President Packer has taught us to pay attention, and follow the Spirit’s promptings or we will lose out on future opportunities to be instruments in God’s hands:
“The Spirit does not get our attention by shouting or shaking us with a heavy hand. Rather it whispers. It caresses so gently that if we are preoccupied we may not feel it at all… Occasionally it will press just firmly enough for us to pay heed. But most of the time, if we do not heed the gentle feeling, the Spirit will withdraw and wait until we come seeking and listening.” (Elder Boyd K. Packer, “The Candle of the Lord”)
Revelation will give you boldness with love and they will feel it’s power:
“This week has truly been a miracle transfer week. The day I came to this area we went to see an amazing woman who was preparing for baptism. We taught her the word of wisdom, and asked if we could help remove temptation by taking her cigarettes. She was reluctant at first because she said she would just go out and buy some more. She wanted to quit but didn’t think she could. A scripture came to mind and we had her read Ether 12:27. She reread it a few times so she could understand it and then she said. ‘so basically God is more powerful than anything. He can help me to overcome this.’ She sat for a moment. We had testified of the divinity and ability from God, and now those words were becoming real because of this scripture, but now it was time for silence. She gave us her cigarettes… She gave us everything and told us she wouldn’t have given us them if she wasn’t done. It was a transfer miracle!”
Revelation will help you know what to teach and inspire all within the sound of your voice:
“We were walking from the sign we’d locked our bikes to, to the building where [we] felt inspired to harvest. We both abruptly turned from our destination without a word and walked to a nearby door and knocked. The woman knew us and let us in. We found out she had been told she needed to be married and baptized by previous missionaries, and she loved the missionaries but not the commitments. She wanted to be taught, and we were ready to teach true Doctrine and help her out. Then her friend came over and she invited her to sit with us. They talked and talked until they arrived at the topic of why there are so many churches. We cut in and said, ‘If we tell you the answer to that question, will you listen to what we have to say.’ They both quieted down and leaned in. We taught them about the restoration of the Gospel and they soaked it up, but did not yet recognize its truth. Then our attention shifted to the friend who had come in. We invited her to pray to know of the truth of our message and she knelt down with all of us, but she could not pray – even after we had instructed her a few times. The original woman we met urged us to just say the prayer ourselves – which we knew wasn’t an option – when a voice came from the corner of the room. It was her husband. ‘You pray and have her follow you,’ he said. It was inspiration. We led her in the prayer as we would a child and after the prayer she was beaming and knew Joseph Smith was a prophet. Also she wanted to be baptized.”
Mary needed to see Bishop Tanner to get her temple recommend renewed so we used the opportunity to ask him to go on line and start the paperwork (computer work?) so we can apply for our next mission. We hope to start serving sometime in January or February of next year.
We have never asked for any assignment – we just say how much we can afford a month and how long we want to serve. Then like the young missionaries we wait to open the envelope from the missionary department to see where the Lord wants us to serve. However this time we are going to ask that if it is possible we would like to serve outside the US or Canada.
If anyone would like to make a guess at where we might be called to serve, we would love for you to know your thoughts. I would mention that each of our missions have been where it is hot and humid and near an ocean…hopefully it will stay that way because we get enough cold winters here in Provo.
This week’s experiences focus on two principles that President Anderson taught in conferences and specialized training meetings over the last months. I am glad so many of you find them as uplifting as I do…
Using our members as part of the journey will get our investigators to their destination of baptism:
“We were thinking and praying this past week about how we could get one of our investigators to church and we decided that we needed to take over a certain older couple from our ward. As we took them over, they automatically hit it off because they are going through a lot of the same things. The brother that we took over has stage four cancer and is slowly dying and there is nothing that they can do about it. Although he has this challenge, he and his wife are both really happy people. Our investigator saw how happy he was even when he was so sick and she wants that exact same thing. The couple that we took over went and picked her up on Sunday morning, took her on a chapel tour, and took her home to eat between sessions. It was awesome to see that as we followed inspiration on who to take over we received the blessing and accomplished what we set out to do.”
