The Top Ten Things We Learned on Our Mission

If you work at something for a year and a half you should learn something.  If you work at something for a year and a half you should accomplish something.  We feel good about what we have learned and accomplished on our mission.

And so, in keeping with traditions made popular by late night television, here is our top ten list — The Top Ten Things We Learned on Our Mission.

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Charlottesville Virginia from Carter Mountain.    Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance

#10.  Sister Ware can really snap her fingers  

Every mission seems to have a signature move.  On my first mission it was tossing a quarter into the air with a flat spin, kicking it back into the air with the side of your shoe, and catching it.  If you were good you caught it in your shirt pocket.  I know that sounds weird, but work up the mental image.  You see a group of missionaries, standing in the foyer of the church, one leg at an awkward angle to the side, and quarters flying in all directions.  Scary.  On this mission some of the missionaries and ward members have their own signature move.  They greet each other with a loud finger snap.  Sister Ware is a really good finger snapper.  

As my one and only missionary companion I learned Sister Ware was good at all kinds of things.  One of them was teaching.  Her ability to teach was greatly enhanced because she cared about our students.  We learned, “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”  It was easy to care about our good friends in Virginia.

Sister Ware showed she cared using her skills as a conversationalist.  Those we worked with, especially the young people, loved to visit with her.  She showed she cared in the time and interest she gave to others.  Everyone needs friends and her ability to make friends through listening and responding was as good as her finger snapping.

#9.  We are laden with sheaves

“Lift up your heart and rejoice, for the hour of your mission is come . . . Therefore, thrust in your sickle with all your soul, and your sins are forgiven you, and you shall be laden with sheaves upon your back . . .” (D&C 31:3,5).

Symbols are plentiful when you talk about burdens on your back.  Initial impressions suggest you are burdened with a load, something difficult.  That is not the case with sheaves.  If you are harvesting grain through cutting your harvest by hand, and carrying those bound sheaves to the thresher, you carry on your back the blessing of food.  When you are laden with sheaves you are laden with blessings.

We loved our mission.  It was work, but not really hard work.  We never felt pressure to achieve, and we never felt excessive demands on our time.  That being said, there was always something to do.  There were institute classes on almost every weekday and YSA events every weekend.  There was cooking, inspecting, and transporting.  Mostly there were people who needed attention.  We didn’t have to look far to find an investigator, new member, missionary or ward member that needed some personal attention.  We especially enjoyed paying attention to others.

The reception of blessings is not the proper motivation for working and serving the Lord.  We serve because we follow the admonition to “serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength” (D&C 4:2).  We serve because we love the Lord—and yet blessings come to us.  We found blessings in everything – institute lessons went well, food we cooked tasted good, we were never lost while driving, and we were never sick.

Blessings came to our family as well.  We left with six grandsons back home.  They are all bright, talented and good, and they really make us happy.  With our children we prayed for more grandchildren, boys or girls (but girls would be nice).  Our prayers were answered with two new granddaughters.  Perhaps more importantly, God has blessed our family with the blessings of his gospel and all of our children are taking advantage of activity in the church and the blessings of the temple.

We love these words from Elder Russell M. Nelson. “”Keeping divine commandments brings blessings, every time!  Breaking divine commandments brings a loss of blessings, every time!” (General Conference, April 2014)

#8.  It’s better when you sing 

Missionaries, members of the Charlottesville Young Single Adult Ward, and students in our institute classes all loved to sing.  Everyone seemed to sing well and we sang frequently.  The Lord loves singing.  He said, “For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads.” (D&C 25:12)

Interestingly, in Virginia, the state honored with the capital of the confederacy, a favorite church hymn seemed to be The Battle Hymn of the Republic.  While singing this hymn in church we sometimes stand(?).  It was sometimes sung at baptisms (?).  Julia Ward Howe wrote this Yankee song.  She was an active leader in anti-slavery politics and strong supporter of the Union.  Perhaps Union troops fighting in Virginia sang the song so often it just caught on.

