Wednesday, January 22, 2014

New Sister Missionary

Another trek to Schipol Airport on Wednesday, January 22, 2014, to pick up another Missionary.  Sister Verdegem has arrived to join the 40 sisters serving in the Belgium Netherlands Mission.

 President Robinson, Sister Verdegem, Sister Robinson

 We cannot express how pleased and excited we are to have Sister Verdegem finally here in the mission.  She comes so prepared and willing to do the Lord's work here in the Netherlands with whatever is asked of her.  She has such a shine and happiness about her.  She has so much to offer us and the Lord.  Thank you, Sister Verdegem for your desires to serve the Lord as a missionary.

Back at the Mission Office, after the paperwork and interview, she has a chance to meet her trainer and Companion, Sister Otteson.  
They will be serving in Zoetermeer.
It is an exciting time to be a missionary in Zoetermeer.  Zoetermeer Ward just moved into a new Church building.  (It actually looks like a Utah Church Building which is amazing here in the Netherlands and Belgium) They will dedicate it in February and hold an Open House in March.  The Open House will be huge, they are planning on 25,000 people to attend the Open House and the focus will be on Missionary work.  These Sisters have the opportunity to be a big part of that work in preparation for the Open House and during the Open House.

Sister Otteson and Sister Verdegem

They didn't stay long in the Mission Office, they had a dinner appointment they had to get back to Zoetermeer to attend and appointments afterward.

Welcome to missionary work Sister Verdegem.  You have 'hit the road running' and it will not stop for 18 months!!

We love you both.  Success.

January Zone Training for Den Haag Zone

Wednesday, January 22, 2014, President and I attended the Den Haag Zone Training.  Elder Pimentel, Elder King are the Zone Leaders and Sister Wood is the Sister Training Leader.

Their focus for this transfer is to more fully 
Invite the Spirit into Missionary Work.

The Zone Leaders did a fantastic job teaching and inspiring the missionaries.  One missionary shared with me after the training that this was possibly the more spiritual and spirit filled training 
they ever had attended while on their mission.  
Wonder job inviting the Spirit into your Zone.

Time for Lunch

 Elder Swingle, Elder King

 Sister Wood, Sister Leader Trainer

 Sister Spencer, Sister Woodbury, Sister Rosenlof,Sister Kohlert

 Elder Fonger, Elder Schmidt, Elder Hulet

 Sister Schwab, Sister Otteson, Sister Reeder

 Elder Bonney,  Elder Pimentel, Elder Lindstrom

 Elder Cook, Elder Thomas, Elder Alada

 Elder Lindstrom, Elder Robbins, Elder Giles, Elder Losee

 Elder Losee, Elder Christensen, Elder Cook

 Elder and Sister Evenhuis

 Elder and Sister Seiter

Elder Schmidt and Elder Hulet

 Elder Fonger and Elder Swingle

 Sister Wood and Sister Reeder

 Sister Otteson and Sister Schwab

 Sister Rosenlof and Sister Kohlert

 Sister Spencer and Sister Woodbury

 Elder Losee and Elder Christensen

 Elder Bonney and Elder Robbins

 Elder Alada, Elder Thomas and Elder Cook

 Elder Alada is our resident 'Will Smith'.  He is from Utrecht, Netherlands and is called to serve in the Atlanta, Georgia Mission.  Because of visa issues, Elder Alada has been serving 3 months in the Belgium Netherlands Mission.  Now with visas in place, he is leaving for the MTC in Provo on Monday, January 27, 2014.  So, we will lose another great missionary.  We love you Elder Alada and will miss you.  Atlanta, Georgia Mission is very very blessed!

Elder Giles and Elder Lindstrom

 Elder King and Elder Pimentel, Zone Leaders

They are doing the President Oddens' "YES" move.  Taught by the one and only President Oddens.  This is the move you make after everything you have been working and praying for is blessed by the Lord, the miracle happens.  When you get back to your apartment that night, this is how you celebrate.  Sooooo much better than an average High 5!!

 Thank you to the senior couples  Elder and Sister Seiter and Elder and Sister Evenhuis for the great meal.

 We are so appreciative of all that our senior couples do for the mission and the missionaries.  They are truly the foundation for our missionary support and 
the well-oiled-machine that keeps the mission going and the missionaries supported so the Elders and Sisters can go out every day and 
'find, teach and baptize".
Thank you everyone for a wonderful Zone Training.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Uniform of the Office Elders

Every Monday President and I spend in the Mission Office.  So, on Monday, January 20, 2014, President and I were surprised when we became aware of the new 'office uniform'.

