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! We had the blessing of having Elder Ronald A. Rasband and Elder Richard J. Maynes of the Presidency of the Seventy with us this weekend to instruct and edify us. Elder Rasband was in town to meet with the stake presidents and bishops from the east and south coordinating councils. He shared three prophetic priorities that are important to all of us: faith in our Heavenly Father and the Savior, Sabbath Day observance, and the blessing of councils in all their varieties. We also had the opportunity to hear from President Maynes as he held a special MLC on Saturday with us. We have now received two apostolic blessings over our area, both for the missionaries and the local leadership. These blessings are predicated on our obedience and faithfulness, so let's do all we can to have the Lord shower down His blessings upon us.
We are looking forward to transfers this Wednesday. We have 14 missionaries going home and 14 new missionaries arriving. I have been on my knees pleading with the Lord to give me guidance and direction for each of you. Elder Rasband reminded me of something that is important as I consider transfers… The first is that only the apostles can call missionaries to labor in their assignments. That authority is then delegated to me through priesthood keys as I assign you to the areas you serve in. I work under the keys of apostleship so please consider the assignment you're given as an extension of where an apostle would have you serve. He also reminded me of the lesson given to him as he worked with President Eyring in assigning missionaries to their particular mission. President Eyring instructed Elder Rasband to ask the Lord to know perfectly where a missionary is to serve. I have followed this wise counsel and offered the same prayer in your behalf. I testify that where you are to serve is where the Lord wants you to be.
As we were instructed by President Maynes yesterday the following thought came to my mind… What are you willing to do as a missionary to bless one of your brothers or sisters to receive a remission of sins through baptism? We have focused as a mission on our Vision to Baptize and I see that many of you have this desire. Today I have been impressed to have you consider how to help this vision become a reality. To help you I would have you evaluate your personal commitment in the following areas…
Personal Worthiness – This is the Lord's work and as instruments in His hands we must be worthy. We do not have to be perfect nor will we achieve this status, but if there are areas in your life where you remain unclean or if the Spirit continues to work on you to confess something that might be a pebble in your shoe, please do all you can to take care of it. You are vessels and conduits for the Spirit and to have the Spirit work through you we must be clean. I invite you today to take care of any unresolved issues. The blessing of repentance is real and if you have a vision to baptize, please make a commitment to be worthy. If you need to talk to me remember I am your best friend. :)
Spiritual Self-reliance — Missionary work requires your heart, might, mind and strength. The desire to serve has to come from a pure and simple source; your love for the Savior and His gospel. If you truly believe the Doctrine of Christ is our message and purpose, this will give you sufficient motivation to do whatever is required to help people gain faith in the Savior and His Atonement, repent, be baptized, receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and put them on the path to endure to the end. This motivation has to come from within and can't be borrowed. I can hold a thousand motivational zone conferences, fill you with energy and excitement, but in the end it will have little long term effect. Much like the account of the ten virgins, there will either be oil in your lamp through your diligence and faith or you will be found lacking. May I invite you to consider whether or not you have the spiritual self-reliance to drive your efforts as a missionary. If you feel you are lacking, the great news is today is the day to fill your lamp. There is no better time in your life to make this happen and it will make all the difference for you as you serve now as wellinto the future. If you have a vision to baptize, this will be a top item on your list.
Obedience — First law of heaven, the basis of all blessings. This is a black and white and yes or no answer, and yet our attitude towards it speaks volumes about our sincere desire to baptize. I love the principle of obedience as I either want blessings or not; God is bound to keep his promise when I do my part. I either choose to be obedient or I don't. I either find ways to bend the rules to meet my needs or I live them exactly as they are intended. As a personal barometer you can ask whether or not you find yourself justifying or rationalizing a rule or just living it because you choose to. A vision to baptize must include obedience, without it, it is a hollow desire and one that shows the true character of where you're at. Another good indicator is whether or not you stand up for the rules or if you join in because everyone else seemingly breaks them. Be obedient, what more can I say?
Gospel Knowledge — To become an effective missionary you must treasure up and obtain the word in order for you to share doctrines and principles that will help people come to an understanding of the truth. A thirst for gospel knowledge will only help you as you desire to invite others come unto Christ and desire to help them understand why our message is so important. This, like spiritual self-reliance, cannot be borrowed or bought. It only comes through personal study and commitment to know not only what we teach, but how to apply it to the needs of the investigators you are inviting and helping. A sincere desire to baptize will require your gospel knowledge to increase and grow as you study the scriptures and PMG. The blessing of our service is we need only stick to basic principles and our mastery of those can be full and complete if you take the time to study the approved missionary library. Is your desire to baptize reflected in your study and preparation?
Hard Work — Missionary work is work and there is no substitute for it. You must love to work, plain and simple, or you will find your days full activities that don't lead towards your desire to baptize. PMG refers to work as diligence, or the consistent, earnest, and energetic effort in doing the Lord's work. Work for many doesn't imply fun or enjoyable, and yet those who come to understand the value of work often enjoy it much more than idle free time. Work gives us purpose, a sense of accomplishment, and a feeling of peace that we've done all that we can do. I would add that we must work smartly through our goal setting and planning, but your desire to work will be a strong indicator of your personal vision to baptize.