#7.  God loves all his children

It was our privilege to work with all kinds of people and we learned to better understand that God loves all his children.   God blesses all his children, including non-christians, with his spirit as they love and serve others. (Mosiah 18:10)

Many of the young people we know are truly blessed.  Many are intelligent students working on a degree at an excellent university, supported by loving family members, and firm in their testimony of the gospel.  For them the future looks bright.  Others we know found themselves on the other side of the spectrum.  They faced difficulties.  Some lived with little family support.  Some had been homeless.  Some struggled with addictions.

We came to appreciate a term used by Neal A. Maxwell.  He said that our Father knows us intimately from our pre-mortal life.  From that knowledge he has developed a “customized curriculum” (see Insights from My Life) for each of us.   The curriculum for some of our Virginia friends appeared very difficult.  We wanted to help, but often felt helpless. We found we could give them attention, let them know we cared, and pray for them.  We saw blessings come into their lives, especially as they lived the principles of the restored gospel.

Elder Jeffery R. Holland gave a conference talk, “Are We Not All Beggars?”, about those with disadvantages.  In the talk he points out that “blessed are the poor who are pure in heart, whose hearts are broken, and whose spirits are contrite, for they shall see the kingdom of God coming in power and great glory unto their deliverance; for the fatness of the earth shall be theirs” (D&C 56:18).  We try our best to benefit others and look forward to the time the Lord will make all things right.

#6.  We love missionary name tags

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You know what I am talking about.  Those black name  tags that have your name, Elder ____, or Sister ____, followed by the name of the church, “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints”.  We loved putting on these tags in the morning.  It meant we represented the restored gospel of Jesus Christ through his church.  It meant we were called by a prophet.  It meant our message was the most important message on the earth today.  It meant we were missionaries.

It was also great fun to wear the tag.  For example, in a store at the mall someone might ask you where to find women’s shoes.  You could answer, “I’m sorry, I don’t know, but I can tell you about the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”  Usually the reply brought another glance at the name tag and the response, “Oh . . . , never mind”.   Sometimes you would notice a person trying to read your tag.  If you turned just a little, without making eye contact, they could get a better look.  Then, with eye contact, you could tell them why you wear the tag, who you are, and start-up a conversation.  Usually we found we could give them a pass along card, one of those business cards with information about church websites, our name and number.  Missionary tags are the best.

#5 Ground Hogs, marmots and whistle-pigs are all related

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Sister Ware was slightly obsessed with ground hogs.  While driving down the road she would always be on the lookout for these large, furry rodents.  I suggested some were stumps or distant, wind-blown, paper bags.  She reminded me to keep my eyes on the road.  One time, while driving alone, she claims she saw an especially ferocious looking ground hog standing at the side of the road.

We learned ground hogs belong to a larger group of ground squirrels known as marmots. They are also known as woodchucks, and land-beavers. Some of the locals call them whistle-pigs because they can warn of danger with a standing whistle.

#4  Follow the prophet

All of us are attempting to understand ourselves and our role in the universe.  The answers are found in the gospel of Jesus Christ as it has been restored through the prophet Joseph Smith and through his prophets today.

Many of those we met on our mission seem to feel the understanding they are seeking is found in their own moral relativism.  If you think something is right it is.  They use a secular approach which emphasizes freedom without limits, tolerance beyond established morality, and equality where everyone is the same.  Secular relativism is especially promoted in sexual matters and issues involving the central role of the family, same-sex marriage, and the ordination of women.

The Lord teaches differently when he tells us, “for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9), and “trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5).  

Elder Robert D. Hales spoke on this subject in General Conference.

“Some obey selectively because they cannot perceive all the reasons for a commandment, just as children do not always understand the reasons for their parents’ counsel and rules. But we always know the reason we follow the prophets, for this is the Church of Jesus Christ, and it is the Savior who directs His prophets in all dispensations.” (General Conference, April 2014)

We believe great blessings come from following the prophet.  When we follow the prophet the Lord blesses us with personal confirmation through the Holy Ghost that we are correct.

#3 Look Outward, Not Inward

When Elder David A. Bednar spoke at a Virginia Richmond Mission Conference, he taught something really important, “Always look outward, not inward.”  It is easy to look inward and focus on ourselves for good or ill.  It might be seeking praise for a well-taught lesson, high numbers on a missionary report, or positioning ourselves for advancements or leadership positions.  It might even be excessive self-criticism, fear caused by the constant consideration of our inadequacies, or over-concern of how we will look to others.  These are all forms of self-centeredness.

