President's Pen 11-16-15

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,

What another wonderful week to be a missionary in the Great Texas Houston South Mission; we have much to be thankful for.  It was great to be with all of you for our zone conferences this past week.  A few follow up items for you to remember…  As we strive to submit our will to the Father, remember the only true gift you can give to God is your heart and mind.  Are you making progress on the few items you wrote down in conference? Members, members, and members!  Please strive to find, teach, and involve the members of your ward in every aspect of the Lord's work.  Become a true member of the ward, teach the Restoration in their homes, teach them how to find, teach them how to teach with you, become someone that they will always remember.  Slow down to speed up!  Help your investigators keep commitments, pace your teaching based on their progress and teach to their needs and understanding.  Remember that their keeping of commitments helps them to keep the commandments and to then make covenants (Commitments, Commandments, Covenants = CCC).   Prepare and plan to use "A Savior is Born".  What a great opportunity to share the love of the Savior and help all feel of His love during the approaching holiday season.  

I am inspired by the simple but powerful teachings found in our missionary guide, Preach My Gospel.  As I was studying today, I came across the invitation to read Nephi 1:1 and to compare it with Joseph Smith's experience. The brief overview… Joseph (Nephi/Lehi) was born of goodly parents, favored of God, steward of a record, prays, reads a book, sees a vision, is mocked for the things he saw and heard (check it out for yourself, great personal study).  This is one of many inspired lessons within the teachings of Preach My Gospel that you can read, ponder, study, and pray about.  

You may not appreciate the fact that Preach My Gospel went through eight major revisions and drafts over nearly five years until it was published for general distribution in 2004.  President Boyd K. Packer said Preach My Gospel was, “designed beyond the veil and put together here.” Everyone involved in the project, from the prophet to the staff workers, acknowledged the hand of God in putting the manual together.  Elder Richard G. Scott stated in the April 2005 general conference, “Those who participated in its development are witnesses of the inspired direction of the Lord through the Holy Ghost in the conception, framing, and finalization of the materials in Preach My Gospel.” Elder Scott then taught, “The former missionary materials were effective for their time, but the world has changed dramatically.” With this change he emphasized that missionaries would now teach the Savior’s message in their own words as guided by the Spirit."

We are blessed to have this amazing missionary guide to bless us in our missionary efforts and I love what is stated in the first page by the First Presidency, "Preach My Gospel is intended to help you be a better-prepared, more spiritually mature missionary and a more persuasive teacher. We urge you to use it daily in your personal and companion preparation, and in your district meetings and zone conferences. Study the referenced scriptures and learn the doctrines and principles."

Elders & Sisters, I have emphasized in our recent interviews and in previous discussions that we must spend more time in Preach My Gospel as a mission if we want to become better prepared, more spiritually mature, and more persuasive teachers.  We have the opportunity every morning in personal study to spend at least 20 minutes (or more) focused on what has been prepared to help us bring more unto Christ.  We also have the opportunity to continue our PMG study in our companionship's each morning as we prepare to teach to the needs of our investigators.  

Elder David A. Bednar spoke to the missionaries in 2011 at the MTC on what it means to "Become a Preach My Gospel Missionary". He emphasized that a Preach My Gospel missionary is a servant of the Lord, called by prophecy and authorized by the laying on of hands, who proclaims the Savior’s everlasting and restored gospel in His way.  Note that you are called by prophecy, authorized, servants of the Lord instructed to proclaim the everlasting gospel in HIS WAY.  Elder Bednar then went on to teach five requirements to become a Preach My Gospel missionary.  They include…

Requirement #1: Preach My Gospel missionaries understand that they serve and represent Jesus Christ.  Preach My Gospel missionaries know and understand whom they represent, why they serve, and what they are to do.   His purposes must be our purposes. His interests should be our interests. His work should be our work. His ways should be our ways. His will increasingly should become our will.

Requirement #2: Preach My Gospel missionaries are worthy.  An essential prerequisite to becoming Preach My Gospel missionaries is personal worthiness before the Savior.   We cannot be stained with the spots of the world and authoritatively represent Him and act with power in His holy name.  We cannot help others to overcome the bondage of sin if we ourselves are entangled in sin (see D&C 88:86).  We cannot help others learn to repent if we ourselves have not learned to repent properly and completely.  We are not required presently to be perfect. But we are commanded to be clean and to walk uprightly before the Redeemer of Israel. “Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord” (D&C 38:42).

#3: Preach My Gospel missionaries treasure up the words of eternal life.  I invite you to “treasure up in your minds continually the words of life” (D&C 84:85). Treasuring up the words of eternal life is more than merely studying or memorizing, just as “feasting upon the word[s] of Christ” (2 Nephi 31:20; see also 2 Nephi 32:3) is more than simply sampling or snacking. Treasuring up suggests to me focusing and working, exploring and absorbing, pondering and praying, applying and learning, valuing and appreciating, and enjoying and relishing.

#4: Preach My Gospel missionaries understand the Holy Ghost is the ultimate and true teacher.  As missionaries, one of our most important roles is to invite investigators to exercise their moral agency and act in accordance with the teachings of the Savior. Making and keeping spiritual commitments, such as praying for a witness of the truth, studying and praying about the Book of Mormon, attending Church meetings, and keeping the commandments, require an investigator to exercise faith, to act, and to change.  Since our responsibility is to help investigators learn by faith and by the power of the Holy Ghost, this work is never about me and it is never about you. We need to do all in our power to fulfill our missionary responsibility and simultaneously “get out of the way” so the Holy Ghost can perform His sacred function and work. In fact, anything you or I do as representatives of the Savior that knowingly and intentionally draws attention to self—in the messages we present, in the methods we use, or in our personal demeanor and appearance—is a form of priestcraft that inhibits the teaching effectiveness of the Holy Ghost.

#5: Preach My Gospel missionaries understand teaching is much more than talking and telling.  Preaching the gospel the Lord’s way includes observing and listening and discerning as prerequisites to talking. The sequence of these four interrelated processes is significant. Please note that active observing and listening precede discerning and that observing, listening, and discerning come before speaking. Employing this pattern enables missionaries to identify and teach to the needs of investigators.  As we observe, listen, and discern, we can be given “in the very hour that portion that shall be meted unto every man” (D&C 84:85)—the truths to emphasize and the answers to give that will meet the specific needs of a particular investigator. Only by observing, listening, and discerning can we be guided by the Spirit to say and do the things that will be most helpful to those whom we serve.

Elders & Sisters, will you please continue your daily study and increase your desire to become a Preach My Gospel missionary as defined by Elder Bednar.  We have the world's best missionaries in Texas Houston South, we are prepared, spiritually mature, and persuasive teachers of the restored truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Please recommit to truly studying what the Lord would have you know, focus on the characteristics you should develop, and master the teaching and finding skills that are within you.  We are Disciples of Christ, let us all become who the Lord expects us to become.  We love you!!!

Mission Update

We have had 17 souls enter the waters of baptism this month to receive a remission of their sins.  What a blessing it is to have souls come unto Christ as they begin their journey towards greater blessings awaiting them at the temple.  For those with baptisms this month and last, what are you doing to make sure they are getting prepared to go to the temple?  Don't lose sight of the big picture and the need for them to have a friend, a calling, and continual spiritual nourishment.  These are your converts, hold on to them and continue blessing them.  Set a goal to have someone in your area baptized in December; a white Christmas of the best kind!
 
Saludos y abrazos, have a great week!
 
President Hall