President's Pen 6-27-16 (Culture 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,

We love you!  Thanks for your goodness and desire to bring all unto Christ.  This is our purpose, our message, and the desire of our hearts.  I pray that you'll find joy in the work each day.  You are divinely commissioned to be here in the Great Texas Houston South Mission.  Do all you can each and every day to magnify the opportunity you have to be a Disciple of Christ as you wear his name on your heart and chest.

This past week all new mission presidents were gathered at the MTC in Provo for the new mission president's seminar.  Sister Hall and I loved our experience at the MTC as we were taught by living prophets and apostles on how to bless our missions, missionaries, and how to have the Doctrine of Christ written on our hearts.  The blessing of modern technology made it possible for me to attend this years seminar as the broadcast was sent to us within an hour of each speakers concluding remarks.  The seminar was inspiring and motivating and it continued to focus on our sacred call to teach repentance and baptize converts.  In fact, almost every talk focused on our charge to declare repentance to all people, kindreds, and tongues and to baptize them in the name of the Savior.  

One particular topic from the seminar that was addressed has been on my heart and mind for some time.  The question was asked, "Will your mission culture be one where the missionaries have a desire to constantly find?"  Elder Oaks shared a story of a visit he and his wife had to a country where there were two missions.  A number of missionaries with their mission presidents were asked to meet with them at the airport for a short period of time.  Elder Oaks then went on to share a remarkable difference he observed between the two missions.  He stated that one mission spent the full hour with them chatting.  What most impressed him most, however, was the mission that shared brief hello's, but then took the rest of the time to find people to teach in the airport.  He stated that the mission president didn't shoo these missionaries away, it was just in their culture to talk to everyone and find people to teach.  

As I heard this account I pondered if we have a mission culture that has a constant desire to find.  How would you answer this question for yourself or for your companionship? On the first day you arrived from the MTC we held a brief meeting and then took you running.  You all remember this experience, you were sent into the streets of Houston to street contact be it hot, rainy, or exhausted.  I love that this is a mission tradition that has gone on for years and that we emphasize that you must open your mouths, have faith over fear, and have them filled with the the desire to teach repentance and baptize converts.  There is wisdom in getting you out and talking to people on your first day and my prayer is that going out to find people everyday will be a daily part of your mission experience.

Finding is at the heart of missionary work and as Preach My Gospel clearly states, "Nothing happens in missionary work until you find someone to teach."  I have observed that just like Elder Oaks' experience, we generally have two mission cultures.  We have those missionaries who fear no man, make finding a daily priority, and open their mouths everywhere they go.  We also have those missionaries who find only when their teaching pool has dried up and are then found scrambling to find someone to teach.  Those that know and understand the law of the Lord's harvest recognize that you have to plant seeds everyday if you want to taste the fruit when the harvest has come.  

Chapter 9 of PMG is our best resource when it comes to ideas to find.  I won't rehearse the many options available (invite you to study it this week), but they vary by area and in our ability to be directed by the Spirit to those who the Lord has prepared.  Finding is an act of faith, and not just simple faith, but faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  When we come to recognize that the Savior is always with us in the vineyard it gives us more strength than we might imagine.

To develop a culture where we have the faith to find, it requires that we not only desire to find those the Lord has prepared, but that we set goals and plans to earnestly seek them out.  We understand the reason "WHY" we find is to help God's children return to His presence.  We then focus on the "WHAT" & "HOW" to find to accomplish this end.  A few recommendations then as you work on your efforts to find each day…

