Monday, July 28, 2014

Very Special Baptism

On Sunday, July 6, 2014 Ethlyn Richardson was baptized in the Den Haag Ward.  

Eighteen months ago President and I, along with Elder Stanley and Elder Gomez, were returning from a baptism in Apeldoorn Zone.  I needed some grocery items from a store for the next day and insisted we stop to shop even though is was evening and the Elders still had to get home.  I went to quickly get the items I was in need of and left President with the Elders to take care of themselves for a while.  When I was done shopping and ready to checkout, I went in search of the missing missionaries.  I found the three of them in the fish department taking to a women and getting an address and phone number so the Elders could make an appointment.  Then we left.

Now, the story from President's perspective.  President went to show the Elders all the fresh fish in the fist department of the store.  They were contacting a few of the people, doing what missionaries do.  A lady walked out and asked them what they were doing.  They did their 'missionary contacting' with her.  She was interested and agreed to an appointment.

Now, the story from the Ethlyn's perspective.  Her co-workers were watching 'those people' out there bothering customers.  Her co-workers asked her to go out and ask them to leave the store.  She agreed, so she went out to find out who they were and what they were doing.  She was interested in what they were saying, so she gave the missionaries her 
name, address and phone number.

Well, 18 months later and many, many great, diligent, loving and persistent missionaries later (both Elders and Sisters), Sister Ethlyn Richardson was baptized. That's what happens when you are sent out to get rid of the missionaries!  

Sister Robinson, Sister Richardson, President Robinson

Congratulations Ethlyn, we love you!!

President's Weekly Letter #98

Aspiring to Leadership
Something special happened on Saturday, 5 July 2014 in San Paulo, Brazil.  The small, seemingly insignificant country Nederland beat Costa Rica in the quarter finals of the world cup soccer championships.  What makes this interesting is the human nature story within the game.  At the end of regulation, the teams had played to a 0-0 tie, so a shoot-out of 5 tries from each team was required to determine the tie-breaker.  Each try in a shoot-out involves placing the ball 11 meters from the goal; a player on one team tries to kick a goal against the goalie of the other team.  The back-up goalie for Nederland, Jasper Cillessen, was substituted into the game to defend the goal during the shoot-out.  That is virtually never done in professional soccer.  As back-up goalie, Cillessen should have been rusty since he had not been playing in the world cup games.  But, upon deflecting the last 2 shots by Costa Rica, Cillessen became the hero of the game propelling Nederland, in a 4 to 3 shoot-out win, to the Semi-Finals against Argentina.

Cillessen is a large man.  He had carefully studied the tapes of the Costa Rica players to determine their kicking tendencies during shoot-outs and he told each Costa Rica player while he was setting up to kick that he knew where he was going to kick it.  I call that trash talking and intimidation, and when you do it, you better be ready to back it up with action.  At the same time, Costa Rica had only studied Nederland’s regular goalie’s tendencies; they did not know much about the back-up goalie.  Cillessen prepared, studied and was ready to play even though he was a “back up”; not a high profile or highly visible player.

On 1 January 2007, WAC Champions Boise State University (Boise) played the Big 12 Champions Oklahoma Sooners (OU) in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Arizona in what is now called one of the greatest Division 1, college football bowl games ever played.  Boise lead 28-10 in the 3rd Quarter.  But, OU began its come back with a series of scores.  With 1:02 left in regulation play, OU intercepted a pass from Boise quarterback, Jared Zabransky, and scored the go-ahead touchdown with the score 35-28 OU; its first lead of the game.  With 18 seconds left Boise was facing a 4th down with 18 yards to go for a 1st down from OU’s 42 yard line, Boise ran the hook and ladder (pass and lateral), scored and tied the game, forcing overtime.

In overtime, both teams have the opportunity to score in 4 plays from 25 yards out.  OU scored first and kicked the point after thus leading 42-35.  Now Boise had to score in its turn.  Again on 4th down, they put the quarterback in motion in a trick play while the running back took the snap and passed to the wide receiver for the score.  Then Boise called time out while the coaches with the starting quarterback and the back-up quarterback discussed strategy.        

