the story of the brother of Jared and the 16 stones, and D&C 50:24 together, you might ask your invest to ponder this question: “What can these scriptures teach us about walking in faith?” More often, you will give investigators a reading assignment that includes several chapters from First Nephi, with a question that applies to more than one verse or chapter. You might assign 1 Nephi 1 – 5 and ask, “What can we learn from the example of Lehi and Nephi about receiving direction from God in our lives?” (Incidentally, that last question could be a pattern or formula you could use to create many other questions: What can we learn from the example of ___ in these chapters about [and then mention the principle or topic you want them to ponder]?)

     This summer, Elder Bednar told mission presidents, “If we always do what we have always done, then we will always get what we have always gotten. May I suggest that what we have always done and always gotten were good in their time but need to improve as the Lord is quickening the pace.” I genuinely believe that helping investigators discover principles from the Book of Mormon for themselves is a change that will help us get results we have never gotten before. I pray this simple three-step pattern will help you cement some of the wonderful changes so that we can help bring about more lasting conversions in this mission than we have ever seen before.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

September 2014

     Mission Leadership Council--Front: Sisters Clark, Syphus, Muir, Hehl, Sis. & Pres. Eaton, Sisters Wolfe, Alder, and Judd; Middle: Elders Erekson, Meyer, Grandstaff, Garner, Tibbits, Rodgers, Davis, Russell, and Ludlow; Back: Elders Kim, Grant, Maxwell, Young, Jenkins, Cannon, Cook, Thomson, and Freeman

     Departing missionaries--Front: Sisters Cox and Wright, Pres. & Sis. Eaton, Sisters Nicholes, Hutchendorf, and Dudek; Back: Elders Gunnell, Fruehan, Young, Bonner, Chandler, and Solomon

     Incoming Missionaries--Front: Sisters Dodson & Jin, with Sis. & Pres. Eaton, Sisters Webb, Soliz, and Goodman; 2nd Row: Elders Ha, Downs, John, Rodarte, Orr, Watterson, and Jeppeson; 3rd Row: Elders John, Chappell, Anderson, Herbert, and McDowell; Back: Elders Moon, Gonzalez, Brown, and Snyder

     This month we held a specialized training on how to really dig in and get the most out of personal scripture study. We focused on identifying principles we can apply to our lives, but we also talked about everything from the value of the Bible Dictionary to footnotes to patterns and symbolism.  Missionaries also got to preview the new film "Meet the Mormons."

     Each week missionaries share miracles and blessings from applying things they have been learning to their work.  I've included a few below:

Elder Ludlow:
        On Saturday when we stopped by he had a question about Jesus Christ visiting the Americas. So we turned to the scriptures and started explaining some of the background to the story and read some verses. As the lesson went on I felt like I needed to share verse 3 with him (3 Nephi 11:3). As he read it, he had a surprised look on his face. We asked him what he thought of it and he told us, "this explains exactly what I have been feeling. When I receive answers to prayers it is never something big, it's always a small feeling that pierces my heart and is undeniable." He was so impressed that the Book of Mormon could relate so much to how he has been feeling. He told us that the book has to be true! We were so happy that he was able to open up like that and discover important principles himself. I am super excited to start using the Book of Mormon more in depth during lessons to help investigators solve answers to concerns and questions themselves.

Elder Johnson:
        I LOVE having investigators prepare before lessons. When we taught Becky about the 1st Vision she reported that she had begun following the example of Joseph Smith and praying to know if this was the true Church! Before we even asked her to! And then she pulled us aside on Sunday to tell us that the Holy Ghost answered her prayers, and the she knew this was all true "to the core of her being!"

Sister Carlin:
        This past week I have been really learning how much power comes from me asking questions when I have my personal studies. I have come to find that when I ask questions before and during I study that I am more willing to learn by faith through out the whole day. It takes great humility but I know that by learning be faith is when we really stretch and grow.

Elder Russell:
       I've been doing principle extraction from the Book of Mormon the past couple of days and weeks and it is really changing the way I see the Book of Mormon! It's really helpful with teaching investigators! I find a principle and write it down in and study about it and I swear it always comes in a lesson that we have in the next couple of days. It's been amazing to see how many questions we can actually answer with the Book of Mormon!

