Sunday, August 24, 2014

President's Weekly Letter #102

Smart Teaching
You have to be smart in life if you want to achieve the success that you desire.  This applies on your mission as well.  One of John Wayne’s famous movie quotes is, “Life is tough, but it is tougher if you are stupid.”  The quote is a bit coarse but I have pretty much found it to be true in my life. 

My life changed dramatically one day in 1961.  I was sitting in Mr. Wasden’s current events class in the Fillmore Junior High School.  That has been changed and is roughly equivalent to the Middle School now days.  I was in 7th grade and 12 years old.  To set the story straight, based on my performance, I was an average to below average student.  I got along well with my friends and tried hard, but I really did not see myself as smart or talented.  I was one of the many farm boys in our school and had plenty of interesting things to do when I went home every afternoon besides studying.  My favorite was hunting with a B-B gun.  The truth is, I did not apply myself very well to school work, and I had the grades to prove it.

Mr. Wasden’s class was 7th period and that particular day, it was warm and spring had sprung.  Frankly, I was looking out the window, day-dreaming of the things I planned to do when I would get home on the bus.  Even today, I could have shown you the spot where I was sitting that spring day, except the Millard School District tore down the building a few years ago.  Something prompted me to look around the class room at the other students.  My eyes focused on Jim Dallas.

He was sitting on the front row.  He was leaning forward in his chair with good posture, pencil in hand and taking notes on the paper lying on his desk.  He had eye contact with Mr. Wasden and I could see he was listening intently.  Everybody knew that Jim Dallas was the smartest kid in the school.  I will never forget the alien thought that came into my head.  Never before had a thought impacted me so hard.  I was dumb-founded.

“Hey, I’ll bet that is why he’s so smart!”

For some strange reason, I wanted a piece of that.  I decided to do the same thing.  The rest of class that day and every class from then on found me no longer naive and mediocre.  The first row usually had plenty of empty desks so that part was easy.  The listening, leaning forward, good posture, eye contact and note taking was not all that difficult either.  The transformation was amazing, if I say so myself.  Getting good grades became easy.  All I had to do was study my notes before each test.  My notes contained all the test questions!  It was almost like cheating.  Strangely from then on in High School, my self-image did not change much, but I knew I was spanking it with pretty good grades.

As a side note, a few weeks before my High School Graduation, I was called out of class to report to the office.  I walked down wondering what I had done wrong now.  Jim Dallas and a few other students jointed me in the Principal’s office to be informed we were the valedictorians of the graduating class.  My first thought was that they had made a mistake with me.  But, eventually I realized that I had been doing things in a smart way and deserved the honor.

It is time for us to do smarter teaching and you do this with smarter study and preparation.  During the next transfer starting 17 September 2014, the mission training schedule topic is Chapter 2 of PMG, Effective Study.  Your learning will focus on improving your ability, through study and preparation, to teach with clarity and power so you can reduce leakage of investigators out of the funnel that leads to baptism.  It will require the attributes that I learned in High School, and what you probably already know, of focus and paying attention to what you are trying to accomplish as you prepare.  Assisted by the Holy Ghost, you will get good results by studying and preparing to teach the lessons.  Your specific plans, focus, use of scriptures and frequent testimony will be the key while you teach.

Success will come when you use faith, do the study and preparation and expect the Lord will not let you down while you follow-through with teaching.  It all begins with effective study and preparation.  Remember this segment out of the Mission Vison:  

“Each missionary, in the missionary force supporting the 5 Stakes, will be an effective and highly skilled missionary, who has repeatedly practiced, studied, exercised and re-trained to have internalized his or her skills.  Each will excel from his or her thorough knowledge and use of Preach My Gospel.  Each will understand and master the basic techniques to effectively work with people.  Each will be personable, diligent, obedient, hard-working and humble servants who are in tune with the spirit.  Each will teach clearly and testify convincingly to motivate all with whom they come in contact.”

