Tyler!!! I am so excited for you to be on your mission! It is so sweet that on the majority of our missions will be served at the same time. My only suggestions: 1. Be Exactly Obedient. 2. Love the People 3. Love the Lord. Those things will bring happiness. Missionaries can goof off and joke around… but that only brings a shadow of happiness, kind of like putting a giant bow on a dollar store gift. That’s what I’ve learned for the past two transfers. Also, the times we need to work hardest as missionaries is when we have the least to do. One of Satan’s greatest tools is complacency.
This weekend, we had Stake Conference. All of it was about the Hastening of the Work, in other words… not being complacent. Essentially, the prophet has asked us to get up off our back row pews and be friendly. Make friends, talk to our friends, and share with our friends the only thing we have in our lives that will bless them eternally. It is a labor of love. At the Saturday night session, the only people that spoke other than the Stake Presidency were recent converts. One was an 18-year old girl who was involved socially in the church for 6 years before she knew it was true. One was a man whose wife had waited 38 years for him to join the church, and the last was a recent convert from our ward named Steve Grey, whom I LOVE. He was a baptist preacher for 48 years before he was baptized 5 months ago. He said, “When the missionaries looked at me, they saw a kind old man from Canada who was comfortable with his life. What they didn’t see was the man who cried himself to sleep each night because of the torment he felt in his soul. They didn’t see the man who suffered from the depression of being separated from his wife so I could earn money to support her in Canada. They didn’t see the man whose daughter was dying of cancer. But most importantly, they didn’t see the man who prayed to God each day, pleading to feel his influence again.” Brother Grey said he had reached a point in his life where he needed to know more. He could tell his congregation what they needed to do to be “saved”, but not what that meant. He could try to save marriages, but to what end? By following the spirit, the missionaries who taught him (one of which was my awesome trainer, Elder Loutensock), resolved his concerns by sharing the pure doctrine of the (in Steve Grey’s words) “Fulfilled, Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ”.
He then exhorted the congregation to “get to work”. He said, “There is an urgency in this work that cannot be denied. There are many people in the world like me, just waiting for more but blinded by the fact that they don’t want to admit they were wrong. They are your friends and your family. And they are children of God.” (If you can’t tell, I was taking notes)
After the Sunday morning session of conference, our companionship had the privilege of being part of the ordination of Steve Grey to the Melchizedek Priesthood. Tomorrow, he is leaving for Canada so he can give his dying daughter a blessing and spend a precious few moments with his wife.
On Sunday, there we had a broadcast where Linda K Burton, Neal L Anderson and President Eyring spoke. That morning in companionship study, we had prepared a lesson for members on Hastening the Work, so we could help them identify their friends and what they can do. Every single thing we planned that morning was talked about specifically in the broadcast an hour later, from the scriptures we used to the specific goals and plans we would help the members of our ward make. We went after Stake Conference and shared this message with members of our ward. It was incredibly effective, probably because they had heard apostles and prophets command them to do the same things earlier that day.
This last weekend, the Lucero family (a part member family) was supposed to be baptized. They were ready, more than ready, but their inactive husband/father doesn’t believe they are prepared, despite their testimonies to him, the spirit of our lessons with them, and all of the members that are excited and have reassured them they are more prepared than they were at their own baptisms. I understand where the father is coming from. For years, he has prayed that his family would accept the Gospel (even though he doesn’t come)… suddenly, his wife and daughter have a change of heart, they are prompted by the spirit to actually let us in, and a month later they are getting baptized. Because of his work, the Dad has only been present for two of the lessons, but whenever we can meet with the whole family, we do. They will get baptized, I’m not worried about that. But as Steve Grey told us, there are fewer things more dangerous in the world than delaying eternal blessings from those who are prepared to receive them. Stay tuned for when they actually get baptized.
Mom and Dad, you will just have to start having movie and game nights to make up for the ones that will stop when Tyler leaves! A missionary in our zone said her parents started an “Empty Nester Family Home Evening Group” that gets together every Monday night. This missionary said that is what keeps his parents sane with all of their kids gone. It sounds like you will be busy enough, though, with Lacey coming and going to Grandma and Grandpa Koetitz’s house. Hopefully you will be able to see some other family while you are there as well. Dad, I’m not sure what seafood stuffed cannelloni is, but is sounds delicious. It’s funny more I appreciate foods that I used to shy away from on my mission. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to eat cooked spinach or egg salad sandwiches, but almost anything else is a lot better than I would have sworn it was when I was 9 years old. I’m sorry for being so picky!
Kimmie, get some sleep! Hopefully Hyrum starts sleeping better. Your Stake Conference sounds like it was just as awesome and motivating as ours was. I feel like my notes could have turned into a novel if I wrote everything down that I loved. I wish I could have recorded it. I think the members of our stake are figuring out that the “Hastening of the Work” isn’t something they can try for a week and then forget about… that it is the way of life that the Lord is asking us to live, that we should have been living before but have the opportunity to put in place now. President Eyring also talked about the sacred nature of children in hastening the work, how parents today teach children the principles of the Gospel before they can even speak, and how children understand those principles more deeply and completely than anything else they can comprehend. President Eyring said that though toddlers may not understand the language of the scriptures, they understand the spirit they feel when it is read to them. It is so true. It reminds me of Adelaide signing “Jesus” with her hands whenever she walked past the picture of Christ in our house. So, what is your new job? I forget. Are you teaching? Tutoring?
Isaac: I understand. If we didn’t have time set aside for emailing, I don’t know what I would do. As it is, there is always more to say, read, and respond to than I have time for. I hope Maria (and you) begin feeling better! Crutches are terrible. And good luck with universities and writing and everything else. Are you still planning on going to the University of Idaho or WSU?
Ryan: I have begun working on a different Christlike attribute every week. It has been effective so far, but it is definitely an infinite process.
I love everyone! Have a fantastic week! And pray for California to get some rain! The First Presidency is going to fast on February 2 along with the members in the State of California for it to rain. This is the worst drought in California in 100+ years. It has rained 3 times in the 6 months I have been here.