Sunday, December 14, 2014

Goodbye to our best missionaries!

It is exciting to receive new missionaries from the MTC because of the energy and faith they bring with them.  But every transfer we also say goodbye to our best missionaries.  These are the veterans that have served valiantly, battled through the discouragements and personal struggles every missionary deals with on a mission.  Like a stone, they have become polished through their experiences and are true disciples of Christ.  

After a wonderful evening, fireside and testimony meeting, we gather for one last group picture.  I wonder if and when we will all be together again.

 Front row L to R:  Sister Rosenlof, Sister Aldous, Sister Spencer, Sister Schwab, Sister Morris, Elder Chantry, 
Back row L to R:  Sister Andersen, Sister Aston, Sister Robinson, President Robinson, Sister Nelson, Sister Western, Sister Packer, Elder King

 Sister Nelson's parents arrived to spend the evening with us 
and pick up Sister Nelson

Early the next morning we all wait on the 'spoor' as we head to 
Schipol Airport.

These missionaries are very happy--successful mission or excitement for home.

 Elder Bourne, Sister Andersen, Elder Alston, Elder Chantry

First, we say goodbye to the two missionaries who flight leaves earlier, Sister Western and Sister Aston

 Goodbye to Sister Western and Sister Aston

Goodbye to President

 It's been great to serve together.

Goodbye and success!

Missionaries are always having fun!  Even at the airport.

 President Robinson walks down to help the first group go through passport control.

Now we say goodbye to the rest of the group and get them on their flight.

 Sister Andersen, Sister Spencer, Sister Packer, Sister Rosenlof, President Robinson, Sister Robinson, Sister Morris, Sister Schwab, Sister Aldous, Elder Chantry, Elder King, Sister Nelson

 Now for the rest of the goodbyes.
Goodbye to President

We will miss these sisters.

It has been a great road we have traveled.  Success in all you do.

They are going home.

And it is ALL good!

I'm not going to lie---I will miss her.

It is hard to think they won't be around for District Meeting next week.

I will miss the Elders. 

Missionaries are getting excited!

Goodbye and success.

Some stay, some go home.

It is so good to cross the finish line.

We wonder how we will get along with out each and every one of them.

Time to get through Passport Control!

Few more goodbyes.

One by one they file through passport control. 

We love them, wish them success, are happy for their families, and return to the mission and know a little bit of our hearts have return home with each missionary.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Change of Assistants to the President

With the October Transfer we say goodbye to Elder Bishop as Assistant to the President.  He has been a perfect Assistant and he will be missed.  That said, he is so excited to get back out into the field for one last transfer of 'missionary fun' before he returns home.

 President Robinson, Elder Alston, Elder Bishop

When a release comes, than another is called to replace.  We are happy to have Elder Bourne come and serve as Assistant to the President and be companions with Elder Alston.  We love Elder Bourne and look forward to working closely with him during the coming months.

President Robinson, Elder Alston, Elder Bishop, Elder Bourne 
Great missionaries---every one of them.

President Robinson, Elder Alston, Elder Bourne

For the coming months we will be expecting a lot from these two Assistants.  President Robinson depends on them in so many different and unique ways to move the work forward in the mission as they work with Zone Leaders and support District Leaders, Sister Training Leaders and all missionaries to be successful in the mission.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

President's Weekly Letter #116

Shalls and Shoulds
The story is told of a door to door salesman who came to a house with the front door partially open and piano music coming from inside.  On the other side of the street in a vacant lot several boys about 10 years old were busy playing a wild game of soccer.  He looked inside and saw a boy about 10 years old, obviously dirty from playing soccer sitting at the piano and pounding the key board.  A pair of soccer shoes laid on the floor by him.  From the sound, it was evident he was practicing. The salesman knocked on the open door and asked, “Little boy, is your mother home?”  The boy looked up and said, “What do you think?”

I have observed that there are a number of “shalls.” in life and in the gospel.  The little boy was obviously busy with a “shall.”  “Shalls” are inflexible and have a somewhat unhappy connotation of force, but, still are neccessary.

