Dear Family and Friends,
I think this letter will be fairly short this week. I don't know why, but it's just a prediction.
Did I mention Elder Holland is coming the 24th of February? Every missionary I've talked to said "Finally! We NEVER get Apostles here!" I'm stoked!
We had my first leadership training meeting. Did I mention I love meetings? Actually, to be honest, because of my companions, I've been to a leadership training meeting for all but one transfer of my mission (and if I don't screw up, I'll always be in these meetings). Ours was on 1.) Exercising authority in the Lord's way and 2.) Return and Report, and everything that could possibly do with it. Some great quotes we heard:
"When performance is measured, performance improves. When performance is measured and reported, the rate of improvement accelerates." - President Monson
"When we deal in generalities, we rarely succeed. When we deal in specifics we rarely fail." - President Monson
No wonder some Latter-Day Saints make such great businessmen!
I view this as license for implementing some managerial accounting. We went over in detail the reporting system of the Church, and the importance of PPIs. [ personal priesthood interviews ] They are more then just worthiness checks, they are opportunities to account to the Lord on our stewardship. As such, I'm now expected to do PPIs. You don't think Christ had built thousands of worlds before this one? And yet, the process was still a.) specific assignment from God b.) accepting the assignment c.) executing the assignment d.) report on assignment. Teaching is woven into every aspect of the Plan, and the Church. If you are going to a meeting and fail to learn, you are failing in your stewardship. I say that with ALL seriousness. I've found in every meeting, if I listen well, and prepare well, answers to my questions come. Not necessarily from what is taught, but in that it creates an environment of inspiration. Inspiration is God, giving us an assignment. As such, He expects a report. Hence, constant PPIs.
President Smith also mentioned a story pertaining to President David O. McKay. When in a meeting, a brother failed to produce a report he was asked to bring. President McKay stopped, pointed at the man and said "Brother ______, the Church and the Work of the Lord are riding on your shoulders. It is not acceptable to fail." At the end of the meeting, he was reportedly "kicking chairs out of the way" to get to this brother. Upon reaching him, he promptly hugged him, and told him how much he loved him, and how much confidence both he and the Lord had in him. It was similar to a quote I heard:
"The most effective way to get someone to change is to give them a responsibility and tell them you trust them."
Stewardship and accountability are my new favorite principles in the Church. It is directly related to be anxiously engaged in a good cause. See "Work" in the new Gospel Principles manual. It's amazing. Also, did I mention the picture next to eternal marriage is of the Ghana, Accra temple?
I also had to do 7 interviews this week. Elder Bo. and the new Elder, Elder Or., are working their tails off. We saw rapid improvement ourselves. We double our investigators at Church, baptismal dates, and progressing investigators over the past week. Elder Or. and Elder B. went on splits, so I employed the above mentioned quote. They came back with 10 lessons taught... what studs! Elder Mc., our Zone Leader, was thoroughly impressed. But it is not enough. Buduburam holds the in-mission record for baptisms in a transfer: 21. We can beat it. I know it!
As to your question, Dad, we have a few families we are teaching. Syl, Jebbeh, and Settah W. Syl is a doctor who was also a commander in the Liberian military. Man, it gave us a scare many times (As he was explaining it, he was really hush-hush, and always reassured us "But don't worry, I never shed innocent blood!"... GAH!). He loves the Church, and was the one who came to me in Church and said "Can we meet 4 or 5 times a week until I can get baptized?"... um... yes! His wife, when we read a few passages from the Book of Mormon, dropped everything and started coming to Church a week later. He always refers to the Church as "The Restored Truth." as in "Now that I've found the Restored Truth..." "But that was before I came in contact with the Restored Truth." He is also always talking about "Is it possible that I can attain the Melchizedek Priesthood?" He loves the very idea of it. When we explained baptism for the Dead he fell silent for a second, and then, almost breathlessly said "... Praise be to my God..." it was on of the best moments I've ever had. Two days later, one hour after a lesson we had we got a call from Jebbeh "please come now"... They were going to get a divorce. WHAT?! It broke our hearts. We talked to them a little, and then got President involved. They are working it out now, so we are hoping to see some improvement soon. I mean, Syl has managed to put 200 former child soldiers through school (Carrie Van D. would LOVE this guy!), and made them upstanding members of society... surely he can fix his own darn marriage!
It was interesting, actually. I had to teach about Adam and Eve and Church that Sunday, and it ended up being all about "It is not good for man to be alone." I didn't intend to focus on that, but it just sort of happened. Syl then pointed out "It was only when they were separated that temptations started to come." to which I wanted to say "So... it makes you NOT WANT TO GET A DIVORCE, RIGHT?!"
We got a Ward Mission Leader. He's very young, and I scared the heck out of him as I explained what his calling entailed. His is one of the most important callings, and I know he can do it.
The last thing... Elder Or... the kid is from Utah and you ALL know his house. It is Troy's house from High School Musical. Yep. Anyway, he's legit, except he plays Football for Utah... He loves to write little poems, which are always really cool. It's great to see the difference 6 months on mission makes. Was I ever really a greenie? ;) Elder Bo. (my MTC mate) and I just laugh about it all the time.
Alright, well, I love you, and have nothing more to write. Take care! Always strive to improve on your stewardships, and build your talents, so God can use you always.