Who are we?

We are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We are currently serving in the mission field of The Church
for a period of three years. This blog represents our own opinions and experiences for these three years. And does not represent or speak
for the doctrine or opinions of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

We'll Teach 'n Preach 'n Work as Missionaries do . . .

Whew!  It's been a whirlwind here in the mission . . .

This last month or so we have had opportunity to travel all over the Mission, an area that takes us about 6 hours in a car to drive from one end of the mission to the other, doing interviews with each of the 240 missionaries.  

It give us a wonderful opportunity to see the missionaries in their areas, meet some of their investigators, attend some of the baptisms our missionaries are involved in that live far away from the mission home and office, as well as meet with church leadership in the areas.  

(missionaries in Telamar)

(Elder Webb teaching an English class)

(A view of the lovely Tela)

(Some of the elders of Masica - this is where I want to go to church every week!)

(A lovely family invited us for dinner after Sunday meetings)

From one big event to the next . . .

No sooner did we complete this round of travels, it was time for all our zone conferences to start!  We have 10 zones in the mission and we gather them together in groups of 2-4 zones for zone conferences every quarter. Our focus was on the additional emphasis given for Mission Presidents at the seminar in July with new instructions for missionaries to provide extra care, attention, lessons and spiritual nourishment for those who have recently been baptized for up to one year.  

In the words of President Gordon B. Hinckley, "There is absolutely no point in doing missionary work unless we hold on to the fruits of that effort.  The two must be inseparable . . .  Every convert is a great and serious responsibility"  ("Find the Lambs, Feed the Sheep," Ensign, May 1999, 108).

The goal is to get them ready for the temple! It gives us more and continued responsibility to work very closely with the members of the church in doing missionary work and is truly the work that "Hastens the Work of Salvation". 

Welcome to 19 new missionaries!

In between all that we took time out to welcome 19 new missionaries to the San Pedro Sula East Mission.  Sadly this month we said goodbye to one of our Assistants, a Sister Training Leader, a temporary missionary serving helping us in the mission, and a few who had to return home and recuperate for health reasons.  Sad for us . . . but we are happy for their families who welcomed them home!

(greeting the new arrivals from our August transfer!)

(loading everyone into buses - it's hot on the rooftop in a full suit!!)

(several missionaries were on hand to greet them and make them feel welcome!)

(Each missionary gets to attend quite a few orientation classes)

(We are always said to say goodbye to missionaries!)

(missionaries arriving for our transfer meeting)

You can see from the photos . . . 

The missionaries are always in action!

The missionaries are busy and in action at all times.  Here are a few examples of the success they are experiencing here in the mission.  Really, it's the miracles that occur as they exercise faith to find, teach and testify of our Heavenly Father who loves us and desires that all his children have an opportunity to hear of his gospel plan.

We were contacting this week and decided to visit a home that the missionaries in the area previously had told us were interested in having missionaries return.  At their door we called "buenas", "BUENAS!" . . . but no one answered.  Disappointed we turned to leave but stopped to visit with someone working in front of the house, and as we visited a young man rode up on his bicycle saying to us, "when is there going to be a baptism in the church?'  Confused we weren't sure what to think . . . he then explained that last year the missionaries had been teaching him and he hadn't had an opportunity to be baptized, he had been looking all over for the missionaries so he could continue the lessons and get baptized!  In "Preach my Gospel" is says . . . "the Lord is preparing people to receive you and the restored gospel.  He will lead you to them or He will lead them to you."  This week he led them to us!

Another similar experience . . .

We were walking to visit some families who had joined the church recently when we heard someone calling, "Hermanas!"  So we turned back to see who was calling, it was a young woman about 20 years old who inquired of us where our church was located.  She said she wanted to attend the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but hadn't been able to find it in this town.  We began to teach her lessons and offered an invitation for baptism which she accepted.  She is also attending church with us!

One of our Latin senior companions shared with us that his new North American companion who had only two weeks here in the mission and was still learning the language already has met with much success finding those who are prepared to hear the gospel message.  The new elder, in his basic Spanish has been quick to open his mouth and testify to all they have encountered. This week,  they already encountered one person while street contacting, and after hearing a message from the new elder desired to find out more about the church!   They are both very excited to be working together!