In the gospel, “shalls” revolve around the principles and ordinances of the gospel.  For example (and this may be an over simplification), the “shalls” in the gospel are:  faith in Jesus Christ, continued repentance, baptism, gift of the Holy Ghost and endure to the end doing your best to live all the commandments.  Also, partaking of the weekly sacrament and receiving your temple ordinances and covenants are “shalls.”  Add to that a special focus on the commandments of: sharing your substance with the poor and needy, love your fellowmen and forgiving others and you pretty well have covered the “shalls.”

There are an infinite number of “shoulds” in life and in the gospel.  “Men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;” (DC 58:27)  You may not fully realize the eternal importance of the “shoulds” but you are promised:

 19 And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come.  (DC 130:19)

For projects we designed At Sunrise Engineering, we wrote specifications and prepared drawings for work to be performed by contractors.  I found that giving the Contractor flexibility to perform work would unleashed his ingenuity and efficiency.  That almost always resulted in a better final constructed project for the Owner than if I tied the contractor’s construction efforts down to everything as a “shall”.  For example, for a pipeline construction project in a town, the town wants the least amount of disruption to the citizens as possible during construction.  To accomplish this, if I write, “There shall not be more that 500 lineal feet of open trench during pipeline construction in a city at any one time.”  Then the Contractor will limit his trenching and clean-up operations to 500 feet.  If I write the same sentence with a “should”,  then the contractor might find a way to keep the town dug up for less time resulting in less disruption but with longer open trenches at any one time or other betterment to the project.  We learned to write performance specifications using a “shall” regarding the final product and method specifications using a “should” for the manner of accomplishing it.  This generally resulted in surprising initiative and ingenuity.

A good example of “shalls” and “shoulds” from the scriptures is Lehi receiving a shall, “…go unto the house of Laban, and seek the records, and bring them down hither into the wilderness.” (1 Nephi 3: 4)  This is a performance specification.  Nephi and his brothers then planned the step by step execution of the commandment.  Interesting, they failed twice before the Lord provided a way after Nephi went on faith with no plan, “...And I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do.” (1 Nephi 4: 6)

Christ commanded us to do missionary work, “…go and teach all nations…”  (Matt 28: 19)  this is a performance specification, a “shall.” The step by step activities to accomplish this “shall” is missionary work.  It consists mostly of things and tasks we “should” do.  I am amazed over what can result from personal ingenuity as we work out the step by step activities to accomplish the commandment.  We can do great things as we bring to pass much righteous on our own free will. The members and the full-time missionaries work together “to labor in the vineyard for the salvation of the souls of men.”  This responsibility is full of “shoulds.” 

To assist in working together, I have asked the full-time missionaries attending Ward Council or the Missionary Coordination meeting with the ward mission leader that they must:

·      be on time,
·      be prepared with a neatly written Progress Report,
·      Talk about something new and insightful about investigators.

Missionary work in Ward Council must be in unity with those present.  The Lord defined unity when he said:

2 Hearken, O ye elders of my church whom I have called, behold I give unto you a commandment, that ye shall assemble yourselves together to agree upon my word;
3 And by the prayer of your faith ye shall receive my law, that ye may know how to govern my church and have all things right before me.  (DC 41: 2-3)

You are there to agree on his word, you are not there until you agree with each other or to champion a cause.  The Bishop who presides, determines what the final decision will be and those present walk out of the meeting in unity.   

The missionaries are involved in the Hastening of the work of Salvation as are also the members and Ward Leaders.  Full-time missionaries are available for use by smart ward leaders to assist in all aspects of this work. This work is full of “shoulds” and consists of:

·      Member Missionary Work
·      Convert Retention
·      Activation
·      Temple and Family History Work
·      Teaching the gospel

Paul understood the value of personal ingenuity and initiative for people trying to do what should be done as he wrote to Philemon:

21 Having confidence in thy obedience I wrote unto thee, knowing that thou wilt also do more than I say.  (Philemon 21)

And after Eli said to Samuel a third time to go lie down and, if the Lord speaks, state that your servant heareth.

