Woohooo! What a great week! So we had transfer meeting on Tuesday, District meeting on Wednesday, and on Thursday we had a special mission leadership council to discuss what things we'd like to see changed in the mission. That meeting was probably the highlight of the whole week because so many great ideas were discussed and I learned so much about what a good council is like. I'd like to write a bit about what I've learned about councils.
I feel like I've always been super independent because I can only control my agency. So I've always taken my major decisions like college, classes, mission, etc on my own. I've always felt like I love to make myself goals, but I don't want to bother anyone else to think it through when I don't even know completely myself if that is what I want to do, so I'll just try it out on my own.
But there was one particular exchange I conducted last transfer where I saw an Hermana with that exact same trait in herself and it was so interesting to be an outsider analyzing the impacts of that trait. She had such fire and potential inside herself and I was super inspired by her goals. However, she was afraid of coming back from the exchange and sharing her goals with her companions because they may not understand her and how much they meant to her. So she was thinking of taking it upon herself to guard the flame that had resparked in her during the exchange. I helped her see that flames need to be fanned and that is what companions are for! They only want to help with our dreams and passions. That is why we're given companions!
Another observation I've made is that humans in general don't tend to make time to actually dream about what they'd love to see happen in their life or they don't make good plans when they do dream to ensure that the dream comes about. It is easier to just keep doing what we've always done. It is easier to float down the path of least resistance.
So here is once connection I made this week... that when I started my mission we, as a mission weren't even living a telestial law. Then when Elder Don R. Clark came last December we changed so that we were living the telestial law-- we became obedient to all the mission handbook or in other words the mission commandments. But it was like living the Law of Moses. We had to be told something was okay or not okay before we acted because we were being obedient for the wrong reasons. Then Elder Kopishke came and told us that we are an obedient mission, so now we have permission to live the celestial law-- to change from law of Moses into Christianity which means doing many great things of our own free will! I know that they Lord sent me here on my mission at exactly this time for a very wise purpose. One of those purposes was to help usher in the wave of new missionaries and the hastening of the work. But one of the reasons was so that I could experience the full range of obedience to now finally understand for the rest of my life what it is like to live the celestial law!
That is what I've learned this week. And I've also come to learn that councils are part of living the celestial law so that we can come and reason together and imagine greater things that we can realize together than anything we would have been able to accomplish on our own. Councils have existed since the premortal life. We gathered together in "The Great Council in Heaven" to come and plan the creation and figure out the details together. As we counsel together in councils, so much more is able to be accomplished. That is why ward and stake councils exist. That is why there are mission councils. And I believe that is why I'd like to propose that we start up a family council.
We have such great people in our family with such experience of being in a council and they all have experienced councils that are more effective and those that are less effective. Dad has been in the high council and ward councils. Mom has been in stake and ward councils. Shaun and Ryan and Britt have been in councils in leadership positions in the mission and in young mens and womens.
Some ideas that I've learned are good about councils are when they respond to needs, when they are united, when there is equal participation, when they work toward the salvation of others, and when minimal time is spent on administrative items and the majority is spent on discussions and free thinking. Revelation is enhanced by good discussion. But one idea is that we could all maybe gather together once a month maybe on the first Sunday of the month for about an hour. And dad could preside or delegate someone to preside and we could all help give dad ideas beforehand of what types of things should be on the agenda for the month of what we'd love to discuss. And we could dream and envision what we can do together.
I loved reading in the general conference talk this week from Elder Ballard about what is possible in a family council:
Six weeks ago I received a letter from a very successful member missionary family, the Munns family of Florida. They wrote:
“Dear Elder Ballard, 30 minutes after the worldwide broadcast on hastening the work of salvation, we held our family missionary council. We were thrilled to find that our teenage grandchildren wanted to be included. We’re happy to report that since our council meeting, we have expanded our family teaching pool by 200 percent.
“We have had grandchildren bring friends to church, have enjoyed sacrament meetings with some of our less-active friends, and have had some of our new contacts commit to take the missionary discussions. One of our less-active sisters has not only returned to church but has brought new investigators with her.
I think things don't tend to happen until we first dream them into possibility and figure out together what we'd like to do. I am just so impressed by how many good ideas we were able to see as a mission council. Hermana Barnes' and my companionship studies have been getting pretty amazing this past week especially as we discuss problems together and figure out what is within our agency to change (we've discussed what isn't working with our coordination meetings, we've discussed and practiced how to teach even more simply and powerfully and we are learning so much together!). We've been working with our leaders to try to turn our district meetings and zone meetings into much more of a council-type setting.
I'm realizing it is my dream to be the type of teacher who can teach like Socrates where the class in a way teaches itself. Where everyone prepares and each class is unique as we come together and are in charge of our learning and the teacher is there to direct the learning through questions, examples, scriptures, and stories but that they're not just lecturing. That they teach through drawing out the truth which is already inside of all of us. That is what I imagine a great council to be like as well.
So what do you think?
Just a couple of more stories for this week...
So we had stake conference yesterday and all the missionaries were also invited to the adult session on Friday. At the adult session all 70 or so of us Spanish missionaries in the San Fernando stake were asked to sing Called to Serve and it was super cool!!! I loved it!!
Also, I saw one of my converts from Reseda-- Alba-- yesterday at conference and she said she's working on going to the temple because she's coming up on her year mark. She said she may make it before I leave or shortly after. I told her about how there is an escort the first time going through the temple and she was like "I'd like you to be my escort!" That made me so happy!! That was super cool! I couldn't be more excited for her!
Finally, I had a breakfast thing at like 10am on Friday and that made me laugh. If that would have been my first appointment on the mission I'd probably have been in culture shock! We walked in the apartment and the first thing we noticed was that the roof was plants. It looked like a jungle! They had hung up twine on the roof and had a big planter at the center that had this vine plant stretching out across the ceiling! I haven't seen anything else like that before. And I asked her not to serve me platano fritos (fried plantains) because that is the one Latino food I can't eat and so she walked over and dumped them right onto Hna Barnes's plate. We had omlets and Hermana Barnes' was cold and mine was basically oil. And all along she's trying to tell these stories in turkey-spanish. It sounds about like gobble-gobble-gobble happening at lightning speed. And she asked if we wanted watermelon or jello but we ended up with both. And as she was washing the dishes she grabbed a huge handful of jello and ate it right out of her hand! It was so great! You can't make up characters like that.
It is almost like how Hermana Cortez was speaking and then almost made Hermana Barnes pee her pants when she randomly screamed out to try to scare the hiccups out of Hermana Barnes hahhahaha!!!
I just love this work!!!
Hope you had a great week and I love you so much!!
Tenga el espiritu consigo para siempre
<3 Hermana Whetten