Friday, October 26, 2012

Yet Another Goodbye

On October 24 and 25, 2012, it was extremely difficult to say goodbye to so many of our great missionaries. In just four short months, we have grown to love these missionaries and have valued our time serving with them.  They are outstanding.  They will all be very blessed for the job they have done while serving the Lord in the Belgium Netherlands Mission.  We are expecting great things from them!

Elder Benson, Elder Brown, Elder Ellis, Sister Tanner, Elder Davies
Elder Jones, Elder Klippel, Elder Andrews

With many helping hands, dinner was served and enjoyed.  Then I was politely removed from dish duty by Elder Jones and Elder Davies.  Again, many hands made clean up fun!

Thanks Elder Jones and Elder Davies

Afterward, we had a wonderful spiritual evening of testimonies and goodbyes.

 Elder Benson, Elder Brown, Elder Ellis, Sister Tanner, Elder Davies, Elder Jones,
Elder Klippel, Elder Andrews, Sister Robinson, President Robinson

Then someone got ahold of my iPad!?!?!?!  Wonder who?  

Elder Brown, Elder Ellis, Elder Davies, Elder Jones

 Elder Brown, Elder Ellis, Elder Davis

 What it looks like behind the scene.  
Elder Schulte, Sister Robinson, President Robinson

It was an early morning departure from the mission home.  We left at 6:00 am to get to the airport in time.  After their last train ride from Leiden to Schipol, we started the process of getting them on their way home!

President Robinson, Sister Robinson, Elder Davies, Elder Ellis, Elder Brown, Sister Tanner, Elder Andrews, Elder Jones

 By the time we got to Airport Security, we had Elder Klippel with his parents and Elder Benson with his parents.

Tot ziens!  God be with you 'til we meet again!

Seven New Missionaries

Tuesday, October 23, 2012 we received a wonderful group of Elders and one Sister from the MTC in Provo, Utah.  We have been hearing that this group of missionaries is exceptional.  We now know for ourselves this is true.

 Front row: Elder Eastmond, Elder Ipson, Elder Lind, Sister Robinson, 
Sister Rigdon  Back row:  Elder Pitts, Elder Suckow, Elder Swingle, 
President Robinson

We took them back to the Mission Office for paper work, orientation and interviews with the President. to the pannenkoeken huis.  This is their first real Dutch meal!

 Elder Van de Graaff

 President Robinson (we caught him trying to eat his before pictures)  
and Elder Ipson
 Elder Lind, Elder Eastmond, Sister Rigdon
 Elder Swingle, Elder Suckow, Elder Cundick
 Elder Pope, Elder Pitts, Elder Van Overbeek
 Elder and Sister Pankratz

After all the legality issues were taken care of it was off to the Mission Home for a well needed nap.  After a nap and dinner, we had a short welcome and testimony meeting.  Finally, they opened their letters telling them were they would serve and who their new companions and trainers were going to be.

 Elder Swingle will serve in Heerlen with Elder Burton

 Elder Lind will serve in Eindhoven with Elder Roemer

Elder Eastmond will serve in Nijmegen with Elder McKee

 Elder Suckow will serve in Utrecht with Elder Armstrong

 Sister Rigdon will serve in Haarlem with Sister Stout

 Elder Pitts will serve in Heerenveen with Elder Sosa

 Elder Ipson will serve in Vlissingen with Elder Van De Graaff

 Elder Swingle

 Elder Lind

 Elder Eastmond
 Elder Ipson

 Sister Rigdon

 Elder Pitts

 Elder Suckow

Sister Rigdon, Elder Ipson, Elder Suckow, Elder Lind, Elder Pitts, Elder Eastmond, Elder Swingle, Sister Robinson, President Robinson 

Our great new missionaries.  They are well prepared from the MTC and they all come with strong and moving testimonies of Jesus Christ and his restored Gospel.  

 We couldn't be happier!  What a group!