19 ¶And Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him, and [he] did let none of his words fall to the ground.  (1 Sam. 3:9-19)

Missionaries will realize better success with members by effectively doing all you should do to bring to pass much righteousness.
President Robinson

The following is a short test of information from the handbook, PMG and satements from Elder Ballard and Elder Hallstrom last September 2014 in Zoetermeer and Frankfurt.

  • (True or false)  The ward council meets regularly but is recommended by Elder Ballard and Elder Hallstrom to meet weekly.

  • (True or false)  The Bishop may invite the full time missionaries to attend a segment of Ward Council.

  • (True or false)  At Frankfurt during the lunch break, Elder Ballard sent for me. I entered the room, he sat me down and told me to get my missionaries to the Ward Council meetings, and while there talk about the investigators and enroll members support.

  • (True or false)  Under the direction of the bishop, the ward council develops a ward mission plan.  It should be brief and simple.

  • (Who said)  “We are here to find more, commit more and baptize more”
  • “Teach the doctrine of the restoration (lesson 1) to everyone.”
  • “You become powerful teachers not by, studying, but by teaching.  Teach every night to members if you have to.  Conversion always starts with what you feel.” Elder Ballard

  • (Who said)  The years will teach you more than your days ever knew.  Elder Dyches

President's Weekly Letters #115

The Fast
My wife and I married on 16 Sept. 1972.  We were students at Utah State University and optimistic for what lay ahead in our future.  In the spring of 1974, I graduated and took a summer job with an engineering firm in Utah County.  I was all set with research and funding to go back to graduate school in the fall.  I never went back except as a guest lecturer each year during the last years before I retired from Sunrise Engineering.  I found the work that summer interesting and demanding with exposure to a wonderful variety of engineering which really established personal successful principles for my career.  In 1975, we bought our first house in Pleasant Grove, Utah.

We had been and still felt like starving students.  The house cost about $28,000 and today would probably be worth $180,000.  Times have changed, but in 1976 there was a depressed housing market, so we found a way to buy the house with nothing down.  The house payments, however, were a tremendous financial burden.  We budgeted and stretched to meet our cash flow needs each month.  The refrigerator we were using was an ancient thing that my wife’s parents had used forever and had given to us.  There was only one door that opened to the shelves inside and located at the top of the shelves was a small ice box.  Food and milk spoiled quickly inside that refrigerator and the ice box every few weeks would be completely enclosed in condensate ice needing manual thawing, chipping and removal.

We decided to buy a new refrigerator/freezer.  You need to understand, we still had bed sheets hanging in the windows for curtains and I am confident our neighbors thought the hillbillies had moved to town.  We visited the appliance store and picked out an elite, 22 cu. ft. refrigerator with: two doors, convenient pull-out two-tier bottom freezer, full-width door bins and pantry drawer, spacious, tight sealing, humidity control with strategically placed vents to balance cool air throughout the entire refrigerator and automatic freezer defrost. It would cost $1,100 as I recall.  For the biggest part of the year we sacrificed and saved, and finally, we had the money for the purchase.

In those days the church required local members to pay 30% of the cost of a new building. A new Stake Center was being built in our stake so the bishopric came by and asked for a donation from us for our share of the 30% stake building project.  You guessed it, our quota was $1,100.  We paid it, but each time we went to the new Stake Center we walked around to the kitchen to look at our 22 cu. ft. refrigerator/freezer.  Moroni stated if a man offers a gift and gives it grudgingly, “…it profiteth him nothing, for God receiveth none such…it is the same as he had retained the gift.”  (Mor. 7: 6-9)  I had some repenting to do.
I learned a lesson about church donations then, and I want to specifically write about the fast and fast offerings.  Isaiah taught with clarity about the fast.  The blessings mentioned are symbolic using words such as: bands, burdens, oppressed, yoke, thy light, thy drought, garden, waste places, restorer, etc.  You should apply what is written to your specific life circumstances, and realize the verses apply to you: 

Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?
 Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?
 8 ¶Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rearward.
 9 Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity;
 10 And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday:
 11 And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.
 12 And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.  (Isiah 58: 6-12)

These amazing blessings come to you and are in addition to the blessings which are the purpose for your fast.  It makes no sense to let your fasting be sloppy or to slide.  You should have a purpose for your fast, focus your prayers during fasting for that purpose and the fast offering (verse 7 above) is an important part of the fast, including full time missionaries.  The fast consists of 24 hours without food or drink, modified as needed for health reasons, and donating at least the cost of the 2 meals you missed as a fast offering to the church.  But, be generous with the donation.  Perhaps, when you get established, you can actually drive a little less fancy car or conserve in some other way so you can be even more generous with your fast offering.

