Monday, July 3, 2017
This has been the happiest week of my mission so far. We got to celebrate Canada Day, so I took the opportunity to make copies of "Oh Canada" to give to all the Bishops and Ward Mission Leaders in my area. Now we have no reason not to sing it in church. Brother Godfrey, a member of one of our wards who is from Southern Alberta himself, announced to the entire ward that Bishop Bailey has a copy, so really, there is no excuse not to be patriotic.
But that's not why it was the happiest week of my mission (even though it was definitely a plus). This week was the happiest week of my mission because I finally found my why. President Nattress would talk about "whys" a lot. There is your why for coming on a mission, a why for staying on your mission, and that why generally changes a lot over your mission. I had general whys, whys that would help me get to the next day whys that kept me going. But this week, I found a why that will allow me to "go to the edge where miracles happen", and I am so excited to do the work.
On Tuesday, we had Fundamental Meeting, and Elders Gressman and Holland (my zone leaders) committed us to invite one person to be baptized every single day. We've been trying to do that, which I'll talk about in a minute, but here's the thing, Fam. I've been trying to set that as a goal for myself for the last thirteen months, and it never stuck. But during our meeting, I learned something that helped me find that sense of urgency that I couldn't figure out before. I realized that I can only invite random people on the street to be baptized while I am a missionary. I won't have that authority after my mission. Conclusion: I need to get inviting.
This week was also Zone Conference, which seriously changed my life. One thing President Wheeler has been trying to focus on is how to improve the way we find. The Arizona Gilbert Mission is definitely a baptizing mission--1 out of 3 people that start investigating the church are baptized in this mission, but the trick is finding people to start teaching. That is what we focused on this Zone Conference. I realized something else. I didn't know how to find, and finally after thirteen months, I learned.
One thing that changed is I understand the role of testifying better. Sometimes I get so caught up in teaching or trying to help them feel loved that I forget that testifying does both of those things. The other thing was something known as the Rule of Seven. On average, it takes a person at least seven interactions with the church before they are ready to be baptized because they realize it's true, and that's going from a range of knowing absolutely nothing about the church to being ready to be baptized. I always thought of it in the way most members do: if they aren't a seven right now then uhhghghh.... I don't know what to do .... but in Zone Conference, we learned to take a different look at it. God's timeline is God's timeline, but part of God's timeline is the journey. Every interaction we have can move people closer to being ready to make promises with our Savior through baptism. Instead of looking at it as "oh, they haven't had seven interactions, I guess I'll just leave now", I have an awesome opportunity to help them move closer. Maybe this time they would have just told us go away, but we can show them kindness and testify, so maybe next time they will be like, "Oh, it's the Mormons. I'll give them a water bottle", and so on.
After that, I wanted to be committed. I finally knew how to do it, I knew that I could do it, and I knew that I needed to do it now, so Sister Rogers and I went and did this week. Day one, we biked around and we had a great day, but by the end of it, we still hadn't found anyone to invite . . . and it was 8:55. We started biking home, but still hopeful, we kept looking. We biked past the public swimming pool, and we see two guys sitting on a bench outside. We quickly went over to talk to them, annnnddddd they were members from the Elders' ward. Okay, it looked like we weren't going to invite a non-member to be baptized, but that didn't mean we couldn't invite. We asked him if weren't already baptized, if he would be. And he said yes. Was it a stretch? Yes, but we invited, and we got the words out of our mouth.
The next day, we actually had a cool experience. Sister Rogers felt prompted to go visit a "part-member" family. The husband hadn't come to church in years and the wife (Elizabeth) says her belief system is kind of like Star Wars. We asked to share a message with them, not really sure what we were going to share, but the Lord was completely in charge. Elizabeth's husband was thoroughly disappointed that she couldn't do better than saying her beliefs were "like Star Wars", so he started sharing what he believed--which he said repeatedly he hadn't done as much before as he shared that day. It turned into a really great gospel discussion. We didn't get to talk much because Elizabeth's husband had a LOT to say, but I did receive two distinct promptings of things to share. "Talk about the Atonement" and "Talk about the First Vision". Sister Rogers also was able to share a few things, and it was so cool because as she talked, Elizabeth was listening intently to what Sister Rogers had to say. At the end of the lesson, Sister Rogers was so bold and invited Elizabeth right there to be baptized. She told us she'll never say never! It was incredible.
Day three of the commitment was absolutely nuts and we were running around like crazy. We were trying really hard and having no luck. We even went by our friend Jeff's home to follow up about his invitation to pray about July 15 as a baptismal date--he wasn't home. It was getting late and we had to get going in, and once again, we hadn't found anyone. Suddenly, Sister Rogers sees a boy, no older than 14 years old, riding his bike. She stops, bikes right toward him and screams, "ARE YOU A MEMBER?" I about had a heart attack. The kid was a member, but we still invited and even had a cool teaching opportunity. Sister Rogers explained our commitment to him, and he probably thought we were crazy. We invited him, and he said yes, but added, "but I've already been baptized". (I was about to lose it because I get people who tell me that all the time and now I'm getting it from members too.) So we change it up a little and ask, "well, will you renew your baptismal covenant by partaking of the sacrament?" He said yes, so we said, "We will be holding a Sacrament Service on July 2. Will you prepare yourself to take the sacrament that day?" He said he'd be out of town, but promised he'd still be going to church to take the sacrament there. Maybe he didn't get anything out of it except for thinking missionaries are crazy (and he's not all wrong), but it was a good reminder for me that taking the sacrament has the same significance as a baptismal service--I just forget because I get to do it every week.
The next day was Saturday, and we were running around all day to try to correlate with Bishops and Ward Mission Leaders, and we didn't even have enough time to get that done. It was a struggle, so that day, I invited Sister Sprouse to be baptized. She said yes.
Then we finally got to Sunday. We had planned appointments all night, but all of them cancelled. I was pretty bummed, but it was a good opportunity to contact some referrals we had received. First we met Ashley, and she just moved into the neighborhood. She said she was just starting to develop her relationship with Jesus Christ and was attending Sun Valley, a popular non-denominational church in the area. I asked her how she had started her relationship with Jesus Christ, and she said she had been going through a hard time and I friend invited her to church (see? it works!). We told her about our message and invited her to be baptized. She said not yet because she was still starting out and didn't want to overwhelm herself, but she did accept a Book of Mormon and said we could come back.
We also met Justin. We had been meaning to contact someone else, but they were out of town. Justin was there house sitting. We talked to him for a while. He declined our invitation, but he did take a Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ pamphlet. While we were testifying, he was also listening intently, just like Elizabeth.
It was an incredible week. I learned so much and I want to take the things I learned this week throughout the rest of my mission, then take what I learn from my mission for the rest of my life. The Gospel is amazing, and I'm so glad I get to share it more effectively now. I hope everyone is doing great! I love you!