Presient's Pen 8-31-15 (Unified Companionship's)

As missionaries in the Texas Houston South Mission, we know our purpose 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 do this through our constant efforts to find, teach, invite, retain, and activate God’s children; we love it, we live it, and we do it! We begin with the “End in Mind”, and see God’s children as he does. We are Disciples of Jesus Christ and the best missionaries in the world!

Elders & Sisters, we love you!  Thank you for your goodness and desire to find, teach, invite (baptize), retain, and activate each and every day.  What a blessing it is for us to invite others to come unto Christ.  This is truly the best assignment in the Church!  To be a full-time missionary for the Savior is such a blessing and I hope you are each grateful for the trust the Lord has in you.

One of the teachings I have been inspired to share this week is regarding the second great commandment, "Love your neighbor as yourself".  In missionary work your neighbor is truly everyone you interact with, the members, the investigators, your family and loved ones at home, and your companion.  When we live this commandment we treat and love each other like the Savior does, with kindness, respect, understanding, and patience.  

I love the scripture in the Doctrine & Covenants 130:2 that speaks to an important principle regarding our relationships, "And that same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there, only it will be coupled with eternal glory, which glory we do not now enjoy."  When I ponder this scripture it brings to mind a couple of important truths about the only things I'll take with me as I leave this life, my relationships, my knowledge, and my experiences.  I am taught in the scriptures that I will have a perfect remembrance of my life here on earth.  I will perfectly remember then how I lived the second great commandment and whether or not I treated others as I wanted to be treated.  I will also unfortunately see and know how I could have treated my neighbor better, and I'm sure I will have some sadness with relationships that I could have managed better.  

Let me now take this thought into your relationship with your companions.  I am a true believer that you can get along with anyone, there are no bad companions!  Yes, we are different; we have unique personalities, interests, desires, and styles.  I am grateful for the diversity of people the Lord brings into our lives and I know that I can learn something from everyone.   As missionaries we never know who our next companion will be and this can sometimes be one of the more difficult aspects of missionary life; if we allow it to be.  If we point ourselves back to the principles found in the second great commandment and recognize that we are on the same team, we should truly be able to have relationships that we treasure and love.  

Because we are different you will have disagreements at time, you will have different opinions, you will have different desires.  Some of you are fast pace, some of you are more low key and methodical, some of you are deep thinkers, some of you are light hearted and the life of the party, some of you keep to yourselves, and some of you are bold and direct.  When you combine our different personalities you recognize that God's children are truly one of a kind, special in their own way, and thank goodness that's the case!  It is also the reason why you gravitate to some and perhaps not to others, but ultimately it's a choice of whether or not you'll treat others like you want to be treated.  

We will interact with so many of God's children during life's journey that you will either choose to love and appreciate all, keep your circle tight and only allow those in that think and act the way you do, or push people away because you don't choose to see the good in them.  The natural man within us is quick to judge, place labels, and decide whether they are worthy or not of our time.  Unfortunately, this can manifest itself in the way we interact and socialize.  We can be short, unkind, impatient, and argumentative.  If the scripture is true, the same way we choose to socialize in this life will carry to the next; doesn't that give you a desire to treat your relationships differently?

As a bishop I would meet regularly with married couples who could no longer get a long.  Keep in mind they chose each other, they weren't forced together through a transfer!  The common issue across all of these challenges was generally selfishness in all its forms.   They were right, the other party was wrong.  The other person needed to change, not them.  Their style and approach was right, the others was wrong.  They didn't need their opinion or want to hear what the other had to say.  What a mess!  I would agonize for them, their children, and extended family.  To see families torn apart, like some have you have personally seen, is one of the more painful experiences I have had to observe.  It's not what God wants, its not what families want, and yet choosing not to live the second commandment has dire consequences.  

So what do we do, what can we change to make our relationships the type that last and be remembered for good?  The first step is always to take a moment to look at yourself in the mirror.  Do you love yourself? Not in a selfish way, but do you recognize you have divine worth?  Do you love others and can you find the good?  Are you agreeable or disagreeable?  Are you critical and fault finding?  Do you tear down or build up?  Do you always have to be right or can you learn from someone else's perspective? Can you receive feedback, even when it's not easy to hear? Can you forgive and forget? Do you listen to others, walk in their shoes, and take the time to understand their needs, wants, and desires?  

There are a hundred more questions like this to ask yourself and only you will know where you need work.    What I would teach married couples applies to every relationship… "Change yourself, change your relationship!".  You can't force someone to think the way you do, act the way you want them to, nor feel the way you want them to.  If you want to live the second great commandment, you must simply love them, gently persuade them, be patient with them, and be kind, meek, and charitable.  These are all choices and it's entirely up to you of whether or not you'll have a good relationship or those that may bring sadness when the Book of Life is opened to your remembrance.   I love what Elder Uchtdorf shared in our zone conferences regarding Elder Strong and Green, “When missionaries don’t get along, when they fight and argue, it is often because one missionary wants to do what is right and the other doesn’t care.” Elder Strong paused for a moment and then said, “We do not get along, so I ask you tonight; please tell me, are you trying to do what is right? Perhaps I am choosing what is wrong and I need to change.”  Do you need to change?

Each week as you hold companionship inventory ask yourself if you are building relationships that will last.  You must communicate openly, discuss challenges with respect and care for the thoughts and feelings of others, and see them as God sees them, not perfect, but doing the best they can. Have you ever asked your companion what it’s like to work with you?  I sometimes find that we can have blind spots in the way we behave and that it’s often helpful to have kind counsel in areas we may not be aware of.  This is an approach I use with Sister Hall.  Sometimes I don’t like what I hear, but I always know she’s right!  It's then up to me to make the necessary changes.  I promise you that receiving and giving constructive feedback is a skill you MUST develop if you want a happy marriage, family, and life.  

My deepest desire for our mission and for all of you is that we love all as brothers and sisters.  As missionaries we must live the second great commandment, find the good in each other, and make change where we need to. Most of our companionships work in harmony, respect and kindness; if that's your companionship, keep it up!  We are all on the same team!  Let us not get in the way of the Lords' work.  We are Disciples of Christ, let's act and live and strive to be what he wants us to be!  I love you all, you are truly my greatest friends and I have nothing but joy as I think about who you are, what you're doing, and who you're becoming.  Repent if you need to, soften your heart where necessary.  Teach in unity and love and the Lord will help you find, teach, and invite his children to come unto Christ.  

Weekly Mission Update

For the month of August we had xx souls enter the waters of baptism to receive a remission of their sins.  Let’s not lose a one!  We must retain and help them get to the temple.   As we begin a new month, I am hopeful that each one of you will have the faith sufficient to have a baptism per companionship.  If you are striving to meet the Standards of Excellence, putting in a full purpose effort, planning specifically, and living with exact obedience, the Lord will put someone in your path.  You are here to invite others to come unto Christ, find joy in your purpose.  We love you!!!

Saludos y abrazos, have a great week!

President Hall