Saturday, February 13, 2016

February 2016

     Our departing group was small this month!  (Sisters Soliz and Baxter, Sis. & Pres. Eaton, Elders Maekawa and Berkheimer) We are missing our two temple square missionaries who went back to the square a day later, Sisters Dean and Ngwenya.

     We had a little February sunshine to welcome our newest missionaries--Sisters Pineda, Peterson, McClellan, Giles, with Sis. & Pres. Eaton, Elders Clouse and Murphy.

     February is zone conference month.  Our theme is "Agents, Not Objects."  This concept applies to our investigators as well as ourselves as we take responsibility for our own learning.  Part two focused on being led by the Spirit in teaching people, not lessons.  Pictures below show some role plays.

1) Elders Ovard, Latimer, Snyder, Jackson, Clauson, and Wagstaff
2) Back Left group: Elders Richards, Saydyk, Snook and Stoker; Back Right group: Elders Tavo, Clouse, Fulmer, and Drake; Front group: Elders Rodarte, Richards, Tima, and Wingle
3) Left group: Elders Watterson, Jolley, (backs of ) Jeong, and Northrup; Right group: Elders White, Palmer, (backs of) Chugg, and Lowry
4) Sisters Webb, Pineda, Northrup, and Orr

Teach Repentance
President Rob Eaton

           I love repentance.  It’s like taking a hot shower after getting dirty and sweaty.  It’s like washing and vacuuming your car after a long road trip.  Repentance is one of God’s greatest gifts to his children. 

But it is also one of his most underused and least understood gifts.  One Christian writer candidly acknowledged how unfashionable repentance has become in many churches today:  “There seems to be today a great indifference toward the matter of repentance. In some cases, there is even a hostility toward the issue of repentance. It is not fashionable to preach a Gospel that demands that men and women turn from sin.  That kind of preaching is very rare today, and very often frowned upon. There is both indifference and hostility toward repentance even though it is a centerpiece of the Christian Gospel.”

Sometimes we’re even a bit fuzzy on repentance ourselves.  Too often we think of repentance as bitter medicine to be taken only when we commit serious sexual sins or as a few things investigators must take care of in order to get baptized, like getting married and quitting smoking.  Too few of us think of repentance as a “turning of the heart and will to God, [as well as] a renunciation of sin to which we are naturally inclined” (Bible Dictionary).  When we think of repentance as simply checking off some boxes, it’s hard for us to teach our investigators about it with conviction and depth. 

            That is why I am inviting you to do more to understand and implement repentance in your own lives.  As you study and apply repentance more in your own life, you will develop a conversion mentality rather than a checklist mentality.  With that understanding, you will teach repentance with greater power and greater joy.  “Repentance is a divine gift, and there should be a smile on our faces when we speak of it,” Elder D. Todd Christofferson has taught.  That will become true for us as we become as good at repenting as we are at sinning.

            I invite you to begin talking about repentance with your companion and your investigators as much as you talk about baptism.  From the first lesson on, you will look for opportunities to help investigators undergo “a change of mind, a fresh view about God, about oneself, and about the world” (Bible Dictionary).  Elder D. Todd Christofferson said:  “As missionaries conduct investigators on the path of repentance, they will need to understand . . . that repentance means much more than completing a checklist. . . . Repentance must be understood as a fundamental change of direction in life and a transformation of character. . . . Always missionaries will retain the larger focus on achieving not just the resolution of a specific sin or failing, but on the grand transition from ‘natural man’ to ‘saint.’”

            One of the challenges we have had in teaching repentance well is that it feels like we don’t really talk about it until the third lesson (which might be the fourth or fifth visit).  Together, we will find new ways to weave repentance into how to begin teaching and every lesson as we fulfill the charge the Lord has given missionaries in this dispensation:  “Say nothing but repentance to this generation” (D&C 11:9).  I believe encouraging investigators to liken the Book of Mormon to themselves and ask God what they can change will be a key to doing this.

            This doesn’t mean we should baptize fewer people.  (However, it does mean that you should never push to get someone who has not yet repented to get baptized so that we can meet a baptismal goal.)  In fact, when we teach repentance well and early, I believe we will help more people get baptized, because they will have learned how to repent and overcome their sins.  And those we do baptize will be converts, much more likely to endure to the end.

            So please keep praying and planning and pleading for baptisms.  But every time you do, pray and plan and plead for your investigators to repent and to know how to help them repent.  As we do this, we will fulfill our charge to teach repentance and baptize converts.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

January 2016

     January's Mission Leadership Council--Front: Sisters Palmer, Singer, Wright, Lyman, Bailey, Goodman, Pres. & Sis. Eaton, Sisters Ketchum, and Baxter; Middle: Elders Mousser, Anderton, Wagstaff, Ha, Lee-Wen, Sumsion, Chappell, Berkheimer, Brown, Nelson, Nelson, and Maekawa;
Back: Elders Oliphant, Willardson, Anderson, and Christiansen (missing Elders John and Jones)

     This month we took our annual trip to the Seattle temple!
1) Sisters Lucky, Livingstone, Eaton, Thurman, and Hollingsworth
2) Sisters Lyman, Wright, Young, Rimer, and Woolsey 
3) Front: Elders Nelson, Perkins, Cabrera, Dalley, and Meyer; Back: Elders Kelly, Chance, Sumsion, Kidwell, Fenton, Beaudette, and Tripp

     President Eaton asked the missionaries to share their feelings about being able to attend.  Here are a few of their comments.

