Trek update from last week… The boys had a better than expected time at trek and we couldn’t be happier that we convinced them to go. With no mountains to climb or plains to cross, the kids trekked in an area where there are a lot of bayous to cross and steep banks to climb. They were in a forest area where they had to blaze trails and clear the path. They averaged about 6 miles a day and Zac crutched his way all the way to the end. He ended up breaking the bottom of his cast along the trail, but made it through without much problem. Just sore armpits and the admiration of many. When kids were whining, the leaders would say, look at Zac, enough said! He and Bode were in the same family and they ended up with a great group of kids to be with. Best of all, Bode made some great friends his age in the stake that was a huge blessing because none of the boys his age went on trek from our ward. He has already hung out with them since he returned. It was great to drop him off to a friend’s house and watch three boys with the same standards and values greet him like he has always been their friend. Grateful for this little miracle. They both had several positive experiences, viva la TREK!
I took Zac in to get new cast on Monday. He was happy to get the broken, dirty and very smelly cast replaced. Jessie has been busy with her choir practices after school. With Aaron and I needing to leave early for Zone Conferences we encouraged Jessie to ride her bike to school. She was game but her back tire needed to be fixed. My dad and I went to work on it. We discovered that both the tire and tube needed to be replaced. Once replaced, she took a practice run with Aaron to the school. Success! So much so that she rode it to school on Friday too. I even join her on the ride. It may be a new tradition for me to ride to school with her. It is a lot faster than driving through the drop off traffic.
I know it seems like we just got done with zone conferences and interviews but we are at it again. Our zone conferences focused on enduring to the end, contacts, youth and YSA focus, technology, and the new #PRINCEOFPEACE initiative. In each of our zone conferences Aaron is taking one of the five elements of the doctrine of Christ (faith, repentance, baptism, Holy Ghost, enduring to the end) to help the missionaries better understand the doctrine, apply it to their lives, and help their investigators do the same. The promise of enduring to the end is eternal life, but enduring as we know doesn’t come easy. Aaron shared one of his painful Ironman race experiences with them and likened it to the mortal journey we take with the high seas, flat tires, high heat, broken seats, headwinds, dehydration, and the exhaustion we all face. The reward when we cross the finish line always surpasses the often-agonizing road to get there. We have many missionaries that simply struggle with the fact that missions are hard and yet we can find the good if we seek it out. A lot to share, but in 1 Nephi 8 the pattern to endure is to commence, catch hold, cling to, and continually hold on to the end. We can’t do it without the Savior and we can be assured that the trials we face will be for our good.
Another challenge we addressed in zone conferences was helping the missionaries overcome their fear. The zone leaders and sister training leaders taught the missionaries how to open their mouths more effectively and how to best use the seven sources we have to find (members, less actives, part members, referrals, formers, investigators, street contacting/door knocking). Too few really go out of their way to talk to everyone and so a new mission rule is they have to make at least 20 contacts a day using all the sources.
As part of the Worldwide Missionary Broadcast there was training for the president’s and their wives on working through youth and YSAs to find. This age group is more willing to share the gospel and also more receptive to hearing the message. The missionaries are going to spend a lot more time with the youth, helping them understand how they can use social media as a tool to invite and share the gospel. Our assistants have already seen the blessings of this with one of the a 14 year old in their ward. They invited her to share a direct message on Instagram to a friend. She ended up inviting six of her non-member friends to come to church. Many of our youth are fearless and they just need to know how to open their mouths.
Even though we aren’t a technology mission we are sharing social media initiatives across the mission so members can get more involved. When we visit a member’s home and ask them if there is anyone they can share the gospel with they struggle to come up with someone to share the gospel with. We then invite them to go to Facebook or Instagram with us and ask how many friends they have. On average most people have 500 friends! They actually do know someone! We ask them to review the friend list and then prayerfully consider what non-member friend they could share a message with. We have them watch one of the many short videos the Church as put on FB, Instargram etc, choose one, type up a personal message about the video, and then send it to the friend while we’re with them. It’s a simple way to share the gospel, non-threatening, and anyone can do it. We are encouraging the missionaries to include a video link in every text message they send to encourage people to visit LDS, Mormon, and or the social media sites. The Church has so much great content and we need to do a better job of #sharinggoodness. We also have the missionaries teaching with members via facetime, fb video messenger, and over their phone to make it more convenient for them to be involved in helping investigators hear their experiences and testimonies.
The #PRINCEofPEACE video and initiative is awesome and it starts March 31st. The website on Mormon.org will be a great way to share how the Savior brings everyone peace. I invite all of you to check out all the resources and how you can more fully feel the peace He brings to each of us. Then share something with a friend from the initiative.
While Aaron interviews, I have the companionships bring in their area books and share with each other best practices on how to make sure it’s kept up to date and used effectively. It really is a tool that can help them be more effective in sharing and teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ however if it isn’t kept up to date it can feel like a burden. The area book is the only evidence a missionary leaves behind of the work that is being done in the areas where they serve. If done right it continues to bless the area in all aspects of missionary work. Some are great at it and many can do better. We’re always trying to lift and help them see the big picture.
On Friday, Bode spoke up during his history class as they were learning about the pioneers and their trek west. The teacher started talking about all the wives Mormons have, and the number of kids they are required to have, and about Jayden Smith (great teacher). Bode corrected the teacher and let everyone know that Mormon’s aren’t weird and that the information was wrong. Makes my mom heart happy that he had the confidence to speak up. We are enjoying beautiful weather here. It feels like June in Utah. ;)