 Well, white shirts, same tie, and same dress slacks, and the 
same happy missionary smile!

 Elder Cockbain, Elder Lind, both Office Elders, Elder Van Komen and Elder Lewis, Assistants to the President. 

You look very sharp Elders!  Thanks for making Mondays a fun day to be in the Mission Office.  We love you.

January Zone Training in Amsterdam Zone

Tuesday, January 21, 2014, President and I attended the Zone Training in Amsterdam for the Amsterdam Zone.  Elder Bishop and Elder Cooper are the Zone Leaders and Sister Hudson is the Sister Training Leader.

Elder Bishop, Elder Cooper, Sister Hudson

The Zone leaders had an outstanding training and this Zone is going to have a wonderful transfer!

Here are the Zone Missionaries!

 Elder Robinson, Elder Krebs, Elder Cockbain

 Elder Loorbach, Elder Lind, Elder Sosa

 Sister Omozokpia, Sister Jones, Elder Key

 Elder Key, Elder South, President Robinson, Elder Pouwer

 Elder Kemp, Sister Thorley, Elder Elkins

 Elder Yocom, Elder Strikwerda

Here are the Companionships:

 Elder de Bisschop and Elder Farmer

 Sister Omozopkia and Sister Jones

 Elder Kemp and Elder Sosa

 Elder Yocom and Elder Elkins

 Elder Cockbain, Elder Loorbach, Elder Lind

 Elder Robinson and Elder Krebs

 Elder Pouwer and Elder Strikwerda

 Elder South and Elder Key

 Sister Hudson and Sister Thorlely

Elder Bishop and Elder Cooper
Zone Leaders

Elder Cooper, Zone Leader and Elder Kemp, District Leader

It was great to spend the day with this zone.  Well done Elders and Sisters.
We love you and know you will achieve all your goals.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

President's Weekly Letters #71

At Sunrise Engineering, Inc., we develop, license, design and administer construction of hydroelectric projects that generate electricity from water power.  Our specialty is projects of 20 Mega Watts or less and we are good at what we do, a sort of boutique firm.  Years ago when we began, I needed a sub-consultant who specialized in instrumentation and control of hydro turbines and generator equipment.  A supplier friend of mine referred me to Cliff Malm at CF Malm Engineers in Seattle, Washington.  Cliff and I became close friends and have completed many projects in the USA over the past 30 years.  Cliff’s philosophy about our work was simple; “The work to correctly complete a project is the same regardless of pay.  So, ask for what you need because you will be busy, either busy and poor or busy and rich.  I would rather be busy and rich.”  This principle could be restated as:  Make yourself busy doing things of value and that bring you closer to your goal.

I observed this principle in the way some people worked in my office.  We were a design office.  We were paid to produce what are called ‘deliverables.’  Deliverables are designs, drawings, specifications, studies, inspections or whatever is called for in the agreement with the Owner.  Some employees were a flurry of activity all day long in the office.  It was tiring just to watch them.  But with all their busyness, they did not do one thing to produce a deliverable.  I call this ‘Busy Work.’  They were reading their email, filling out expense reimbursements, checking production reports, visiting with associates, calling suppliers, etc, etc. while the actual production work of moving the deliverables closer to completion, what the client needed before he would pay us, was seldom entered into.  These employees did not last long.  The ability for someone to recognize and focus on steps or activities that directly move the desired result along to completion is a gift.  But, it is also a learned behavior.

Missionary work is no different than work in a business.  We are under contract to deliver baptisms once per month per companionship but we do not have direct control over baptisms because each investigator, someone besides you, must make a decision before any baptism is performed.  Therefore, your deliverable is keeping 3-5 progressing investigators at all times in our teaching pool.  You need to average over 20 lessons taught per week per companionship, if you expect to baptize once per month.  We only average 5.9 lessons at the present time.  The changes needed to bring about this increased performance will come by actions that produce the deliverable; that moves the ball down the field, using an American football analogy.  Everything you do during your day is missionary work:  study, meal times, exercise, planning, area book, 12 week training, finding, teaching, etc. should really contribute to producing your deliverable.  Without understanding this and purposefully doing things, you may be doing Busy Work.  Preach My Gospel states:

“As you set goals and make plans, evaluate what you do in terms of how your efforts will add to the numbers of people represented in each of these key indicators. Your goal should be to have increasing numbers for every key indicator.

