Another great week, we're happy it's Pday. We thought transfer week was busy, we've learned a whole new level of being anxiously engaged with a full week of zone conferences.
Our zone conferences have been awesome and we hope to see some great progress as we move the work forward. The theme of the conference was "Fear Not I am with Thee". Last year President Uchtdorf gave a great talk at the mission president seminar that we shared with the missionaries on how to lose their fear. Here's the link if you want to watch it… http://media2.ldscdn.org/assets/missionary/president-uchtdorf-seminar-for-new-mission-presidents/2014-06-0100-president-uchtdorf-seminar-for-new-mission-presidents-2014-360p-eng.mp4 We have many missionaries that fear opening their mouths and we needed to help them see that they can learn to "Fear no Man". The talk does a wonderful job in helping all members of the church recognize how they can do the Lord's work and share the gospel.
We spent the majority of our time at the conferences focused on teaching the Restoration. At the mission president seminar Elder Cook and Elder Ballard taught us how we can share the message of the Restoration with simplicity and power in about four minutes. The promise we received was that if the missionaries could learn to teach the Restoration (God, Families, Prophets, the Savior, the apostasy, Joseph Smith history, the priesthood, and the Book of Mormon) more effectively we would see far more convert baptisms. It's amazing how much you can share in so little time and how powerful it can truly be. We had the missionaries’ role play how to teach the lesson using several approaches and settings. We had one sister who had come praying to know that Joseph Smith was a prophet and that the Restoration was true and it came to her as she was teaching that day. It was a powerful thing to see, it is awesome to teach them.
We focused some of our time on finding methods. Finding for many missionaries is the hardest thing they do as they don't really know how to plan very well. We have found some that just hang out at members homes, some chase less actives, some street contact, and others work with recent converts, but not many use all the approaches available to them. An approach we shared with them was to simply say, "Hi, we're your missionaries, we live in your area, and we're on a mission to bless people…" Aaron taught them the approach and had the assistants’ role play it for them and we have seen some really good success so far as it makes the contact so much more personal and less robotic. We have also taught that unless the Lord can trust them as teachers, he won't trust them to find those that can use the truth until He know we'll teach the way we should.
Another big change we shared in zone conferences is how we view our standards of excellence; our weekly and monthly mission goals. The past standards were so high and so number driven none of the missionaries ever achieved them and in most cases they have been a big de-motivator. The missionaries have lost sight of what they're really here for, invite others to come unto Christ, and focused on how many lessons, how many contacts etc. etc.. When they focus on the activities they begin to think that it's all about the number and you'll hear missionaries’ talk about how their mission was all based around the number they baptized. Hopefully the new standards of excellence, which Aaron felt really needed to be changed and based around principles, will help the missionaries’ head in the right direction and feel successful.
I spent some time teaching them from Adjusting to Missionary Life. This is a great resource for missionaries as they deal with stress, be it physical, emotional, social, intellectual, or even spiritual challenges. Most missionaries haven't had to deal with the rigor of working every day, missing home, having constant change and some just melt under the pressure. The booklet outlines all kinds of activities they can do to manage some of the things they are feeling. We see some companionship that don’t get along, where one doesn’t want to be obedient, and can't get through the day without wanting to kill each other. My hope is that I helped them understand what they can do and how they can work through it those moments. We have too many helicopter parents that haven't let their kids learn and stretch and unfortunately we get to help them learn these lessons some times. Overall most of our missionaries do well, but there are some that could lock themselves in a room and cry all week if we let them. :) I know I bring my own style to this presentation. Aaron thinks I’m a joy to listen to… he never knows what is going to come out of my mouth. ;)
We wrapped our conferences teaching the Doctrine of Christ found in 2 Nephi 31. I don't know that I have ever personally understood how powerful faith in the Savior and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end (temple covenants) is to our work and purpose. When we teach these principles often but do we really understand it. When missionaries come to understand that this doctrine is their purpose, they don't worry about home, they don't worry about what's going on in the world or hot it is outside, they are 100% focused on inviting and helping people come to the Savior. It's been an awesome way to end our meetings and I have gained a new appreciation for these principles as they are the only things that lead us back to the Father, nothing else matters…
This week has been a long and exhausting. I am grateful that the kids were able to go home with Alan and Jeanne to spend some memory making times with cousins during this crazy week. I got reports of amazing fort building, swimming, Old Faithful visit, roof top sleepover, Hillbilly Heaven, paddle boarding and just time to hangout with cousins. They love their family in Utah!! After we had a joyous reunion with the kids at the airport, we had one of our sister missionaries call telling us her companion was hit by a car while riding her bike. She ended up breaking the bone above her eye and got skinned up pretty good, but she's alive and well. We had another Elder crash on his bike and break his wrist earlier in the week, he'll be having surgery Thursday. We had another get hit by a car, but fortunately he walked away. You definitely see Heavenly Father’s hand in their lives. It amazes what the “what ifs” could be so I am so grateful for the prayers of protection for the missionaries. Having 200 kids to look after is a joy and the most exhausting thing we’ve ever done but we love it!