President's Pen 1-18-16 (Attitude to Find)

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!

Dear Elders & Sisters,

Another great week to be in the best mission in the world!  This Wednesday we have a one of a kind experience to be part of a world wide missionary conference; we will be 80,000 strong in attendance!  I can't remember the Church ever holding a conference like this and I look forward to hearing what we will be taught.  I do know that the conference is titled, "Teach Repentance & Baptize Converts".  I was so happy to see this as it is the focus of our mission and the righteous desire of our hearts.  You and your companion are the only representatives in the Church that have the power and authority to teach repentance and baptism to non-members in your area.  We all hold a sacred trust in the Lord's work and I pray that you will each come prepared and inspired to act on the instruction we are given.  Please ensure you have studied The First 12 Weeks (pages 16-25), bring your study journal to take notes, and be ready for a revelatory experience.  At the end of the meeting, I will ask you to take some time as a zone to share what you learned and what you will do.     

For my personal study today I was inspired to review Chapter 9, "Finding People".  I also game filmed the District 1 videos; Developing the Faith to Find, Talking with Everyone, Finding Through Church Activities, Finding Through Members: Bush Family, Finding Through Members: Brown Family.   I have felt impressed that we need to focus on our ability to find new investigators and increase our efforts in this regard.  In our nightly and weekly planning, question 10asks us to set goals and make plans to find new investigators.   As I pondered this question the impression that came is that we need to develop an ATTITUDE to FIND.  Attitude defines the way we think and feel about a particular topic, in this case, I would desire that our attitude towards finding is pressing and urgent and always a prayer in our hearts.   

If we point all of our activities (finding) back to the Doctrine of Christ, the ATTITUDE to FIND comes from the desire to help all of our brothers and sisters walk the path of faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.  We find, and focus on finding, as we know that the Lord is preparing people to receive us, either through them finding us or us finding them. (pg 155 PMG).  We don't find because it's a number, we don't find so we can fill our day, we find so all can receive a remission of their sins through baptism and return to live with God.  All finding, and the ATTITUDE to FIND, comes back to our purpose, and when our purpose is written on our hearts, we make finding a priority and part of our every day efforts.  

Finding requires FAITH!  As I studied in PMG the thought came to me again and again that our faith in the Savior allows us to trust that he will lead us to those prepared.  I trust that this is His work and that the Lord has "suffered that you come to unto this place (your area); for thus it was expedient in Him for the salvation of souls."  Faith in the Savior is the first principle of the gospel, and with good reason, we should trust that when we act in faith and go to work the blessings will come.  The challenge for each of us is when we don't find right away, we can become discouraged, and discouragement leads to weakened faith.  The Lord's pattern of trying our faith requires us to just keep at it, to not give up, and to keep pressing forward.  As part of your effort to increase your faith to find, go back and watch "Developing the Faith to Find".

In PMG (pg. 156) we are taught that the Spirit is just important in our finding efforts as it is in our teaching efforts.  Why is this important to know; we learn from the scripture study on pg. 156 that the Lord is preparing hearts and minds, that those prepared will hear His voice, that we should lift our voice so the Spirit can enlighten minds, that the Lord will go before us, and that eyes and ears will be opened.  The Spirit is what guides our work and puts us on the right path.  The key then to all of this is that we have to TALK with EVERYONE!  The guidance from PMG is to talk to as many people as you can each day.  We are encouraged to pray for the ability to see opportunities and to have the spiritual sensitivity to recognize these opportunities.  Elder Ballard in the Talk with Everyone District 1 videosuggests that we need to talk to at least 10 people each day.  This goes beyond the regularly scheduled visits you already have, it is everywhere you go, and with all you come into contact with.  Your effort to TALK with EVERYONE will demonstrate that you have an ATTITUDE to FIND.  The instruction from PMG (pg 157) also adds that when we to talk to everyone, we are to proclaim the restored gospel as soon as possible.   If you have the faith that the Lord has prepared hearts and minds, will you take on Elder Ballard's challenge to find at least 10 people to talk to each day?  Make it a part of your nightly planning, know where you'll go, what you'll say, and then let the Spirit guide you.  Determine to find someone everyday!

As part of every lesson you teach and every contact you make, we have repeatedly emphasized the importance of asking "Who else do you know?".  A highlight from the recent visit from the missionary department is that we are the only mission they've visited where missionaries asked this question at each lesson they attended. ;) We must keep asking it and more importantly we should ask it when they feel the Spirit, and not as a side note as we're walking out the door.  Keep asking it to everyone, even those you meet on the street that might turn you down, referrals that don't work out,  etc. etc..  Having an ATTITUDE to FIND will help you remember to ask this important question everywhere you go.  

Before I began my studies on finding I sent a note to the missionary department asking for their current thoughts on what we can do to help our mission improve in our finding efforts.  President Donaldson, District 2, sent me the following reply, "As an average, 70% of the baptisms come from member referrals. The greatest harvest will come as missionaries build super trust with members. I’m not sure how missionaries are working with members, but it’s been our experience that they really need to plan for working with members. It’s much like an investigator, they need to understand where a member is as a member missionary. The most successful member missionaries are recent converts and less actives who are coming back. They need to build the member’s faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, and invite them to act (repent) and help prepare others for baptism. Preach My Gospel indicates that it begins with the Bishop. Missionaries are most successful when they go to the Bishop and ask, ‘Who in the ward needs to have their faith strengthened?"

