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!