Monday, January 26, 2015

President's Weekly Letter #120

The Core
The famous jockey, Tony McCoy said, “Horses are like people – they have different personalities. They can be nice, friendly and hard-working, or awkward, difficult and lazy. If horses were people some would be entrepreneurs and others would be on the dole.”

I have 4 quarter horses on Keyhole Ranch:  Sun Dunn Diamond Wolf, Tall Man, Trigger and Dark Meat.  It is a working cattle ranch, so at least weekly during the summer and fall, my horses are ridden or used to pack salt or equipment and tools for clearing trail, improving springs for water, etc.  Plus, when gathering cows in the fall, we always have a fresh horse each day to ride.  Our range is big and has some rough country, so on the days we go, we ride several miles.

Sun Dunn Diamond Wolf is the smallest of the 4 but is tough.  He has a smooth, fast walk and goes all day, but he is a little high spirited and tough to catch and put a halter on.  Tall Man is tall and has an easy gate.  He walks fast and is gentle.  Trigger is a big horse and is tough.  You can rope off him all day.  He has a big heart and always gives you his best.  Dark Meat is gentle and easy to control in thick oaks, pines or mahogany.  He is a good roping horse and has a nice instant loop when urged to go faster but he has a slow walk.

Like Tony McCoy, I have also found horses are like people and no two are alike.  Out of all the attributes I want in a horse, I have found one thing very important.  I would rather pull back on the reins (slow him down) once in a while during a long day on the mountain, than to spend all day spurring the horse to keep him going or to keep up.  I prefer this in people who I work with too.

A horse is a pleasure to ride with his ears up, that walks fast and is interested in what is going on as compared to a horse that is a dead beat, unmotivated animal that requires constant prodding.  With people, you see the same difference.  Some get out the door early, stride out and make things happen.  Others, need to be dragged around or spurred all day.      

The human equivalent to a good horse is a confident, cheerful, energetic, enthusiastic, optimistic, and upbeat person.  This should be at the root of who you are; your personal driving force.  Cultivate the habit of seeing the positive side of situations, look for the good, make it fun and look for the blessing in there when times are tough.  When you feel this way you will get out the door early and make things happen all day and people will be attracted to you.  Just like the horse, you will not be hanging back needing someone to spur you.

We spend a great deal of time finding in this mission.  Finding is really just talking to everyone, testifying of the message of the restoration and inviting people to learn more.  Think about the people you meet while looking up referrals, on the street, on the doors, in public transportation, etc.  They are real people with problems, worries and responsibilities, just like you and me.

“…All of them are children of God, your brothers and sisters. God loves them just as He loves you. Many of these people are searching for purpose in life. They are concerned for their families. They need the sense of belonging that comes from the knowledge that they are children of God, members of His eternal family. They want to feel secure in a world of changing values. They want “peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come” (D&C 59:23), but they are “kept from the truth because they know not where to find it” (D&C 123:12). (PMG p.1)

They will be much more inclined to invite you into their home if you are interesting, fun, and friendly.  If they feel uplifted in your presence they will want more of that in their own life.  If you are the opposite of these things: not interesting, not fun, not friendly and they feel ‘down’ in your presence, why would they want more of that by inviting you to come to teach them?

All of these attributes: confident, cheerful, energetic, enthusiastic, optimistic, upbeat, seeing the positive, look for the good, make it fun, and look for the blessings are learned behavior.  It is a choice by you to possess them and they can be developed with practice and effort.  Someone once said, “Sprinters are born and long distant runners are made.”  You can make these attributes.  If you are not born with them, you can still develop them. Also, no one feels all these attributes 100% of the time, but successful people press on anyway.  You must ‘fake it, until you make it.’  That is not to say you need to be a big phony or put on a show that is over-the-top but just in a quiet confident way, choose your upbeat attitude.  It might feel artificial and forced at first but will eventually feel more natural.  Studies have shown your body and brain do not know the difference between acting enthusiastic and being enthusiastic.  Take a critical look in the mirror at how you come across.  Your body language, eye contact and smile are a good start to this transformation of your core.  

Your confidence has a large effect on your performance.  When events in your life or experiences at the moment cause negative reaction, I hope all of us can avoid being a drag to others, carry a cloud of sadness, and express negative views.  Remember, you are not what happened to you; you are what you choose to be.

The Lord has promised to those hastening the work of salvation:

36 And now, verily I say unto you, and what I say unto one I say unto all, be of good cheer, little children; for I am in your midst, and I have not forsaken you;   (DC 61:36)

18 And ye cannot bear all things now; nevertheless, be of good cheer, for I will lead you along. The kingdom is yours and the blessings thereof are yours, and the riches of eternity are yours.  (DC 78:18)

We all want to be successful and to have good things happen to us.  I wrote this as a short reminder of the core qualities of highly successful people.  Nobody in this mission completely flunks out and these qualities probably cycle from day to day for most of us.  But, it is important to be aware of and develop these qualities to consistently be the core of who you are not only for success on a mission but also success in life.
President Robinson


I enjoy riding horses and love working with cattle on a horse.  I do not know everything about horses and cattle but the business is intriguing to me.  We calve each year between the 15th of February and end of March.  We run the cow herd on pastures in East Millard County in May and June.  Then the rest of the summer until the first of October we run the cattle on the National Forest east of Fillmore on the summer range.  It is a great life-style and has been a blessing to me and my family.

President's Weekly Letter #119

Assist to Pray
I want to share a human nature secret that applies in business and on a mission – people move along to what they need and what you want by making small decisions along the way.  They seldom make a big decision all at once.  Therefore, reduce the decisions your clients or investigators must make to small decisions.