Instead, we must look outward.  Looking outward means focusing on our students, investigators, family, and friends.  We listen to their questions or comments rather than losing ourselves in thoughts of what we will say or do next. We consider their needs or fears and not our own and how we can help them prepare for eternal life.  We just GET OUT OF THE WAY and trust the Spirit to guide us.

President Hinckley so wisely explained, “If we want joy in our hearts, if we want the Spirit of the Lord in our lives, let us forget ourselves and reach out. Let us put in the background our own personal selfish interests and reach out in service to others.” (July 2006 New Era)

#2 Southerners have the best sayings

“She’s as happy as a dead pig in the sunshine.”

When a pig dies, presumably in a sty outside, the sun dries out its skin.  This effect pulls the pig’s lips back to reveal a toothy “grin,” making it look happy even though it’s dead. This phrase describes a person who’s blissfully ignorant of reality.  We found this was a seldom heard, but very descriptive southern saying.

We anticipated hearing “y’all” plenty and we were not disappointed.  However, most southern sayings we heard centered around blessings.  “Have a blessed day” comes to mind as the most common, not the familiar “have a good day”, but have a “blessed day.”  Sometimes people would use the phrase after looking at our name tags.  We obviously label ourselves as religious.  It is really a pleasant comment.

Another common phrase is “bless her heart”.  “Bless his/her heart”, isn’t as pleasant as “have a blessed day”.  It is a polite sounding phrase given with a passive-aggressive gist.  You might hear, “Did you see what she was wearing?  Bless her heart.”  Or perhaps, “His comments were completely inappropriate.  Bless his heart.”

So the next time some guy cuts you off in traffic you can say, “Y’all have a blessed day . . . bless your heart.”

#1 We need to work toward the next covenant

An emphasis on our mission is helping everyone prepare for their next covenant.  For a non-member the next covenant is baptism.  For a member the next covenant might be temple attendance.  For most of us the next covenant is taking the sacrament.  We can all look forward to our next covenant.

The Savior promises great blessings to men and women who keep his commandments and make covenants.

And he that receiveth me receiveth my Father; and he that receiveth my Father receiveth my Father’s kingdom; therefore all that my Father hath shall be given unto him.  And this is according to the oath and covenant which belongeth to the priesthood. (D&C 84:37-39)

Helping others work toward their next covenant  has been a great blessing while on our mission.  We hope to continue emphasizing covenants in our lives and the lives of others.

Elder and Sister Ware

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Born of the Water and of the Spirit

Steady growth.  Good steady growth.

That is what we see with the expansion of the church in Virginia.

In 1841, Joseph Smith commented on the expansion of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.  He wrote about it in the Wentworth Letter:

” . . . the Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear; till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done.” (Ensign July 2002).

We love the young people we see come into the church.

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We are especially pleased with the testimony of the restoration expressed by the new members.  Here are the thoughts of one new member.

“Sometimes God requires us to let go of the little we have so there is room for Him to grant us greater things.  This is my case.  I was content attending Florida International University in Miami, FL.  I had made amazing friends, joined welcoming organizations and was excelling academically.  All was good, however God had other plans for me.  God desired that I would transfer schools.  At this point in my life I was trying to form a stronger relationship with God.  I no longer had my parents to tell me to pray or read my scriptures.  I needed to learn to do these things on my own.  Yet, this opportunity of independence from my family allowed the gift of dependence on God.  Thus, when I received personal revelation that I must transfer it was an opportunity to see how much my relationship with God had grown.  It allowed me to see how much I trusted God and how obedient I would be.”

“I applied to six schools, only one school accepted me and that school would facilitate my transfer expenses.  Transferring was not easy.  I had never been to Virginia and I had no idea what I was getting myself into.  I had act with faith that God was going to guide my way.  Thus, when I arrived at the University of Virginia, I expected that God’s purpose to bring me was so that I could receive a better college education.  This is true, but God had something else in mind.”