Elder Cook:
        We got to witness the Book of Mormon training completely change someone's heart. Bro S came to church this week for the first time in 23 years. We have only had three lessons with him, but those lessons were focused and powerful and designed to help him read the Book of Mormon by giving inspired questions to ponder along with the reading assignment. On Friday we had a church tour and we were sitting in the Chapel and I asked him what has been pushing him to do this. He held up the Book of Mormon and said, "When you read this book..." then tears filled his eyes and he couldn't finish his sentence.

Hermana Hill:
        Our investigator Marisa hadn't really been progressing and was kind of waiting around for her husband to want to do this with her. We had her start the Book of Mormon from the beginning again. We assigned the first two chapters, with the question of how Lehi was the example and the rock of his family, even though his sons were rebelling and they had to face some really hard afflictions. We asked her to think about how she could also be the example and rock for her family. When we came back two days later she had read three chapters instead of just the first two. We had a good discussion about the assignment we left her and really emphasized that with the Lord's help we can do hard things. She said she was going to try to read with her husband at night before bed, because he doesn't really like to read and she doesn't think he would start reading on his own. I don't know if they were actually able to do that together, but something good happened between Friday and Sunday because their whole family came to church. All five of them came for all three hours.

Sister Ballard:
        I am finding that asking questions is more of a frame of mind. It's changing our mindset into always searching, seeking, being hungry for knowledge. Knowledge whether it is about the gospel, the area, people's concerns, etc. is good to obtain. Asking questions help keep everyone involved and when we ask questions, we invest ourselves in people. Questions equal investment, and I am finding that our members, less actives, and especially investigators that ask questions are so much more involved in learning the gospel. I pray I can continue to figure out how to help people and myself gain and maintain this mindset.

Elder Bennett:
        We also had a great experience with a member friend! Our investigator Victoria has been interested for awhile now, and just has not found the motivation to fully embrace the gospel. We brought Sis R with us, and she took Victoria under her wing! She told her that she would love to come up and study from the book of Mormon with her, get her meals after Victoria's surgery, and just be there for her. She went up Sunday to study, and she actually resolved a lot of Victoria’s concerns right on the spot! That is what member work should be like!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

August 2014

     This month will be a photo journal, beginning with our departing missionaries! (Front: Sisters Womack, Margaritis, Hansen, Casper, with Sis. & Pres. Eaton; Back:  Elders Voracek, Dymock, Howell, Bradford, McKendrick, Fitzgerald, Beckstrand, and Carpenter.)

     Our August incoming missionaries are Sisters Lee, Hill, Moore, Baxter, Hill, Sasagi, with Sis. & Pres. Eaton in front.  Elders Palo, Clauson, Shreeve, Graham, Wagstaff, Anderton, Bakes, and Kelly are behind.

     The rest are candids from zone conference.  Thanks to Elder Nowlin for serving as the photographer.

 Some birthday missionaries--Sisters Swapp, Peterson, Copen, and Keele, and Elders Batchelor, Anderton, Hisita, Bonner, Brown, Solomon, Rodgers, Oliphant, Pennington, and Lund

Singing during a break--Sisters Lee, Peacock, Wright, Biggs, Henderson, Barlow, Halford and Elder Patchett

More break singing--Sisters Henderson, Barlow, Halford, and Elders Turney, Patchett, and Kelly with Pres. Eaton

 Lunch with Elders Anderson, Coombs, Tavo, Nguyen, and Downing

Learning by faith--Sisters Flamm, Kirschner, Ah-Hong, Sasagi, Walker (backs of Sisters Moore, Cass, Mecate, and Eaton)

Learning by faith--Sisters Hill, Evans-Bottoms, Hills, Hanson, Yim, Sharp, Hutchendorf, and Hehl

Learning by faith--Elders Walters, Cannon, Fruehan, Bulloch, and Curtis


More lunchtime!

Elders Loveland, Zamora, Capener, Dold, Meyer, Grandstaff, Brown, and Berkheimer

Group discussions--Sisters Eaton, Hopkins, Ripplinger, Creager, Cox, and Ballard

More group discussions--Sisters Taylor, Hill, Lee, Parry, Simmons, and Goble

Elders Carson, Johnson, Berkheimer, Young, Brown, Gunnell, and Wagstaff

(from wall) Sisters Sonasi, Pearson, Clement, Ballard, Creager, Ripplinger, Hopkins, Goble, Simmons, and Taylor; (from wall) Bro. Eaton, Elders Goodell and Olson

Lunch again!