As we magnify the great titles of missionaries, “Healers of Souls” for example, we will be able to change hearts and lives:
“We had an amazing experience yesterday acting as ‘Healers of Souls’. We knocked on a door and DJ opened it and before we could say anything told us, ‘Come on in, I have some time for you’. He told us his story about his girlfriend cheating on him and using him and he explained he had let his anger go and told us that he had an inescapable darkness and weight upon his heart. We promised him peace and a release from this during the blessing. We told him to focus on this peace. After the blessing he had tears and accepted the date without hesitation. He told us, ‘If you go the rest of the day and everyone slams the door in your face and you feel like you haven’t made a difference, know you have changed my life this day. I was going to go pour sugar in her engine later tonight, but now instead, I am going to go return the funnel and get my money back. I don’t have any anger in my soul’
The journey of progressing them to baptism will always result in miracles as we allow God to take us there with testimony and the Spirit:
“On Monday this past week my companion and I went to visit the family of 6 that we were lead to the previous week. We called a member that had introduced himself at church on Sunday and asked if he would come with us. He told us that it was his day off the next day and he actually wanted to get to know the family better. We showed up and the wife answered the door. She told us that her husband was asleep and that we would have to reschedule. We then introduced our friends that we brought along and told her that they wanted to get to know them better after meeting her on Sunday. We expressed our testimonies to her and she let us in to meet with her without her husband. The members were key in getting into the door. One of the amazing tools that we have learned to use as missionaries is identifying the spirit. We talked with her about church and she remembered the wonderful feeling that she had. We testified that that was from God and that he wanted her in his church. We reviewed the doctrine of Revelation with her and what the spirit’s role is in that process. By the end of the lesson she was committed to be baptized this Sunday. When she was committed we taught her another commandment that would help her receive more revelation, the word of wisdom. As we recounted Joseph Smith’s first vision she felt the spirit she accepted it right away and promised to stop drinking Coffee and Tea. It was great to see her feel of the spirit and make commitments. Then we set up an appointment for Wednesday. Wednesday rolled around and we went by again with our member and we had a great lesson planned to teach the whole family. We ended up teaching the doctrine of the Gospel with a wonderful parable that related perfectly to them. The spirit was so strong as they understood the Doctrine of Christ. That is one thing that I have learned. As people understand eternal truths they are so much more desirous to act. After teaching that we taught them all the commandments that they needed to know and they committed to them all. It was such a wonderful experience. Friday we brought the whole family to another members home to have a family home evening. Their friendship was essential. They bonded quickly and their children had a blast together. After a spiritual powerful lesson and teaching the rest of the things that they needed to hear, they were so excited, and the whole family got baptized on Sunday. The Bishop and members were in tears during the service.”
I love the power we have as missionaries as we link ourselves to the vision of who these great souls can become. God will give us power and answers to all things as we become obedient:
04 January 2009
One of the things I am doing to get ready to go on our mission is to clean up and clean out most of the drawers and cabinets in areas that will be available to our house sitters. I am doing this for three reasons. First so they have someplace to put their own things. Second because most of the areas I am cleaning up are a mess and have not been cleaned for years. Third because some things are personal and I really do not want to share.
All this cleaning has led to the discovery of many memories. Just this morning as I was going through some files I found a letter to Mary from Brian that was very sweet and unfortunately undated. A Edgemont 11th Ward newsletter from June 1993 that had Jim’s mission address. Also it included the announcement of the return of the Jamisons and the Hoopes from being mission presidents. But the best part is that it has the logo that Jim drew and was used on all the newsletters for a number of years.
As I rearranged the display cabinets I came across a number of keepsakes that I did not recognize and so I could not remember where we got them and why. Some Mary knew the why and where but others we could not come up with any information. It is too bad that we have so many things that we can not attatch to an experience so we can not relive the memories they might bring if we could.
02 January 2009
Mary called the travel office this morning and we found that we are leaving for our mission on the 29th of January. We will fly American Airlines to Chicago – where we will have a four hour layover so we may get to say goodbye to Jim, Kristy and the girls – and then we transfer to British Airways to travel to London and then South Africa. It sounds like a long, long trip.