 Elder Ipson will be serving with Elder Van de Graaff who has been serving as an AP to President Robinson.  He is now leaving to train Elder Ipson and the two of them will open Vlissingen.  Congratulations.

Antwerpen Stake Conference

We had the great opportunity to speak at the Antwerpen Stake Conference in Antwerpen on Saturday evening, October 20, 2012.  We each spoke for 10 minutes.  My topic was "Called to Serve"  President's topic was "The Book of Mormon, Cornerstone of our Religion".  Really, it turned out quite well for me.  I had written my talk out in simple sentences with simple vocabulary and translated it into Dutch.  So, what would have probably been a 5 minute talk in English, took me 10 minutes to give in Dutch.  I'm pretty slow.  
President did great. 

Sunday afternoon at the general session in Brussels, President spoke again for 10 minutes.  I got the day off!  I love the Antwerpen Stake.  We did not realize how many wonderful friends and acquaintances we have in the Antwerpen Stake until we attended conference.  If we make this many friends in four months, wow, what will happen in three years!  I am beginning to understand when return missionaries say it is harder to go home from your mission than it was to leave on you mission, because of all the people you meet and love!

We stayed in Oosendrecht and President took this picture in that small quaint village. 

Special Zone Training for Den Haag Zone

President Oddens of the Den Haag Stake presented the Mission Plan for the Den Haag Stake to the missionaries serving in the stake.  On October 19, 2012 we spend the day with President Oddens.  President Robinson has said many times that the Stake Presidents have the keys and authority for the missionary work in their stakes.  He has the keys and authority for the work of the missionaries.  So, together the work of inviting and help others to Come unto Christ can be accomplished.

President Oddens with present the Mission Plan to the Stake at Stake Conference on November 25, 2012.  We are so excited to help the Den Haag Stake with their Mission Plan.  

We did role plays to show the missionaries how they can assist ward and stake members fulfill their missionary responsibilities.

 Elder Van Overbeek and Elder Van de Graaff take the part of the missionaries

 Elder Guanuna, Sister Gardner, Elder Hansen take the part of family members.

Elder Hansen, Elder Gomez, Elder Maughan take the part of family members.

President Oddens was so pleased with the role play, he has asked the AP's and Zone Leaders to come and train the Ward Mission Leaders on November 10.  This approach to helping the church members fulfill their missionary responsibilities has our missionaries fired up and excited to be part of this effort in this Stake.  We see great things happening with the Belgium Netherlands Mission and the Den Haag Stake.

More Senior Couples

October 10, 2012 we greeted two new Senior Couples at Schipol Airport.  We LOVE our Senior Couples.  I don't know how any Mission runs without wonderful Senior Couples.  We are so blessed to now have 9 Senior Couples in our Mission!

Welcome to the Woodhouses and the Lyons.

 Front Row:  Elder Lyons, Sister Lyons, Sister Pankratz, Elder Pankratz
Back Row:  Elder Woodhouse, Sister Woodhouse, Sister Robinson, 
President Robinson

We took them to the Mission Office and after their interview with President, got in their car, with phone in hand, and headed to their apartments. 

Elder and Sister DeLeeuw accompanied the Lyons to Bussum where they will work with the Young Single Adults in Utrecht.  Elder and Sister Everton accompanied the Woodhouses to Rotterdam where they will work with the Young Single Adults in Rotterdam.  Welcome to two truly wonderful and faithful Senior Couples.  These four missionaries bring talents and abilities that will bless our mission and the young adults they will be working with in their areas. The missionaries are thrilled and excited to have a Senior Couple back in Rotterdam, and now a Senior Couple in Utrecht.

New Senior Couple

On General Conference Sunday, October 7, 2012, we made a quick pick up of missionaries at Schipol Airport.  At 7:10 AM we met and fell in love with Elder and Sister Kruizingas from Australia.   

