Friday, February 16, 2007

Wow it's hot!: June 2, 2005

I was talking to one of our investigators this past week and she mentioned that it would get up past 35, 36 degrees this week. Compare this with the low of 40 you seem to have back in Chicago... when 36 in centigrade means 36/5*9+32=96.8 degrees Fahrenheit! It is soooo hot!
The Lord is working miracles for us. Let me tell you the story of a woman we have met. She is an investigator of only 3 weeks or so; the day before we met she prayed to God to find the truth and the next day found the missionaries. She family has been tearing her apart - literally - every single member, from her daughter to her husband to her son to her brother and mother pull her in different directions and no one seems to be right in any sense of the word. She started meeting with us two or three times a week. She came to a baptism. She came to Church. She started reading the Book of Mormon every day. She found that she stopped arguing or yelling or even fighting. She found she felt more in control of her life. She still felt pulled in different directions, but last night she called me and told me in a few words that she had finally taken her life into her own hands. The biggest problem (to us) was that she was going to America on Tuesday (two days ago). Her daughter had bought her a one-way ticket to Houston and expected her to come and take care of her newborn while she ran her own company. The mom felt that she would never come back if she went right now - that her daughter would just never buy a return ticket and she would live, sequestered without speaking to anyone (little English skills), in America far from the rest of her family (and husband - the nerve of her daughter!) for the rest of her life. She never felt right about going. She never wanted to go, but felt guilty. Yesterday she called me and said, "I didn't go. I didn't feel like going." In other words, she followed the promptings of her own heart when the decision became difficult. This is the same decision she will have to make to be baptized a member of the Church, and then for the rest of her life. Isn't it amazing that people become so much more free when they live the principles of the Gospel? They have so much more personal self-worth, a great sense of self-esteem, and a real and enduring purpose in life! She began on this road hurt, mad, and searching, and now she is taking control of her life. She is making decisions, now, that will affect all of eternity! We plan on giving her a baptismal invite tomorrow for the 18th or 25th of June. Could you keep her in your minds and hearts?
So I read the quote about not trying to change everything, thought about it, and then realized that it was too late. Change happens. In fact, it happens very quickly here in the Mission.
My first companion left Thursday and I received a different one - a boy from Utah. He is much quieter, and as of yet, defers enough that I have to be careful. We had a meeting with the Branch President on Tuesday with my first companion, then another with him on Saturday, but this time my new companion was in charge. He didn't know a lot about the work or the branch, so he sort of deferred. Together we planned out a huge member-missionary program with the Branch President and (I) promised him the full support of all the missionaries. It was scary - the Branch President had absolute faith in everything I said, to the point that I could have told him how to do his calling and he may have done it. It scared me that missionaries can have that much influence on members, or that I could - I just want him to gain his own vision, not rely on me or anything else for motivation... But then Sunday we presented it in the combined RS, Priesthood meeting. The Branch President began, explained our motto briefly, "Andiamo al Tempio con i nostri Amici," (Let's go to the Temple with our Friends!) and then deferred to my companion. He explained the program a bit more, then deferred back to the Branch President. He spoke about a great talk "Find the Lambs, Feed the Sheep" (Every bishop needs to read this talk once a quarter to determine how his ward is doing on member-missionary work), then finally deferred to me. I then explained the program. Andiamo al Tempio is a full-scale branch plan, not just a missionary program. This is the goal of all the activities in the branch, and all missionary activities. It has three parts. First, personal: We must be personally worthy - our Branch President promised to interview every active member and all inactives that the missionaries were working with to determine what they needed to do to make it to the temple. Second - Branch unity: If we go to the temple as a branch, and we want to go with our friends, we need to be unified. We are planning activities to unify the branch, as well as involving members in reactivation efforts so that they feel the importance of every member of the ward. Our Branch President offered to apologize to any member that was offended by him or another branch member. We need to take him up on that. Third - member-missionary work!!!!: We want to go to the temple with ALL of our friends, so they need to be solid members of the Church. We made a sheet, where we explained the process of going to the Temple and the importance of family and friends, then every member lists loved ones and something they can do right now (or soon) to help them progress in the gospel. With a deadline for each action and an extra copy, the missionaries help the members accomplish the work they are called to do. Obviously, the missionaries are willing to teach, make brownies, give family home evenings, and anything else, but the responsibility is shifted to the members who love the others - the people who should have the responsibility and the strongest effect in the first place. It has been a great success so far; we need to make sure that we check up often, though - it could easily fall through the cracks. If it works, it will be an effective way to permanently have referrals and contacts from members - they just consistently list the people they want to take with them to the Temple, then the missionaries help them know how they can do it.
I'm almost out of time, but we had 3 - month conference Tuesday and Wednesday. It was great, and I got to see my MTC group. We learned tons, but the most important thing I learned was about study habits. Sometimes it's difficult to study the Book of Mormon or Preach My Gospel. I know. But, if you study for a purpose, the purpose of teaching the material, it suddenly makes sense! For example, study a Christlike attribute in Preach My Gospel with the intention of teaching it to a brother or sister - someone who needs it. For the scriptures, learn a scripture story and then teach it to someone in the family or a friend. For the kids - this is a great opportunity to share the wonders of the Gospel with others - study with the goal to teach, and then teach each other around the dinner table, at night, at school, at seminary, at soccer games, everywhere! It makes the gospel so much more real!
I love you all. Please share the Gospel as member-missionaries!
Anziano David Peterson

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