(August - our two assistants.  The missionary on the right in his last transfer and
 headed for home.  He was
an amazing Assistant to the President, we'll miss him a lot!)

(can you tell, we really enjoy Wendy's!!)

"This week we have been doing a lot of contacting and have found 10 new people who are interested in hearing our message.  I remember the promise you made that if we found 10 new people each week, we would see many miracles and it really is true! One person in particular, we challenged to baptism in the second lesson and he accepted, he then shared the most beautiful prayer I have ever heard . . . he thanked our Heavenly Father for sending him the Hermanas who could help him change his life, and help him prepare to be baptized."

An example of working with ALL the members . . .

This week an 11 year old girl accompanied us to her favorite pulperia with a "Plan of Salvation" pamphlet ready to give to her friend, an older woman who owned the pulperia. We walked up to the front and without any prompting from us, Maria said, "Hi! I am here to present my friends, the missionaries and I want to give you a little book about Jesus Christ.  The missionaries can tell you more about it.  Who says the primary doesn't make great missionaries too!!

You too can be a missionary!

I love the words of Elder L. Tom Perry

 D&C 33:7  . . . comes the injunction—three times—to open our mouths:
“Open your mouths and they shall be filled, and you shall become even as Nephi of old, who journeyed from Jerusalem in the wilderness.
“Yea, open your mouths and spare not, and you shall be laden with sheaves upon your backs, for lo, I am with you.
“Yea, open your mouths and they shall be filled, saying: Repent, repent, and prepare ye the way of the Lord, and make his paths straight; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (vv. 8–10).
What would each of us say if we had to open our mouth three times? If I may, I would like to offer a suggestion. First and foremost, we should declare our belief in Jesus Christ and His Atonement. His redeeming act blesses all mankind with the gift of immortality and the potential of enjoying God’s greatest gift to man, the gift of eternal life.
The second time we open our mouths, we should tell in our own words the story of the First Vision—that is, our knowledge of a boy not quite 15 years of age who went into a grove of trees and, after sincere and humble prayer, he had the heavens open to him. After centuries of confusion, the true nature of the Godhead and God’s true teachings were revealed to the world.
The third time we open our mouths, let us testify of the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. The Book of Mormon complements the Bible in giving us a greater understanding of the doctrines of our Savior’s gospel. The Book of Mormon is the convincing evidence that Joseph Smith is truly a prophet of God. If the Book of Mormon is true, there was a restoration of the priesthood. If the Book of Mormon is true, then with the power of that priesthood, Joseph Smith restored the Church of Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A Lesson on Faith

Importance of Faith in the Mission Field . . .

A little while back we were very fortunate to receive an unexpected visit from a member of our . . .

Area President . . .

President Adrian Ochoa!

He happened to be in Honduras on a Church assignment and took time out of his busy schedule to visit both the East and West missions here in San Pedro Sula.  He met with youth groups in La Ceiba, spoke at a special District Conference in Tocoa, and met with missionaries that lived within a short distance of San Pedro Sula to share counsel and encouragement in their missionary efforts.

(Our Mission Leader Council had an opportunity to have a "working lunch" with President Ochoa . . . while they ate, he spoke . . . you'll see the photos included in the post here)

From 2014-08-13
(Our Mission Leader Council - June 2014)

Elder Ochoa is a prior Mission President here in San Pedro Sula, and has also served in the General Young Men's Presidency of the Church.  In April of 2013, he was called to the Second Quorum of the Seventy, and has been serving in our Area Presidency since August of 2013.

A Lesson on Faith . . .

He left our missionaries with many inspirational thoughts on the first principle of the gospel - Faith, in the Lord Jesus Christ.  He quoted from much of the teachings of Elder Bednar, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on the subject of Faith.

The Apostle Paul defined faith as “the substance of things hoped for [and] the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Alma declared that faith is not a perfect knowledge; rather, if we have faith, we “hope for things which are not seen [but] are true” (Alma 32:21). Additionally, we learn in the Lectures on Faith that faith is “the first principle in revealed religion, and the foundation of all righteousness” and that it is also “the principle of action in all intelligent beings.”

From 2014-08-13
From 2014-08-13

And particularly important for missionaries . . .

