Hey family! Well so let's see...it's been a great week! We had a Spanish baptism on Saturday! His name is Alejandro "Alex" Torres! He is married to a white wife who doesn't know any Spanish haha and has 5 kids under 8 years old. Pretty fun family! Alex knows enough English and I know enough Spanish to where we can communicate pretty easily haha. The baptismal service was nothing short of perfect, and Alex has quit smoking and is coming to church more regularly! So yeah that was a big blessing for him and for us as well. It's not often (at least in this area) that we find a Spanish person that's not Catholic, wasn't sprinkled as a child, and wants to take the lessons.
Well this week I was reading the Missionary Newsletter, and I read the one from Derek Christensen over in England. He asked some of his missionaries in his zone to put down a goal of 1 baptism and 1 confirmation even though they didn't have anyone planned to baptize. So they did and they got a phone call with a golden referral and they got a baptism that week! I read that and it blew me away. Then a couple days later we found ourselves doing weekly planning. We were kind of in the same situation...we were going to baptize Alex and then we would be down to one investigator. Normally you just automatically put 0 bap and 0 conf. But that story came to my mind and I thought "Shoot if the Lord can help them, then surely He can help the people in our portion of the vineyard as well!" So I told Elder Stephens about it and he was on board! We're goaling for 1 baptism and 1 confirmation this week! The DL called us and the ZL's texted us about it, and we told them what's up and they support us 100%! We're putting the Lord's words to the test while keeping His will and His timing in consideration. We're going to demonstrate our faith and trust in Him, and we know He can do miracles! We prayed and covenanted to do our part if He does His!
So that has upped my motivation by at least 217% now. I'm so much more proactive now that I'm accountable to the Lord for my faith. I'm doing things that used to hold me back, and I'm breaking barriers that I've never broken before because they were too inconvenient or uncomfortable in the past. I'm talking with more and more people, and I'm inviting more and more of them to partake of the gospel. We've been hitting up any potentials that have slipped through the cracks...old referrals...everything. The only problem is that we haven't seen any fruit of our labors yet, which is fine.
Then late Saturday night we went to a bishop's house to get some copies of our progress records. He gave us a big smile and welcomed us in and told us to sit down. Mind you this was right as the big BYU/Utah game was starting, so we knew something was up! He asked, "What can I do for you elders?" and we said, "Oh we just need some copies..." and he replied, "Oh I can do that....hey I have someone for you to teach!" And my heart jumped and I was like "What! Who??" And he told us all about this lady named Stephanie who's husband is less-active and they're both trying to quit smoking and they want the missionaries to teach them! And the best part is that they've taken the lessons before and they just weren't ready for baptism yet. But now they feel ready and they're willing to give it another shot! They're honest in heart!
And that's where we're at right now. We were supposed to meet last night but they had to cancel last minute. We'll see where this plays out from here. In the mean time, we're still looking for anyone else! We're keeping our momentum and we're not going to slow down in terms of our faith. Even if we don't hit that goal this week, we'll get it next week, or next week, or whenever Heavenly Father says, "Yes, it's time!"
So Mom wanted me to share my thoughts on the importance of members in the "hastening of the work" and what they can do to participate:
Well yeah! I think we often try to separate gospel principles into their own little boxes and look through them whenever it's necessary. Members and missionaries are one in purpose, or at least they ought to be. This is what the Lord is trying to teach His Church right now. Missionary work is the #1 focus of the Brethren, and the Lord is included! I heard a statistic that 95% of stake presidents know the #1 focus of the Brethren, and 80% of bishops, 41% of ward council members, and about a measly 5% of the "members" know it. That's too low! We need to change that! I'm anxious to see what the focus of general conference will be, seeing as though missionary work has dominated the last two.
Anyway, with that in mind, our purpose as members and missionaries of this church is to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. We are one in purpose! However, we each play different roles. Basically the members are full-time finders, and the missionaries are full-time teachers. Once we start finding and teaching, then an investigator will begin developing stronger faith, repentance, and so forth. But nothing happens until we find someone to teach!
And thus we see the importance of "members." It would be selfish for us as missionaries to try to find and teach and baptized on our own, without the help of members. We need them! They are missionaries in disguise! They don't have name tags! Their time table is way different than a missionary's. We're on a fast-paced, six week time limit. Go, go, go!! Find, teach, ahhh! But members can slow it down and take extra time to build relationships with less-actives or non members in a normal and relaxed way. Members get to be themselves, and that's how we find people to teach as missionaries! 20 out of my 21 baptisms were from member referrals. They build the relationships with them, and then when the time is right, they can refer that person into the fast flowing river of missionary work. If they haven't been prepared enough or they aren't quite ready for it, they will panic and try to get out of the raging water. It will be too much for them! So members are kind of like the kiddy pool I suppose. They help our friends get their feet wet and ready for the gospel.
D&C 33:8-9 tells us a universal finding principle. This will work for any good and faithful member who wants to begin finding and doing their own missionary work. The principle is to open our mouths! Because if we open our mouths, then they will be filled. We know enough to start! We just have to trust that the Spirit will keep our mouths going! If our mouths are filled, then there will be an invitation, and the person will come unto Christ, and our purpose will be fulfilled, which means the Lord's work will be moving forward! On the other hand, if we don't open our mouths, then they won't be filled, which means there won't be any invitation, and the person will not come unto Christ, and our purpose won't be fulfilled, which basically means the Lord's work will be damned to a degree. Yikes! Consider the wisdom of the quote, "Don't say no for another." Give them the opportunity to say no for themselves. But we must ALWAYS invite (but be careful not to be naggy or annoying haha because that doesn't help either). Find a balance! Open your mouth and it shall be filled!
So keep that in mind. It's important to be a good example. It's important to open our mouths. The latter without the former is hypocrisy. The former without the latter is an empty invitation. Again, find a balance! But most of all, just be a good boy or a good girl and be yourself! The Lord's work isn't fake, it's real...so let's be real and let's be ourselves, united with the same purpose, which is God's purpose, "To bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man," one step at a time! Elder Stephens and I are starting to reverse everyone's thinking. Whenever someone honks at us and says "Go missionaries!!!" We call back to them "Go members!!!" because we love the members and we need them as much as they need us!
Anyway sorry this is extremely long but I hope you all enjoy it! I love you all!