  1. Pray for inspiration… Begin praying for your Father in Heaven to pour out His Spirit in your efforts.  Pray in faith that he will put people in your way as you demonstrate that you're willing to open your mouth.  If you pray and seek His help and then continue to pass by people in the street, forget to earn the referral, or just hope someone will approach you, our prayer is in vain.  He will expect you to do what He's blessed you to do, and then He will see your efforts and open doors.  It will be less effective to pray for the members to help you find unless you have specific goals and plans to get the members involved.  Your prayer must be with real intent, or in other words, you must get up off your knees and act.  
  2. Set a goal to find everyday...  As finding is a desire of your heart, your goal will then be to find someone who the Lord has prepared each day.  As part of your goal you'll prepare who to see, where to go, and what approach you will use.  You will make specific goals on the number of people you'll talk to each day, at what times, and what locations.  You'll set goals for the number of return appointments you'll get through these efforts and you may even set a goal on the number of people that may turn into progressing investigators.  Finding in and of itself won't become your goal, but the opportunity to invite those you find to come unto Christ will be your objective.  Not all will be open to our message and that is why we continue to set goals to find everyday.  
  3. Make plans to accomplish your daily finding goals…  Your plans need to be specific including where, when, and with whom.  These plans will likely include specific members, less actives, part members, investigators, former investigators, referrals, and locations in your area where people congregate.  Your plan will likely include a specific finding approach, be it pamphlets, the Book of Mormon, family history, and even service.  The point to your specific plan is that you know that it will bring specific results.  Your plan will also likely allow you to not have your day so full that it doesn't allow you to go from place to place without talking to people along the way.  Your plan will likely include you getting on your bike and out of the car.  Your plan will also likely include some role play on how you'll approach the people you meet that day.  The plan may also include the faith to drop investigators that aren't progressing.  Planning means that we go about our work in a smart way.  Work without a specific plan is just work.  Be wise in this effort and use your time effectively as you divide up your area and focus on the best places to go for that particular day.  A goal without a plan is just a wish!
  4. Tenacity to find will make the difference… Daily finding requires persistent, consistent, and dogged effort.  It seems that it's always in the last hour, at the last door, or last effort before success is seen.  If we give up or quit we may never know who the Lord may have prepared for us in the last hour.  The trial of faith for many can lead to discouragement, but for us it will lead to the muscle of faith being strengthened.  This is where champions of faith are born as they refuse to call it quits for the day until they have expended every effort.  This may mean you have to leave someone's home early, not campout at a members house, not passively spend time in the car or at the church, or yes, even knock a few doors if needed.  Our mission has people prepared, there are doors that will be opened, our tenacity to find will make the difference.
  5. Be accountable to the Lord…  Each night as you return home and offer your nightly prayers give an accounting the Lord of your efforts.  Thank Him for the tender mercies you witnessed during the day and share with Him how you consecrated your time and talents.  You'll know in your heart if you did your best to find that day, and when you have, you will sleep peacefully knowing you gave it your all.  

Elders & Sisters, this is our mission, our culture, and our desire to show the Lord that we are indeed His called disciples.  For those of you that already do what I've described above, keep at it and thanks for your diligent efforts.  For those that are somewhere in between, know that the Lord will bless you as you put forth your best efforts.  Expect the trial of faith, expect that results may not come until the last hour or next day.  I am most pleased when I know you're doing your absolute best, what more can be asked of you.  I also know that your hard work will lead to your own happiness and joy in the work, even when it doesn't all go to plan.  

I offer up a new hashtag as we constantly keep finding on our minds.  #FC&TR&BC (find constantly & teach repentance & baptize converts)  I believe we can do far better as a mission than we're doing today.  It is not about a number and never will be, it's about our desire to see people receive a remission of sins as they enter the waters of baptism.  It is about our desire to see them in temple white, and it's about our desire to see them live happy and pointed towards exaltation and life with our Father in Heaven.  We have 6+ days a week to find and our standard of excellence is 3 new investigators per week.  I firmly believe we can find at least three new investigators each week if we have developed the faith to find each day and then go to work.

Will you recommit to making consistent finding a part of your daily plan?  Will you allow me to help you if you are struggling?  I recently met with a district that was struggling to find and they all committed to finding someone new that week.  They all demonstrated their faith and went to work.  After weeks of struggling to find, the district didn't quit until they all found! I know the Lord will bless you and that your efforts will not be wasted.  Thanks for all you're doing, for who you're becoming, and for your desire to find and teach repentance to all you meet.  Keep up the great work and trust in the Lord.  Love ya!

Mission Update

A great month as we had 31 souls enter the waters of baptism to receive a remission their sins.  With our transfers coming next week I encourage you all to set a goal and make a plan to find someone that has been prepared to accept the truth.  Be tenacious disciples!  Please find attached the calendar for the months of July & August.  Quarterly interviews will take place towards the end of July, but as always, you're always welcome to come visit with me on a Monday if you desire.  Love ya!

President Hall