 Sister Kruizinga, President Robinson, Elder Kruizinga

 Sister Robinson, Sister Kruizinga, Elder Kruizinga

Elder Kruizinga was born and raised in Groningen and moved to Australia when he was 20 years old.  Sister Kruizinga is originally from Australia.  When they walked through the arrival gate, Elder Kruizinga walked up to President, gave him a hug, and in tears said, "We are suppose to be here!"  And we agree, they are suppose to be here.  They went to General Conference with us in Den Haag Chapel and stayed in the Mission Home that evening.  On Monday, they had a car, phone and an apartment.  They are helping and supporting the Young Single Adult Group in Eindhoven.  Everyone is thrilled to have the Kruizingas.  Especially the missionaries in Eindhoven.  Welcome!

President's Weekly Letter I Forgot Part II

(1 Nephi 18:1)

Belgium/Netherlands Mission



Much has been asked and said over the past months about how we should count key indicators of missionary work in the Mission.  The weekly reports need to be accurate so that we can see trend lines, problem areas, weaknesses and strengths.  In addition, the reports are sent to the Europe Area and to the Missionary Department for others to glean from the reports what leadership emphasis is prudent.  It is critical that the Belgium Netherlands Mission has all companionships reporting numbers on the same bases so we are seeing and interrupting reality.

The key indicators that do not appear to be difficult to count are:
·      Converts baptized and confirmed
·      Investigators (progressing or other) who attend sacrament meeting
·      Lessons taught to investigators with a member present
·      Referrals received and contacted

For the above and other key indicators, the Belgium Netherlands Mission will adhere to the following enhanced descriptions and counting methods plus descriptions which are contained in PMG Chapter 8:

Lesson.  A lesson includes the teaching of one or more gospel principles from the lessons, an opening and closing prayer and invitations to make commitments.  This is clear to understand and count.  If, however, there are unusual circumstances with what and how lessons are taught as described above but are consistent with the spirit and intent described above, then count it as a lesson if you feel good about it.  This should probably be an infrequent exception, however.

Progressing Investigators.  The total number of investigators who have been taught two or more lessons and are keeping commitments such as to pray, read from the Book of Mormon, attend church and prepare for baptism and confirmation.  This can be open to various interpretations, but the spirit of the rule is to count people who are legitimately progressing toward baptism on an upcoming date.  You know who they are.  Others are counted as new investigators or other investigators.  People may move from one list to another.

Following the above descriptions will quickly add uniformity to our reporting methods of the other key indicators for conversion:
·      Investigators with a baptismal date
·      Other lessons taught
·      Progressing investigators
·      New or other investigators
·      Lessons taught to recent converts and less-active members

The weekly numbers you report are normally not of great value to me.  They vary greatly from week to week and are only a snapshot in time for each companionship.  The cumulative record of the reported weekly numbers is very valuable to me because trend lines can be seen and action taken to help missionaries improve performance.

I recently visited with a middle aged man from America who was visiting a Nederlands Ward.  He said he turned down the Lord’s call for him to serve as an Assistant in the Mission.  He stated he was very close to breaking the all-time record of discussions taught in his mission.  He feared being an Assistant would distract his time from teaching and he might miss out setting a new record which was his goal.  I didn’t tell him this but I think he was completely missing the mark.

We are inviting others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through…baptism...  In my opinion the most important number reported is “Progressing investigators” (with a baptismal date).   Theoretically, the larger this pool is, the better your chances are of baptizing.  Realistically, you will probably be tapped out if you have 3-5 progressing investigators who are making real progress.  You would be spending all your time preparing lessons, daily visits, teaching every other day and keep up finding to replace them after baptism. The odds of baptizing someone are a long shot unless they are on your list of progressing investigators.  It would be a shame to be emotionally connected to all the numbers we report weekly to where it distracts us from real success.  My council is to report your numbers accurately, but spend your time and emotion moving people in to fill the 3-5 real good progressing investigators and then do the work to move them along.  I do not want us doing a research project over the counting of various indicators.

