Sunday, October 4, 2009

Well hello everyone,
Here is our initial post to this blog. It has been a wild and wonderful ride these last three months. Kind of like a roller coaster with lots of uphill climbs made worth it by the awesome "whoosh" of the downhill ride. We love being here with these amazing young people. They are all so well prepared and worthy to be here. It is truly amazing how you can just love them instantly like we do.
We have had a couple of Zone Conferences and several Zone Leaders' Councils. We have talked a great deal about making the Holy Ghost the third, and Senior, member of each companionship. It has been amazing to see them apply this principle in their lives and see how it touches the lives of those that they teach. They are learning to teach "people" and not just lessons. They work and pray so hard, the Lord has truly blessed them.
We have changed our reporting process in the mission. This has been an immediate blessing to some and a trial to others. We hope that with time, experience, and prayer that it will become the blessing that Pres. and I pray for in the lives of each of our missionaries. In the past there has been a very strict and conscientious reporting system from missionaries to their leaders. Often they reported their numbers multiple times each day. Through this process they have learned to work hard and they have seen great fruits from their labors. We are now trying to take this process to the next step, where the reporting is not done everyday to the mission leaders, but rather to the Lord. We have talked a great deal about agency and our need to let each missionary, just as we let each investigator, be invited and enticed to work hard, meet their goals, and feel the Spirit. Then this progress is to be "returned and reported" to the Lord each evening. Thereby making each missionary's accountability to his/her Father in Heaven which is where it belongs. As I said, this has been a blessing for some missionaries, and a great difficulty for others. However, in the long run, each will learn to act within their stewardship, rather than always needing to be acted upon.
Our mission was especially blessed last month with the visit of Elder and Sister Bednar, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and Elder and Sister Teixeira of the Seventy. I'm sure most of you have heard most enthusiastically about the things which were revealed to your missionary, but I will recap just a couple of items for you just in case you didn't hear:
All of the teaching Elder Bednar did was through answering questions from the audience. He explained that we too often teach, putting ourselves and what we think the student needs front and center, rather than asking questions, letting the Spirit guide, and inviting our listeners to have their own personal revelatory experiences. He challenged us to stop teaching and start facilitating the revelatory experiences of those we work with.
--Elder Bednar helped us realize that we need to "get ourselves" out of the way so that the Spirit of Revelation can work upon those that we work with. He helped us further qualify that this work is not about us, it is about those that we teach and if we can forget ourselves, our worries, fears, pride, etc. and just live worthy for the Spirit to work through us that we can be much greater missionaries and future church leaders than we already are.
--He reminded us of the great faith exhibited by Peter when the Savior came walking towards them on the water. How he "jumped out of the boat" and went to the Savior. We need to have that kind of faith and "jump out of the boat" remembering that the circle of light we stand in will only move as we do, so step into the dark and have faith and the light will follow. I'm sure that some of you will remember his "Ask in Faith" talk from General Conference where he deals with this idea of faith leading to experience and knowledge.
--In every meeting he reminded us that people have agency and are to "act, rather than be acted upon". In one meeting a sister asked how she could get her less active children to come back to Church. Elder Bednar taught her that the underlying principles to help her were faith, persistence, long suffering and continuing always to invite and entice them to act upon their agency for their own good. Later in the meeting there was a young boy named "Joel" who wanted to ask a question but when Elder Bednar called upon him he became overwhelmed (there were only 800 people there) and couldn't ask his question. Joel's father started to ask the question when Elder Bednar stopped him, asked his son's name and then spoke to Joel directly, inviting him to ask the question. He told him that he knew he was nervous and that he could take all the time he needed to feel comfortable to speak for himself. Joel was still frightened and hesitant so Elder Bednar asked the father to go ahead and ask the question for Joel. Joel's question was this..."What did the Savior do personally for me, during his Atonement?". Elder Bednar asked Joel to open his scriptures to 3 Nephi where the Savior ministers one-by-one to the people after his Crucifixion and invited him to read several verses. Joel declined so Elder Bednar suggested that perhaps he could read the first verse and then Joel might like to read one. He did, and Joel read the remainder of the verses. There then ensued a dialog between Elder Bednar and Joel about the Atonement wherein Elder Bednar explained to Joel that all of the pain and suffering and sorrow of mankind was not heaped upon Christ in one nameless huge bundle, but that as He atoned Christ saw, if only for a second, Joel's face, just as He saw the face of each one of us as He suffered for our personal sins, sorrows, and needs one-by-one. We were taught that we too, must invite, and entice and love, one-by-one just as the Savior did. It was an amazing experience for all. I am including a picture of Elder Bednar with our favorite "Army of Helaman".