Elders Myers, Buchannan, Palo, Hardt, Lemmon, and Jenkins

Sisters Dudek, Walker, Alder, Wolfe, Muir, Judd, Killingsworth, Olson, and Dubon; Elders Caputo, Bennett, (hidden), Andrasko, Tima, Rogers, Tui, and Noh

(near to far) Elders Jenkins, Lemmon, Hardt, and Palo

Elders Palo, Andrasko, Freeman, Bennett, Tima, Caputo, and Hardt

Front group: Sisters Weldon, Muir, Goaslind, and Jeffrey; Back group: Sisters Alder, Sheffer, Walker, and Dudek

Sisters Olson, Heaton, Dolan and Wolfe

Elder Maxwell, Sisters Alder, Muir, Judd, Wolfe, and Pres. Eaton shifting the burden to help investigators discover

Singing for our supper--Elders Rogers,Spillsbury, Maxwell, Green, Jenkins, Hardt, Palo, Andrasko, Tui, Tima, Grant and Bodily

Back row: Elders Albrecht and Kim; Front (near to far): Bro. Eaton, Elders Goodell, Olson (rest hidden)

Sunday, July 20, 2014

July 2014

     Elder Nowlin writes up new convert experiences each month for our missionary newsletter.  The following is one from last month.

My Sheep Hear My Voice
Amy A., New Convert

    Tuesday, May 20 had not gone well. Sisters Goble and Sharp had been on splits that day. Scheduled meetings fell through; searching the area for someone to teach, found shut doors, people turning away, and worse. Disappointed, they both felt they should return home. (2 Cor 6:4)

     As they walked through the complex they saw a young boy playing in the grass not far from their apartment. “Do you go to church,” asked the Sisters. “Yes, my grandmother takes me and our God is greater.” (Matt 21:16) Sister Sharp responds, “Oh yeah? Who is that up there?” “That's my grandmom.”  “Do you believe in Jesus Christ?” “Yes, yes” responded Amy A. Several scriptures were shared between the missionaries and Amy as they each buoyed each other up. The spirit was telling Amy to accept them. She had been praying to find the true Church and for guidance in her life. An appointment was set for the following day.

     Sisters Sharp and Taylor planned to teach the Restoration; as they taught they asked if Amy would be baptized if she found the Church was true. Amy was a little unsure; “I understand what you are teaching about Jesus Christ, but why do you worship Joseph Smith?” “Oh, no. We don't worship Joseph Smith.” The sisters went on to straighten out the confusion. “Yes, I want to be baptized. When?” “Let's set a date of June 14.”

     Saturday they toured the Ridgecrest Chapel. “I was directed by the Lord God to study in John this morning and in there it talks about other sheep I have. What does this mean”, asked Amy.  Wonderfully surprised, the sisters taught of the Book of Mormon people. They ended the tour in the chapel and while there, asked Amy to give a closing prayer. With tears she thanked Father for sending Joseph Smith to restore the gospel.

     Sunday in church Amy sat near where she had prayed the previous day. She loved Sacrament. “May I have a Book of Mormon?” The sisters gave her one.

     The Book of Mormon was the lesson for that Wednesday; again they were pleasantly surprised for Amy had prepared a list of reasons showing why the Book of Mormon was true, with supporting scriptures from both the Bible and Book of Mormon!

     Their next lesson was on the Plan of Salvation, Law of Chastity, and Word of Wisdom. While teaching the Word of Wisdom Amy giggled; she told them how she had come to stop using alcohol 20 years ago and that she had given up coffee some three weeks earlier.

     Amy A. is a young looking 46. She grew up in Catbalogan, Philippines. Her mom and dad knew of and believed in Jesus Christ. They did not attend any church so Amy grew up with little knowledge of the Savior. She married an American serviceman when she was 18 and the two of them later were transferred to Hawaii. One evening several of his friends were over for a party; her husband “was drunk”, and she felt “the voice of the Lord came to me telling me to send those people to go home so you can care for your husband.” They left and Amy and her husband retired. “Around five in the morning the voice comes to me again telling me to throw away the alcohol and said 'stop drinking alcohol because your body is the temple of the Lord.' The voice also told me 'don't smoke', and 'don't drink coffee'”. (D&C 89)

     As she studied the Bible she learned that service was important, and that tithing was a command. She understood how to give service, but how could she tithe, and to whom? She decided to fulfill both requirements by saving ten percent of whatever she made, and after the funds had grown large enough, return home to the Philippines, buy rice and Bibles and then distribute the rice with the Bibles in the surrounding communities. (Mark 9:40, Luke 9:50,Alma 17:16)

     June 1 was Fast Sunday; Amy bore her testimony. She spoke of The Gospel and her thankfulness for the restoration of the Priesthood; the Spirit strongly bore testimony to the truths she spoke, and those there felt of that power. (Mni 10:5-7)

     At a baptism held Saturday, June 7, Amy had the opportunity to attend with Sisters Goble and Taylor. While waiting for the boy to change after the baptism, Sisters Ballard and Mobley taught the Restoration. “Please, I would like to have that spoken at my baptism.”