I offer an example from my business.  Suppose a city has no public wastewater collection and treatment system.  All the residents still use individual private septic tank and drain field sewage disposal systems with some incidents of surfacing sewage and system failures.  So, the need is certainly there to build a public sewer system.  However, that is a huge project that is usually frightening and overwhelming for a City to consider.  Sunrise can help a City plan, fund, design and construct a public sewer collection and treatment system, but for the City to decide to build a public project is a big step and such a decision is seldom made at once.  So to start, City leaders need to make only a very tiny decision; they need to decide to just take a look to see what might be done.  We emphasize with this first tiny decision, they are not making a big decision to build a big project.  We then prepare a preliminary study to determining what the project would cost, look like, and how the project would be funded and implemented.  The next small decision would better be made after reviewing the results of the study.  A cascading series of small decisions are a comfortable approach for people. We would lead the City along making a series of small decisions and subsequent work designed to move the project forward.  Each small decision is built on the history of other small decisions as issues are resolved one by one.  Eventually the last decision is to build the project which, by then, is an easy and logical decision.  In the same way, missionaries can help people prepare for baptism. 

In the 1950’s, the best way for a store to sell a new TV, which was a big decision at that time for most people, was to reduce it to a small decision.  “Just take it home and try it out.  If you are not happy with it, just bring it back.”   Once the family and children watched TV at home, how many TV’s do you think were brought back?”

Most people probably view joining the church as a big, frightening and overwhelming proposition even with only a soft invitation to be baptized after the first lesson.  But as you think about it, investigators are not even eligible to join our church until they have received a confirmation of the truth from the spirit and have changed their lives to live the commandments, all a series of small decisions.  At first contact, we are not asking them to make the big decision to join, but just a very tiny decision to take a look by praying about it after listen to our message.  This is why assisting them to pray during the first lesson is so important.  It is their first tiny decision leading to a big event.

Assist to Pray puts the investigator in a position that is easier and less embarrassing to pray at the end of the lesson than to refuse and not pray.  Assist to Pray is simple.  Be sure to set a good example yourself by giving a short, simple opening prayer.

Teach the Doctrine of prayer:
·      “And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.” (Moroni 10:4)
·       “…I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost…” (DC 8:2)
·      “…ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you; for he that asketh, receiveth; and unto him that knocketh, it shall be opened.”  (3 Nephi 27: 29)
Carefully and simply teach how to pray as explained in PMG p. 73 and as follows: 

Step 1 – Call on Heavenly Father.  Say, “My Heavenly Father.”
·      Free agency is one of God’s greatest gifts to his children.  He usually gives blessings after you initiate contact and first ask him to bless you.  He will not force you to receive or do something.  God protects your free agency by giving promptings through feelings and thoughts. (PMG p. 96)
·      Talk as a child would talk to his or her father – clear and direct.
·      Be humble, kneel in prayer when appropriate.
·      Pay attention to your feelings and thoughts – the language of the spirit. (PMG p. 39)
Step 2 – Thank God for blessings you receive.  Say, “I am thankful for…”
·      Ask the investigator to tell you one or two things for which he is thankful.
·      Tell him what he said is perfect and could be stated in prayer that way.
·      “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,”  (Eph. 5: 20)
Step 3 – Ask God for blessings you desire.  Say, “Please bless me with…”
·      Ask the investigator to tell you one or two things that he desires.
·      Tell him what he said is perfect and could be stated in a prayer that way.
·      Suggest he could also ask God to let him know the truth of our message.
·      Explain he can expect an answer if he has real intend.  Real intend means he is willing to follow the answer that he receives from his Father in Heaven. (PMG p.73)
·      Pray continually for your welfare and the welfare of those around you. (Alma 34: 17-27)
Step 4 – End in the name of Jesus Christ.  Say, “In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.”
·      “And they shall believe in me, that I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and shall pray unto the Father in my name.” (3 Nephi 20:31)

1.     Assume you are teaching a young man.  After teaching how to pray, Say, “You need to pray so your Heavenly Father can communicate with you.  Would you say a brief closing prayer?” Ask him to do it. Do not ask him if wants to do it.  (in Dutch, “Wou je het gebed uitspreken”, niet, “Wilt je…”)
This is not the place to instruct about who is in charge in the house, or who gets to assign who says the prayer.  That can be done another day.  Right now you have taught him the message of the restoration and how to pray.  You want him to break the ice and start praying while you are present to listen.  This is his crucial first tiny decision.

2.     Bow your head, close your eyes and wait.
The next one to speak will give in.  If he speaks, he will be praying, asking for more help or stating he is reluctant to do it.  He must be the first to speak.  If you speak first, you have let him off the hook.

3.     Do not flinch, move or say anything, just wait for his prayer, even if the quiet is a little uncomfortable for you.
If he asks you a question, answer the question or if he states an objection then provide more instruction and encouragement as needed in the method of prayer, then again follow steps 1 through 3 above.

Think about it.  He has been lovingly instructed on why and how to pray and two church representatives are obviously expecting him to do it with their heads bowed and eyes closed waiting.  It is easier for him to do it than to disappoint you or embarrass himself by refusing.

After the second iteration, let the spirit guide you to give up or try a third iteration.  Do not be a jerk or stubborn.  After he has prayed, tell him it was well done.  If he refuses to pray, encourage him to pray on his own.  Then leave without making a big deal about it so the impact of his feelings from what just happened are not diluted.  Assist to Pray is the small decision that starts his conversion process moving.    
President Robinson

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