There were a lot of great things that happened this week! I’ll try to stay accurate and concise with my comments.
Tuesday and Wednesday were slow and we didn’t do much of note.
Thursday was incredible though! We had a zone conference with all of the missionaries on the island of Upolu. Elder Pearson from the Pacific Area Presidency came and taught us a lot! The day started off with President and Sister Tolman speaking. They both had great talks that prepared us to hear from Elder Pearson and his lovely wife. A lot of what was talked about had to do with being more obedient servants of the Lord and doing the best we can as missionaries. Everything from waking up at 6:30 to using our planners effectively to asking for referrals from everyone we meet with. Elder Pearson was a powerful speaker not only relying on his ethos as a former mission president or General Authority. The Spirit was strong and I know the Spirit brought things to mind that I can fix to be a better missionary and disciple of Jesus Christ. Elder Pearson repeated many times that he hoped that day would be a day of personal revelation for all of us. I know it was for me as the Holy Ghost spoke to my mind as well as my heart. It’s just like it says in Doctrine and Covenants 8:2. The Holy Ghost speaks to our minds and hearts. Elder Pearson made a point to say that if we don’t open our minds and pay attention then the Spirit will never get to our hearts. It doesn’t stop there though. We need to have our hearts softened and not have our hearts hardened like it says in the scriptures. The Spirit cannot touch our hearts if we don’t let it.
Another point Elder Pearson illustrated was the difference between trying and doing. He had an Elder come up and “try” to pick up his scriptures. Not to actually pick them up. Just to try and do it. It drove home the point that sometimes it is easier to just do something than to try and do it. He also quoted a wise Jedi master with “Do or do not. There is no try.” As missionaries we don’t have to try and get up at 6:30. We don’t try and proselyte. We just do it. Too often there is too much “trying”. It doesn’t matter how much we try. In sports you don’t win just ‘trying’ to get the ball in the net or ‘trying’ to place the ball down to score a try (some nice word play for the rugby fans out there) you have to actually do it! Nowhere in the scriptures does the Lord tell us to ‘try’ and love thy neighbor. Or to ‘try’ and follow me. He just says it plainly. “Love thy neighbor”. “Follow me”. Something to think about.
Also he talked a lot at first about aligning our actions with that of the mission president and his wife. A lot of times when a new mission president comes to a mission some missionaries think “that’s not how we do it here” when they try and implement changes. Elder Pearson said this happens a lot with missionaries that are in the last 6 months of their mission. He let us know how mission presidents are chosen. There is a lot of discussion by the Quorum of the 12 Apostles and the First Presidency before they are even called in to be interviewed. They are then interviewed by an Apostle of the Lord and eventually set apart by a member of the First Presidency. They are called because they have what the mission needs to become better. I’m blessed that I’ll be with President Tolman for my entire mission and won’t have to transition to a new president. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have to follow him 100%. It doesn’t matter how great the mission president is if the missionaries in the mission don’t follow his direction. It’s up to the missionaries to change and to go above and beyond previous levels of achievement.
Before the conference each missionary was asked to prepare a talk with the prompt “What I am doing to be an effective missionary?”. It was supposed to be a 3-5 minute talk with two copies. One for us to keep and one for President Tolman and Elder Pearson. I hate to admit that I did not prepare as well as I should have for this. I did not have all my words down on paper. I had a few scriptures and some quotes found in Preach My Gospel. I planned on not having to give the talk and if I did I hoped the Spirit would help me out. Well having the luck that I do my name was the first name called to come and share. I went up and gave a 5 minute talk off the top of my head which is something I can do well enough. The thing that was not so great was when Elder Pearson asked to see a copy of my talk to follow along with. I looked down at my barely prepared quotes and scriptures and had no choice but to hand that to him. Needless to say, I’ll prepare all my talks in full next time I’m given the opportunity. Good to know that if needed though I can give a talk with about 2 minutes notice.
So the big theme of the conference was “Change”, that whether it’s the small things or not we can all change and be better followers of Jesus Christ.
Ever since that conference Elder Vaai and I have done better and seen the blessings. We found 3 new investigators in the last 2 days of the week after not having anyone for the past few weeks. We definitely are blessed when we follow our priesthood leaders. The men chosen to lead us are helped by the Lord and have what we need. Whether it’s a bishop, stake president, prophet, or Deacon’s quorum president, they have what the people they lead need.
We’re excited for this upcoming week because of all the teaching appointments we have! We’ll be super busy and hopefully have some more children of God enter the waters of baptism before the end of the year!
This Saturday Piki is getting baptized! Also 4 kids that recently turned 8. They live at Piki’s house and we’re going to baptize them all on the same day. Elder Vaai wants me to finally get wet and actually baptize so maybe I will this Saturday! Say a prayer that everything goes well and that the Spirit will continue to guide us this week! Love you all.
Elder Doran Erickson