Wednesday, May 15, 2013

President's Weekly Letter #35

(1 Nephi 18:1)

Belgium/Netherlands Mission


The story of Christ stilling the tempest is interesting and is rich with doctrine.  Christ was teaching a great multitude by the sea side.  He entered into a ship so that he could sit on the ship and teach the crowd who were on the ground on shore.  He began teaching with parables.  Knowing what we know now, how great would it have been to be in that crowd, work our way to the front and listen to him teach for the day?  The record states (Mark 4:35-41):

“35 And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side.”

Christ stated they were going to pass over to the other side.  This appears to be a statement of fact.  His expectation is not questionable or tentative.  He says profoundly, “Guys, we are going to the other side.”

 “36 And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships.
 37 And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full.”

The great storm was real along with the wind, waves and swamping ship; however, this is also symbolic of adversity, trials and difficulty.  The mission was clearly stated by the Creator of the world and predictably, adversity began.

“38 And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?”

Good for someone who thought to bring and give him a pillow.  Here we have the Savior of the world, obviously dead tired from the day’s activities, so tired that he is sleeping through the storm.  He has no home or bed of his own but someone brings a pillow for him.  He is with men who were fishermen.  They knew the sea, ships and when to worry.  For them to wake him is reason to believe they were worried about the safety of the ship and their ability to accomplish their journey.  But, the question begs to be asked, why did they have to wake him?

Christ had bluntly stated that they were going to the other side.  What then happened was, when difficulty arose, the apostles gave up on the mission and put its success back on Christ’s shoulders.  Where was their faith?  Where was their determination to make it happen in the face of adversity regardless of the trials thrown at them? They held the same priesthood that Christ had.  They were on his errand.  Where was their action to get the job done?   

“39 And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.
 40 And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?”

He is the creator of the universe.  The elements and animals must obey him.  In fact there is only one thing on earth that is not required to obey him; all men and women.  They have the power to choose.

“41 And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

Christ’s gentle rebuke is understandable and should be a reminder to all of us that the Lord has been clear about our mission.  The elements must obey him.  Success of our mission is not in question.  The only question is if we will obey and do the job with faith that the Savior is in charge and will guide us in the right paths and the adversity and trials will be over won.

“We invite all to come unto Christ by repentance and baptism and confirmation in order to open the doors of the celestial kingdom to the sons and daughters of God.”  (PMG p. 9)

“… go … in the power of the ordination wherewith (you) have been ordained, proclaiming glad tidings of great joy, even the everlasting gospel. (DC 79:1)

“…that faith also might increase in the earth…” DC 1:21

 70 And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard sent his servant; and the servant went and did as the Lord had commanded him, and brought other servants; and they were few.
 71 And the Lord of the vineyard said unto them: Go to, and labor in the vineyard, with your might…
 72 …and the Lord of the vineyard labored also with them…”  (Jacob 5:70-72)

Our calling and the Lord’s expectation is clear.  We are to invite and help people find and recognize the truth.  We experience all sorts of trials as we go about our duty.  I pray that we can stand firm with unwavering faith in our cause and have enthusiasm for the work. 
President Robinson

President's Weekly Letter #34

(1 Nephi 18:1)

Belgium/Netherlands Mission


The gospel of Jesus Christ is the simple path that gives us, God’s children, access to the atonement.  Overcoming the devastating disadvantage of physical death has been granted to all men through the resurrection.  The gospel path will lead us to overcome the devastating disadvantage of the spiritual death as we exercise our agency on earth.  The entrance to the path is baptism.  This is the foundational ordinance of the gospel. At baptism we covenant with God that we will repent and strive to live the gospel.  Christ covenants with us:

“…whoso repenteth and is baptized in my name shall be filled; and if he endureth to the end, behold, him will I hold guiltless before my Father at the day when I shall stand to judge the world…Now this is the commandment: Repent, all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me and be baptized in my name, that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day.” (3 Nephi 27:16,20)

Jesus Christ was sinless and became our advocate before the Father by paying the penalty for our sins because of his love for us and the Father.  This price that Christ paid for us involved terrible suffering and pain.  Christ stated, “…behold the sufferings and death of him who did no sin…” (DC 45:4) and:

“Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink…” (DC 19:18)

The law of justice demanding punishment for sin is fulfilled through Christ.  Therefore, our Father can welcome us into his kingdom.  However, our personal accountability is not removed.  We must stay on the path began with baptism and over our lives “…come unto Christ and be perfected in him…” (Moro.10:32)

Through partaking of the sacrament every week, we renew this covenant that we made at baptism.  Our thoughts and mental and spiritual commitments during this sacred ordinance each week are important.  This covenant is most sacred and an opportunity for a spiritual experience as we recommit ourselves to our Father to make corrections, hold the course and improve.