I am impressed with Ammon’s faith when he stayed focused and taught smart to reap his success.  He was called to repentance by an angel and subsequently went on a 14 year mission to the Lamanites which would today essentially be equivalent to serving as a missionary in Iraq.  The Lamanites were a blood thirsty and wicked people who murdered Nephites.  Ammon’s father received a promise from the Lord to deliver Ammon and his companions out of the hands of the Lamanites. (Mos. 28:7)  Ammon also received assurance from God that he would be an instrument in God’s hands for the salvation of souls.” (Alma 17:11)

But, people still die in the service of God.  I would imagine that it still took mighty faith on Ammon’s part to do what he did.  When the King’s sheep were scattered, Ammon thought, “I will show forth the power that is within me.” (Alma 17:29)  That would take some courage.  You know how it could have been.  The promises and assurances were likely feelings from the spirit.  When he was actually taking the risk for real, he may have been thinking, “I hope this works.”  He was in the real world but just went forward taking care of business with the hope and faith that his end goal would be reached.   After he gathered the sheep, again I think it would take faith, regardless of the promises, as he went to contend with those who scattered the sheep.  (Alma 17: 33-35)  Ammon stood forth, slew 6 men with the sling plus 1 with the sword and cut off the arms of others, “and they were not a few.”  (Alma 17: 38)   

So you are embarking through effective study and preparation, to be a smarter teacher.  I invite you to find the faith to learn the material and follow-through so that you do smarter teaching.  I know the Lord will bless you with more success.

President Robinson

Monday, August 18, 2014

President's Weekly Letter #101

The Tool Box
When my partner and I began Sunrise in 1983, my vision was to build a company that would last by organizing it for long term growth and stability.  To do this, I broke an important rule taught by experts.  Engineering is a highly competitive business.  To be successful, most experts say companies must specialize in one thing.  Find a nitch that you are good at and then claim unique expertise for projects needing that specialty.  You thereby become the top rung on the ladder.  After all, a buyer wants the best for his project.  Then you only have to be price competitive in your specialty and buyers will reward you with contracts.  Experts counsel to be narrow and deep with experience and expertise. 

My business model was to diversify.  At the time, we provided civil engineering services for water development and water treatment projects plus land surveying.  When I retired we operated 15 independent business units that specialized in a broad spectrum of engineering and non-engineering services.  Our bread and butter was still the original civil engineering, but we also offered such services as electrical engineering, materials testing, building and safety inspections, natural gas compliance services, land survey using satellite and laser technology, hydroelectric design, etc.  This diversification really helped us to ride out various economic cycles, but it made business development difficult.  We appeared broad and thin with experience and expertise.  Buyers do not generally want a “Jack of All Trades” so they could easily perceive us as weak.

One of our marketing methods to combat this perceived weakness was the “Tool Box.”  We compared Sunrise, the company, to a Tool Box.  We described how when doing a mechanical repair, one opens various drawers of a tool box to use the specific tools they need.  Our Tool Box had 15 drawers representing our business units or specialties.  Each tool represented specific capabilities and people in each business unit.  We showed how our Tool Box made us stronger to do their project but the client only paid for the tools he used out of a specific drawer, and so forth.  You get the idea; it was a great metaphor.  Business development always includes the need to differentiate yourself from your competitors and show your unique strengths including: expertise of people, experience, approach to the work and value.  We would often give a tool to each members of a selection committee, to begin our presentation before their decision to hire an engineer.  We definitely were remembered and clearly differentiated ourselves. It was fun.  

The Tool Box concept has several interesting comparisons to missionary work.  I want to compare it to your teaching.  So our Tool Box has 5 drawers representing the 5 lessons you must teach from Chapter 3 of PMG.  Each tool represents each concept taught in each of the 5 lessons.  Your job is to assist each progressing investigator to use, understand and value each tool in each drawer in our Tool Box.  PMG states your duty as a missionary regarding teaching out of the Tool Box:

“Your responsibility is to teach clearly and powerfully so they [investigators] can make a correct choice.” (p. 10)

“The [5] lessons (found in chapter 3) contain the baptismal interview questions, commitments, and doctrines that you are to teach.”  (p. 19)

“Make sure that you teach all the doctrines in these lessons.  Unless directed by the Spirit, you should give the full content of each of the first three lessons in the order in which they are written.  (p. 30) 

Therefore, you must teach the lesson concepts as outlined in PMG with clarity and with power.  The concepts are normally taught in the order in which they are written and not an impromptu buffet to pick and choose.  Personal inspiration is honored here but teaching concepts out of order from the lesson should rarely occur.  Investigators make sense out of what you are teaching, by attaching the new information back to what they already know.  For example, why would you teach the 3 degrees of glory, for example, when the investigator does not understand or has not begun growing a testimony that God even exists? 