“As I began to grow accustomed to UVA I started to realize there were Mormon missionaries on campus.  The first time I saw them I felt a promoting to go and speak to them, yet I did not.  The second time I saw them I felt a prompting to go and speak to them again, but I bluntly told God, “I don’t want to speak with the missionaries.”  Let me tell you, it is never a good idea to argue with God.  Finally, the third time I saw the missionaries I felt a such a strong surge of emotions I knew I had to speak to the missionaries immediately.”

“I went up to them and asked, are you guys elders and how can I get plugged into the church?   Those words would change my life.  Who would have thought that God wanted me to move to Virginia to become a Mormon.  But here I am, just baptized and sharing my testimony.  While learning the gospel through the missionaries and through members of the church I have been able to gain a clarity and understanding of God’s will that I asked constantly for God to grant me.  God has answered my prayers. I know I still have much to learn, but I am eager to do so and progress as I endure to the end.  For this reason I know this is the true church and where God desires me to be.”

Once again, we love the young people we see come into the church.  We know they will be blessed as they make and keep sacred covenants.  They are certainly a blessing in our lives.

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Seasons & Purposes

Our memories store mental images of places.  The two of us have memories of places in Charlottesville.  Places we saw so many times we will never forget them.  This post is about a few of those places.  They are places we appreciated for their beauty.  They are places we love because we shared the view of them together.

Redfields Pond

Redfields Pond is a few blocks from our apartment.  From time to time we would walk there.   Turtles, geese, and herons sometimes greeted us.  Our walks were always quiet and refreshing.  Here are the seasons we enjoyed at the pond.

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Redfields Pond in Winter

Reddfields Pond Spring

Reddfields Pond in  Spring

Redfields Pond in Summer

Redfields Pond Fall

Redfields Pond in Fall

 

Hydraulic Road Church 

You can find the Church Education System offices at the back of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Hydraulic Road.  Several of our classes were taught in a room at the back of the church.  We usually parked there.  It is just a church parking lot, but it was a special place for us because we served there.

Hydraulic Road Church Winter

Hydraulic Road Church Winter

Hydraulic Church Early Spring

Hydraulic Church Early Spring

Hydraulic Church Spring

Hydraulic Church Spring

Hydraulic Church Summer

Hydraulic Church Summer

Hydraulic Church Fall

Hydraulic Church Fall

Our backyard

Actually we didn’t have a back yard, but as you looked out of the window of our second story apartment this is what you saw.  This was our window to the world each day.  The woods across the street and over the guard-rail always looked good to us.

Our Backyard Winter

Our Backyard Winter

Our Backyard Early Spring

Our Backyard Early Spring

Our Backyard Spring

Our Backyard Spring

Our Backyard Summer

Our Backyard Summer

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Our Backyard Fall

A season of our life comes to a close as we finish our mission.  We remember the popular words of “The Preacher”, in Ecclesiastes, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” (Ecclesiastes  3:1) 

The purpose of our missionary service is well defined in Preach My Gospel; our purpose is to “invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.”

We know we have exercised our faith to accomplish the missionary purpose outlined by the Savior.  We have a bright hope as lives are blessed through the gospel.

Elder Ware

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“Yet ofttimes a secret something”

We have our quirks.  Here’s one of mine.  I love to leave home and go on vacation.  You get to enjoy the planning, the anticipation, being with family and friends, there are new places and good times.  Then, even before the vacation is over, I am every bit as anxious to get back home.  As Dorothy reminds us, despite the greenness of Oz or Virginia, “there’s no place like home.”

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Home in Charlottesville, Villa Way, 2nd floor, on the left

Vacation doesn’t describe our mission, adventure is a better word, but the quirk still applies.  Many months ago, we enjoyed the anticipation of an inspired mission call and the excitement of meeting new people and seeing new places.  We have learned the restored gospel bonds us with an eternal relationship to people and places.  We love our Charlottesville home and our friends here.  We love the message of peace and love found in The Church of Jesus Christ of  Latter-day Saints.  In the months to come we will leave our home in Virginia.

Trunky (or is it trunkie, who knows, it’s a missionary taboo to put the word in writing) is a Mormon missionary word.  Although our mission ends in December we are not trunky, life is too busy and we will work until the last institute class, the last apartment inspection, and the last Family Home Evening.  However, our practical conversation includes what we need to do in preparation for changes and how we might serve when we get home.