"Faith as the assurance of things hoped for looks to the future. This assurance is founded upon a correct understanding about, and trust in, God and enables us to “press forward” (2 Nephi 31:20) into uncertain and often challenging situations in the service of the Savior. "

Elder Ochoa counseled missionaries that their Father in Heaven knows their challenges.  He knows they arrive in the mission with many and various backgrounds.  Many missionaries arrive with little knowledge and experience in the gospel, without support of family members at home, varying levels of education.  But they can all teach with the Spirit.

He encouraged them to learn leadership skills well.  They need to be great leaders.  Elder Ochoa used the example of a small child learning to walk, because he see's other people walk, and knows it can be done, never giving up even though many falls occur.  And gradually the child learns to walk, even though there is fear in the beginning.  Elder Ochoa emphasized that doubts and fear come from the adversary, but FAITH comes from a witness of the Spirit.

From 2014-08-13

(Council enjoying lunch and Elder Ochoa!)

Don't Doubt!

Focus your mind on the Spirit and it's guidance, and put the doubts out of your mind.

For example . . .

For example, Nephi relied upon precisely this type of future-facing spiritual assurance as he returned to Jerusalem to obtain the plates of brass—“not knowing beforehand the things which [he] should do. Nevertheless [he] went forth” (1 Nephi 4:6–7).

Elder Ochoa encouraged missionaries to make a special study of the Atonement, and learn to apply it in their lives.  Through a study of the Atonement, one can come to an increased knowledge of the Savior.  When we focus on becoming like the Savior, we experience more happiness, joy and greater success.  We need to be committed to live according to his will.

From 2014-08-13
From 2014-08-13

(An impromptu lesson from President Klein - it's a favorite of missionaries, they love to gather around and listen :)

"Faith in Christ is inextricably tied to, and results in, hope in Christ for our redemption and exaltation. And assurance and hope make it possible for us to walk to the edge of the light and take a few steps into the darkness—expecting and trusting the light to move and illuminate the way. 2The combination of assurance and hope initiates action in the present."

Elder David A. Bednar

“True faith is focused in and on the Lord Jesus Christ and always leads to righteous action. The Prophet Joseph Smith [affirmed] that ‘faith [is] the first principle in revealed religion, and the foundation of all righteousness’ and that it is also ‘the principle of action in all intelligent beings’ (Lectures on Faith [1985], 1). Action alone is not faith in the Savior, but acting in accordance with correct principles is a central component of faith.”
Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “Ask in Faith,” Ensign, May 2008, 95.

From 2014-08-13
From 2014-08-13
(At the end of the day - it's time to head back to their areas)

Be Responsible!

Elder Ochoa also taught about taking personal responsibility.  Make up your mind to do your best.  Be obedient.  Don't make excuses.  Take responsibility for yourself.  Don't justify your actions, don't complain, don't criticize your leaders.  Each missionary has personal responsibility.  A senior companion has personal responsibility to be a good leader, district leaders and zone leaders have personal responsibility for those in their stewardship.

From 2014-08-13

Exercise a Particle of Faith!

All you need is a desire . . . plant a seed in your heart, and in the heart of your investigators.  
 27 But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words.

Soon you can have a beautiful tree that will grow from the seed.  Just as a plant needs light to grow, so do each of us need the light of the Savior.  We can't do it on our own.  

Miracles come AFTER the trial of your faith.  When you are ready to give up, after the many trials and challenges . . .  Take advantage of every minutes.  Your Heavenly Father sent you here to grow, to overcome challenges, to learn to become great leaders, better husbands, fathers, mothers and wives in the gospel.  

Make good use of your time!

(One last photo of our Mission Leader Council - June 2014)

From 2014-08-13

Thursday, July 31, 2014

A Few Important Reminders . . .

Honduras in the News . . .

There has been a lot of news going on in relation to Honduras these days . . . . many people are doing searches about Honduras to find out more information or to try to understand what the current situation is like here . . . I've noticed many many hits on this blog . . . so I'm sure many of the blogs in the sidebar are getting more attention as well.

Which is a good thing right?

It's good if we are sharing appropriate messages with the intent to fulfill our missionary purpose to share a message of the Savior and of the Gospel.  If we are posting messages about the gospel, missionary experiences, and sharing testimonies of the Savior, and the good works accomplished by the missionaries . . .

It's a good thing!  

But it brings to mind a few points that I think we need to be aware of . . . 

(A few photos of our July Transfer arrivals!)

