This week was life changing for me. I'll first talk about the fun preparation day stuff we did last week then I'll get into what we've been learning.
So last week we did it... we went to the LA Zoo! We had such a fun time!! It was pretty big and there were some really neat animals but then themes that kept on popping up were animals pooping right when we got there haha!
Then yesterday we went on a hike we found out is in our area. It was a big loop and we walked it briskly and had an amazing time and it was only about 40 mins, so we may be doing that about every preparation day. We may even run it (by the way, we've been running again for probably about a month now and it is great! We've been doing 2 miles three times a week. It has been so great and I just want to keep it up!
Then after that we were going to go to City Walk at Universal Studios, but we got scared off by the $15 parking spots, so we didn't do it. Instead we hung out on this rich street called Ventura and we went window shopping and ended up buying some cheap makeup and stuff so that we can mess around with that haha!
Okay, now for what I've learned... We had two meetings with President Hall this week-- one with all the sister training leaders and one for the mission leadership council. President Hall has recently returned from a mission president seminar and he received very specific revelation to some questions he brought. Specifically, he wanted to know what he can do to help the mission double baptisms. We're stuck at a rate of about 500 baptisms per year and it has been that way more or less for years now. He wanted to know what to do to double that to 1000 and also to help make it so each companionship is able to baptize monthly. He said that has been a big topic for years because of President Hinkley's thought that with concentrated effort, we can double the baptisms in the church. If you look at some numbers, for each of the 31 mission presidents at that seminar (California, Hawaii, Oregon, etc) this is the trend you see:
Number of missionaries
Number of people at sacrament meetings (nonmembers and members)
So what are the conclusions that can possibly be drawn from that? First of all, the number of missionaries has gone up by about 37%. Second of all, the number of baptisms was down by 100 and sacrament meeting has been down by 2k. What does that mean? It means we haven't really been focusing on our purpose. At Zone Training Meeting, we presented this information for our zone and we asked them what a successful missionary is. We got lots of answers like personal conversion, helping build the ward, being able to feel good before heavenly father each night, inviting people to do things, et cetera. We also had them fill in the blank of this sentence: I will be a successful missionary if I _________. I'd like to have you think about what you'd fill in that blank with. Go ahead and take a minute to think about it before you answer too quickly. Because that answer shows a lot about yourself, your dedication, serving God's children, et cetera. Well, the answer President Hall reminded us about is that the blank should be filled in with the word baptism. Baptizing is central to our purpose. It is the dream of all of us missionaries and it is the thing first thing when I came out that I began to feel guilty for thinking. The culture of the mission made us think that we couldn't associate our success with baptisms that we see because if you don't see baptisms for a while you'll begin to feel bad and get stressed and think about going home or crawling in a hole because no one wants to feel unsuccessful. But that's the thing. If we don't really have that as our central purpose, we're guaranteed to not see as many baptisms. It's a catch 22. There is so much more we can be doing than we are but we get comfortable with the amount we've grown so far and we refuse to let ourselves expand more.
President Hall talked about how for so long a big topic of the mission president seminars have been trying to throw out ideas of how people can double baptisms. But one of the speakers said that he talked to a few mission presidents who were actually able to do it and found a pattern that seemed to work. In missions that were able to double baptisms, the key thing done was that the mission president selected 1 or 2 companionships to work with and he committed to do absolutely anything it takes to help them to double the baptisms in their area. Then those few teach the mission little by little what it can do to double their baptisms. And the mission wants to listen because they're more successful. It's like the idea of Pay it Forward. It is very difficult to change everyone. But you can change a few. You can raise the dedication and results in a few. Then with that the mission can become so much better. President Hall is so committed to doing this. To selecting that one or two companionships to work with and to do anything he can to help them double.
To close the mission leadership council where he announced this, he was like crying because he was asking how can he choose who those 1 or 2 will be? He said to text him if we're willing to do absolutely anything it takes to make it happen. Hermana Barnes and I walked out of that meeting crying because we want it so badly. We texted president saying that we're going to do it. With or without his help we're going to do absolutely everything within our power to raise our vision and work with everything we have and do it.
What I learned about that is about how there are levels of desire. There is saying that you'd like something to happen. There is wishful thinking. Then there is wanting something with your whole heart and soul- all of it. That is the secret ingredient. You have to want it. Not just a fair-weather, wishy washy, path of least resistance type of wanting. But the type of wanting that enables you to zone in amidst the fog of every day emotions and thoughts and routines such that you always know what it is that you really, truly, deeply want and you'll give up anything, be anything, do anything so that you can get it. It's the type of passion that makes you ache and cry when it looks like it may be just out of your reach. It is the type that no matter what comes up or what Satan throws at you, you'll never lose grip and sight of what you want. Only that kind of desire where your soul aches and yearns for it will create the type of results you want.
This morning we had interviews in our zone. In that interview with Hermana Barnes and I, President Hall talked with us and saw that we have that kind of desire and he chose us to be one of the 1 or 2 companionships he will be working with because he saw that we had it in us to do it. We have that desire and we'll do anything to get there. It breaks my heart that I only have a few weeks left to become so much more, but I know that it doesn't matter when we learn something. It is the fact that we learn it that matters. It doesn't matter when we learn to walk. This will change me for the rest of my eternity and so it doesn't matter at what point I'm finally beginning to learn it. We have the seed of divinity within each of us. The power is in us. We can do it if we really, truly believe we can and we do absolutely everything we can within our agency. I am so lucky and blessed to be a missionary for my Lord!
Tenga el espiritu consigo para siempre!