     Stake Conference was the following day. This gave her the opportunity to meet President Eaton; “Who will you be bringing to your baptism?” “I will ask my daughter and I have a friend I would like to ask.”

     Amy and the Sisters passed often during the following week; “Where are you going?” “To teach some investigators.” “Oh, be safe. I'll pray for you.” Supporting each other became a part of their days. That Tuesday a member of the new Ward she was moving to joined the three to review the baptism questions and meet Amy. Thursday she was to meet with President McKinney; “I saw a young woman sitting on the curb, reading from the Book of Mormon, and was touched.” During the interview President Mckinney encouraged her to attend the Temple soon; they departed; tears of joy streamed down Amy's cheeks. (Matt 5:3-9)

      Amy was baptized June 14 by Bishop Critchfield. When she arose from the water she smiled through the tears and gave the Bishop a warm hug. The Restoration was taught during the waiting time. Her daughter attended. A spirit of love was there. (Matt 18:20, D&C 6:32)

     That evening Sisters Sharp, Tayor, and Anderson joined the Vinsons for dinner. The discussion drifted to Family History and the Temple. Sister Anderson commented that in a dream those of her family that had died had come to her and said there was something she needed to do for them. (Mal 4:6) The missionaries and the Vinsons taught her of baptism for the dead and of Temple work. 'Would you like to see the temple?”, asked the Vinsons. “Yes” They drove up to Bellevue that evening and toured the Temple grounds. Tears of joy again flowed; her path could be more clearly seen; Amy looks forward to the day she can return to the Philippines as a missionary.

Mission Leadership Council sings Nearer My God to Thee

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

June 2014

     This is our month of special trainings.  We opened with one for district leaders at the mission home. (Front: Elders Bradford, Coombs, Johnson, Meyer, Seo, McKendrick, Dold, and Cook; Middle: Elders Holmes, Johnson, Russell, Ludlow, Pres. Eaton, Elders Solomon, Gardner, Albrecht, Hardt, and Draper; Back: Elders Beckstrand, Grant, Erekson, Bonner, Dymock, Batchelor, Thomas, Hilton, Freeman, and Spillsbury)


     We also had a special training for language learners.  Although Spanish is the only official additional language assignment in the mission, we have missionaries from other countries who are working to improve their English as well.  We talked about how learning another language can be a type for spiritual progression in general.  We also discussed language learning plans as outlined in Preach My Gospel.  We didn't get a picture of the whole group, but we did get one of the Hermanas. (Front: Hermanas Dubon, Biggs, Huchendorf, Syphus, Olson, Hansen, Clark, Casper, Ah-Hong, and Sis. & Pres. Eaton; Back: Hermanas Killingsworth, Mitchell, Wright, and Womack)
      Although our mission leadership council meeting is held every month, we rarely take pictures and we got one this time.  We opened with a discussion on personal study and then searched the scriptures to find answers to several questions posed by the missionaries.  Among other things, we emphasized role play as a way to both sustain changes and empower those who may be nervous.
(Front: Sisters Hehl, Wolf, Eaton, Pres. Eaton, Sisters Taylor, Judd, Huchendorf, and Mitchell; Middle: Elders Bradford, Butt, Grandstaff, Matthews, Garner, Porter, Quackenbush, Davis, and Rodgers; Back: Elders Cook, Young, Tui, Jenkins, Maxwell, McDonald, Tibbets, Cannon, and Thomson)

     This month we said goodbye to Sisters Kartchner and Lloyd, shown with Sis. & Pres. Eaton in front, and Elders Porter, Nelson, McDonald, Johnson, and Macfarlane in back.

