Monday, July 21, 2014

We Love New Missionaries

June 24, 2014 we welcomed Sister Bradley and Elder Bonner to the Belgium Netherlands Mission.  These are two really great missionaries.

Sister Bradley, Sister Robinson, President Robinson, Elder Bonner

In the train station at Schipol waiting for the train to Leiden Centraal.
President Robinson and Elder Bonner

Elder Sumter and Sister Bradley at the train station

We met a later flight to receive Elder Neptune into the mission 

President Robinson, Elder Neptune, Sister Robinson

Elder Eastmond, Elder Neptune, Elder Loorbach, Elder Lyman, Elder Evans, Elder Sumter, Elder Bonner, Elder Robbins

Elder Neptune

Sister Bradley

Elder Bonner

Then to the Mission Home for a nap and dinner.  After dinner we had a short Fireside and testimony meeting before opening their 'first call' letters telling them their new area to serve as well as who their companion and trainer will be for the coming transfer.

Sister Bradely will be serving in Amsterdam with Sister Aldous as trainer and companion.

To serve in Amsterdam is a dream of many missionaries!

Elder Bonner will be serving in Amsterdam with Elder Larsen as trainer and companion.  Two lucky missionaries serving in the great city of Amsterdam.

Elder Neptune will be serving in Leiden with Elder Goff as trainer and companion.

Elder Neptune could not be happier!

The next morning we went to the Mission Office to meet the trainers.

Elder Neptune and Elder Goff

President Robinson, Sister Bradley and Sister Aldous

Elder Larsen, Elder Bonner and President Robinson

Now the real work begins. Out the door to the train station and missionary work.  The Spirit goes with them and we testify the Lord goes before them and is on their left hand and on their right….We love you missionaries.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Beloved Senior Couple Returns Home Earlly

On June 19, 2014, we sent Elder and Sister Evenhuis home to their family.  With heavy hearts they returned early due to health concerns.  (We can now report that all is well)

We are so grateful for the Evenhuis' and their tremendous service to the Belgium Netherlands Mission, Amsterdam Zone, Almere District and Lelystad Branch.  We love you, miss you and thank you for your unique and lasting impact on the missionaries and members you served, your many friends and neighbors who are not members of the church and your investigators.

 President Robinson, Sister Robinson, Sister Evenhuis, Elder Evenhuis, and President Scheltinga
President and Sister Robinson, Sister and Elder Evenhuis, President Scheltinga

At the airport the next morning, President visits one last time before they go through passport check.

President Robinson, Elder and Sister Evenhuis

With deep gratitude, we thank you for everything.

Temporary Good Bye

On June 16, 2014 we said goodbye to Elder Rauma at Schipol Airport.  Elder Rauma has received a medical release to return home to regain his health. Elder Rauma is committed to his recovery and we are supporting his efforts to return as soon as possible.  We love you Elder Rauma.  You are in our thoughts and prayers.  Hurry back, you are missed by us and all of your fellow missionaries.

 President Robinson, Elder Rauma, Sister Robinson

 Hurry back, Elder Rauma.

 The one reason this is bearable is that Elder Rauma will return to finish as soon as possible.  Our prayers and love go with you.

 Not Goodbye, Tot volgende keer. 

President's Letter #97

Leadership in the Church
Every missionary is a leader. You lead investigators and members to become, “true followers…of Jesus Christ,” (Mor. 7:48) in the work of salvation.  This is the purpose of leadership in the church and is behind every calling in the church including calls to lead a companion or other missionaries in the mission field.  Section 3 of Handbook 2, Church Administration, outlines principles of Leadership in the Church as you help others become faithful disciples.  These leadership principles transcend the church and also work in business, at home and other relationships in your life.  These principles are worth learning and perfecting.

Prepare Spiritually.  I am a jogger.  I do not know if it makes me healthier but jogging in the morning makes me feel better all day long.  Jogging prepares me for a good day.  Early one Sunday morning in Flowell, Utah in November 1996, I was jogging past our Ward meeting house.  The pickup trucks of the Bishopric were parked in the parking lot; they were meeting in the building.  I remember thinking about the great work they had done for the past 5 years.  It occurred to me that they should soon be released.  The Spirit then flooded over me and I not only knew I would be the new Bishop but I was also given who my councilors should be.  I stopped and looked at the building, amazed at what had just happened.  When the call came in late December, I had already humbled myself before the Lord and begun spiritually preparing myself for that intense and rewarding experience.  Leaders must be converted and be growing spiritually.  Through this preparation you will receive inspiration to guide you in your personal life and your calling.  The Lord said, “…if ye are prepared ye shall not fear,” (DC 38:30).  You are all leaders.