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Backyard memories from home

It’s a problem when a missionary dwells on home at the expense of the Lord’s work.  With that in mind it is not unreasonable to think the Lord wants us to learn lessons about home. Many are given wonderful memories of the homes of parents and grandparents.  Good homes are a place of security and peace.  The people we love the most are associated with the places we call home.

Dozens of missionaries are now our new friends, and nearly all of them speak fondly of their homes.  They serve with honor and do the work of the Lord.  They see others accept the gospel and join the church.  They learn that good homes and families bless the lives of everyone and they leave the mission with a desire to build righteous homes for themselves. For 24 or 18 months their home is where they serve within the Virginia Richmond Mission, but at the end, when they are about to return to their traditional home, you can’t miss the smile on their face and the gleam in their eye.

We love our mission home, but as the song O My Father reminds us, “Yet ofttimes a secret something whispered, ‘you’re a stranger here’ “.  We hear that whisper in Charlottesville in more ways than one.  The whisper reminds us of our home in the west, but it also reminds us we have “wandered from a more exalted sphere”.  The future for all of us is the same.  We will return to the God who gave us life, and if we are faithful, we will live with those we love in a celestial home.

"and I felt that I had wondered from a more exhaled sphere"

“and I felt that I had wandered from a more exalted sphere”

The Family, a Proclamation to the World, says it well, “The divine plan of happiness enables family relationships to be perpetuated beyond the grave. Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families to be united eternally.”

The words happiness, family relationships, and families united eternally sound very good to us.  We look forward to the times when we will no longer be strangers here.

Elder Ware

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Oakwood Cemetery

The focal point of our mission is institute.  The Institute of Religion program of the church benefits young people ages 18-30.  We love everything about institute.  We love preparing to teach, learning, teaching, and attending.  Most of all we love the young adults who attend with us and share with others their testimony of the restored gospel.

We try to share, both written and visually, what we love in this blog.  Up to this point we have not shared much about institute, especially with pictures.  The problem is obvious. Surely the spirit would disappear if I stepped to the front of a class taught by Sister Ware and, with a flashed from the camera, captured a photo.  You get the picture.

Well, this week we took some photos at institute.

That is because institute this week was a field trip.  This summer we are studying Introduction to Family History in an evening class.  Attendance has been good and the discussions are great.  There are 12 lessons in the manual and there are 15 weeks in the summer, so we did some supplementing.

Getting organized for an institute at Oakwood Cemetery

Getting organized for an institute at Oakwood Cemetery

Some of the most dependable students began to arrive at the appointed time and it took us a minute to get something to eat and get organized.  With a rousing outdoor version of “We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet”, an opening prayer and a spiritual thought, we were ready to get to work.

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Documenting those who have gone before us at Oakwood

The app BillionGraves is linked to FamilySearch, the church website for family history. BillionGraves provides a unique way to add sources to your family history.  Here’s how it works.  The students downloaded the app to their phones and the app finds their location and recognizes they are in a predetermined cemetery.

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S.B. and R.G. document a headstone

This night we used the app to take pictures.  The pictures are stored and their exact location is recorded through the phone’s GPS.

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J.H. and C.H add another photo

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Documenting headstones. Good project. Good company. Good exercise.

Sister Ware gets into headstone documentation

Sister Ware gets into headstone documentation

On this trip we took pictures of about 1,000 headstones.  The pictures are then uploaded to the BillionGraves website.  At the website or on the app you can next transcribe the information, making the data searchable.  With the link to FamilySearch headstones from BillionGraves can be attached to ancestors and used as a source of information. Documenting makes our work in family history reliable.

Happy with our work in family history

Happy with our work in family history

It was another great Institute of Religion class.

“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and dreadful day of the Lord: and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.” Malachi 4:5-6

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Then and Now

Walter Mitty was an anomaly.  Once in a while we daydream, but in reality, waking hours are spent in the “now” of our lives. That being said, it is pleasant to spend time in the happy “then” of our past.  Here are some thoughts on the then and now of missionary work.

