Monday, January 26, 2015

President's Weekly Letter #118

A Wrinkle in Time
During the Mission President seminar last October, an idea came to my mind with unusual force and emphasis.  I call it a Wrinkle in Time.  It is a big deal and will make a marked difference in your success. Through the Wrinkle in Time you will become a more effective missionary. 

President Henry B. Eyring’s secretary called me on Tuesday, 7 February 2012 to set an appointment for my wife and I to come to his office in Salt Lake City, Utah to visit.  I was in Colorado at the time preparing a proposal for Sunrise to design a hydroelectric project and my wife was teaching school at Fillmore Elementary.  We dropped our commitments and met him at 2:00 pm on Friday, 10 Feb. 2012.  We knew the possibility existed that we might be called as a mission president because of an interview a week earlier with Elder Ballard.

As you enter the old church Administration building through the main south doors, President Eyring’s office is the first office on the right before you come to the security desk.  We waited for several minutes on some uncomfortable chairs.  Finally the door to his office opened and he walked out to greet us.  He is tall.  He also seemed to struggle a little to walk, like he had lost the spring to his step.  His secretary was friendly and we were escorted into his office.  He began by telling us that he had been out all morning to ask forgiveness of someone for a misunderstanding.  He said he was not at fault but did not want the possibility for hard feelings.  He is a gracious man.  He asked about my first mission and told me his son had served in the Netherlands.  He actually pronounced some Dutch words fairly well and he told some stories about his friend Elder Jacob de Jager, the beloved Dutch general authority.

He finally got down to business.  He said I was being called to serve as a mission president.  He first called my wife to serve as a wife to the mission president.  He explained that if she says “No,” then our visit is over.  She said “Yes.”  He then read my call letter.  He stated this was very unusual.  Normally mission presidents are assigned the field of labor several weeks after the call to be a mission president.  But, in the Temple a few days earlier when declaring calls, President Monsen called me to serve as a mission president but also at the same time specified the Mission where I would serve.  Words cannot describe my feelings upon realizing I would be returning to the small country that I loved on the shores of the North Sea to serve as Mission President.  I hardly dared think about that possibility beforehand.

We talked for a time and he gave us wonderful council.  He stated most men my age have grown to depend on the inspiration of their wife during all the challenges of child rearing and family.  Yep, that was me.  But, as a mission president, my wife offers assistance and support but I must rely on inspiration from my Father in Heaven.  (For the record, she has been wonderful giving assistance and support.)  He also reminded me that I will receive much advice from well-meaning people, but to disregard that and rely on my spiritual promptings.  He pointed out, that I have already been prepared through life’s experiences.  I do not need a crash course on what to do, just have faith and let the Lord lead.

As we were leaving, my wife commented that if Nephi could build a ship then we could certainly serve a mission in Holland.  President Eyring sat us back down and pointing with his hand for emphasis he said, “Nephi didn’t just build a ship, he built a ship of curious workmanship.  Nephi went to the mountain often to pray.  ‘And, the Lord did show us from time to time after what manner we should work.’  He was given instruction piece by piece on how to build the ship.  The whole blueprint was not all laid out at first.  That is how experiences of missionaries in the Belgium Netherlands Mission will be and thus; what happens in the mission will be a work of curious workmanship.”  And so it has been, we have forged ahead with nugget by nugget of direction, here a little, there a little.

The following summarizes the Mission standards of excellence for the key indicators of conversion and the actual average results in our mission.   On average, if we want to baptize and reactivate more people we need to improve our performance.

Weekly Key Indicators of Conversion                       Standard          Actual Performance
Lessons                                                                       20                                7
New Investigators                                                       4                                  1
Progressing Investigators                                            5                                  2.4
Member Present lessons                                             6                                  1.4
Attending Sacrament Meeting                                    3                                  1
Baptismal Dates                                                         3                                  0.9
Baptisms                                                                     1 per month                0.14

Proselyting time is ‘show time.’  It is the time between 11:00 am to 9:00 pm every day plus 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm on P-day.  Proselyting time is the reason you are here on your mission.  Think about all the time, money and sacrifice to get you here.  What happens during proselyting time will define all your results, accomplishments and missionary memories. 

Sixteen companionships were picked to critically track their use of proselyting time.  The time during the rest of the day; sleeping, getting ready, breakfast, study, etc. were not addressed.  Emphasis was on time spent actively contacting or teaching.  Miscellaneous time is proselyting time but not actively contacting or teaching.  The following summarizes the average results during proselyting time:

Proselyting Time:                                                       Hours per Week          % of Time
Actively contacting and Teaching                               17 hrs                          27
Miscellaneous                                                             9 hrs 40 min                7

Other Proselyting Time Activities:
Planning                                                                                                          7                     
Meals                                                                                                              19
Meetings                                                                                                         11
Service                                                                                                             4
Travel                                                                                                              23

A Wrinkle in Time is simple but can produce more results than any other single thing we do.  A new standard of excellence is to spend 20 hours per week actively contacting or teaching.  You will spend the time anyway, it might as well be effective.  Be honest with yourself and record your time actively contacting and teaching.  Strive to achieve the 20 hours per week.  At dinner appointments, count only minutes during the lesson.  Do not count time during the day when you are not actively contacting.  Only count time teaching less actives if you report the visit and what was taught to the Ward Mission Leader or Bishop.  Raise your level of awareness and determination to use your time effectively.

“None of us should be like the fisherman who thinks he has been fishing all day when in reality he has spent most of his time getting to and from the water, eating lunch, and fussing with his equipment. Fishing success is related to how long you have your line in the water, not to how long you are away from the apartment. Some fishermen are away from home for twelve hours and have their line in the water for ten hours. Other fishermen are away from home for twelve hours and have their line in the water for only two hours. This last type may wonder why they do not have the same success as others.  (PMG p. 152)

President Eyring admonished us to follow the directions of the spirit as we build a ship of curious workmanship.  When we are stuck doing our own thing, we are walking in the light of sparks of our own fire, not the light from the Lord.  The Wrinkle in Time is from the Lord and will help us achieve our missionary purpose with greater success.

11 Behold all ye that kindle fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks, walk in the light of your fire and in the sparks which ye have kindled. This shall ye have of mine hand—ye shall lie down in sorrow.  (2 Nephi 7:11)
President Robinson

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