Monday, December 14, 2015

2015-12-14 President's Message

Dear Sisters and Elders,

It was a priceless experience being with all of you this past week! You radiate love for God and dedication to serve. We were blessed to be taught together in our zone conferences by Elder Shayne Bowen and his wife, Sister Lynette Bowen. As Sister Ostler, Caleb and I spent the last five days with the Bowen's we could feel their love for you and their 100% dedication to the Lord.

At the end of an experience like a mission tour by a general authority, it is easy to take good notes, feel grateful for the spirit we felt, and then go back to doing everything the same way we have always done. The same thing can happen after general conference, after stake conference, after the temple or after the sacrament. We need to make the conscious, personal choice to change our lives...or there will be no change at all.

The Lord sent Elder Bowen to help us make some significant changes. Will you be one who changes or will you stay the same?

One of the great blessings of having the gift of the Holy Ghost is that the Lord will reveal to each of us what we, individually, need to know. Revelation is an individual, personal gift that we have received.

Invitation: Take your notes from this mission tour and pray to know what the Lord wants you to change. Set specific goals. Be accountable. Put yourself in a position to receive the blessings the Lord has for you.

I will share with you some of my notes, in hopes that they will remind you of some of the things you learned:

"If you know who you are, you will act accordingly." He taught about what it means to be a part of the Abrahamic Covenant, the House of Israel and the Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood. You need to remember that Heavenly Father wants you to "come home." Covenants are powerful things. We can trust the Lord to fulfill His part of the covenant. It is up to us to live our lives in such a way that we can receive the promised blessings. Please refer to your own notes on this topic.

He encouraged us to live with faith. He asked: "Who walked more kilometers in the wilderness--Laman, Lemuel or Nephi?" They all walked the same distance. "Who traveled the farthest on the ship?" They all travelled the same distance. All three of them paid the same price of sacrifice, but Nephi had a positive, faithful attitude. Laman and Lemuel murmured, were miserable and lost all of the blessings. Will you be Nephi? Or will you be Laman and Lemuel? You are paying the price of serving the Lord on a mission. Receive the blessings of faith.

Elder Bowen invited us to do 3 things to bring more miracles to our mission. The good news is that most of you are doing the first 2 things regularly. The third item will stretch you:

1. ARISE at 6.30 am every single day, and follow the schedule. (Arise means getting out of bed and starting the day at that time.)

2. PLAN for 30 minutes every evening.

3. Contact 30 people every day (OYMs). These should be what Elder Bowen called "testifying contacts." Share with each of these people a part of our "unique message." (see Preach My Gospel pages 159-160). To do this, Finding needs to be a "way of life" not a "missionary activity." We need to plan to contact people every hour we are out of the apartment. It is best to carry a variety of materials with you that you can use. Pass a long cards, copies of the Book of Mormon, The Family: A Proclamation to the World, pictures of the temple. Some people will accept your invitation immediately. Some people you will talk to every day for weeks before they accept your invitation. Build relationships with the people in your neighborhood, but these relationships should be based on sharing different parts of our unique message, not just chit chat. Do not take rejection personally. The people don't know anything about you personally. They are rejecting your invitation, not you. They are rejecting a representative of the Church, not you. It has nothing to do with you personally.

I talked with Elder Bowen at length about contacting 30 people per day. We talked about the problem of people being polite and accepting the invitation and then not showing up for the appointment. He suggested that we "qualify" our contacts. When someone agrees to hear the message, it is fine to ask them the question: "Are you really interested in ____?" (learning about prophets, the Book of Mormon, temple marriage, the restoration, etc) "Will you really be there?" Follow the spirit so that you don't end up with a hopelessly large number of names on a list. We talked about areas that have few people and where the people live far apart. He encouraged us to have faith to do all we can in those few areas. The rest of the mission should contact 30 people every day except for preparation day (10 people).
Privately, Elder Bowen told me that he feels we have great missionaries in our mission. He was so impressed with your faith and goodness. He said that, if we will do these things, we will double the baptisms in the mission.

I have so many more notes from our meetings and private conversations, but I will share those at another time.

I want to share one last impression with you. After spending five days with a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy who has been called as a special witness of Christ, my personal testimony of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was strengthened. Elder and Sister Bowen shared with us their lives, their children, how they were called to this position and their experiences in serving the Lord all over the world. At all times, every minute, they were humble, kind and giving. They never thought of themselves. They shared the gospel with many, many people along the way. They never wanted to draw attention to themselves but they were bold and fearless in teaching. High position means nothing to them. Their only purpose is to lift all of us and invite us to do what it takes to go Home to our Heavenly Father.

Sister Ostler and I love you very much. Your faith and goodness brought tears to my eyes as I talked about you with Elder and Sister Bowen. They were deeply touched by who you are. May the Lord bless you with the faith and strength you need. May He help you to have eyes to see the great potential that lies within you. May He bless you to be the faithful messengers of the gospel who will bring many, many of His children home.

Mahal ko po kayo,

President Creg Ostler