This is both my weekly and my response to you. The first paragraph is for you, the following is for the weekly and the end will be the response to your email. (Michael’s Mom: I took out the first and the last, but I included the explanation because otherwise the title makes no sense J)
I am pretty busy that's for sure, although some of that is definitely my fault. For instance, today we woke up at 4:50. Went to Cross fit at 5. At 6 we met with the Vernal and the Spanish Elders to go hike to the U on the mountain. We ended up having to hike clear from the road because Elder Rowe doesn't know how to drive his Rav 4 (which in my opinion he doesn't deserve and he should trade us for our Rogue!) We rode with the Vernal Elders in their Corolla. I don't remember if I sent videos of the adventures Elder Bayless and I had with the Rav 4 but needless to say, it has several times more than enough to do it. Anywho we're also playing golf (meaning he's playing golf and trying to convince me that he's having the time of his life while constantly complaining about the clubs, the course, his hits, the balls etc etc.... not terribly convincing to say the least. And on top of that they're all free so.... yeah) then we're gonna play Ultimate in a little while, should be super good.
Last week’s Pday wasn't too crazy so no need to get into that. As for the rest of this week... we're so busy! Like I knew that this area tends to have a lot of work, plus whitewashing and all the other stuff I've been talking about... but this is crazy.
I really don't know where to start, it feels like there is just too much to put together in one email if I go day by day and talk about everything, but at the same time, I don't want to miss things.
Well let's discuss the area first. Obviously, I'm in Vernal, also known as freebie heaven, the promised land, or the Mecca, in the mission. Interesting thing about Vernal, in spite of the fact that it's actually two districts, Elder Joachin and I almost act like the Zone Leaders for Vernal, because we have people go across district lines all the time, and we hang out as well. We also do baptismal interviews for each other, which is normally a ZL responsibility. Quite honestly, the people we spend the most time with are the Spanish Elders, Elders Sanchez and Rowe, who cover all of Vernal, and the other district leaders, Elder Joachin (from Guatemala) and Johansen (from Denmark) who obviously aren't in my district. We also have activities with both districts together pretty frequently... which we don't really have the authority to authorize... but sort of we do. It's pretty odd to say the least. Over the last three days.... we've just spent a lot of time together, let's just leave it at that. Vernal is a super tight knit group, which is pretty cool. Another oddity, although this is our ZLs decision not because of Vernal, we're basically going on surprise exchanges with our ZLs. They just texted today and said meet us at this place at this time and we're having an exchange. I'll be going to their area tonight with Elder O'Reilly (my frisbee buddy) and Elder Hansen will come up here with Elder Nelson.
Ok so the work. Something we have in our mission is the Standards of Excellence (SoE). President Hodgman, some time ago, took a great deal of time to study, ponder, and seek revelation as to what each area in our mission can do. The result is the SoEs. We have a promise, from the Lord through President Hodgman and the keys he holds, that every area in our mission CAN achieve the SoEs. That being said, they very often don't. I've never had an area before that consistently met them. In the past I never really focused on them too much, I didn't think about the promise we had, it was just cool when it happened. Normally we could at least meet some of them. They are as follows. Gate (meaning baptisms) on average 1.5 per month. So three every other month or so. Date (meaning investigators on Date for baptism) is 4 per week. Pew (church attendance) is 5 per week. And New (new people who have been taught and agreed to learn more) is 9 per month. My goal for the last several months has been to achieve the promise and work to fulfill it and make my areas SoE areas. My time is Ferron was spotty, we could achieve some parts but not other parts. Here in Vernal, we almost met the SoEs for the month the first week. 2 baptisms, 4 on date, only 3 at church, and 2 new. I'm not sure why the new was so low... because the week after that we met the standard in the first week on the new month except for baptisms, which was the next week. So now, the goal is to make my district an SoE district... that'll take some work. Our area is just exploding, now to figure out how to help them too. My district is a total of 4 areas, which means SoE for the month is Gate 6, Date 64, Pew 80, New 27. That's a lot of people and a lot of good we gotta go out and do. So that's the goal, just gotta get it done.
So as for this week... we got 7 new investigators, 4 of whom went on date. That felt really good. Haha my last two areas have been low finding areas, it feels just wrong for it to be so fast. ... it's just weird. That being said.... if there are any missionaries or future missionaries reading this.... do NOT push and force people to baptism. There are things that are so much more important! In the last week, we've contacted at least 3 or 4 or 5 different families, all of whom either didn't meet with us or thought about not meeting with us because of missionaries and other members who pushed them away by trying to force and cajole people into baptism. It's not about baptism, it's about conversion. It's about Gospel centered families that last generations and are sealed together in an eternal chain that reaches from one end of the eternities to the other. And it happens on the Lords time table. If you just love people, provide an example, listen to them, and invite them, always always invite them, then the time will come. That's the way it works.
I love you all, I really do. Thank you for always being out there, for being the examples you are. The other thing that has seemed so obvious this week is gratitude. I remember a companion whose mom chewed him out for complaining about only getting two baptisms in a month, where in some missions they wouldn't have any. I know lots of people, companions, missionaries, members, nonmembers, it seems like all they know how to speak is complaints and whining. Just like those who begin to swear and then forgot how to speak any other way, their language is weak and corrupt, they are not fun to be around, and they drive away the spirit of light and call in the spirit of contention. If you feel sad or weak in your life, if you feel like your relationships are failing, ask yourself how grateful have you been. If you will just focus on being grateful, your life will change. Especially in our mission, missionaries are blessed with very many things. I mentioned my companion complaining about his free clubs today. That happens all the time. Missionaries complain about restraints on freebies, the food they get, the members who feed them. It's such a poison. And it makes me sad. If there is one thing you could do for me to change your world and the people around you, it’s to be sincerely grateful for all you receive and for the blessings you have, that's all I ask.
Have a great day, have a great week, have a great life.