As I read his counsel I wondered if in our finding efforts we are doing as he suggests, "planning to work with members".  We know from PMG (pg 161) that "strengthening their (members) understanding of the doctrine of Christ will do more to increase their trust in you and to build excitement in missionary work than anything else you can do".  To really plan to work with members means we need to prepare lessons that meet their needs.  This can't be fluff, it can't be just a casual visit, but one that allows for the Spirit to help build their faith in missionary work.  Here's a suggestion in your ATTITUDE to FIND with members…  You visit with a member, you ask them who else they know, and they tell you, "We can't think of anyone right now".  I'd suggest you ask them if they have Facebook/Instragram.  Nearly 100% of our Latino friends do and a high percentage of others do as well.  Ask them to post something about the Church and then tell them to add to the post, "If you want to learn more about my love for the Savior, (eternal families, God's plan for us) send me a message." We all have Facebook/Instagram friends, why not have them be a missionary online? At your next visit, ask them to see how it went and if any friends raised their hands.  There are so many great ideas to work with members on pg. 162 in PMG; make this list part of your weekly planning.  You should also follow the wise counsel on the top of pg. 162 on what every visit to a member should include.  Teach the members and help them learn to role play.  The District video, Finding Through Members: Bush Family is a good example of how you can help them.  

Do you use your four generation chart in finding?  Do you have it with you?  Finding through family history resources may not be something you've tried.  You are given time each week to do family history work, may I suggest you print your four generation chart and make a plan to use it as part of your finding efforts.  On pg. 165 of PMG it tells us that family history is a powerful resource to use in finding those whom the Lord is preparing to receive the gospel.  The spirit of Elijah is real and people do have their hearts turned to their Fathers.  Have you gone to the local library and suggested teaching a family history class?  Do you know we have missionaries already doing this in our mission?  Do you realize many members can help you with this?  If you develop and ATTITUDE to FIND, you will want to add this to your efforts.  

For many of you, you find primarily through your own efforts.  This is not a bad thing and as you seek to strengthen your faith that God is preparing His children to receive the message of the Restoration, you are promised you will find under the guidance of the Holy Ghost (pg. 167 PMG)  One of the traps of missionary work is getting caught up in the same old approach as you've always used.  If this is you, why not be more creative and follow some of the suggestions on pg. 167?  As you develop an ATTITUDE to FIND you'll not only plan to find, but you'll use different approaches, locations, service, and ideas that come to you through promptings of the Spirit.  We need to find through all possible avenues; members, less active, investigators, recent converts, former investigators, and street contacting.  Definition of insanity – doing what you've always done and expect different results.  Perhaps you need to change how you're finding, try something new, and let the Lord do the rest.  

You are counseled in PMG (pg. 168) to go about doing good.  Too many of us stay in the apartment after personal study and don't leave until after lunch.  Could you use this time more wisely by getting out and looking to do some good, even if it's just for an hour?  Find service, pray for these opportunities, do it because you love your brothers and sisters (pg. 169 PMG).  I get cabin fever just thinking about being in the apartment that long, if this is your pattern, change it, get out, and do some good each morning.  You have up to 12 hours a week to serve, please use this time, even if it's not a planned event, you'll feel more purposeful if you do.  Use Ammon's missionary service as an example.  I remember chopping wood every morning on my mission for random strangers as everyone seemed to sleep in.  It saved me and I was blessed to serve someone everyday!

Elders & Sisters, your efforts will not be wasted as you develop an ATTITUDE to FIND.  As it states in PMG (pg. 170), "Your consistent efforts in serving and teaching as many people as you can is on way God prepares His children to receive his servants… when people do not accept the gospel, do not be discouraged."  We have set the standard of excellence of finding three new investigator a week, not because it's a random number, but because I know the fruit it will produce, people walking the path of faith towards saving ordinances.  I also know that our friends in the Houston and East missions are doing it and their challenges are the same as ours.  What I am asking for is your earnest effort in trying to find people every day.  Some weeks you'll exhaust yourself in finding and you'll come short, other weeks you'll find many, but what I want you to have is an ATTITUDE to FIND.  If you're not finding in your area, develop a plan, work with the Bishop, revisit how you're finding, try something new, but every day you should set a goal and make a plan to find.  With 3.2 million people living in our mission there are hearts prepared, we just need to TALK TO EVERYONE.  I need you to commit to planning and doing your best on this effort every day.  Please study Chapter 9 of PMG, game film the District videos, develop and ATTITUDE to FIND.  I will come help you, I will come plan with you.  Lose your fears, open your mouths, pray for direction and let the Spirit guide you.  Have faith, you can do this, and as we do, we will accomplish our purpose by inviting and helping all to come unto Christ.  WE LOVE YOU!

Mission Update

Elders & Sisters, 26 souls have entered the waters of baptism to receive a remission of their sins this month!  Great work, let's get them to the temple!  Many of you have set a goal and made a plan to baptize this transfer and are doing all you can to help people come unto Christ.  I see so many good things happening in your efforts and feel truly blessed to watch you and your companion catch hold of our purpose and vision.  Thanks for your goodness and thanks for your desires to help people recognize the blessings of the Savior's Atonement by guiding them along the path of faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.  Don't waste a moment and continue to serve with all your heart, might, mind, and strength.  

Abrazos y saludos, have a great week!

President Hall