     We welcomed Sisters Clement, Cass, Peacock, shown with Sis. & Pres. Eaton in front, and Sisters Weldon, Halford, and Sonasi.  Elders Jones, Caputo, Oliphant, Bradshaw, Noh, and Capener are standing in back at this lovely setting by Lake Wilderness.

     I've also included some of the miracles missionaries have experienced as they have tried to implement training and fully consecrate themselves to the work of salvation.

Elder Downing: We had some really amazing miracles happen this week because of praying to have prepared people in our path and talking to everyone. We found 3 families to start teaching.

Sister Syphus:  One thing I've tried to incorporate into our finding efforts is offering a SPECIFIC prayer of faith... for example, while praying, tell Heavenly Father who we're going to be visiting at 3:00 and the area we will be in, then praying for people to be placed in our path around that time. I've learned when we offer specific prayers, the Lord can grant us specific blessings!

Elder Solomon:  I have seen so many miracles as we find through members. We gave our members our progress record with the addresses of everyone we have been working with investigators and less actives and had the members drop by and invite them to church. They came! Members can do things we just can’t. Their influence can be huge.

Sister Ripplinger:  I have been praying a lot for people to be in our path this week and to have the courage to talk to them. Role playing has definitely helped! I believe that how serious we take our role plays influences how serious we take our work. If we sincerely try to improve in our role plays and practice often, our contacting and lessons go so much better!! Right after zone meeting I was so excited to talk to people after we had practiced so many contacting approaches. I decided to take Sister Muir's advice and invite everyone to meet with the missionaries no matter how interested they seem. We talked to him and he didn't seem too interested but we invited him to meet with the missionaries anyway and now is committed to baptism!!! Having faith that Heavenly Father has put people in our path has made a HUGE difference in our work!

Elders Johnson and Loveland:  We were in Walmart [on P-day] doing our shopping when a woman behind a DirectTV stand walked over to us and said, “You’re Mormons, right?  I’ve been studying the Joseph Smith story and it just feels right.  How do I join the Mormon faith?”

Sister Copen:  This week we tried to spend an hour contacting every day. There were some days that it didn't work but most of the time it did. On Wednesday we were trying to contact a referral but they weren't home so we decided to start our hour early. We walked through the park and saw this young guy listening to music. We went to talk with him, and with the thought "don't settle" in our minds, we felt prompted to ask if he had a minute that we could talk more. We sat down and shared the first lesson. After we read the first vision he said “guys this is powerful.”  Multiple times he started crying and as he shared his life story with us he ended by saying that “I know God led you to me. I needed to be here today so I could talk to you.”

Elder Garr:  The best thing about this week was with Betty! She is this little old lady that we helped move about a week ago. Well along with her committing to come to church as "payment" she also had us over for some cake. While we were sitting there eating cake we taught her the first lesson and it was super spiritual. Before we committed her to baptism she was telling us her religious background and she said, “I was born a Lutheran, I married into a Baptist family, and now I’m going to be a Mormon.”  She had some really good questions about the restoration and we were able to answer them for her. She got really emotional at the end of her prayer and she noticed the good feeling that she felt and we told her that it was the spirit testifying to her the truthfulness of our message!

Elder Kim:  We started to see some miracles as we open our mouth and try to talk to everyone. We found 10 potential investigators through inspired tracting! Our appointment got moved to later so we decided to knock on some doors in the apartment. Also we tried to share the message of Restoration with everyone and invite them to meet with missionaries and I was surprised how many people said yes. . . .The more I talk to people the more I am surprised how many people that the Lord has prepared for us!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Our First Entry!

      It has been 10 1/2 months since the Washington Federal Way Mission was created.  Now that we have our feet under us, we decided it was time to begin a mission blog.  This will likely only be updated once a month or so, but hopefully it will give parents and incoming missionaries a chance to get a feel for things here, starting with the beautiful Mt. Rainier!

     This week we had our eighth transfer.  We said good-bye to some beloved friends and welcomed some new ones.  Farewell to Elders Johnson, Rice, Orr, Basilius, Giles, and Isham.  We also have a picture of our fabulous trainers shown with their trainees--Back: Elders Beckstrand, Clawson, Kim, Raps, Downing, Kim, Tavo, McKendrick, Hisita, and Thomas; Front: Sisters Heaton, Dolan, Wolfe, Hutchendorf, Killingsworth, and Syphus. And we offer a warm hello to our newest missionaries--Back: Elders Clawson, Raps, Kim, Tavo, and Hisita; Front: Pres. & Sis. Eaton, Sister Dolan and Hermana Killingsworth.