Instead of kicking the extra-point to tie the game and send it into a second overtime, Boise risked defeat to go for the two-point conversion to win.  Boise ran the Statue of Liberty play with three receivers lined up on the right side.  The quarterback faked a pass with his right hand and handed off with his left hand to a running back who ran to the left side untouched into the end zone for the conversion making the final score 43-42 Boise.

I tell these 2 stories to emphasis the importance of everyone on the team doing their best and being prepared regardless of their assignment on the team.  Jasper Cillessen never played in the world cup tournament, yet he was on the team and he did his job as a back-up goalie to stay fit, prepared and productive.  During the time-out in the Boise/OU game, who do you suppose drew-up the Statue of Liberty play?  It was not the coach.  It was the back-up quarterback, Taylor Tharp.  You know the guy who never plays and wears a baseball cap and carries a clipboard on the sidelines during the game.  But, he performed his roll, was fit, ready to play and kept his head in the game.  Jasper Cillessen’s and Taylor Tharp’s efforts made all the difference in the world.

There are many missionaries who aspire to leadership positions in the mission.   These individuals somehow see themselves in competition with each other for positions.  Having ambition and work ethic to rise to the top is a good thing in life and is admirable.  However, in the church this attribute should be bridled.  I know a man who felt so inspired he would be called into a Stake Presidency that he left his family and came home from a vacation in Hawaii to attend stake conference. At conference weekend, he was shocked and disappointed.  As a foot note, he did receive that call years later which, I suppose, validated his inspiration.

Alma escaped from King Noah and led his followers to a land of pure water.  Alma was their high priest and, “…none received authority to preach or to teach except it were by him [Alma] from God.” (Mos. 23:17)  This is consistent with my experience in the church.  Many people are worthy and talented and would do a wonderful job in a given position.  But, as the decision is distilled by fasting, prayer and pondering, the final selection is made followed by the unmistakable confirmation by the Spirit.  So the call is made by the ecclesiastical leader but it comes from the Lord.  And, as time goes by the circumstances usually become clear that the one called and the ones not called are perfect for the time and place and for the people involved where they serve.

There is no ladder to climb in the church.  We are taught, “…I the Lord will judge all men according to their works, according to the desire of their hearts.” (DC 137:9) Essentially, God says He will consider the thought equivalent to the deed for those of you who desire to do more in the kingdom but who may not receive the opportunity. 

I like to think of Gideon.  His life appears to be equivalent to the back-up goalie or back-up quarterback.  There is no mention of him serving in church leadership.  He was a strong man, an enemy to King Noah and swore that he would slay the king. (Mos. 19:4)  He must have had some military authority because he sent men into the wilderness to search for King Noah. (Mos. 19:18)  He counseled with King Limhi not to lay the disappearance of the Lamanite daughters at the feet of the people but on the priests of King Noah. (Mos. 20:17)  He proposed a plan for the people of Limhi to escape from the Lamanites.  Gideon apparently became a teacher in the church (probably in the Sunday school) and contended with Nehor.  He withstood Nehor’s arguments but not the ensuing altercation. He was slain by the sword of Nehor. (Alma 1:7-9)  This man was not high profile but he was, “…a righteous man, yea, a man who has done much good among this people. (Alma 1:13)  For his contribution, he had a valley and a city named after him.

So, my counsel is to bloom where you are planted, lift where you stand, do the work and be diligent and productive in your current assignment.  Here, as in the church at home, people are routinely called and released as particular needs are addressed.  You serve here not to be leaders, but: 

6 … the thing which will be of the most worth unto you will be to declare repentance unto this people, that you may bring souls unto me, that you may rest with them in the kingdom of my Father. Amen. (DC 15:6)

President Robinson

Sunday, July 27, 2014

London England Mission's Gain, Belgium Netherlands Loss

Elder Castellion from Utrecht Ward, Rotterdam Stake has been called to serve in the London England Mission.  However, one transfer prior to leaving for the MTC in England, he was set apart as a missionary and was able to serve one transfer here in the Belgium Netherlands Mission.  July 2, 2014 we said goodbye to him and wished him well for the next two years.  He is a great missionary and have a remarkable influence on others.  We love you.

 President Robinson, Elder Castellion 

Sister Robinson, Elder Castellion, President Robinson

 Goodbye at the airport to a fine missionary.  You will do outstanding in England.