Participate in Councils.  All levels in the church are governed by councils such as the Council of the First Presidency, the Bishopric, Ward Council, Relief Society Presidency, High Council, Mission Leader Council, etc.  In councils, leaders meet under the direction of the presiding officer.  Members of councils are encouraged by the presiding officer to share their honest feelings and ideas, communicate clearly and listen to one another.  Effective councils unify their efforts in responding to needs of individuals first and then the organization.  The presiding officer has the responsibility to make the final decision, but this normally comes only after unity is reached by members of the council.

At Sunrise we tried to duplicate this church leadership model.  As the CEO, I appointed two Senior Vice Presidents, we were akin to a Stake Presidency.  We counseled with each other and delayed decisions regarding day to day operations until we were unified.  The Board of Directors was much like a High Council.  As President of the Board I tried, and usually succeeded, in encouraging discussion of issues (the strategic and corporate policy decisions) until unity of all Board members was reached.  Our rule was that every member always publicly supports the decision after the meetings.

You must always play your role in a council run organization for that organization to work with harmony and unity.  For example, at various times, I have been the Bishop or the presiding officer, a member of the Ward Council such as Young Men President and a Sunday school teacher not on the Ward Council.  As the bishop I had to facilitate discussion and make decisions.  As a council or organization member, I was responsible to follow my leader.

Minister to Others.  The most important function of leadership in the Church is to minister to the spiritual and temporal needs of individuals.  Ministering means to reach out to individuals, love them without judging them, remember their names, establish sincere friendships, teach them, etc.  Managing the organization is not the top priority.  This Lord said:
5 Wherefore, be faithful; stand in the office which I have appointed unto you; succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees.  (DC 81:5)

106 And if any man among you be strong in the Spirit, let him take with him him that is weak, that he may be edified in all meekness, that he may become strong also. (DC 84:106)

Always be training your replacement and your greatest desire should be to see people excel.  After I served as Bishop the next two Bishops in the Flowell Ward had been my Executive Secretary and my 2nd Councilor.  Plus, I was happy to see a substantial up-tick from my performance when those two gentlemen served as Bishop.  Give people opportunities to serve and the Lord will qualify those he calls as they exercise faith, work diligently, receive instructions and receive support.  Another word for this is delegation.  Always explain the purpose of assignments, check their progress, express appreciation for their efforts and ask people to report back.

Teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  All leaders are teachers.  Most everyone has been to seminars where famous speakers come and deliver very appealing speeches that inspire.  You resolve to change your life and 9 times out of 10 by the end of the week you have forgotten what was said and you are back to your old habits.  But, effective teaching by leaders not only inspires people but also motivates people to do something different.

The most powerful teaching of leaders comes from their personal example.  At Sunrise, I had been in the business for 35 years, I had successfully done many projects and seen many situations.  My employees knew this and therefore my personal example gave me moral authority.  I could literally say, “Follow me.  I have done this successfully before.”  They respected that and welcomed the assistance on their projects.

At Sunrise, I taught the doctrine of engineering to employees:  how to design projects to deliver the best value for the client’s dollar, how to write contract documents to keep us out of court, how to work effectively with contractors, clients and agencies, etc.

In the Church, you teach doctrine of the gospel from the scriptures and latter day prophets.  Ensure that teachings are meaningful, edifying, doctrinally sound and needed.  Warn against sin but love the sinner.  Always encourage reverence, a calm and peaceful attitude of worship and respect toward God.

“The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior.”  (Boyd K. Packer, Little Children, Nov. 1987 Ensign)

Administer the Organization.  At Sunrise we understood that regardless of the engineered piping and concrete we put into the ground with excellent blue prints and engineering procedures, we were still in the people business.  Every business activity was focused on the people we worked for or with on each project.  We found much less success when we focused on the project instead of the people we were serving.

The whole purpose of church leadership is to do the work of salvation by assisting people to be true followers of Jesus Christ.  The organization must still be operated and programs planned, but it is essential that leaders organize and plan activities, lessons and other efforts to bless the lives of individual people.  Always plan with a purpose to this end and evaluate after the activity how well the plan accomplished its purposes.  Always use church handbooks, reports, instructions, training materials and magazines to help fulfill your duties.

President Robinson

President's Letters #96

For many years Sunrise Engineering had 4 season tickets at the Delta Center for entrance to the home games of the Utah Jazz.  The seats were nice and located in the lower bowel.  We divided out the home games at the beginning of the Season to employees who could take key clients to the games.  It was a great business development activity and employee perk.

I remember one night at the Delta Center watching the great Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls play against the Utah Jazz.  The Jazz easily beat the Bulls through the first three quarters with a 12 or 15 point lead.  At the beginning of the 4th quarter, Michael Jordan took the game over.  It was plain to see that every possession was critical to him and he did all he could to make sure the Bulls scored the ball on each possession.  The Bulls won the game pulling away.