Elder Knight:  “The temple was amazing. I had the opportunity to reflect on the past months of my mission and things I want to improve! When I enter the temple and see my life through the eyes of the temple it honestly changes everything! Who I am, who I want to be and become as a disciple of our Savior! . . . In the temple I realized I can't let any of this precious time go to waste, it simply isn't my time!”

Sister Woolsey:  “My temple experience was amazing being able to do temple work for my grandmother. There a new spirit there as I did that. I loved every bit of it, and received so many answers. The rest of my mission experience is going to be different. It is going to be great!”

Elder Beaudette:  “The session at the temple this morning brought much needed peace and assurance. I've been spiritually strained over the last few months and I've realized its because I started to gain more charity for people and so I care about them more and their struggles become my struggles.”

Elder Sumsion:  “The Temple is solace from the world and helps regenerate my soul and desire to follow Christ.”

Sister Rimer:  “When I was sitting in the Celestial room I just kept thinking about all the people who don't have an opportunity to feel the Spirit of that room. It is so peaceful and set apart from the world. I don't think anyone could be stressed out in that room. I love the Temple. I want everyone to get the opportunity to go! Sometimes I forget how important my personal mission is, but the Temple reminded me of how much this work does matter. Everyone deserves the opportunity to go to the Temple and feel Gods love there.”

Elder Nelson:  “I felt so lucky to be a member of Christ's Church going through the Temple today. Specifically I realized that regular Temple attendance, like the Sabbath Day with the sacrament, helps us to remember the covenants we have made to God. It's easy for the severity of those promises we make to get dim the longer we're away. The law of consecration is something I want to renew going forward. Giving all my time, talents, and means to build God's Kingdom is a blessing that will bring even greater blessings.”

Elder Wagstaff:  “When looking through the lens of the the temple, I am more motivated to teach repentance better so that after the converts are baptized, they will be able to go to the temple for themselves and their ancestors.”

Elder Snook:  “Going to the temple was really amazing. It has helped me want to really help people get to the temple and make covenants with God. It really reminded me the importance of going to the temple and how much joy it can bring my life, so I know how happy and how much joy it can bring other people. Our investigators need to get baptized and get to the temple so they can be safe from temptation and be happy here and for eternity. That changes my perspective on my mission when I view it through the lens of the temple because being baptized is really the beginning of their happiness. It starts them getting to the temple, and that is really our ultimate goal.”

Elder Cook:  “The temple was amazing today, in the celestial room i was able to take time and pray to heavenly father for multiple things, but this prayer was unlike any if have experienced before...during the middle of the prayer i was mentioning something along the lines of continuing to help me through the struggles of missionary work and as soon as i said that i felt the spirit so strongly it was as if God was giving me a was powerful and it made me reflect on what i can do to improve, but to also not be so hard on myself all the time. I felt his love for me soooo strongly and it was truly amazing and such a great experience for me and also an answer to many prayers!

Elder Samuelson:  “I truly love the temple and wish we could go more often! For my mission, it shows me that there's much more beyond baptism that we're helping people to achieve -- it's the temple ordinances, so that they can be exalted in the celestial kingdom. Like Elder Oaks said, nothing but the fulness will exalt them.”

Hermana Huhem:  “As I was sitting there in the Celestial room, I could envision my my investigators not only in white baptismal clothes, but in temple clothing sitting right there with me. My heart spiritually, and physically ached. I realized how much I lacked in helping everyone I come in contact with get to the temple. I realized how much I needed to change so that I could help people get to the temple. . . . As I sat there in the celestial room the Spirit filled my heart with an indescribable determination to plan better, work harder, pray mightily, study diligently, find daily, teach continually, testify always, and so much more. So that I can fulfill my glorious and sacred calling of bringing soul unto Christ. To help them truly repent, experience changes in their very nature.”

Elder John:  “Since, I went to the temple last week my love for the savior has increased dramatically. My love for the people has increased as well. Charity is the pure love of Christ! We cannot teach or invite others to come unto Christ if we have not charity. I'm grateful for the temple and the physical and spiritual rejuvenation it provides to me. I will always make sure I stay worthy to enter and worship in the Lord's house. I will attend the temple often for the rest of my life!

Elder Anderson:  “When I look at my mission in terms of the temple. Two thoughts, first, I want to get people there! My goal is the temple! It’s a conversion that will last more than a few months, or even years. Second. I am still reminded of how you had your whole family in the temple at one time. That is my goal, my whole family, in the temple together.