(Sharing recent photos from our multi-zone conferences and transfer day in June)
(STL's teaching an English lesson at Multi-zone Conference)
There are so many analogies, signs and symbols to be found in the life of missionary service . . .
Each day is replete with lessons, challenges, experiences to be passed through, another day to rise after falling the day before . . .
A analogy that we speak of frequently with the missionaries relates to the challenges they pass through as they adapt to the life of a missionary and give up all their worldly pleasures and previous pass-times for a period to serve our Heavenly Father. Which gives them great empathy and understanding for their investigators as they too are passing through many challenge moments as they come to know and love the gospel of the Savior, Jesus Christ. A lifestyle that requires giving up many of their worldly pleasures and pass-times for something better that will come as they embrace and begin to live the teachings of the Savior.
(Photos of the Assistants teaching from the Missionary Manual, the importance of exact obedience! The Zone leaders prepared lessons on planning from PME, and the missionaries had a chance to practice teaching lesson 5, the Laws and Ordinances of the Gospel. Then I threw a baptism photo in there just because I like it so much :)
Another is the the lifestyle of a missionary models "real life" in adulthood for the missionary once he or she returns to home and family at the end of their missionary service. The challenges and difficulties that they face and overcome each day prepare them for real life in the years ahead as they become mother's and fathers in Zion, raising children, making decisions, setting and achieving goals.
It is not any surprise therefore . . .
That missionary life should model the current going's on of the world all around . . .
We see increasing conflict in the world all around us . . . the wisdom and knowledge of man begins to compete with increasing strength daily with the wisdom and knowledge given to us from our Father in Heaven. And as people and cultures everywhere begin to adopt and conform more and more to the desires of the world and of man, it becomes harder and harder to discern where the knowledge that comes from the Light of Christ ends, and the knowledge and experience of man begins.
(Elder Cortez, one of our assistants is in his final transfer before he concludes his mission in just a few weeks!)
Many are finding themselves confused about gospel truths in an ever more tumultuous and changing world.
This can be both a blessing and a challenge for missionaries.
No one encounters this on a more frequent basis than the missionaries. They are faced daily with questions from the men, women and children that they are teaching. This is good, because as missionaries we have many of the answers!
We have answers to questions about the purpose of our life here on earth.
We have answers to the questions about who God is and how we came to be here on the earth.
We have answers to questions about what will happen to us when we die and leave our mortal bodies behind for a time.
We have answers to questions about Mormon temples and the importance of families.
And much much more . . .
Nevertheless . . .
(Enjoying a delicious lunch together before we reconvene for a practice
session from PME)
We do not have answers to all the questions . . .
For God has much that he has not yet revealed.
And so, we have opportunity as missionaries to teach gospel principles . . .
First, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. And a witness that it is the Savior, even Jesus Christ who directs the church today, through the mouthpiece of his prophets and apostles currently present on the earth.
Faith in the doctrine of Christ, which is -
(So many wonderful musical numbers and choirs!)
And Joseph Smith's testimony is that -
Seeking a witness of the Truth -
And we appeal to all to seek through prayer and study of the scriptures their own witness of the doctrine of Christ, the Atonement, and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. We appeal to all to accept this doctrine, follow the example of the Savior, repent and be baptized, receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and then throughout your life follow the laws and covenants of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
And sure . . .
It will be tough.
(At the end of the day . . . it's time to say goodbye)
It will be tough.
"It will be tough - before you join the church, while you are trying to join the church, and after you have joined . . . that is the way it has always been . . . but don't draw back . . . don't panic and retreat . . . don't lose your confidence! Don't forget how you once felt . . . Don't distrust the experience that you had!" -- Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
It's pretty safe to say that every missionary and every investigator has experienced exactly these emotions. Teaching appointments fail, investigators lack interest, precious gifts of the Book of Mormon are refused, baptismal dates fall . . . The adversary is forever present. And seems to attack at the exact moment that the most good is about to be accomplished! Cast not away your confidence!
There will be more and more opposition to be found in all that we try to accomplish as we move closer and closer to the return of the Savior to the earth again. Be prepared . . . Cast not away your confidence! Missionaries will experience opposition in their teaching. Investigators will experience opposition in their seeking. In real life . . . we might experience opposition in gaining an education, in raising home and family, in marriage, in church callings and careers. Cast not away your confidence!
(Arriving for Transfer day!)
Standing firm in the Witness of Truth -
Once you have received that witness stand firm! "I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you, and which shall dwell in your heart" (D&C 8:2,3)
When we go to the Lord seeking answers to questions, with "real intent", we can receive this witness through revelation, the combination of intellect and spirit, to our minds and to our hearts. A witness that the adversary cannot duplicate.
Expect that your faith will be tested, expect that you may experience fear, the adversary will tempt you and will try you (and your investigators!) . . . but cast not away your confidence! The Lord shall fight for you! With the spirit and witness of revelation, go forward without fear. When your Heavenly Father has blessed you with a witness of the spirit, he will provide a way that you can accomplish all that he desires for you.
(an scene from the blue waters of Telemar, Garifuna village)
And remember . . . we have the promise . . .
(Here a some of the most recent zone photos, taken right before transfers - I'm missing a few still
but will include the ones we have)
(Zone - Miramar)
(Zone - Tocoa)
(Zone - La Ceiba)
(Zone - Olanchito)
(Zone - Santa Rita)
(Zone - Progreso Norte)
(Zone - Progreso Sur)