Elder and Sister Seiter Return With Honor

July 4, 2014 President and I welcomed Elder and Sister Seiter to dinner in the Mission Home as they came to the end of their 23 months of service.  The Seiter's will be missed.  They have magnified their callings and for 23 months been about their 'Father's work'.  
During their service the mission has seen many changes.  When they first arrived in the Belgium Netherlands Mission, we had about 80 missionaries.  During their time of service the mission doubled in size, apartment doubled in numbers as well as the increase in districts and zones.  
Along with their missionary responsibilities of the JoVo Center in Den Haag, Elder and Sister Seiter were part of the group of senior couple missionaries that were involved in purchasing and furnishing the 30 plus apartments
 last spring and summer. 
They have been involved in the apartment inspections since that time.  

It didn't matter the assignment that President assigned them, they gladly and cheerfully accepted and then preformed that assignment with perfection.  We love you both and will miss you dearly.  Thank you for your sacrifice, love and service to the Den Haag Ward, the Den Haag District, the Den Haag Zone and the Belgium Netherlands Mission.

 President Scheltinga, Sister Seiter, Elder Seiter, President Robinson

 Sister Robinson, Sister Seiter, Elder Seiter, President Robinson

We pray for your success in the coming years.  Thank you for everything you have done for us and for the Lord here in the Belgium Netherlands Mission.


Wow, President and I feel like quarterly interviews come around every month!  We talked with all 150 missionaries during the first three weeks of July.  We didn't take a lot of pictures, due to the fact we were interviewing, but we got some pictures!

President loves the opportunity to personally and individually interview each missionary.  I love the opportunity to have a 'mom' visit with every missionary. It is a unique experience.  We love and appreciate them and are so humbled by their commitment to serve the Lord and do his work.  They are hard working, diligent and obedient, and humble enough to know when and were to change to  be better if necessary.  

 The Arnhem District, Elder Childs, Elder Bernier, Elder Lindstrom, President Robinson, Elder Conatti, Elder Denny, Elder Besendorfer

 Full view of the church building in Arnhem, Netherlands.

Sister Adams welcomed us to the Breda District for interviews.

Wow, what a warm welcome!

Senior Couples P-Day Outing

On June 28, 2014 the Senior Couples of the Mission had a wonderful P-Day on the island of Texel. It was the last time we could get together before the Seiter's returned home from the mission.
 It is the first island from the mainland that is in the northwestern cost of the Netherlands.  We all met in Den Helder and boarded the ferry to Texel.  

 The seagulls know when and where to get fed.  They followed the ferry over and back.  People would through bread, fries, etc up in the air and they seagulls would catch it.  Just beware of 'bird bombs'!

President Robinson
 We traveled to the top end of the island to see the lighthouse.  The 'strand' was beautiful.  Elder and Sister Romig took the long walk from the road to the edge of the water.

 The wonderful picturesque streets and centrum.  It was fun to just "window shop' and enjoy the afternoon.

 Elder and Sister Romig, Elder and Sister Klyne, President Robinson,
Elder and Sister Seiter.  Missing for the day were Elder and Sister Winmill.

These are wonderful people.  We could not do what is required with their help. The missionaries depend on the Senior Couples for so many things and President and I are grateful for your service.  We currently have five new Senior Couples called to the Belgium Netherlands Mission.  Two couples will be coming in August, two couples will be coming in October, and one couple in November.

Changes in Assistant to the President Assignment

With the June 25th transfer, we has a change in the Assistant to the President assignments.  Elder Sumter has been now been assigned as Zone Leader for his last transfer prior to returning home.  We will miss his insight and hard work as an AP.  Elder Sumter, you have done an outstanding job.  We love you and will miss you on Monday mornings.

 President Robinson, Elder Eastmond, Elder Sumter

We welcome Elder Bishop.  Thank you for accepting the assignment to work with President as an Assistant to the President.  We looking forward to the next transfers together.

 President Robinson, Elder Eastmond, Elder Bishop, Elder Sumter

The mission just keeps changing.  It is amazing to us how quickly time is passing as we see these great missionaries come and go.

The Lord is always preparing missionaries for their new assignments.