Each month the mission produces an electronic newsletter for the missionaries which includes an article from President Eaton.  May's entry follows.

When Thou Art Converted

            “When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren,” the Savior once admonished Peter.  Had he said this shortly after calling the young apostle to follow him, the charge would not have been surprising.  But this admonition comes near the end of the Savior’s ministry (Luke 22:32).  Peter had been following the Savior for nearly three years, had left behind his prosperous fishing business, and had even walked a few steps on water.  That’s pretty impressive stuff for someone who hasn’t yet been converted.

            What can we learn from this?  Certainly, one critical truth is that without the gift of the Holy Ghost—which Peter would not receive until after the Savior’s resurrection—we cannot be fully converted.  But I wonder if the Savior isn’t also teaching all of his disciples that we have more room for spiritual growth and even conversion than we might think.  To know the Church is true is one thing, but according to Elder David A. Bednar, “True conversion brings a change in one’s beliefs, heart, and life to accept and conform to the will of God (see Acts 3:19; 3 Nephi 9:20) and includes a conscious commitment to become a disciple of Christ.”

            Watching such spiritual growth occur in each of you—and doing whatever Sister Eaton and I can to facilitate it—is one of the most rewarding and important parts of our current calling.  Our aim is not only to have more lasting conversions among the non-members of this mission, but first and foremost to have them among the missionaries.  I was recently reminded of how missions can transform even the best of missionaries when we received letters recently from our daughter who is serving a mission.  She was a marvelous young woman before her mission and is a great missionary now.  But she wrote asking each of us for forgiveness in very specific ways for things like having been selfish or unkind at times.  These were not the confessions of someone hoping to “clear things up” or “take care” of something so they could check a box; they were evidence of repentance born of a deepening faith in Christ.

My daughter’s actions were an example to me, an impressive reminder that faith and repentance are not one-time prerequisites to baptism but principles and practices that “when repeated throughout life . . . become an increasingly rewarding pattern of living” (Preach My Gospel, 6).  She prefaced her request by saying that she was striving to understand and apply the Atonement more in her own life, because of this truth in Preach My Gospel: “As your understanding [and I might add, your appreciation and application] of the Atonement grows, your desire to share the gospel will increase” (p. 2). 

            So my invitation to you is along the lines of what Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 13:5:  Examine yourselves and assess the depth of your own conversion.  After all, those who will ultimately reside in the presence of Heavenly Father in celestial glory will have developed an accurate sense of who they are and how far they have traveled.  They will “see as they are seen and know as they are known” (D&C 76:94).  For some of us, this includes discovering you are doing much better than you realize.  But others may learn that even though they are on the right path and heading in the right direction, they may have more room for improvement than they think. 

            Here are a few questions that might help you as you conduct your own conversion inventory:

Ø  How much do I truly love Heavenly Father and his children?
Ø  How much gratitude do I feel for the Atonement?  In fact, how grateful am I generally?
Ø  How often do I remember the Savior?  “For how knoweth a man the master whom he has not served, and who is a stranger unto him, and is far from the thoughts and intents of his heart?” (Mos. 5:13)
Ø  How single is my eye to the glory of God?  What is it that truly drives me?  What thoughts occupy my mind when I don’t have to think about anything else?
Ø  How much do I seek the praise of men rather than the approval of God?  If no one knew but God knew how hard I worked or what good I did, would I work any less?  Do I work as hard and obey as much when no one else sees my efforts?
Ø  How meaningful are my prayers?  When I pray, how real is the idea that I am personally addressing God, the Father of the Creator of the universe?  How much more respectful and focused would I be if I were having an actual conversation with the Prophet, an apostle, or even my stake president?

That list is far from comprehensive.  The bullet points on pages 10 and 11 of Preach My Gospel are fairly good indicators of conversion as well as missionary success.  And the scriptures are full of other questions you might ask as part of such an inventory.

Hopefully, your inventory will leave you with both some satisfaction about how far you have come, but also with a desire to continue to the climb to become the kind of truly converted disciple the Savior needs.  To help guide you on that journey, may I recommend a masterful talk by Elder Richard G. Scott:  “Full Conversion Brings Happiness,” from the April 2002 General Conference.

As each of us seeks, with God’s help, to draw nearer to God and deepen our own conversions, we will be more powerful instruments in his hands to help others enjoy the fruits of their own lasting conversions.