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California North Mission, 1969

The then in this post was late 1969 through 1971, two years spent as a missionary in the California North Mission.  The now is, well, now.  Except if you read this sometime after now.  In that case now becomes then, and then was 2013 and 2014 in the Virginia Richmond Mission.  That’s where we are now.

Then was 44 years ago.

What missionaries teach has not changed.  Then and now we teach the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ through the prophet Joseph Smith.  Then and now we teach that living prophets can guide our lives.  Then and now we teach the Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ to compliment the bible.

However, not all things are the same.  Here are some things that have changed.  Many of them for the better.

Apartments

They are just better.  Apartments are generally pleasant in our mission.  Our assignment is to inspect the cars and apartments of Elders and Sisters in our zone.  Their apartments are small, but newer and in good condition.  They smell good and they are warm in the winter and cool in the summer.  They are sparsely furnished, but furnishings are adequate for sleeping, eating and studying.

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Susanville California apartment, 1969

Ken Lowell Ware Caifornia North Mission - 0001

Fallon Nevada apartment, 1970

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Charlottesville Virginia apartment, 2013

Cars

Not all missionaries have cars, but here in the states many of them drive a church-owned car.   The church keeps their cars in good condition and turn over happens after just a few years.  A driving limit of about 1,000 miles each month is the mission rule.  There were similar restrictions on the American Motors Ramblers we drove in the 70’s.  More than one missionary has expressed satisfaction with the mission cars they drive today.

American Motors Rambler, 1969

American Motors Rambler, 1969

Subaru, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

Missionary Training

In 1969 the Missionary Training Center was a crowded building north of the Salt Lake Temple (now the Conference Center).  As missionaries we were there only a few days. Meals were served in the basement of the Hotel Utah.  Training was limited and concentrated.  It seems we had apostles stop by daily and give us instruction.

Now, once again, overcrowding is an issue at the Provo MTC.  This despite the 15 Missionary Training Centers operating around the world.  We really enjoyed our time at the MTC as we started our mission (see It’s Official When You Get The Tags). Overcrowding is expected with missionary work exploding.  Processing tens of thousands of missionaries every year is a pleasant problem, but a problem nonetheless.

The location of the MTC has changed, but more significantly the training at the MTC has also changed.  Missionary preparation now centers on Preach My Gospel : A Guide to Missionary Work.  Preach My Gospel focuses on the fundamentals of missionary work. Missionaries learn their purpose is to, “invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.”

Methods for teaching investigators are greatly improved over how we taught 44 years ago. Back then we used flannel boards and the “Brother Brown discussions”.  Those discussions were memorized, inflexible , and stiff (to say the least). It was difficult to move from memorized words into your own words to bear humble testimony with the spirit.

Today we teach “lessons”.  The lessons introduce the restored gospel and explain the commitments new members need to make before baptism. It is important to teach correct principles. Missionaries teach correct principles in their own words. As missionaries teach they express their feelings by the spirit of the Holy Ghost. Prepared investigators understand as the truth is manifest “by the power of the Holy Ghost” (Moroni 10:4).

Finding Investigators

We have the truth.  Since the time of the Savior the problem has been finding those who will listen to the message.  Finding techniques have not changed.  Missionaries find with faith, talk to everyone, visit with members and former investigators, meet others as they serve and, of course, knock on doors.

The Lord blessed me with success while serving in California.  A method that always appealed to me was contacting new move ins.  It was so natural to contact someone new to the area and invite them to church.  We left a small hard bound book, Meet the Mormons, then told them we would return to retrieve it in about a week.  On the return trip we would often make arrangements for a teaching appointment.

Baptism Services

A wonderful improvement in missionary work today is the emphasis put on baptism services.  Missionaries are strongly encouraged to bring their investigators to baptisms.  At these meetings investigators feel the spirit, hear the testimony of newly baptized members, and picture their own baptism.  Baptism services are special occasions; investigators feel it.  We enjoy attending baptisms in our zone.  On occasion we have provided transportation for missionaries who are anxious to travel back to former areas for the baptism of former investigators.

Missionary Instructions and Missionary Blessings

After his resurrection, Jesus appeared to some of his apostles.  They were fishing on the sea of Tiberius.  He repeatedly asked Peter the same question.