I have thought a great deal about that experience.  Michael Jordan could “compartmentalize” or “focus” his life on each possession.  Professional tennis players are masters of the same attribute of “focus” on each volley.  The past is over, the future never comes and the only thing that is important is the present moment.  They can block everything else out and focus all their energy on the moment. 

Another lesson on a slightly broader perspective of focus came while running our business at Sunrise.  We recognized that everything we did at Sunrise could be segregated into of 1 of our 4 core operations.  This really added clarity to doing business by focusing of all our various activities to our core operations:

1 – Production of Deliverables
2 – Business Development
3 – Employee Development
4 – Business Administration

If we ever found ourselves doing something or expending resources that could not be entered under one of these core operations, we stopped doing it.

PMG requires similar focus on core activities:  “If you and your companion cannot see how a proselyting activity might help increase the numbers of people in one or more key indicators, you need to question whether the activity is worth your time.”  (PMG p. 139)
The LDS Church does the same thing in its ecclesiastical work.  Members of the church, “…were prepared to come forth in the due time of the Lord to labor in his vineyard for the salvation of the souls of men.”  (DC 138:56)  We are also told that the Lord will, “…hasten [His] work [the work of salvation] in its time.”  (DC 88:56)  The question begs to be asked, “What is the Work of Salvation?”  Section 5 of Handbook 2 for Administering the Church directly answers this question and explains in detail the content of the 5 core operations for the work of salvation.
1 – Member Missionary Work
            2 – Convert Retention
            3 – Activation
            4 – Temple and Family History Work
            5 – Teaching the Gospel

The rest of the content of Handbooks 1 and 2 contain instruction for consistent administrative and procedural protocol and duties for leaders in the church to accomplish the “work of salvation,” along with a short discussion of the relationship between families and church in God’s plan, priesthood principles and Church leadership principles.  But, every activity in the Church can be entered into one of these 5 core operations.  

Missionaries have traditionally centered their concerns on number 1 – Member Missionary Work.  However, in the 2014 new mission president seminar, Elder Nelson expanded the understanding of full time missionary work.

Our missionary purpose is to:  “Invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end.”  “…enduring to the end,” gives full time missionaries responsibilities in all 5 of the core operations of the church listed above.

Among other things, missionaries are to now teach the 5th Lesson before baptism, take the lead in teaching all lessons including lesson 5 after baptism and maintain daily contact for 3 or 4 months after baptism plus remain in contact for the rest of your life.  Missionaries and members will now assist new converts to prepare for temple attendance and assist new converts to do family history work.  Other ways will surely be found to assist Wards and Branches in all 5 core operations.

So, there are 2 principles here.  One, compartmentalizing meaning you live in the compartment of the moment and put other parts of your life, either past, future or present, into compartments that are out of mind while you focus on the task at hand.  For example, if you struggle with a sin, you do not have to overcome temptation for the next 6 months, you just have to overcome right now.

Two, you understand to focus all your actions on your core operations.  Understand what your core operations are and stop doing activities that do not support them.

These are 2 powerful ways to become a highly skilled missionary here and a productive responsible citizen in life.  It works in all aspects of your life.  To master these life skills is really a representation of your faith in God which dismisses worry and doubt.  I believe compartmentalizing in the moment and focus on core operations may be part of what Christ was talking about when he said:

 26 Behold the fowls of the air, for they sow not, neither do they reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
 27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?
 28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin;
 29 And yet I say unto you, that even Solomon, in all his glory, was not arrayed like one of these.
 30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, even so will he clothe you, if ye are not of little faith.
 31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
 32 For your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
 33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.
 34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow, for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient is the day unto the evil thereof.  (3 Nephi 13:26-34)

President Robinson

President's Letters #95

Armor of God
In the early summer of 2010, I was serving in my Ward as the Young Men President.  The Priest and Teacher age young men were capable farm boys and outdoors oriented.  They were anxious to do some extended horseback riding for an activity.  At the time, I was very busy during the week with my profession.  I also had to get the mountain range ready to graze cattle by placing rock salt at the various salt lick locations, clear tail, install a new trough and spring development at the lower water in Turner Timber and turn water into existing troughs at various springs.   I had the bright idea of taking the boys with me on a 3 day camping trip in the mountains where we could do all the work; kill two birds with one stone so to speak.  It would be a service project and outing for them and I could get my work done.  We made arrangements for the work and sufficient adult leaders to maintain a base camp.  I was in charge of safety.

