President's Pen 9-18-17 (Hearts are Prepared, Is Yours?)

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 that teach repentance and baptize converts and the best missionaries in the world!

Dear Elders & Sisters,

I love ya!  Everywhere I go I am nearly tackled with praise and gratitude for the Great THSM missionaries who have gone out of their way to bless and serve during the Harvey clean-up efforts.  I simply thank them, agree with how awesome you are, and let them know that you have all answered the call to be in the service of your fellow beings.  I couldn’t be prouder of who you are and who you’re becoming.  The Lord loves you, as do the many leaders, members, and neighbors you are serving each day.  Keep up the amazing work!

As missionaries, we offer mighty prayers to our Heavenly Father that He will soften and prepare the hearts of the people we hope to find, teach, and invite to come unto Christ.  An amazing thing has happened since Hurricane Harvey… People of all faiths have come together to serve, lift, and bless one another and we are seeing miracles across the mission.  Those whose doors might have been shut to receiving the message of the Restoration, have now been opened as thousands of yellow shirts have given new light to what it means to be a Latter-Day Saint.  People want to know who we are and why we serve.  You have all been a part of this remarkable effort and gospel seeds have been sown and the soil is more fertile than it has ever been. 

The softening and preparing of hearts was the prayer in Alma’s day, and “…the Lord did pour out his Spirit on all the face of the land to prepare the minds of the children of men, or to prepare their hearts to receive the word which should be taught among them…” (Alma 16:16) We now serve at a time where the Lord has heard our prayers, and it is now up to us to be the instruments in the Lord’s hands that he needs us to be.  The question I pose to all of us is, “Our are hearts sufficiently prepared to harvest the souls the Lord has prepared?” 

To help you ponder this question I want you to review what will be required for the Lord give unto us success in our effort to find, teach, and invite those the Lord has prepared. 

1 – Do you know and love your 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 end?  Elders & Sisters, this is your WHY, this is the reason you were called to serve, this is the only way for men and women to make it back to God.  If this purpose is written on your heart, and you see the worth of souls, you will let this purpose drive and enable you to do the Lord’s work.  If this is your cause, you are equally yoked with the efforts of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.  Nothing is more important to them and all the points that follow below come back to this only and true doctrine. (2 Ne 31:21)  Our call is to teach repentance and baptize converts; it must be our vision, our goal, our dream, and the reason why we wake up and serve with urgency each day.

2 – Are you a worthy vessel and one who is prepared to be guided and directed by the Spirit?  We know this is a spiritual work and that what we should desire and pray for most is the companionship of the Holy Ghost. (3 Ne 19:9)  If we are to answer the call to teach by the Spirit, we must put off the natural man, yield to the enticing’s of the Spirit, and become saints through the Savior’s Atonement. (Mosiah 3:19)  No pebbles can be in your shoes, confession must be complete and whole, and repentance should be a part of your daily curriculum.  The Spirit can only work through you if you are clean.  Perfection is not expected, but worthiness is.  I invite you to review anything that may be holding you back from becoming the disciple the Lord needs you to be in this important season of your service.

3 -- Are you willing to be a faithful covenant keeper?  In an individual and sacred ceremony, we each bowed our head and said we would be obedient, sacrifice, live the laws of the gospel, be chaste, and consecrate our time and effort to building up the kingdom of God on the earth.  Is obedience your quest and not an irritant?  Are you willing to sacrifice the small things that bring great things to pass? Do you strive to live the gospel and let it define who you are?  Do you keep your thoughts and actions clean and pure? Are you becoming more consecrated by leaving the things of the world behind?  We are a covenant keeping people and our missionary service is enabled by the blessings that come as we are true and faithful. 

4 – Are you striving to become a Preach My Gospel missionary?  A few points of emphasis: goals and plans, personal study, companionship study, and missionary proselyting skills.  Do you set goals and make plans each day (13 steps) to help people progress and find new souls to teach?   Do you have a personal desire to treasure up the words of eternal life so you will know what to say in the very hour you need it? Are you and your companion striving to build unity, teach by the Spirit, and help investigators/members/less actives progress through your companionship study?  Are you working on your ability to teach people and not lessons through effective HTBT, simple teaching, bold testimony, clear and direct commitment invitations, promised blessings, and daily follow up?  In short, are you striving to continually improve each day (1%) and reaching for excellence as complete and whole missionaries?

5 – Are you willing to overcome your fears, open your mouth, and make connections with everyone in your path each day?  The hearts the Lord has prepared aren’t likely to raise their hands.  Your effort to find by OYM’ing with everyone has never been more important.  If you fear and keep your mouth closed, the Lord is not pleased. (D&C 60:2)  When we fear to open our mouths, we remove the ability for men and women to use their agency by saying yes or no to the gospel message and the Lord’s invitations.  If we are to reap what has been sown, we must make as many connections as we can each day (20), focus on daily member connections (10), and be sure to use all seven sources to find each day (members, less active, part member, investigators, formers, referrals, street/door contacts).  All your preparation is in vain if you refuse to open your mouth.  Pray for courage and remember it is the Savior you represent, you need not fear!

Elders & Sisters, as I renewed my covenants at sacrament meeting, I had a very distinct impression that the Lord has prepared many hearts for us to find, teach, and invite to come unto Him.  Your side by side efforts with members have helped you earn their trust.  You are more visible than ever in the communities you serve.  You are not here by accident and there are people waiting to be found.  It is now up to us if we are willing to answer His call to labor in the vineyard with all our heart, might, mind, and strength.  You were prepared and sent here at this time to bring souls unto Christ.  Hurricane Harvey is one of many ways that people are being awakened unto God.  It is now up to you to determine if you know and love your purpose, are worthy vessels, are faithful covenant keepers, are striving to become Preach My Gospel missionaries, and willing to overcome fears and open your mouths.  I invite you to answer the question, “Is your heart prepared to harvest the souls the Lord has prepared?”  I testify that this is the Lords’ work and that it is true.  I also testify that you are loved by Him and that He will give unto you success as you demonstrate your faith in Him and His work.  In the Savior’s name, it is my prayer that you will have eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts to discern how the Lord brings to pass His work through your prepared heart and hands.  Love ya!

President Hall