“He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.” (John 21:17)

Like Peter our instructions are clear, the Lord asks us to serve his children.  If we faithfully serve he promises blessings.

“And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!” (D&C 18:15)

Blessings from a mission started back then.  They continue now, 44 years later.

Posted in Christianity, Virginia, Virginia Richmond Mission | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Water Weekend

We had a great weekend – lots of water.  It was a weekend that started well and ended even better.

The water weekend started with a YSA ward pool party.  The party was held at the home of the high councilman assigned to our ward.  It was amazing.  The pool is behind a tastefully remodeled, 1796 farm home.  That’s right, the home was build in 1796, the last year George Washington was in office as president.  Originally the home sat in the middle of an 800 acre farm.  The farm is now a golf course.  In fact, you have to drive through the middle of the course on a cart path to get to the home.  I wasn’t sure how to run the golf ball gauntlet – slow and hesitant or fast and aggressively.  Regardless, it was a safe entrance and exit.

If you have an estate in Virginia it has to have a name.  This estate is called “Mountain View”, although it is hard to see the mountains because there are so many trees.  Mountain View is on the Rockfish Gap Turnpike (US Highway 250).  Beginning in the 1740’s the road was called Three Chopt Road (or sometimes Three Notche’d Road).  Can you picture checking the trees for three chopts to avoid getting lost?  This Virginia Colony road connected Richmond with the Shenandoah Valley through Rockfish Gap.  It is a wind gap (former stream bed now elevated and dry) in the top of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

If you lived in colonial times and were going to visit Thomas Jefferson at Monticello you would pass by this farm on Three Chopt Road.  Famous visitors to Monticello included James Madison, James Monroe, the Marquis de Lafayette, and according to one of Jefferson’s family members, “persons from abroad, from all the States of the Union, from every part of the State . . . . People of wealth, fashion, men in office, professional men military and civil, lawyers, doctors, Protestant clergymen, Catholic priests, members of Congress, foreign ministers, missionaries, Indian agents, tourists, travellers, artists, strangers, friends.”  Makes you wonder who might have stopped by the farm.  Too bad they  didn’t have the pool – now that would be a draw.

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Lots of green surrounding cool blue water at the pool

This Saturday afternoon the farm hosted special visitors indeed. There were close to 20 members of the YSA ward.  The attendance wasn’t’ record breaking (not everyone is a swimmer), but those who came had a great time.

Kabobs and lemonade

Kabobs and lemonade

Swimming and an appetite go together.  Everyone took a break from the pool to eat.  After the meal and a brief rest most were back in the pool.

Senior missionary swim wear

Senior missionary swim wear

There is great variety in swim wear.  Eventually almost everyone got their swim wear wet – either voluntary or involuntary.   Sister Ware and I were among the few to stay dry.  For some reason no one pushed us in the pool, and that was OK with us.  We were happy because it was apparent everyone had a great afternoon. As the day ended the golfers went home and we felt it was safe to negotiate the course back to Charlottesville. Sunday started as a typical day.  We had church meetings, met several new members who are moving into the area and were introduced to a group of new investigators by the missionaries in our ward.  Change is inevitable in life.  Changes comes almost daily to a YSA ward.  Our bishopric faces a major task just to learn names and keep the ward organized. The water weekend ended with another baptism in the ward right after church.  Four young men have joined the church in the past few weeks.  As you can see from the pictures we share in lots of smiles. DSC_0002 DSC_0005 DSC_0003 DSC_0006 We really enjoy our association with these young men.  The gospel of Jesus Christ, restored to the earth through the Prophet Joseph Smith, can bless their lives.  These four are anxious to learn, and grow, and improve their lives with the blessings of the gospel.  We are very pleased to be a small part of that change and a part of their lives at this critical time.

19 And no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom; therefore nothing entereth into his rest save it be those who have washed their garments in my blood, because of their faith, and the repentance of all their sins, and their faithfulness unto the end. 20 Now this is the commandment: Repent, all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me and be baptized in my name, that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day. (3 Nephi 27:19-20) Elder Ware

Posted in Baptism, Gospel of Jesus Christ, Virginia, Virginia Richmond Mission | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments