SO yeah, being a zone leader is madness. This week we have been striving super hard as a mission to find all the people prepared to be baptized in the month of January and help them to do so. AS a result, I have in this week been on exchanges with all but 4 areas in the zone (those 4 being the 2 sister areas and 2 areas in a campo 3 hours away). It has been MADNESS, but I LOVE IT! I feel like I am seeing things get done on a bigger scale, and I am SO grateful that the Lord has given me this opportunity. I feel that it is FAR easier to maintain a positive attitude when it's not just your area you're worrying about.
To answer questions before anything else:
DAD--(Brad asked him a list of questions...)
What brand of toothpaste are you currently using?~I use Colgate Total Clean Mint (a classic)
Name the best tasting Dominican breakfast food?~Empanada de Huevo (an egg deep-fried from within a folded sheet of flour dough)
When you have a few minutes of relaxation time on p-day what is your preferred activity?~SLEEP (I haven't had time to sleep on a P-Day in months)
In what area are you seeing the most growth in yourself?~Villa Esfuerzo (3 months of power companions and 3 months of intensive, training-induced self-analysis)
Did anything surpise you about how any of us had changed when we had our conversation on Christmas?~Elijah's voice is dropping and his hair is going brown
What is the latest most impressive thing your mission president has either counseled you or talked about? ~Actually it is about what Mom is talking about- (We had Ward Conference last Sunday and I shared with him some of the talks...both Bishop and the Stake President talked about thoughts. How to banish the bad and replace with good. How thoughts proceed actions. How outside influences and thoughts can color our experiences. Satan wants to fill our minds with doubts and destructive thoughts that chip away at our foundations. Our Stake President talked about how our minds are much like the temple. The temple has a portico (a place to meet others and take off coats etc.) Then we enter another set of doors and arrive at the recommend desk. Our mind is similar. If we are able to stop improper thoughts at the portico they are quickly swept away and do not defile the inner temple. I feel like I am not doing the talk justice... Basically bad thoughts aren't just thoughts about doing "bad" things. Bad thoughts also are destructive, hurtful, demeaning thoughts (often directed at ourselves.) )--the power of IMAGINATION (see Alma 5 verses 14-19). Basically, that one of the steps to the exceptional faith that leads to salvation is imagination (v. 16). It's part of why we go to the temple--to develop that faith as we imagine the future. I can't remember exactly where the scripture is, but there is a scripture where Christ talks about not letting any bad thoughts or sins into our HEARTS, but he doesn't say into our heads. In other words, Satan can throw as many thoughts of his as he wants into our heads, but so long as we don't dwell on them they don't enter into our hearts and become desires or actions. Without meditation, there is no sin (save it be by ignorance). It's the same portico and inner doors thing. Perhaps a thought entering into our heads is not a sin because we can't always control it; however, any thought up there that we ponder or dwell on then becomes sin as it enters our hearts. The good thing is that Satan can't read our minds--those are only open unto God.
Would you share a brief testimony with us?~I know that God lives and loves us. I know that Jesus Christ is His Son, our Savior and Redeemer, and I know that Christ's Atonement is all-encompassing, can heal any wound, and can even remove spiritual scars with time. I know that God is merciful unto all His children who will believe in Him and have faith sufficient to follow in the footsteps of the Savior. I know that God has again restored to the earth the fulness of His divine Gospel and truth by calling a prophet, Joseph Smith, to do so. I know that he was an instrument in the hands of the Lord in bringing about that restoration and in bringing forth the Book of Mormon. I know that the Book of Mormon is true--I know it! I know that it testifies of Christ and of Christ alone, and that its simplicity and directness are edifying unto all who read and pray sincerely, doing both with the real intent to know is it is true. I know that our Heavenly Father has a plan of salvation for us, and that one day we can become like Him. I testify of these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen. (y así sea)
~Life is really good right now. I feel exhausted, I got a stress cold this week, but it feels GREAT to be stressed helping others to reach their goals and strive to be more obedient. I just need to remember to be more obedient myself. Because of all the exchanges and changes of plans this week we still haven't had weekly planning, and due to lots of nightly reports and stuff there have been few nights we've gotten to bed on time. There have been days where we almost haven't proselyted because of information we've had to obtain for the zone or because of other meetings and stuff. One of the things that has amazed me most about being a zone leader, though, is the fact that the more time we sacrifice to help other areas, the less we have to spend with our investigators to help them progress. It has been a test of my faith, but it has really been interesting to trust more in the Lord and His knowledge that sometimes we just don't have time to visit as many people as we'd like. However, this week is going to be a lot more normal. Also, I feel great because I am typing from a chiclet keyboard--oh, how I miss chiclet keyboards! I feel like I can type so fast! XD
~One of the things that has helped me most in the down times is to keep thinking that if someone doesn't do something (keep a commitment, progress, go to church, get baptized, etc.) after repeated efforts on our part to help them to do so, then the Lord is trying to tell me that He has someone else out there for me who WILL do those things. I then proceed to look for that potential among former investigators and new contacts until I find that person, and all the while I feel super grateful that the Lord is thus guiding me.
I think between all those answers that about sums things up. I love you guys! Take care of yourselves, and talk to you next week!
OOH WAIT. There was a worldwide missionary broadcast on Wednesday, where the Executive Missionary Council of the Church (or something like that) reviewed last year's training broadcast and added some new insights.
As part of this years broadcast, some changes were announced in the missionary schedule and in the key indicators. Instead of the typical 11, there are now only 4 numbers that will be kept track of and reported on a daily and weekly basis:
1) Investigators Baptized and Confirmed
2) Investigators with a Baptismal Date
3) Investigators who attended Sacrament Meeting
4) New Investigators
I feel that the reduction of the number of key indicators will boost efficiency like CRAZY. Instead of just looking for lessons or references to look good in weekly numbers or avoid a reproach from leaders for "not working hard enough," missionaries will be looking specifically for how to help people get baptized and get to sacrament meeting, and will focus more on people than on numbers. ALSO, the missionary daily schedule has been CHANGED. That's right, the good old 6:30-10:30 schedule you know and love is up for tweaking. Basically, all it means is that mission presidents will be able to set individual schedules depending on the areas they are in (for example, in Africa you might have to be home earlier, so you could study at night time and go to bed around 9:30 to get up at 5:30 the next day and be proselyting by 8. Meanwhile in Latin America, if you can be out in the street until 10pm, then you go to bed at 11 but get up at 7.) Within the new schedule, daily planning is now a MORNING activity (FINALLY--I always hated planning at night because one is always falling asleep), and mission presidents will only set windows for certain activities. In other words, Pres. Corbitt would say, WINDOW 1 is from 6:30-9:00, and during such time you need to: exercise, study as companions 30 minutes, shower, eat, study personally 30mins-1hr, and plan 30mins for the day. The missionaries then plan what they'll do in window 1, for example: okay, exercise, then eat, then showerm then plan, then comp study, then personal study (or any combination). THat is a REALLY complex way of explaining that missionaries will now plan out their own daily study schedules (well, schedules in general) under the directional guidelines of each mission president. So yeah, if you couldn't tell I am BEYOND excited. XD
Love you guys!!