… Evaluate all you do based on whether it adds to the numbers of people in these categories. 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)

This concept was taught vividly in the account of the Apostle Paul and his experiences in Athens, Greece which at that time was the center of world culture.  Paul saw the city wholly given in to idolatry.  Athenians had made Greek gods for everything:  sea, sky, agriculture, earth, etc.  They had a separate god for every aspect of their lives.  And, to cover their bases they made an idol for the Unknown God, just in case they had forgotten one.  I can imagine Paul wandering through the City and observing all this.  He began to dispute in the synagogue and market every day with the Jews, devout persons and anyone who would talk to him.  In my opinion, the Athenians spent all their time with ‘Busy Work’:

“21 (For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.)”  (Acts 17:21)

The philosophers and people who encountered Paul worshiped God’s creations rather than God himself.  They said Paul was a babbler, a setter forth of strange gods, a preacher of Jesus and the resurrection, bringing certain strange things to our ears and speaking new doctrine.  They brought him and said, “…we would know therefore what these things mean.”  Paul then gave what might have been one of the best understatements in history plus maybe the one of the best sermons in history:

“22 Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.” 
23 For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. (Acts 17:22-23)

Paul went on to explain who the unknown God was to those who had replaced revelation with reason and debate.  God made the world and all things therein, He does not dwell in temples made by hands, He is not worshipped by men’s hands as if He needed something from man, men of all nations are one blood, and:

 “27 That they should seek the Lord, if they are willing to find him, for he is not far from every one of us.  (JST Acts 17:27)
 28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.
 29 Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.”  (Acts 17:27-29)

From this account, we are clearly warned of the dangers of always seeking a new thing, that as God’s offspring we should worship him and sincere testimony can convincingly counter reason and logic.  But in a larger sense we see Paul ‘Busy and Rich.’  He was producing his deliverable.  The Athenians were ‘Busy and Poor,’ being engaged in busy work but not anything productive.

On a mission and in life, knowing what your deliverable is, learning to see how and insist that your actions directly produce your deliverable is priceless.
President Robinson

President's Weekly Letter #69

The Turning Point

Every competition has a turning point.  In Nederlands we say, “Elke wedstrijd heeft een keer punt.”  In any game, in any sport, in any activity; there is a moment when the win is secured.      After a game has concluded, after the dust has settled and after the seemingly mortal combat of the participants on both sides has ended, that turning point will stand out.  It will be a play or an event during the game that turned the tide to determine the eventual winner.  Finding the turning point applies not only in competition but to most activities we take part in during our lives, such as a mission.

For years, I participated in the alumni basketball tournament in Fillmore, Utah which was held each year between Christmas and New Years in the Millard High School gymnasium.  People who played high school or any basketball at Millard were either in town visiting relatives or would come to town to participate in this popular, annual tournament.  Teams were formed chronologically via graduating class, from the most recent graduated to the oldest who still played.  In the older ages, Classes were combined to field the teams.  The last year that I played was in about 2007.  Due to a lack of players, just to organize the Oldies team, we included a player from a Class 10 years younger than me.  (He was the only one who could still shoot far enough to make a 3 pointer.)  We also allowed ‘move-ins’ to create teams to make the tournament more interesting. (In Fillmore, anyone living there but not born there is a ‘move-in’ for their whole life.) Competition is keen and it turns out to be 4 days of exhausting basketball.

I find high school basketball fascinating.  When I played we learned fundamentals.  We drilled and practiced until the fundamentals came naturally as if we were miraculously born playing that way.  Our offense was always structured and precise but lethal unless someone could simply out score us or find a way to keep us from doing our stuff.  The Oldies team consisted of players who were disciplined.  Most players today are caught up with Labron and others, who can overpower the opponent with their one-on-one, athletic skills.  Today kids practice to try to do what their hero does.  That is a big mistake.

