President's Pen 6-6-16 (Set Apart from the World)

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 diligence, obedience, love, and faith in this great work.  We are so proud of who you are and who you're becoming.  A great week ahead and we look forward to seeing you on Thursday and Friday for the mission tour with Elder Foster.  

Each Sunday I have the blessing of attending a sacrament meeting somewhere in the mission.  I try to get to at least 2-3 different wards so I can interact with local leadership, visit with you, meet investigators, and offer my support.  This Sunday I found myself on the road to Bay City to attend meetings with the good saints there.  Our mission is so diverse as I travel across it… We have the inner city, the coast, suburbia, and the wide open farmland in the Bay City zone.  You can't find greener and prettier countryside than what we have here in our mission.  THSM is the best!!!

On my drive down I noticed several corn fields that don't look like the fields I am use to seeing.  Normally I see corn fields that are in perfect rows and all about the same height in growth.  Today, however, I noticed a variety of corn field that had an interesting feature.  Scattered throughout the field were stalks of corn that were in some cases two to three feet taller than all the other corn around it (see attached pics).  I mentioned this pattern to one of the ward members and he told me that the taller stalks of corn pollinated all the others around it.  Interestingly, the pattern of growth seemed to be equally dispersed so that the entire field could be pollinated as the plants matured.  I know zero about growing corn and won't pretend to know how these taller stalks grew above their peers, but it felt like a heavenly pattern the Lord uses to bless his children.  He calls each of you, to stand above the world, to share His gospel, so that all might be blessed.

As the Lord's representatives you are "set apart from the world to a higher plane" (PMG pg. 4, President Kimball).  The Savior taught to both the Jews and Nephites, "Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid,  Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."

Everything about you stands out… From the way you dress, to the way you act, to the way you teach, to the way you testify, and to the way you represent the Savior.  Your calling comes with power and authority as you are worthy, obedient, and covenant keeping.   You stand above those that are wise to the world, the kings, and rulers, and to all those that have yet to receive the gospel message.  You are indeed a light to the world.

I wondered how these individual stalks grew to the height they did and it would seem to me that there must be something unique in the DNA ofeach seed that allows it to reacher greater heights.   Each seed is planted in the same dirt, receives the same amount of water, gets the same amount of sun, but somehow it rises higher than the rest.  Likewise, we all come from the same spiritual DNA, spirit sons and daughters of our Father in Heaven, all sent to the same field (earth), but in this season of your life you were foreordained to become a light on a hill that couldn't be hid.  As you serve with all your heart, might, mind, and strength, you spiritually grow to a height that blesses the rest of those in the part of the vineyard you serve.

Your assignment carries with it tremendous responsibility.  You need to be on higher ground so you can lift those around you.  Corn left un-pollinated will never grow to its full potential and won't bear the type of fruit it could otherwise (google tells me this so it must be true :)  Likewise, if you don't share the gospel in such away that all might hear, and come to know it's truth, our brothers and sisters can't reach their full potential.  Corn is pollinated by the wind, effectively covering the entire field.  Our vineyard is reached as we open our mouths, by working through members, less actives, part-members, area book, and street contacting.  You and your companion don’t stand alone in the vineyard as the Lord prepares the way, but it does require you to reach a height that your voice is heard and understood.  

As I consider how you can reach the height to stand above the rest, Elder Bednar's words came to my mind on how you can become a Preach My Gospel missionary   He taught…

1.   Understand YOU serve and represent Jesus Christ. -- "As we serve, we do not represent our families, our friends, our branches or wards, or our communities or nations. Rather, we represent Him. 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… Please remember Him in all that you think, in all that you do, and in all that you strive to become, and represent Him appropriately to all of Heavenly Father’s children with whom you interact now and always."

2.   Are worthy. -- "Within the sound of my voice are elders and sisters who yet need fully to repent. The time is now. Please, please, please do not procrastinate the day of your repentance.  Within the sound of my voice are elders and sisters who have repented and are continuing to repent and who wonder if they have done all that is necessary to be accepted of the Lord (see D&C 97:8). Please remember, the Lord requires you to be clean but not perfect. The Holy Ghost operating again in your life is the surest indicator of forgiveness by the Lord because “the Spirit of the Lord doth not dwell in unholy temples” (Helaman 4:24). And recognize that the mandate to “forgive all men” (D&C 64:10) includes forgiving yourself."

3.   Treasure up the words of eternal life. -- "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.  As representatives of the Savior, you and I have the ongoing responsibility to work diligently and to implant in our hearts and minds the fundamental doctrines and principles of the restored gospel, especially from the Book of Mormon."

4.   Understand the Holy Ghost is the ultimate and true teacher. -- "Regardless of how worthy we are and how earnestly we serve, you and I simply cannot push or force truth into the hearts of investigators. Teaching, exhorting, explaining, and testifying, as important as they are, can never convey to an investigator a witness of the truthfulness of the restored gospel. Our best efforts can only bring the message of truth unto the heart (see 2 Nephi 33:1). Ultimately, an investigator needs to act in righteousness and thereby invite the truth into his or her own heart. Only in this way can honest seekers of truth and new converts develop the spiritual capacity to find answers for themselves and “to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places” (Mosiah 18:9)."

5.   Understand teaching is much more than talking and telling. -- "Preach My Gospel missionaries know we do not teach lessons; we teach people. We do not merely recite or present memorized messages about gospel topics. We invite seekers of truth to experience the mighty change of heart. We understand that talking and telling alone are not teaching.  Preaching the gospel the Lord’s way includes observing and listening and discerning as prerequisites to talking."

Elders & Sisters, if we are to rise to a height sufficient to stand above the field, each day we must consistently and persistently do our best.  As agents called to act, we are 100% responsible for our effort, we put away excuses, justification, and all other issues that might come up on the anti-responsibilty list.  The Lord trusts you to be lights on the hill.  Strive each and everyday to give all you can to the Lord.  There is no other way for people to increase their faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repent and change, receive a remission of sins through baptism, receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and endure to the end without you!  I love you for your efforts and desires.  I am so proud to serve with you and I thank my Heavenly Father each day for the blessing to work with you.  You stand apart, you are God's chosen vessels, serve Him with all your hearts and share the great gospel news!  Love ya!

Mission Update

We are blessed this week to have Elder Bradley D. Foster of the Seventy and his wife join us this week for a mission tour.  We have been so blessed to have wonderful leadership visit our mission and Elder Foster is among the best.  Here is a brief biography on him…  Elder Bradley D. Foster was sustained as a General Authority Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on April 4, 2009. He served as Second Counselor in the South America South Area Presidency from 2010 to 2012. He currently assists Elder Lynn G. Robbins in supervising the North America Southwest Area, and he also serves as an Assistant Executive Director in the Family History Department.

Elder Foster attended Ricks College focusing on preveterinary studies. In 1971 he started his own company, Foster Agri Business. He has served as a member of the Idaho Potato Commission, on the board of directors for Farm Credit Bank, and on the President’s Advancement Council at BYU–Idaho.

Elder Foster has served in numerous Church callings, including full-time missionary in Texas, elders quorum president, stake mission president, bishop, high councilor, stake president, and president of the California Arcadia Mission (1992–1995).  Bradley Duane Foster was born in Rigby, Idaho, on March 5, 1949. He married Sharol Anderson in May 1971 in the Idaho Falls Temple. They are the parents of four daughters.

We will receive great training and we look forward to applying what we learn.  Love ya and see you on either Thursday or Friday.

President Hall