This has been a really amazing week! Like I told you, last week we had interviews with President Hall and we came out super excited!! We've really learned so much since then about what it means to baptize monthly. If we really want to baptize monthly, we need to be finding at least 25 new investigators a month (that has been our mission statistic--that on average it takes 25 new investigators to get 1 baptism) which is at least 6 a week. To get six new investigators weekly, we have to have the names of potentials basically. Not every potential becomes a new investigator. If we estimated that for every 4 potentials that we stopped by, 1 becomes a new investigator, then we have to get 100 potentials monthly to get 25 new investigators monthly. Then in order to get a potential investigator, you have to contact someone. So imagine that for every 5 people you contact, 1 becomes a new investigator. That is 500 people you have to talk to monthly to get 1 baptism. Now a thought that expands my vision even bigger is that--imagine that you set a goal of contacting 200 or 300 or even 500 people weekly. How would that change how you contact. You can't just be comfortable talking to 5-7 people daily. If you were to try to contact 500 people a week, you'd have to aim to talk to at least a dozen people every hour on top of any teaching appointments you have. See how focusing on baptisms changes how we do things? Literally, we can't afford to let anyone pass us by without trying to talk to them because what if they were the one person the Lord has been preparing for us for this month?
It is super exciting to be going about on purpose and really trying to do the best we can in everything. It has changed everything. Suddenly we realized that we have to drop people that are not progressing much sooner. So that means that we can't afford to not ask people for a baptismal date in their first lesson. Just because we may have fears of doing so is not good enough excuse. Suddenly this week we jumped up from 0 to 5 people with baptismal dates-- all from new investigators asked in the first lesson. We jumped up from averaging 3 new investigators a week to last week finding 8. It is so exhausting but it feels so great to be going about like this! Plus, the amount of funny stories we get is increasing dramatically too because we're meeting so many more people haha! We get rejected a whole lot more, but that isn't anything new by this point. I just love this work, I am so glad that Hermana Barnes is with me at this point because we are so absolutely dedicated to working the very hardest and the very best we can! I couldn't imagine finishing my mission any other way!
We're also experimenting a lot. Trying new things. The hard part is that some of the ideas totally fail. But then we realize that isn't a tragedy at all. We're learning from our mistakes! For instance, we've been trying to think of ideas of how we can better work with the youth and help them invite their friends to come to church etc. So we came up with this brilliant idea to do a hike with them and they could invite their friends. It would be fun and we could have a small spiritual lesson on the top and come back down. There is even a hike in our area, so we were pumped! So we invited all the youth and some of them even confirmed saying that they'd be able to come with a friend. We also started trying out using that in our proselying to invite people to an activity. But come Saturday morning, no one but the young woman's first councilor showed up. Yeah, we were kind of bummed out that the activity didn't work out. But from that we began to analyze and watch the Preach MY Gospel DVD sections of church activities and we got a few really good ideas that we want to try out. This is what I'm realizing from that... sometimes people are afraid to act because of fear-- specifically fear of failure. Failure does kind of stink a lot! But on the other hand, it is just like how the light bulb was invented-- it wasn't 300 failures that count, it was that he learned from his mistakes and finally he got it just right and invented it!
That reminds me of Elder Ballard's talk at general conference when he said:
We know from our research that most active members of the Church want the blessings of the gospel to be part of the lives of others whom they love, even those whom they have never met. But we also know that many members hesitate to do missionary work and share the gospel for two basic reasons.
The first one is fear. Many members do not even pray for opportunities to share the gospel, fearing that they might receive divine promptings to do something they think they are not capable of doing.
The second reason is misunderstanding of what missionary work is.
The other thing I've really been learning this week is about accountability. There is a quote in preach my gospel that says that when goals and actuals are reported, the rate of improvement accelerates. That is huge! It is putting us accountable to the Lord. That is the key I think. Hermana Barnes got a letter from a returned missionary who was talking about how when he was on his mission, he always wondered how returned missionaries could ever go inactive. But now that he's home he realizes. When you're on your mission every minute is accountable to someone-- your companion, your district leader, your zone leader, your mission president, your mom, et cetera. But when you get home and get to real life, you don't have to account to anyone anymore. That is the part that those inactive returned missionaries never understood on their mission-- accountability to the Lord. That is the hardest part. But if we really come to master that, we'll never fall away. But Hermana Barnes and I aren't completely sure how to be accountable to the Lord and there probably isn't one right way for everyone, but one thing we're doing this week is working on our prayers. Last week we decided to start doing punishment pushups for every person we set a goal to contact and we didn't. It is hard, but we figure we'll either get buff or we'll start figuring out how to talk with more people. And most days our daily goal of talking to people has been 100. One day we reached 53. Another day we only reached like 25 and had to do a lot of pushups. But we're definitely learning and really trying to plan better so we can give ourselves the most opportunities possible.
Anyway, I love being a missionary!! I received a powerful spiritual confirmation this week that being a missionary is what I'm meant to be for the rest of my life-- it was all over my patriarchal blessing. Somehow I just have to figure out how to do it better now and later.