As it turned out the Oldies could still play basketball, run the floor and score the ball.  Believe it or not, the fundamentals – pick and roll, give and go, penetrate and dish, etc. – still work in basketball.  In the championship game, we were playing a group of kids who had graduated 4 or 5 years ago.  They were all great athletes and many had played organized ball after high school.  We trailed the whole first half but had gradually worked back to 2 points behind at the break.  We took the first possession starting the second half, went down the floor and made a 3 point shot, yep, by our youngest player.  That put us 1 point ahead.  It was the turning point of the competition.  I could see the panic in the other players’ eyes, as they thought, “These guys are ahead; I am being humiliated by old men.”  They began attempting 3’s and individuals tried to take over the game with one-on-one maneuvers.  We ruthlessly kept carving them up with the pick and roll.  It was a beautiful thing.  And it proved once again that old age and treachery can win-out over youth and athleticism.

There are turning points in the scriptures. For example, the Savior made a statement early in his ministry that I could argue was His turning point, He said, “…Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” (John 2:19)  Look at what happened after this statement; it was the beginning of the end.

59 Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death;
60 … At the last came two false witnesses,
61 And said, This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days. (Matt 26:59-61)

39 And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads,
40 And saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. (Matt 27:39-40)

62 … the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate,
63 Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again.
64 Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first. (Matt 27:62-64)

Consider the whole history of the Nephites.  I could argue that a statement by an angel early in 1Nephi was the turning point of that civilization, “…Know ye not that the Lord hath chosen him [Nephi] to be a ruler over you, and this because of your iniquities?…” (1 Nephi 3:29)  From that turning point, the Lamanites made continual war over their incorrect idea of this issue.  For example, the statement by Ammoron, who is later slain by Teancum, to Moroni while negotiating for prisoners and a century later Giddianhi’s statement to Lachoneus.  It is a curiosity to me why God’s children are so consumed, beginning in the council in heaven extending to today, with who gets to be in charge:

“17 … your fathers did wrong their brethren, insomuch that they did rob them of their right to the government when it rightly belonged unto them.” (Alma 54:17)

10 … that this my people may recover their rights and government, who have dissented away from you because of your wickedness in retaining from them their rights of government...” (3 Nephi 3:10)

Well, the question at the end of the day is, what will the turning point be for your mission or any other event in your life for that matter?  You are writing every day the story of your mission.  Will the story be filled with achievement, success and satisfaction or regrets, unhappiness and empty memories that are not treasures?  In that future day, when you think back on it, there will be an event or moment that you will look back on and say; from that point on my mission was different.

Christ said to his disciples, “Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.” (Luke 5:4)  This is a great metaphor and key to abundant living.  We should not live in the safe shallow waters of less effort and less risk.  Living and operating in the deep means thinking and working big; making a splash.  Adam was told that he would earn his bread by the sweat of his brow for his own sake.  Work is a blessing that expands your skill, stretches your abilities and allows you to achieve with satisfaction.  Launch into the deep and your nets will metaphorically be filled as the disciples’ nets were filled.

Make today your turning point.  Do not wait for some future event that may or may not occur or not be noticed.  We believe we were ordained in the pre-existence to do this work at this time.  After all the eternities, you are here now on this short opportunity to complete your calling.  I encourage you will step up and really put forth your best effort in all aspects of the work.
President Robinson

President's Weekly Letter # 70

When my son was in 7th Grade, 12 years old attending Fillmore Middle School, he was assigned Mr. Bailey as his home room teacher who was particularly tall and imposing; a previous college basketball player.  Like many kids, my son found class work difficult.  I happened to be the Sunday school teacher for him and 11 other kids of that age group in my Ward.  I prepared a great lesson about the Old Testament story of David and Goliath to metaphorically emphasize our ability to overcome obstacles, or giants, in our lives as we stay focused on our cause.  At the end of the lesson, when I asked the class to name some of the giants in their lives, my son spoke up and said, “Mr. Bailey.”  It was then that I realized my great lesson had gone right over his head.

The story of David and Goliath is fascinating and teaches many valuable lessons.  King Saul was commanded by the Lord to utterly destroy Amalek.  He was commanded to slay everything including men, women, infants, ox, sheep, camel and ass.  Saul was not obedient.  He took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive along with the best of the sheep, lambs and all that was good.  Saul then reported to Samuel the prophet, “I have performed the commandments of the Lord.” Samuel then asked the famous question, “What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?” Saul then provided the classic excuse of blame:  “…the people spared the animals to offer up as sacrifice.”  He later became more honest:  “I feared the people and obeyed their voice.”  (1Sam15:13-21)  But still the lesson to be learned is:

“22 … Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord?  Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.”
23 For rebellion is as…witchcraft and stubbornness is as …idolatry” (1Sam15:22-23)

Samuel announced to Saul that the Lord hath rejected him from being King over Israel.  The Lord told Samuel he had provided a king among the sons of Jesse and sent him to identify and anoint him.  The first of Jesse’s sons, Eliab, was trotted out.  He looked good to Samuel, but the Lord taught an eternal principle:

“7 But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.”  (1Sam16:7)

After presenting all 7 of his sons, Jesse admitted there remained the youngest son, David, who was keeping the sheep.  Samuel anointed David.  The scriptures say David was ruddy with a beautiful countenance and goodly to look to.  That is as we would say today; he was handsome.