The sacrament prayers are similar, for the bread:

“O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it, that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him and keep his commandments which he has given them; that they may always have his Spirit to be with them. Amen.” (DC 20:77)

We are required to do 4 things:
1.     Eat in remembrance of the body of the Son
2.     Willing to take upon us the name of the Son
3.     Always remember him
4.     Keep his commandments

What is the difference between number 1 and number 3 above?  I submit included in number 1, we must remember the broken body and spilt blood and the terrible suffering in our behalf.  In number 3, we commit to strive to remember at all times his good attributes and example.

I pray we can really experience the atonement in our personal lives each week as we partake of the sacrament.  The Prophet Isaiah emphasized our dependence on Christ when he said:

3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
 7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.  (Isaiah 53:3)

President Robinson

President's Weekly Letter #33

(1 Nephi 18:1)

Belgium/Netherlands Mission


People have always sought to be happy.  They argue politically over what will bring happiness; wars have been fought over people’s search for happiness.  Before the feast of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour was come.  He introduced the ordinance of washing of the feet and with it the key to happiness.  The washing is symbolic of the affects of the atonement on all of God’s children.  Also, the washing is the simple key to that happiness for which man has searched.

4 He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.
5 After that he poureth water into a basin, and began to awash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded…
10 Jesus saith… He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean
12 So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you?
13 Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.
14 If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.
 15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.
 16 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.

 17 If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.  (John 13)

This event is rich in symbolism.  There are a multitude of sermons taught here by the Savior, but the principle of service to others and the happiness that comes there from is unavoidable.  As missionaries, we have the privilege to spend every waking hour in the service of people we contact, investigators and members.  Service can be physical acts of service or simply offering support and instruction which is much more effective after connecting with people.

On 9 April 2013, President Hulleman trained the Apeldoorn Zone missionaries how to best assist him and his members in the Apeldoorn Stake to achieve their missionary assignments.  It was a remarkable message.  The central theme to his plan for missionaries is to lift members from where they are now by visiting a member daily, encourage members to spiritual growth, to follow Christ and to encourage them to find the one in missionary work.  His counsel would be beneficial to every missionary in the mission:

“Connecting with people is the key to success on missions and in life.  The old adage, ‘Seek to understand, then seek to be understood’, still applies.  But, be sensitive and do not push in where you are not welcome.  Develop people skills and teaching skills. 

I guarantee every member in the stake has a wayward kid, not enough money, troubled marriage, poor health, not enough time, etc., etc.  Understand them, help them with their problems, teach a message, etc.  It will endear you to them.  Then they will feed you referrals as a friend.

Connect with people.  Before asking for referrals, find out what is going on in their life, their worries and what makes them tick.  Ask people questions and learn about their make-up; then try to help them with their problems.

Set aside “what’s in it for me” (your need for gain) and just serve the members in their needs.  It doesn’t take hours.  This is an attitude shift.  Love them.  Encourage their youth.

Ask, “How would you like us to help you with your missionary work?”  If they trust you and feel you are in there for them, you will see miracles. 

Indirect missionary work is more effective in this country than direct missionary work.  Don’t hit them so hard and direct to give referrals.  Just do it with faith and trust the Lord will provide you with referrals.

Elder Holland said, “Trust Heavenly Father.  Let go of being in control and trust him.  It is about faith in Jesus Christ.  Trust with your heart, disconnect your head.”

Be happy with small and simple successes.  Celebrate the small and simple things.  The secret to life and a mission is dealing with differences and connecting with people.” (President Hulleman, 9 April 2013)

Human relations are a fascinating thing.  I am always impressed with the guy who has the magnetic personality, who seems to get along with everyone and appears endearing to everyone.  It is easy to see some of his outward attributes that make him that way.  Luckily, you and I do not have to be him to be successful on a mission or in life.  Someone once said that if two of us are exactly alike, then one of us would not be necessary.  Our diversity is our strength.  While you work to improve your skills to connect with people and to be the best you that you can be; be who you are, not someone you are not.

Relationships are not built on mechanics but sincere human interaction. It is the human connection that counts, both with investigators and members.  The principles taught by the Savior and reinforced by President Hulleman and ‘Being Real’ in Zone Conference are intended to assist you to connect with people with a few simple mechanics, but it is important to open your heart, love them and extend yourself to them.  President Robinson