The fast offering is the Lord’s way to provide for the poor and needy.  It is the furthest thing from pathetic programs of governments.  Governments confiscate by force wealth from productive people against their will, redistribute the money to the government’s voting block, creating hopelessness and more dependency on the government.  The church welfare system uses the fast offering to lift people to be self-reliant and to return to the work force when possible, plus it enriches the lives of those who voluntarily give.  It is a safe and effective method to give to the poor.

As I read the scriptures, providing for the poor and needy is one of the top requirements in this life.  In your baptismal covenant you agree to comfort those who stand in need of comfort.  (Mos. 18:9)  You must impart of your substance of your own free will to every needy naked soul. (Mos. 18:28) God created all that we have so your substance is His anyway and we are all after all unprofitable servants.  (Mosiah 2: 21-25)  Succor those who stand in need, do not say the poor brought it on themselves, and imparting your substance provides retaining a remission of your sins.  (Mosiah 4: 21-26)  After ye have done all things, if you turn away the needy, it availeth you nothing. (Alma 34: 17-28)  In the last days men will love money and substance more than the poor, needy and sick.  Riches will canker your soul and poor men are to labor with their own hands.  (DC 56: 16-17)

The opportunity to help the poor is not going away.  Christ said, “For ye have the poor always with you…”  (Matt. 26: 6-11) 

The fast is an opportunity for true worship, for special blessings, sanctification of your soul and guidance along the path leading to salvation.

President Robinson

President's Weekly Letter #114

The story is told of the new owner of an old house who hired a carpenter to completely refurbish his new purchase.  In the attic, the carpenter found strange material around all the rafters and on the underside of the roof.  Upon closer inspection he determined the stuff was all the prayers the previous owner had offered.  Their prayers had never gotten through the roof.

Meaningful and worthwhile personal prayer is something I consistently struggle with.  I suspect the same challenge could be experienced by many of you.  I offer the following observations about prayer that I am working on and hope that it will help us get our prayers through the roof and before God in Heaven.  To set the record straight, even though I struggle, I have also experienced, like most of you, direct answers to my prayers.  Here are some of the many examples.   

A few years ago we were bringing cows off the top of the mountains east of Fillmore which is our summer range.  This is usually a 2 or 3 week effort of riding every day during the last weeks of September and first week of October.  Each year we eventually come to the point where we have only a few left to find.  That particular year, we were still out 4 cows by the second week of December.  The odd thing is we had seen the cows and tried to get them.  They were in the foothills and they had become wild and had escaped each time we tried to get around them.  I had made it a matter of prayer for assistance from on high to bring them home.  One morning in my office at Sunrise, I received the distinct impression to go check one of my pastures near the Fillmore KOA.  I drove out there and looked everywhere with binoculars.  Nothing.  While driving back to the office, another prompting clearly came to me, to check behind the old Chester Baker home.  I began to discount the thought but made the turn and went to look.  There in a large pasture behind the house were the 4 cows and calves.  I watched them while my son-in-law brought the horses.  We opened various gates, mounted our horses and the rodeo was on.  They ran and we kept them headed toward our pasture and a waiting corral about 2 miles away.  After shutting the corral gate, I loaded the cows in the trailer and drove them directly to the Salina Auction.  I do not keep wild cows on the place.

