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.

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