We had a baptism this past Saturday! Yup, my first one! And it turned out a little disappointing because we had planned for lessons by members, prayers by members and a musical number by the primary for the services. Guess how many members came? One! Our ward mission leader came twenty minutes late. The Relief Society was in another room making Christmas decorations though. So the branch will be ready for Christmas at least! Then afterwards we had cake that we made. The baptism we had was for three kids. I baptized two of them. It was amazing!
On Sunday we brought them and some of the families to the Christmas Devotional broadcast, which was awesome. We had seven investigators there and two of them we haven’t even been able to get to come to the church. Anyway one of the kids, he’s probably five, kept grabbing my hand while we walked and I was swinging him up and over rocks while we walked. I love that family and just playing around with the kids. We kept walking and I was just thinking, this is what it feels like to be a father. And he’s not even my kid. But it just made me so excited to be a father one day. Kids are so trusting and we can learn so much from them. I don’t know if that’s weird, but it was a cool experience.
Dad, yes I agree, the lesson that we can’t control certain things is always a hard one I think! As humans, we love to have control of everything and we can’t! We try to manage our schedule, our weight, our money, our emotions, our spirit, our families, etc. It’s overwhelming sometimes. But when we let go of the things we can’t control it definitely gets easier. That is something I’ve learned very quickly in the mission. And I think I relearn it about every month.
I really want to talk about how important members are, but I feel like I’ve already done that. But I’ll do it again anyway. So... here I go. I feel like missionary work is looked at wrong in the church. It’s like a “special sector” of the church and I feel that as members, we don’t know what it really is. I know I didn’t before I came on the mission. The missionaries were like different people to me. But there is a quote, I think by Spencer W Kimball (but I don’t know for sure), that says, “the missionary church and the member church are the same thing.” It really is.
As missionaries we teach nothing more than you would hear in church. In fact, we teach quite a bit less, just the basics. So why are we afraid to help as members? All we do as missionaries is bear testimony of what we know. Members do that every month in fast and testimony meeting. So why can’t we do it every once in a while with people that are investigating the church? My question is why would members leave the job of bringing people into the church up to 18-year old boys! The girls are doing great, they don’t have problems. I would think that there would be a desire to help us, since we are only 18 to 20-year old young men. Doesn’t that scare people enough to help out? ha ha Now I’m not saying I don’t know why I’m here, or why 18-years olds are doing this work. And I’m not trying to take away from the special calling I have, or the sacredness of my call. I know it is special, but I’m a member just like every one else. I have a calling just like you or the Young Men’s president or the Bishop has a calling. Mine comes in the mail from the first presidency, and yours may come from the Bishop, but a calling is a calling. We are all set apart to work in our callings. Now I’m not trying to down play a call to be a missionary, because it really is special. But so is any other calling FROM THE LORD.
I’m trying to help you see that we all have a calling to do missionary work, just like other callings. Missionaries aren’t super human preachers that members should be afraid of. We are as normal as 18-year olds get. Don’t be afraid of what the missionaries are doing. They are teaching about the church that we are all a part of. So go out with the missionaries! Help them out! Part of the struggle with missionary work is getting new members to feel included in the ward. President Hinckley taught that every member needs a friend, a calling, and the word of God. You can be a friend when you go with the missionaries to teach. As you go to teach you can help that investigator feel welcomed and loved and important. And as they have a friend in the church, it won’t be quite as scary to go to church. A story in Preach My Gospel talks about how hard it is for new investigators. It says that the church really is a new life. Investigators change their lives to be a part of the church, and at the same time, they are introduced to a new culture. Think about it. The LDS church has its own little culture. And I’m not a convert, but I’m sure its pretty weird at first. I know when I got to Honduras, it was a new culture and it was definitely weird. So as members, we may not be able to put on a white shirt and a tie, grab our plaque and head out to some other country, but we still have a responsibility in missionary work. You can help do the part that the missionaries can’t. You can be a friend and help the investigator grow in the gospel. Missionaries are only in one area for a few months. So as members, we need to go and help teach with the missionaries. Get to know the missionaries and their investigators. Be a friend to them. Answer their questions. Make them feel important. Help them to feel that the church isn’t something scary and don’t let them feel alone, because if they do, it will be a burden to go and they will become less active very quickly. When they have a friend at church it will be easier to go, and as they go, their testimony will grow. That is how we should keep people active.
There is also one other view I have of how members can help. Like I said earlier, missionaries are only in one area for a few months. It’s impossible to know an area in those few months without the help of the members. They don’t know the streets, the people, the ward, the members and they never will in a few months. But with the help of the members, it will be a whole lot easier. When members help the missionaries know their areas, they can spend more time teaching people and helping the ward grow, instead of trying to figure out where they are. I know this from experience. In Honduras where I am, there aren’t addresses on any houses. There are main streets with names and that’s about it. And it has taken me two months to figure most of them out. Members here are critical because they know where places are and which streets you shouldn’t walk down. Which is really important to know. My companion and I have spent a lot of time trying to figure out the area because we don’t have a lot of help from the members here. So help the missionaries out!
Another key part that members play, is providing references. Tracting takes a lot of time, and yields little results. It’s very rare to find someone who is willing to listen to a message when we contact houses here. References are so awesome because they cut the time that we spend searching and gets us right to the people that might listen to us. They are like gold and are really important! It may get annoying that the missionaries ask [for a contact] every time you talk to them, but they need them so think carefully and help them out! It’s really frustrating when someone says, no we don’t have anyone that you could teach. You have to know someone that could benefit from the gospel. It’s just impossible to not know someone we could talk to and it helps us out a ton.
So that’s all I have today. Hopefully it moves some people to action! Love you all a ton! - Elder Ollis
(Make sure you check out the new pictures on the Mission Field Pictures tab!)