The apostle Paul said:

2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. (1 Cor 3:2)

We must improve teaching for better understanding.  Remember the parable of the sower, the seed that fell on good ground and produced many fold, was, “…he that heard the word and understood it…”  (Matt 13: 23)

I go back to the funnel theory we use in the mission.  Imagine a funnel with the wide entrance on top with the narrow exit on the bottom.  The top width represents the number of contacts you make.  You try to make the funnel entrance as big as possible counted by the 100’s of contacts you make each week.    As people move from top to bottom through the funnel, they go through a process of qualification.  People transition from a contact as they enter the funnel, to a potential, to receiving a lesson, to an investigator, to a progressing investigator, to an investigator keeping commitments, to baptism.  The funnel narrows from top to bottom due to leakage.  Leakage is people dropping out of investigation.  Finally the number of baptisms as people move out of the funnel at the bottom are counted by 1’s and 2’s.  

Once your spiritual performance is properly set, there are 2 ways to increase your currently mediocre baptism success.  You increase the width of the funnel with new potentials so, given a set leakage rate, the odds are that the baptism width at the bottom will also be wider.  The other way to increase baptisms is to improve your ability to teach with clarity and power thereby reducing the leakage.  Reducing leakage assumes some investigators who would have dropped out make it to baptism because of improved clarity and power in teaching.

Many missionaries have challenges to consistently teach with clarity and power.  To fix this, you must be more focused during each lesson on the specific concept or commitment that the investigator must know, feel or do because of your teaching. PMG p. 20

During the next few weeks, I will outline the necessary modifications to the Mission Tool Box so you can improve your ability to teach with more clarity and power and realize reduced leakage and more baptisms.

President Robinson

Missionaries Leave Full-time Service of the Lord

August 6, 2014 eight missionaries arrived in the Mission Office to go through their final check-out.  We are always amazed at how quickly two years have gone by for these missionaries.  We remember these missionaries arriving--we are sure that is was just 9 or 10 months ago we were greeting you in the mission.  It can't be time for you to leave!!!

 To a wonderful group of Elders, we love you--thank you for your service and your leadership.

 Elder Suckow, Elder Eastmond, Elder Lind, Elder Swingle, Elder Nelsen, Elder Pitts, Elder Sumter, Elder Ipson
President and Sister Robinson

Elder Eastmond's parents come to the mission to pick up Elder Eastmond.  They spent the evening with us and it was a pleasure for us to meet them and share the evening.

  Brother Eastmond, Elder Eastmond, Sister Eastmond

The next morning we were off to the airport to get Elder Swingle, Elder Suckow, Elder Nelsen, Elder Pitts, Elder Ipson, and Elder Lind on their flight home.

 Elder Suckow, Elder Lind, Elder Ipson, Elder Nelson, Elder Pitts, Sister Robinson, President Robinson Elder Sumter, Elder Swingle, Elder Eastmond

We say goodbye at Passport control to Elder Suckow, Elder Lind, Elder Pitts, Elder Ipson, and Elder Nelson.  

 It is hard for the missionaries to say goodbye to each other--we have lived with each other for two years and no one knows the next time we will meet--so, our hearts are happy, but are heavy.

 Elder Suckow, President Robinson, Elder Lind, Elder Ispon, Elder Sumter

 It is a good thing they have to catch a flight, or they would stay together a little longer.

 To all…..tot volgende keer!

Then down to British Airways to say goodbye to Elder Swingle.
President Robinson, Elder Swingle, Sister Robinson

Elder Swingle and President Robinson

Back to the Mission Office for Elder Eastmond to meet him parents and continue on with a wonderful week touring the mission and visiting with all the fast friends Elder Eastmond has made during the past two years.

 Goodbyes are just hard things.

