President's Pen 12-14-15 (Do I have the Vision?)

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!  I hope you are all enjoying your missionary experiences during this sacred time of year.  No better time to celebrate Christmas as a Disciple of Christ; we are called and set apart to declare why He lives and why He is the center of our message.

VISION – do you have it?  While I was serving my mission I noticed that the vision in my left eye was not as sharp as it once was.  I visited the optometrist and was given a diagnosis, keratoconus, or the condition where your cornea loses its shape and creates a distorted image.  To course correct this progressive eye disease there are number of interim solutions, but the only real fix is a cornea transplant.   When this procedure is performed, 90% of the patients have restored vision and in many cases can see much better than what they once could.  Clear vision is priceless and one that helps us see beyond the distorted images the world portrays.   In my thoughts to you today I am asking you to consider if you have the right vision, and if not, to diagnose what needs to be changed so you can see more clearly.  

These past few months I have been seeking the Lord's guidance and have asked for a clear VISION of what our mission needs.  We are doing so many things well and our recent visitors from the missionary department praised us for the way we seek referrals by asking who else do you know.   We are the first mission they've ever visited (in more than 100+) where the missionaries began to teach, letting all know we would be asking referrals at the end of the lesson!  They had a number of other positive things to share with us and I am very pleased with our progress.  

They also provided some feedback that can help improve our VISION, and in turn, move our focus and energies in the right direction.  Their visit and an unexpected letter I received from Elder Corbridge confirmed the revelation I had received; do our missionaries have a VISION to BAPTIZE and do they understand why this is our purpose?  I have often felt over these last many months that we want to invite others to come unto Christ, help them understand the most important thing, and see them at the waters of baptism, but is this truly the desire of our hearts?

Elder Corbridge's letter stated what I was feeling… "Many missionaries are not focused on baptism and the gospel, that is, faith in Christ, repentance, baptism, for a remission sins by one having authority, the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end.  They think they are, because they want to baptize, but most are not focused, not really, truly focused on baptizing.  If they really understood "the Gospel" as the Lord has defined it, they would talk about baptizing all the time.  They would talk to everyone.  They would think about baptizing, they would talk about it, they would dream about it, and most importantly they would teach everyone, and teach and teach, and re-teach, and mention again, and teach some more "remission of sins by baptism, and by fire, yea, even the Holy Ghost" (D&C 19:31) and enduring to the end.  That would be the message woven throughout the entire fabric of everything they teach.  Everything would be directed to that end.  It would find its way into almost every principle they teach because it is the purpose and message.  It is the end objective. It is the reason they walk the streets, whatever the weather.  It is why they leave home, family, and friends behind.  It would surface again and again, again and again in all that they teach.  It would be their message, their theme, their dream, their vision.  Most missionaries don't have that vision.  Not like that. Please help them to get it."

Ask yourself this question as you ponder what Elder Corbridge stated, do you wake up every day, pray for, think about, and have the desire to have someone receive a remission of their sins through baptism?  Does this thought consume your efforts, your study, your planning, your finding, your teaching, and the reason why you've come on a mission?  Do you feel like the Sons of Mosiah, "Now they were desirous that salvation should be declared to every creature, for they could not bear that any human soul should perish; yea, even the very thoughts that any soul should endure endless torment did cause them to quake and tremble. (Mosiah 28:3)  Like Nephi, do you recognize that if we do not help them repent, believe in His name, and be baptized in His name, and endure to the end, they must be damned (progression stopped or cut off from God)? (2 Nephi 9:24)  The VISION to BAPTIZE should permeate your thoughts, your soul, and your heart as there is no other way for them to return to God without the message you offer them.  You are their missionaries!  This is not about numbers, or having more members join the Church, this is about your desire to have salvation come to all men, giving them the opportunity and blessing of returning to live with the Father.