Goal Setting & Planning -- If you want to see people progress towards saving ordinances you have to recognize that your divine call requires the wise and effective use of your time. This time is translated into setting goals that drive the desires or your heart. If you want to baptize every month, you set a goal and then create a plan to make it happen. You might do something like… To baptize this month we have to talk to at least 600 people, that means we need to open our mouths to members and strangers at least 20 times a day for the 30 days we have this month. Of those people we talk to we have a goal to find 3-5 new investigators each week, and of those new we find, we anticipate that 1-2 will be baptized this month. We know it takes on average about 8 weeks for an investigator to be baptized, and we know we will be finding and losing people from our teaching pool each day, so we recognize we have to set a goal every day to do the Lord's work or our desire is just a wish, plain and simple. As we set our goals we also understand that our plan has to be specific and deliberate. We'll follow the 13 steps each week and each night because they are the inspired principles that help investigators progress towards ordinances. We don’t do them because we have to; we do them because we have a desire to baptize. A desire to baptize means you will use the key indicators as a way to measure and sustain your effort. In this work you may not hit every goal, but it's infinitely better to set goals and not make them than not set goals at all. These are eternal principles and I can't stress enough the value that they not only have now, but for the rest of your life.
Faith over Fear — Missionary work can be uncomfortable to some and your desire to baptize will be evident in your desire to talk to all. Open your mouth was the command given by the Lord to his early missionaries and this charge has not changed. You may hear 100's of no's before the first yes. Using a sports analogy, you miss 100% of the shots you don't take. If people say no, move on, they're not ready, but at least their agency isn't on your shoulders. Your faith in the Savior Jesus Christ allows you to overcome all fear, and as a missionary that desires to baptize, you simply need to trust that this is His work. Have fun, talk about the gospel, meet new people, there is no better news to share. You don't know who the Lord has prepared so talk to everyone!
Desire to Become — perhaps one of the most important principles to me in your missionary work is your desire to become a great missionary. Unfortunately we don't roll out of bed in the morning and have the dews of missionary worked distilled upon us from heaven. We do however know what is required to become great missionaries, and it starts with an understanding of the Savior's Atonement and our personal desire to share it. You may not master every skill, every scripture, every teaching technique, but the question is do you have a desire to continually get better? Status quo and mediocrity are subtle tools of the adversary. He lulls many to sleep saying that all is well in Zion… You're good enough, you've been out long enough, there's nothing more to learn, you've always done it this way so why change it. Progress or regress is a true principle. We either move forward or we move backwards. The desire to baptize will always begin with a desire to get better, do better, and be better. This is a journey and not all will come and once, but patient and persistent effort does payoff and it begins with a desire to become even as the Savior is. What the Lord seeks is your anxious engagement in a good cause, actors to act vs. objects to be acted upon. Your desire to baptize will be reflected in your desire to become something more than you are today.
What I hope you feel as you review the points above is that you must be willing to leave all on the altar to see the blessings of people coming unto Christ. We are at war and Satan and his troops do not take days off. President Maynes shared an interesting analogy with the MLC. He envisions Satan and his zone leaders talking about setting goals and making plans to distract missionaries, waste their time, and become lazy in their efforts. Can you imagine them setting goals and making plans to have companionships at odds, frustrate the work, create stumbling blocks for investigators, and generally cause missionaries to be ineffective? How often do we lose these small battles? We know we will win the war, but why not be about winning battles today?
I ask each of you to consider what you are willing to do to have someone come to the waters of baptism month after month after month. As we have been taught, this is not about them joining a Church or simply becoming better people, this is about eternal salvation and bringing them back to God. What are you be inspired to do? How will you continue to improve your service? If you struggle in any of these areas, take it to your Heavenly Father and wrestle with Him like Enos did. Pray for the Savior's grace to enable you beyond your natural and fallen state. Let me help you. You have been endowed with power and are authorized agents of the Lord Jesus Christ to teach repentance unto this people. This is awesome and awe inspiring. Love this work, love the Lord, and do all you can to invite others come unto Christ, because that is the only reason you're here! We love you, pray for you, and desire your happiness and success.
Elders & Sisters, another great week here in THSM as we've had 61 souls enter the waters of baptism to receive a remission of their sins this year. We are now at 12% of our annual goal and we are well on our way to accomplishing it. For this transfer we had 26 companionships blessed to have baptisms. We have 90 companionships in total and I know each of you desire to baptize. This coming transfer will be seven weeks long and I would like every companionship to have the blessing of a baptism. If you follow the 3-2-1 Vision to Baptize approach this can happen for you. Set goals and make daily plans to make it happen and have the faith that it will. How great will be your joy as you see people repent and come unto Christ. Thanks for your goodness and keep up the great work!