 I leave all my 'motherly' love and council!

Sister Robinson, Elder Eastmond, President Robinson

We delivered Elder Sumter home to his family in Hengelo
Sister Robinson, President Robinson, Elder Sumter

President and Sister Robinson with Elder Sumter and his family.

Elders we wish you the very best in the coming months.  Enjoy your new chapter of life and thank you for your commitment to the Lord and your service to Him and the Mission.  You leave behind eternal friends who wish you success.
Tot volgende keer…...

Sunday, August 10, 2014

President's Weekly Letter #100

Path to Perfection
My father passed away on 28 September 2001, just a little over 2 weeks after 9-11.  He was 75 years old and had lived his whole life on the cattle ranch that my great grandfather homesteaded, the Keyhole Ranch in Flowell, Utah.  Shortly after he married his high school sweetheart, he built the home where my mother still lives, which has been remodeled and enlarged a few times and is my boyhood home.  My mother is now 88 years old, healthy and independent.  In 1984, my wife and I built our home next door to my father and mother.  I had been away from Flowell for 15 years serving a mission, getting an education and starting my career.

As I grew up, I worked alongside my father on the ranch.  When he was still a young man, he self-studied to become an electrician.  He passed the tests required by the State of Utah and became a licensed master electrician.  He became the manager of the Flowell Electric Association, the utility company that purchases wholesale electricity and distributes it to power the homes, farms and deep well pumps for irrigation in the area.  His career allowed him to travel and meet people in the utility business in the surrounding states.  He ranched as a side business.  My involvement working with him on the ranch increased.

In 1983, I started my own engineering business so, before and after his death, I traveled the western United States selling business.  I regularly ran across people who knew my father.  People would ask if I was related to Ralph Robinson.  They would invariably state that he was: honest, hardworking, dependable and a nice guy.  I realized that I had big shoes to fill.  

At the time of his death, he was serving as a Stake Patriarch in the Fillmore Utah Stake and a temple worker in the Manti Temple.  He had been faithful and active in the church his whole life.  He had served as Bishop and I think he genuinely tried to keep himself unspotted from the sins of the world.  On the other hand, I knew him very well because I had spent so much time working with him.  He was not perfect and he had weaknesses and trials just like everyone else.  He did, however, try at all times to do right and to improve.

Occasionally I wonder whether or not he is a candidate for the Celestial Kingdom in view of the statement made by the Savior in the Sermon on the Mount, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Matt 5:48)  Regardless of my father’s shortcomings, his intent and effort were exemplary and his effort would not be any less than that of you or me, Joseph Smith or any others who strive in this life, yet still do not reach perfection before they pass on.  If my father is not in line for exaltation, then who in this world is?  If he is not in line, then exaltation is only reserved for a select few of God’s children or none of God’s children because, except Jesus Christ, none of them reached or will reach perfection.  And, our Father in Heaven wants all his children to return to live with Him. 

With a narrow understanding of the work of life, Christ’s commandment to be “perfect” can appear utterly unrealistic and result in surrender to a, “what is the use of trying” attitude.  Or, it can result in your entering the world of perfectionism where you wear yourself out being perfect in all things.  This is a selfish way to live because you are always wrapped up in you, you are never good enough and it generally results in depression.

With a broader understanding of the work of life; however, you understand that you are a progressive being and you strive for excellence as you grow toward your final destiny of perfection in the life to come.  This does not; however, excuse you in this life from doing the best you can, getting up when you stumble and continue striving.

Christ understood the concept of your progressing and growing toward perfection because, in the same sermon, he asked you to “seek” which is a process.  He also instructed that you do not attain perfection, it is added or given to you.  And, you must ask Father in Heaven for progress as you seek.

33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matt 6:33)

11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? (Matt 7:11)

James, the half-brother of Jesus, taught similar doctrine.  He knew perfection is a work in progress admonishing us to have patience during our time on earth and ultimately, perfection is a gift from above.

4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights…  (James 1:4)

This interpretation of progressive beings who are not intended to accomplish everything in this life but we progress toward perfection, is taught in the D&C.