The date suggests that the travel office thinks we are going to need for extra training as office missionaries. Since we are not going to do that, we wrote President Mann to see if we could pass on the training and get to the mission earlier. It is interesting that they wanted to keep us here longer than we needed to when we went to Indonesia. We were able to work through that so perhaps we can through this one also.
I checked to see what the luggage limits were and was surprised to find that we not only get two 50 pounds bags each but also we can take as much as 40 pounds as carry on. I don’t think I want to try to carry on two 40 pound bags but it is good to know I can take 25-30 pounds without any problems. This means we can take an extra change of clothes and necessities so if our luggage gets hung up we will have clean clothes and a tooth brush.
“The day dwindles down to a precious few.”
Completely off subject: We have seen two very good movies in the last 8 days. Last week we saw “Valkyrie” and this week we saw ‘Benjamin Button.”
01 January 2009
I managed to write the date without changing an 8 to a 9. Perhaps there is hope for me yet.
This morning as Mary is watching the Rose Parade on two channels, I was at my computer trying to find a new piece of music to listen to on New Years Day. It seemed appropriate at the time. To fill the time while some music was being recorded, I read from the December 2008 Ensign. After reading from page 54 to the end, I opened the magazine to page 26 and Elder Maxwell’s conference talk from 2002 titled “Consecrate Thy Performance.”
How appropriate to read this talk on the 1st day of a new year and just a few of weeks before leaving on our mission. In his wonderful and loving way he pointed out to me some of my weaknesses that I need to work on if I am going to a truly successful missionary and be fully worthy to be called a child of God. I count it as a tender mercy that the Lord had me read this today and I truly acknowledge His hand it this blessing.
Earlier today I ordered a book and cds to help us learn Zulu. Hopefully it will help us be more successful missionaries. Unfortunately the Book of Mormon is not translated into Zulu so Mary and I will not be able to spend our mornings reading and translating as we did in Indonesia. But I am sure there are some church literature that has been translated so we should be able to do some work. We also plan to find a member who can teach us on a regular basis – something we should have done for bahasa Indonesian.
Two Sundays ago – December 21 I think – we had our Christmas program in Sacrament. As usual the Primary and Choir singing was great. But the highlight for me was a talk by Tom Griffith about Christ as creator. It was one of the best Christmas talks I have ever heard. It went right along with a thought that I have been repeating in my mind for a couple of months that came to me as an answer to prayer – “Trust me.”
On the 28th there were two powerful talks by two young people who have been away for a while. Kenneth Brewer has been attending Harvard and then went to China. Megan Shumway has been in Oregon serving a mission. Kenneth talk was about his experiences of being a Mormon in Harvard and China. He recounted that one day at Harvard a young woman asked him “How much of a Mormon are you?” I thought that was a great question and I wondered how I might answer it. Reading Elder Maxwell’s article today re-inforced this question in my mind. As he points out to become Christ like is a step by step process. The important thing is not to be discouraged by my weakness but encouraged to do better.
Megan shared a number of inspiring experiences but one really hit me. She told about a sister they had tracted out and was baptized just before Megan was to come home. Megan got permission to go say goodbye. While they were sharing their love for each other Megan thanked the sister for allowing her to teach her the gospel. The sister responded with thanking Megan for knocking on her door. That really hit me and made me wonder what doors I have not knocked on that I should have. What neighbors did not hear the gospel because I did not knock on their door. I decided that I would pray to know what doors I need to knock on – not only on our mission but also when I am at home. I need to make the idea ‘Every member a missionary” mean something to me.
Speaking of that I have been spending more time getting mentally and spiritually ready for our mission. I have been re-reading the information that we receieved from President Mann. I also wrote him about a couple of programs that are mentioned in the literature. He wrote back with two websites I could visit. http://durbanmission.blogspot.com/ is the blog Sister Mann keeps up about their experiences and has lots of good pictures. http://sadm.site50.net/ is a mission website that tells about some of the programs and ideas that are being used.
The “Walkabout” program sounds like one that could be used in almost any area of the Church. How great it would be if members and missionaries could work together to bring the gospel to those around them. I sent the website to President Marchant yesterday and I think I will send it to Presidents Barrett and Creer today. I am looking forward to getting involved in it and the other programs that are outlined on the mission site.