From July 31, 2014
From July 31, 2014
From July 31, 2014
(Our newly arrived Couple Serving as Missionaries!)

A Few Important Reminders . . .

We always need to use caution when posting about our young people, our precious missionaries, and also about their experiences and investigators.  Sometimes missionary letters written to homes and family need to be filtered or edited to make them more appropriate for widely broadcast social media.

Honduras has a turbulent environment that is not always friendly to everyone, and here in Honduras (as in many parts of the world) not everyone is to be trusted.  We need to be very careful in our online social media postings to protect not only the security, privacy and safety of our missionaries, but also the security, privacy and safety of their investigators.

Please be extra cautious to not include your missionaries email address in public posts.  Anyone who is close enough to your missionary to email them can certainly get that information from the family.  There have been instances of missionaries receiving inappropriate emails through their assigned missionary email address.

(Final Transfer - heading for home!  We'll miss you!)
From July 31, 2014
From July 31, 2014
From July 31, 2014
(after transfers we have new office elders and a new Assistant to the President, 6 new Zone Leaders
and one new Sister Training Leader)

Exercise Caution . . .

I would also advise caution in sharing exact locations where missionaries are currently serving and where they live.

Consider referring to your missionary as Elder or Sister so-and so, and avoid the use of their first names while blogging.

Please also be very careful about information that you share about the investigators.  Edit out names, or change the names, do not include locations, cities, zones, where the missionaries are serving.  Most investigators would not appreciate reading about their private and personal lives on widely broadcast social media.

(Everyone was on hand to welcome our Senior Couple!)
From July 31, 2014
From July 31, 2014

It is wonderful to share inspiring missionary experiences!  Much good is accomplished through sharing such inspiring stories.  Just be cautious not to identify, embarrass or attract unsafe attention to individuals and families living in this tumultuous climate.  We do not know who is reading each blog . . .  but I do know that this blog is attracting much more attention these days . . . and likely not all of it is of a positive nature.

And so we muct be cautious.

It is a great privilege for the Church of Jesus Christ to have missionaries serving in all of the countries here in Central America . . . we wouldn't want to do anything to jeopardize that privilege.  We need to be very careful about privacy violations by families of missionaries, both past and present.

From July 31, 2014
From July 31, 2014
From July 31, 2014

Blogs and social media have a great purpose in sharing the gospel.  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has established their own media presence through popular sites such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram.  Clearly there is an appropriate and positive use of such postings.

“Sharing the good news of the gospel is easier and the effects more far-reaching than ever before. . . . Perhaps the Lord’s encouragement to ‘open [your] mouths’ might today include ‘use your hands’ to blog and text message the gospel to all the world!” . . .
“With the blessings of modern technology, we can express gratitude and joy about God’s great plan for His children in a way that can be heard . . . around the world. Sometimes a single phrase of testimony can set events in motion that affect someone’s life for eternity.” — President Dieter F. Uchtdorf (Ensign, May 2011, “Waiting on the Road to Damascus.”)

From July 31, 2014
From July 31, 2014
From July 31, 2014
(Scenes from some recent baptisms)

A Few Important Reminders . . .

As we create and share content online that reflects gospel principles, we can help more and more people throughout the world come to a knowledge of our Savior and the restored gospel.

Sharing through social media will only continue to grow . . . but take great caution to always follow the Spirit's promptings so that you can share the good news in a spirit of charity.  Our testimonies can and do reach people around the world.  If we each take great care to focus on making our messages uplifting and inspiring, certainly we can "flood the earth" and accomplish the great purpose that modern technology was meant to accomplish.

I love this quote from Elder L. Tom Perry,

"Surely there could not be a more exciting time to be involved in the Lord’s work," Elder Perry said. "In a world where we can so easily share our testimonies, the kingdom of God will surely spread, like the stone in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, until it fills the whole world."

(We had an opportunity to do a fireside for members and missionaries on the Book of Mormon)
From July 31, 2014
From July 31, 2014

And from the General Handbook on Instructions:

"Members are encouraged to be examples of their faith at all times and in all places, including on the Internet. If they use blogs, social networks, and other Internet technologies, they are encouraged to strengthen others and help them become aware of that which is useful, good, and praiseworthy." 

This YouTube video is quite helpful is explaining the use of etiquette and caution in blogging missionary experiences!