24 That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day. (DC 50:24)

13 Ye are not able to abide the presence of God now, neither the ministering of angels; wherefore, continue in patience until ye are perfected.  (DC 67:13)

 143 The above offices I have given unto you, and the keys thereof, for helps and for governments, for the work of the ministry and the perfecting of my saints.   (DC 124:143)

Finally, through your efforts and Christ’s help in your path to perfection, I believe all your attributes and habits can become perfected just as you can become perfected through Christ’s grace after repentance from sin.  Christ will make up the difference and heal you, , as you strive to improve personally and repent of sin during your life. (3 Nephi 9:13) “Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him … that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ…  (Moroni 10: 32)  We call this striving for excellence, enduring to the end.  “…if ye shall press forward…and endure to the end… Ye shall have eternal life.  (2 Nephi 31:20)  This is the path to perfection in life.

Your mission is no different.  PMG p. 10 states that your success is measured by your commitment to the work.  Just as my father did not attain perfection but did his best to strive for excellence in his life, you must also strive for excellence as a missionary.  The description of a successful missionary in PMG includes words such as:  develop, do your very best, work, seek earnestly, help, invite, go about and serve.  This is to be done without comparing yourself, allowing yourself to be discouraged or lowering your expectations.  You will never become a perfect missionary but you will be enough through your commitment to strive for excellence in your work.  
President Robinson

New Missionaries Arrive from the MTC

August 5, 2014 we met five new missionaries at Schiphol Airport.  Four Elders and one Sister.  We were happy to see them arrive.  We are so grateful that the Lord just keeps right on calling worthy and good young men and women and sending the best to the Belgium Netherlands Mission.

 Sister Robinson, Sister Fredrickson, Elder Steenblik, Elder Andrew, Elder Shaw, Elder Parr, President Robinson

 Waiting down in the train station to go to Leiden Centraal and to the Mission Office.

 Talking with President and Elder Bishop, one of our AP's.

 Elder Parr and Sister Fredrickson talking with Elder Eastmond, one of our AP's.

 They will learn the train system in the Netherlands and Belgium better than their own neighborhood back home before they return home in 18 months or two years.

 On transfer week, it is always common to see groups of missionaries in 'het station'.

In the Mission Office they are busy with the necessary legality paperwork.

They will also get their financial card and instructions on how the money works.

Then, off to lunch.

Sister Fredrickson, Elder Andrew, Elder Shaw, Elder Steenblik, Elder Parr

A really great group of missionaries.  We are so pleased they are here.

Sister Fredrickson

Elder Andrew

Elder Parr

Elder Steenblik

Elder Shaw

President Robinson

Elder Lyman, Elder Bishop, Elder Robbins, Elder Shaw, Elder Steenblik

 Elder Steenblik, Sister Fredrickson

Elder Andrew, Elder Parr

The whole group--New missionaries, Office Elders, AP's and President

After a much needed nap and a wonderful dinner at the mission home, we had a short Fireside and Testimony Meeting.  

Then, the 'first call' letters.

Sister Fredrickson will be serving in Den Haag, Netherlands.

Her trainer and new Companion will be Sister Western.

Elder Parr will be serving in Delft, Netherlands

He will be serving with ……...

……..Elder Hulet as trainer and companion.

Elder Shaw will be serving in Rotterdam.

His new companion and trainer will be Elder Taggart.

Elder Andrew will be serving in Genk, Belgium…...

with Elder Claflin as trainer and companion.

Elder Steenblik will be serving in……. 

 Leuven, Belgium with…… 

 Elder Losee as trainer and companion.

Wednesday morning after training with the AP's, they finally got to met their new companions.

 Elder Parr and Elder Hulet

Sister Western and Sister Fredrickson

Sister Taylor and Sister Jaramillo 
Sister Jaramillo was with this group of missionaries, but she came three weeks earlier as she already knew Dutch.

Elder Losee and Elder Steenblik

Elder Claflin and Elder Andrew

Elder Taggart and Elder Shaw

We spent another hour in training and then, with suitcases and new companions, out they went to the train station and headed for their new area of service in the Belgium Netherlands Mission.

NOTE to self:  They ALL look happy and excited.  Transfers truly are inspired!