OK that is enough rambling for now. However I promise more to come as we get ready to leave on our mission.
I woke up this morning to find for once the weather guessers got it right – 4-5 inches of snow had fallen over night. This is only the second snow storm we have been in since we got home. The other one was while we were traveling in Wyoming on the way home from Jim.
The other exciting thing that happened this morning was that we got an e-mail from President Mann and a couple of booklets about the mission.
For future references our mailing address will be: P.O. Box 1741, Wandsbeck 3631, South Africa. That is for all letters and packages
The mission address for express shipping is: 8 Windsor Ave., Westville 3630, South Africa
He include some advice about what to expect when first arriving and what we need to bring with us. One of the interesting suggestions is that we bring an extra change of clothes in our carry on because luggage is often delayed a day or two. One of the encouraging comments in the letter was the suggestion to get to know Africa. Which suggests that we will have some time to explore the country while we serve.
He also mentioned that Elder Bednar was recently in Durban and stated that it was not a sacrifice for seniors to serve missions. We of course agree completely with that and have written it often in letters and our journal. We gained much more than we gave while serving in Indonesia. (Also I did not have to shovel snow as I did this morning while there.)
The mission booklet included information of the Mission Objective, what we would be doing and some handy hints. Another booklet was about the culture. It mainly dealt with the Zulu culture and it seems like we will need to learn at least some Zulu. Hopefully it will be easier for us than Indonesian.
In less than 5 weeks we will enter the MTC and in about 6 we should be on our way to South Africa. That is exciting.
07 December 2008
We had a great evening talking to the Nielsen brothers about their missions. David Nielsen went to Indonesia and was there for about 4 months at the start of our mission. Chad Nielsen went to the Durban mission and got home in July. Bob and his family joined us for dinner so they could hear about our mission. It was good to have Shane sitting there hearing about how much the young men enjoyed their missions and their desire to go back and visit.
We spent the first part of the evening, before dinner, talking to David about Indonesia and the missionaries and members we knew. He told us about where he served and who he served with. It was great to be reminded of the wonderful people of Indonesia and all the things we experienced there.
After a nice dinner we asked Chad lots of questions about our new mission area and what we will do as office missionaries. He told us that I will probably be in charge of the mission fleet of 46 vehicles and Mary will be doing the billing and taking care of the missionary apartments.
He said that while there are some dangers in South Africa, if we are careful and follow some rules we will be fine. He said we will have a nice apartment and a car to drive. Since I will be in charge of the cars, we should have a nice one. As he spoke I hoped that we would have time to work with inactives – I feel that is one of the reasons we are going there.
Because of our calling we will be traveling all over the mission so we should be able to see a lot of the country.
We are both excited about having this opportunity to serve in South Africa. What a blessing it is to be able to serve a mission and help God’s kingdom grow.
05 December 2008
As far as I can remember today was only the second time in my life that I have been fingerprinted. The first time was when we got our identification papers in Indonesia. Being fingerprinted is one of those things I do not believe most law biding citizens ever think about – at least not about their own being taken.
As an aside, I just thought about all the times on TV the villians are caught because they leave behind a ‘partial print’ which is enough to identify them. I guess now that my prints are in the system they will be able to match mine if they ever need to.
Provo provides fingerprint service four nights a week and it costs $10 for two sets. During the day we found that Orem does not charge their residents anything for the service but non-residents have to pay $30. There are also places where you can get it done free – such as going to the county jail down in Spanish Fork.
The other thing we got done today was to have our medical forms signed by the doctor. Now all we need to do is send our fingerprints, application and $18 each to West Virginia and hopefully get back a clean FBI report. It should be interesting to read what the FBI actually says about us.
It is hard to believe in just about 5 weeks we will go into the MTC! I am sure the time will rush by.
04 December 2008 –
The mail brought us a letter from the travel department with visa information. Everything seemed about the same as what we needed for Indonesia until we got to the part that said we need to submit a FBI report. This includes having our fingerprints taken at our local police department and sending them off to Virginia where I guess they will check that we are not members of any terrorist groups or things like that. It will be interesting to read what the FBI has to say about us.