Saul was troubled because of his sins.  He recruited David to play the harp for him.  Saul developed a short lived love for David, while David maintained throughout his life his love and respect for Saul.  A war began between the Philistines and Israel.

“3 And the Philistines stood on a mountain on the one side, and Israel stood on a mountain on the other side: and there was a valley between them.
 4 ¶And there went out a champion out of the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span.” (1Sam17:3-4)

Goliath was an estimated 9 ½ foot tall (3 meters) giant who came down to the valley every morning and evening for 40 days and issued a challenge to the Israelites.  Choose a man; let him fight me to the death.  The army of the looser will become the servant of the army of the winner.  Because of his size the Israelites were greatly afraid.  The three oldest sons of Jesse had jointed the Israelite army.  David was sent by his father with food for his brothers.  As David talked to his brothers, Goliath came down and David heard the challenge.

David asked a simple question, “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?”  He oldest brother, Eliab, ridiculed him saying,

28 … Why camest thou down hither? And with whom hast thou left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know thy pride, and the naughtiness of thine heart; for thou art come down that thou mightest see the battle.” (1Sam17:28-29)

David then asked the great question, “Is there not a cause?”  With unbelievable faith in God that he would prevail, David then told Saul that he would go fight with this Philistine and related how he had slew a lion and a bear while protecting the sheep and the Philistine would be as one of them.  Saul approved.  The scripture then states:

“40 And he [David] took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in a shepherd’s bag which he had, even in a scrip; and his sling was in his hand: and he drew near to the Philistine.”

45 Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied.

 48 … David hasted, and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine.
 49 And David put his hand in his bag, and took thence a stone, and slang it, and smote the Philistine in his forehead, that the stone sunk into his forehead; and he fell upon his face to the earth.

 51 … And when the Philistines saw their champion was dead, they fled.” (1Sam17:40-51)

You are serving as a missionary and God is on your side.  Jesus Christ and Angels are on your right hand and on our left protecting and guiding you.  There are as many challenges in the mission as there are missionaries. The story of David and Goliath relates spiritually to each of you in your own way with what difficulties and opportunities you are facing. 

Like Saul, do you make excuses or justify disobedience to mission rules or programs to satisfy your own comfort or habits?

Saul sought relief from guilt and shame of sin with harp music. We all sin so what do you do for relief?  What is the Lords way of relief?

Like Saul, are you stubborn to your companion, the work or to the Lord?  Stubbornness is as idolatry and rebellion is as witchcraft.  Stubbornness takes the form of impatient, failure to trust the Lord, and an exaggerated opinion of your own power and importance.

Do you exercise your ability in your relationships with others to see beyond the outward appearance and look on the heart including your companion, other missionaries, members, investigators and people?

David’s victory over a lion and a bear helped prepare him to face greater challenges such as Goliath.  As you defeat the lions and bears in your life, you will develop the confidence, character and faith to defeat your Goliaths.  Afterwards your enemy will flee. 

David trusted the Lord to help him fight Goliath.  Do you show such faith in the Lord in your daily challenges as well as the Goliaths in your life?  Do you run forward to attack your Goliath?

Do you not have a cause?  Your mission Vision is clear and that work remains before you.  What other personal causes are you engaged in and do these causes motivate you?  Elders and Sisters your cause is just and you and your team will win.

“But you need not fear if you have the slingshot of truth in your hands.  You have been counseled and taught and advised.  You have the stones of virtue and honor and integrity to use against these enemies who would like to conquer you…You can triumph over them by disciplining yourselves to avoid them…Victory will be yours…you have His power within you to sustain you...You have the right to ministering angels about you to protect you.  Do not let Goliath frighten you.  Stand your ground and hold your place, and you will be triumphant.” (President Gordon B. Hinckley, Ensign, May 1983, p.46, 51)
President Robinson