On the last week of June we set out with high spirits with about 15 riders plus a number of pack horses.  With that many horses, I knew the chances were good that we would eventually have a rodeo.  We rode the mountain pasture each day, did our chores, the new trough and spring development turned out beautiful and the camping was great for the boys and leaders.

On the second day we rode into Cedar Springs Canyon to work on a spring diversion structure in the Upper Water at the Forks.  One boy, Jeffery, sat on his horse and waited while the rest of us worked, but another horse got tangled in its reins and both horses went to bucking.  In the ruckus, Jeffery fell off with his foot stuck in the stirrup.  He broke his leg and I will be eternally grateful to the fast action by a close-by adult who contained the horse and released the boy.

We were in trouble.  To make a long story short, I witnessed boys change that afternoon into men while an outing that started as fun and adventure became an activity of sacrifice and rescue.  When the ambulance crew finally hiked in with a stretcher, the boys told them to stand aside.  The boys carried their injured comrade about 1 mile down a narrow trail to a mountain road and a waiting vehicle.  The injured boy ended up missing a season of football but is now healthy and serving a mission in Mexico.  The first aid, medical treatment and evacuation were so picture perfect that the Sheriff’s office gave our group an award.  Based on results, they should have cussed me out.

I worry about the physical and spiritual safety of our missionaries just like my young men on the mountain.  Much like riding horses, there is only so much one can do to protected yourself from physical or spiritual injury, after that you go through life on an “at-risk” basis.  We are all vulnerable to accidents and sin. The Apostle Paul stated the following eerie truth as he admonished you to protect yourself, “Put on the whole armour of God that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” 

12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.  (Eph. 6:11-12)

He then goes on to explain how you can prepare yourself to withstand the powers of darkness by putting on the whole armor of God.  The nature of your vulnerability and the armor that Paul prescribes is interesting.  (Eph. 6: 13-18)

The loins are the part of the body between the lower ribs and the hips.  It is where the vital organs for reproduction are located.  In scripture the loins often represent virtue and chastity.  It is a part of the body that is most vulnerable and must be protected with armor.  Paul said, “Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth…”  Truth then is the protective armor he placed over the loins.  Knowledge of truth regarding virtue and chastity is critical to establish a standard to measure your conduct.  Truth will guide you along your earthly path and protect you from injury to your virtue and chastity.

The heart was often viewed as the base of moral character and spirituality.  We say, “Serve God with all our heart,” or “Your treasure is where your heart is.”  Your heart determines your basic desires and thus directs your conduct.  Temptations of the devil harden the heart. (1 Nephi 12:17)  Your heart must be protected with armor.  Paul said, “…and having on the breastplate of righteousness;” What better armor than righteousness to protect your moral character, spirituality and conduct during your journey through life?

Your feet take you toward your goals or objectives and are the source of your mobility.  We often say, “Don’t get off on the wrong foot,” or “you must walk the path yourself.”  Your feet carry you through life.  Your feet must be protected.  Paul said, “And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;” The gospel of peace revolves around Jesus Christ and His atonement.  Preparation begins with children who have been taught and given the steps to live the gospel throughout their lives.  It is ongoing each day with our own preparation to live the gospel.  Preparation is the best way to protect and guide your feet to take you in the right direction.

Your head is where the brain is, the source of thinking.  It is where the eyes are which the temptations of the devil can blind. (1 Nephi 12:17)  Your thoughts and thinking and what you look toward (want) must be protected with armor.  Paul said, “And take the helmet of salvation,” which is the armor to protect your head.  Salvation is being saved from death and sin.  It is this knowledge that should guide your thoughts, thinking and where you look all the days of your life.  He then goes on and explains a powerful way to accomplish this, “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit.” 

All parts of the body as a whole can be effectively protected with a shield.  In insurance business lingo, this is a sort umbrella policy.  Paul said, “Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.”  Faith then plays a vital role during this life in your general protection from injury to body and spirit.

All of this armor is a defensive move to protect you from attack by the “…wiles of the devil.”  But, the Lord declared through Joseph Smith that you can also be outfitted with one item that is not used to protect yourself but is a weapon to use in the offense against attack.  The Lord said, “And take the … sword of my Spirit, which I will pour out upon you, and my word which I reveal unto you…”  (DC 27:15-18)  Thus the spirit and the word of God is your sword our weapon against evil.

Those young men did what they could to be safe that day on the mountain, but we learned that bad things can and do still happen.  I am convinced you are trying to be safe, both physically and spiritually, as you experience these wonderful lessons of life compressed into the short 18 or 24 months in your mission.  But, being careful is not good enough.  You must wear the full armor of God not only on your mission but at all times during your life for protection from evil.  It makes good sense.  Understand it and put it on now.  Make it a habit to wear it.   

President Robinson