Elders and Sisters, since many concerns have been raised, I have attempted to address the questions.  We are engaged in growing a new stake by baptizing or reactivating 450 people.  Since this Operation was announced on September 19, 2012, we have baptized 14, with 436 to go.  Keep up the great work.

President's Weekly Letter I forgot Part I

(1 Nephi 18:1)

Belgium/Netherlands Mission



First some house keeping items.  I am asking Elders to wear suit coats between fall and spring general conference.  Between spring and fall conference we will once again allow your choice of jacket on or off.  Also, remember your commitments to consistently and steadily develop Christ-like attributes.  This is essential as we purify ourselves to do the important missionary work of building a stake.

The Law of the Harvest has been written about by many people.  This law is a natural law.  It constantly applies to all that we do.  You can depend on it just like gravity.  For me it can be condensed down to 3 principles:
·      We reap after we sow
·      We reap what we sow
·      We reap more than we sow

Now, we are engaged in the ambitious venture of building a stake; Stake number 5, in the Mission.  We have fasted and prayed that the Lord allow us to do this for Him and the members here and we have in faith committed ourselves to the work.

This endeavor is now a matter of faith.  The faith consists of both - a.  Our trust that Jesus Christ can grant the results we desire, and - b.  Our work we perform to make it happen.  This faith is done in compliance with the Law of the Harvest.

I believe the above listed principles of the Law of the Harvest can, therefore, be alternatively stated using miracles in place of reap and faith in place of sow.

The principle that we reap after we sow could also be stated as faith precedes the miracle.  This is an eternal principle taught in Ether 12, and may best be stated by President Howard W. Hunter:
“If you deprive a man of his right to fail in the righteous use of his property, you also deprive him of his right to succeed. If you remove from a man his right to “go to hell,” you likewise remove his free agency to go to heaven. Satan’s entire philosophy is based on a “something for nothing” philosophy: salvation without effort – a free gift.  This counterfeit doctrine was rejected by God our Father.  Our Elder Brother, Jesus Christ, accepted our Father’s plan and agreed to pay the infinite price to become our Savior and Redeemer and to show us the way back to the Father.  The way is often the hard way. It is the Law of the Harvest.  It is the same basic law in the spiritual realm which the farmer must obey in the physical realm.  He plants in the spring and cultivates, waters, weeds, and nourishes the ground and its new life and then harvests in the fall.”
We also reap benefits from the previous work of others.  Mike Pence stated:
“We owe a debt to those who came before, who did great things, and suffered more than we suffer, and gave more than we give, and pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor for us, whom they did not know.  For we “drink from wells we did not dig and are warmed by fires we did not build,” and so we must be faithful in our time as they were in theirs.”
We have the great opportunity leave the woodpile a little higher than we found it, but we and/or others will reap after we sow.
We reap what we sow.  Our work to build the Stake will be a natural result from our labor to this end.  During my career in the Engineering business, I found the size of business I would market and sell was the size of what I set out in my mind to sell.  Every time I determined I needed bigger projects, I found myself pursuing and then doing bigger projects within a short time.  This iteration repeated itself several times as the business grew.  It is the results of a natural law.  I found my results were largely dependent on my expectations.

We will reap more than we sow.  Every farmer knows the investment of seed is very small compared to the seeds harvested.  Ammon gloried after his mission to preach to the Lamanites:

“…we supposed that our joy would be full if perhaps we could be the means of saving some.  Now behold, we can look forth and see the fruits of our labors; and are they few?  I say unto you, Nay…” (Alma 26:30-31)
John Lawrence stated the principle of the bounties of reaping more than we sow:
“If you want to be rich … GIVE!
If you want to be poor … GRASP!
If you want abundance … SCATTER!
If you want to be needy . . HOARD!”
The world’s philosophy is just the opposite; get what you can get and keep what you’ve got.
Elders and Sisters, you are doing great things in the Belgium Netherlands Mission.  Keep up the good work.  Remember Paul’s words:
“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” (Gal. 6:9)