A number of years ago when my dad was still alive, we were out about 5 head.  It was early December and the cows had not been found by other cattlemen and had not been seen by hunters in the foothills or anywhere.  We did not know where to look, so we were praying and waiting for a sighting of the cows or tracks.  One morning my dad told me he had had a dream the night before and in the dream he saw the cows on Chris’s Ridge.  That is a nice area on the east rim of Cow Hollow where cattle like to run late in the season.  I agreed immediately to ride with him to check Chris’s Ridge.  It had snowed the night before so it was easy to see cow tracks or cow sign.  I remember riding alongside my dad up the canyon named Cow Hollow.  After picking our way through the timber and trails for a few hours, we made it to Chris’s Ridge and rode out the ridge to the salt ground.  We had seen absolutely no cow sign in the fresh snow.  The clouds, some below us in the canyons, were threatening to snow again.  We talked about what to do and decided to ride the ridge to its rocky end of sheer cliffs.  Cows always hang at the salt ground so we knew our chances of finding cows at the rocky point were slim to none but we felt since we were there we might as well see it.  At the end of the ridge, I began to say that we should head back, but suddenly saw fresh sign on a log.  Shortly thereafter we saw fresh tracks, a lot of tracks, and then all 5 cows together.  We got around them and carefully herded them back and down the trail.  Three hours later we put them in the Pole Corral on the Sand Rock Ridge road near Fillmore.  There is no feeling quite like bringing in the herd, and knowing that God lives, He is close to us and more involved in our lives than we think.
Communication with God is real through prayer.  I understand to the unbeliever, prayer is just meaningless words.  But we do exist and we were placed here by a loving Heavenly Father for a reason.  We are here to act not to be acted upon (2 Nephi 2:26), so to honor your agency, God does not force you to receive his direction, comfort or support.  However, God is close by and promised to hear and answer when you take the initiative to approach him in prayer; knock and it shall be opened unto you  (3 Nephi 27:29).  So, prayer is a life line between man and God.  Each of us has problems and weaknesses that we cannot solve without help from a higher strength than our own.  He has promised to listen and to answer all the time. 

10 Be thou humble; and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand, and give thee answer to thy prayers. (DC 112: 10)

“Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other. The object of prayer is not to change the will of God but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant but that are made conditional on our asking for them. Blessings require some work or effort on our part before we can obtain them. Prayer is a form of work and is an appointed means for obtaining the highest of all blessings.” (BD-Prayer)

Prayer is obedience to a commandment.  From the very beginning, man was commanded to pray.  Adam was commanded to call upon God in the name of the Son forevermore. (Moses 5:8)  Amulek taught you to be full drawn out in prayer continually for everything going on in your life. (Alma 34: 17-27)  Alma taught you to counsel with the Lord in all thy doings.  (Alma 37:37) and Nephi went to a mountain often to pray and was shown great things.  (1Nephi 18:3)

5 Pray always that you may come off conqueror; yea, that you may conquer Satan, and that you may escape the hands of the servants of Satan that do uphold his work.  DC 10:5)

I get the idea that prayers do not actually have to get through the roof because God is next to us ready and willing to hear and answer our prayers.  It is a serious commandment that brings a huge spiritual shift in your life.  We should follow Amulek’s admonition; at all times during each day to look for answers, take time to feel for the spirit, be grateful to God. 

Sincerity is the key.  I find my mind easily wanders during prayer.  Sometimes my words and feeling are not one of having a valued conversation with someone standing next to me; someone who I not only respect but worship.  I often pray for what I want, never allowing the possibility that my creator may know a higher good that is not what I want.

“Christians are taught to pray in Christ’s name (John 14:13–14).  We pray in Christ’s name when our mind is the mind of Christ, and our wishes the wishes of Christ—when His words abide in us (John 15:7).  We then ask for things it is possible for God to grant.  Many prayers remain unanswered because they are not in Christ’s name at all; they in no way represent His mind but spring out of the selfishness of man’s heart.”  (BD-Prayer)

I hope you can maintain effective prayers on your mission.  As you improve, you will develop habits that will bring you blessings your whole life.

My dear young friends, never lose faith in yourselves or in your capacity to do worthwhile things. And call upon the Lord for help that your minds may be enlightened and your understanding quickened. Then go to work with that assurance inside of you that somehow you can do it. (BYU Speeches, President Gordon B. Hinckley, “God shall give you knowledge by his spirit” Sept 25, 1973)

President Robinson