President's Pen 2-19-18 (Font to Font)

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! “Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life.” (3 Ne 5:13). There couldn’t be a better description of who we are and what we all strive to do!

An amazing blessing is soon to return to Houston…

“Behold, the field was ripe, and blessed are ye, for ye did thrust in the sickle, and did reap with your might, yea, all the day long did ye labor; and behold the number of your sheaves! And they shall be gathered into the garners, that they are not wasted” (Alma 26:5).

“Therefore, I must gather together my people, according to the parable of the wheat and the tares, that the wheat may be secured in the garners to possess eternal life, and be crowned with celestial glory, when I shall come in the kingdom of my Father to reward every man according as his work shall be” (D&C 101:65)

Two amazing verses of scripture! What do we learn?  The Lord will gather his people into the garners (sheaves represent newly baptized converts) to the end that they may not be wasted and that they might be secured.   What does this mean? Elder Neal A. Maxwell taught, “Clearly, when we baptize, our eyes should gaze beyond the baptismal font to the holy temple. The great garner into which the sheaves should be gathered is the holy temple.”

Today I met with President Hayes of the Houston Temple and he shared with our coordinating council the exciting news regarding the rededication and opening of the temple.  On April 22nd,  the Houston Temple will be rededicated by President M. Russell Ballard, and on April 24th the doors will open for all saints who desire to be gathered in and secured.  I can’t wait!

Since the devastating effects of Hurricane Harvey, we have had over 100 new converts baptized, but very few have had the blessing of being gathered in the garners of the temple.  Can you imagine what it would be like if all 100 converts were able to join us at the temple in the months ahead?   One of the greatest blessings of seeing a new convert in baptism white, is helping them prepare to be baptized for their ancestors in temple white.  When we help an new convert go from baptismal font to the temple font, we are ensuring that they are not “wasted” and that we help “secure” them. We know that when we help a new convert do their own family history work, and then take those names to the temple, they are more likely to stay active and progress towards greater saving ordinances for themselves.   Gathering and securing are vitally important in our daily efforts…

How do we help secure them?  One of my favorite scriptures that teaches the promised blessings of attending the temple is found in Doctrine and Covenants 109:22. This scripture comes from the Kirtland, Ohio Temple dedicatory prayer offered by the Prophet Joseph Smith and promises four specific blessings… “And we ask thee, Holy Father, that thy servants may go forth from this house armed with thy power, and that thy name may be upon them, and thy glory be round about them, and thine angels have charge over them”.  I love the promised blessings found in this scripture and what it offers all of us as we enter the house of the Lord.  Every new convert needs to be armed with God’s power, His name upon them, His glory with them, and angels that have charge over them!  How secure would a new convert feel with these promised blessings?  How desirous would they be to get to the temple soon and return often?  Sign us all up, we all need these blessings!

To gather them in and help them prepare to enter the temple we need to begin sharing with them a vision for how the temple will bless them and their ancestors.  How do we do this? “And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers.” (D&C 2:2)  When we begin to share how the temple will bless their fathers, mothers, grandparents, and beyond, the Lord will plant in the new converts hearts a desire to come to their rescue.  How does this happen?  Elder David A. Bednar taught that the spirit of Elijah is a “distinctive influence of the Holy Ghost (that) draws people to identify, document, and cherish their ancestors and family members – both past and present.”  When the Holy Ghost penetrates their hearts, they are moved to bless their families, and they are drawn to them.  As they respond to the call of their fathers, by finding, preparing, and taking ancestors names to the temple, they literally become “saviours on mount Zion.” (Obadiah 1:21)   

To prepare for the opening of the temple, to gather them in and help secure them, we need to do the following… First, identify all new converts in our areas from last year (even beyond August) and invite them to prepare to go the temple when it opens.  Second, we need to make sure we are helping them prepare by finding their own family names to take.  If we are to do this, we need to know how to find names ourselves; do you?  When new converts take their own family names to the temple it has a far more powerful effect than if it is someone they don’t know.  Third, we need to make sure men 12+ are working with their bishops to receive the Aaronic priesthood.  You can help them by teaching them the importance of the priesthood and how it blesses all of God’s children.  Fourth, we need to make sure they receive a limited use recommend, involve member friends, and prepare a date to attend.  As a mission we have scheduled the third Friday of each month from 5pm onward to bring as many new converts to the temple as we can.  If they are your converts, you can join them and we want you to be there to celebrate with them.  Will you prepare as many new converts as you can? Will you seek them out and get them excited about the promised blessings of attending the temple and turning their hearts to their fathers? (We will also hold our quarterly temple trips again – date to be determined)   

Elders & Sisters, some of the most amazing mission experiences we have had here in Houston have been at the new convert temple nights.  Not only does the beauty of the temple inspire them, but what they feel and experience broadens their views and expands their horizons.  They see the great Plan of Salvation at work and how God’s love extends to their immediate family.  We have seen daughters baptized for their mothers, grandsons baptized for their grandfathers, and siblings baptized for their siblings.  Gathering these new converts into the garners is part of our sacred callings.  Our work is among the living and our blessing is to help secure them through the blessings that are uniquely found at the house of the Lord.  I invite you today to prepare yourself.  Your personal worthiness is always a requirement to attend the house of the Lord.  I invite you to learn or improve your ability to help new converts find their own family names (see Family History training on missionary portal).  I also invite you to think font to font and to begin with the end in mind.  Only when our new converts are safely gathered in and secured can we feel comfortable that our efforts have been full and complete.  How I love the sacred blessings that come from the holy temple, let’s help all we teach come to feel the same.  Love ya!

President Hall