Many of you may not have realized how important this VISION is before you decided to come on a mission.  A few of you may have decided to come on a mission because it was what you do at this age, or what the family wanted, or because you felt pressure, or because you are obedient, or even better, because you wanted to invite others to come unto Christ to receive the saving ordinances.  Regardless of why you came, I want to emphasize that our message and purpose is your VISION and the reason you are here now.  If you truly come to understand that you are here for the sole purpose of inviting 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 endure, you will have the VISION to BAPTIZE.  

Along the way you will be changed, your testimony strengthened, your conversion deepened, life long friends made, lives changed, incredible experiences had, and blessing beyond compare, but these will be the icing on the cake of your service.  You are here to call this people to repent and to be baptized.  How does this feel to you as you read this, does it energize and excite you?  If you struggle with this thought and don't understand the why yet, lack faith, or motivation, I would love the opportunity to help you.  

Sometimes as missionaries we do things backwards.  Often times we give our heart and soul to teaching, planning, seeking out member friends, helping investigators live the Word of Wisdom, pay tithing, while also helping them read, pray, and come to church.  All of these things are of course vitally important, but do we realize that we do these things for one purpose in mind,  to help them receive a remission of sins through baptism?  If our investigators don't have this vision, we give them a long list of hard things to do and sacrifices to make, but they may come short of what we're here for in the first place, helping them receive a remission of their sins.  This is why we are devastated when they don't follow through, this is why we hurt when we can see they know what we teach is true, but reject it.  This is why missions are hard work and also the reason why they bring so much joy when those we invite and help come unto Christ.  

The direction and VISION I will share with you again and again and again is that we are here to help people receive a remission of their sins through baptism.  This is the only and true doctrine of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost (2 Nephi 31:21)  This is the only way whereby man can be saved.  This is why you and I are here! It is written on my heart; I am fully in and invite you to join in with me.  There is no quota (nor has one ever existed), there is no external pressure, it is a genuine belief that we are on the Lord's errand and that this is what we are here to do. We will not baptize those that aren't ready (D&C 20:37), we will still help return the lost sheep, we will still focus on retaining our converts, but I am redirecting your priorities towards crying repentance and baptism.  I invite you to develop this VISION and understand why you should have it if you are still seeking it.  

When this VISION is in place you will want to plan with the idea of helping your investigators progress towards this end.  You will study individually and as companionships with the desire of helping those you teach receive a remission of their sins.  In other words, you will come to believe and come to know that every activity, every effort, every lesson, every conference, every bike ride, every street contact, and every act of obedience is only done with the sole purpose of inviting others to come unto Christ.  If your efforts don't meet this criteria, ask yourself why you're doing it.  We have no time to waste and we all want to keep pace with the Lord as He hastens His work.  

In your zone meetings this week your zone leaders will teach this message.  They will teach the Doctrine of Christ, our purpose, and our message, and help you see how it guides everything we do.  They will help you see how your planning will make all the difference in helping an investigator progress.  They will also share with you things that may stop or move your investigators backwards.  They will help you see how goal setting is a desire of your heart, not a number, not a key indicator, but a desire to see your investigators progress.  In preparation you need to read the "Doctrine of Christ, Our Missionary Purpose" by Elder D. Todd Christofferson before the meeting.  Please prepare your heart and mind to have your VISION made clear, your purpose focused, and your message energized.  

I testify that this is what the Lord wants us to do.  It is so clear to me that it consumes my waking thoughts and wakes me up at night; all I want to do is to teach this with you and help you have it written on your hearts. We are Disciples of Christ.  We are the best missionaries in the world.  We declare this word to the people of Houston and we desire that they have everlasting life.  Are you in?  

We love you!

Mission Update

We are blessed beyond measure to have souls receive a remission of their sins through baptism each week and we know there are many more who desire to feel clean, close to God, and have His Spirit in their lives. Let's help them know how this can be accomplished.  Keep up the great work, begin with the end in mind, and invite all to come unto Christ!

Saludos y abrazos, have a great week!

President Hall