Sunday, January 12, 2014

Monday, November 25, 2013

Monday, November 25, 2013

I loved getting your letters last week! I especially loved the paragraph about how Britt went around the house for about 10 minutes going on about how crazy I am for setting a goal to contact 500 people. I want to  talk a little bit about what I've learned from doing that and trying my absolute best to achieve it. First of all, I want to copy and paste some of President Hall's last weekly letter to the mission because he talked about our companionship in it. I think I'll send out another e-mail with his whole letter because it has really amazing thoughts.

I especially love the part where he said "Every night, set a daily goal for the number of people you will contact and talk to about the Church, and a daily goal for the number of potential investigators you will find. However, make these goals much higher that what you are currently doing. Make them so high, that you have to change how you work as a missionary to be able to accomplish them."

Pres. Henry B. Eyring once said, "For most of us the temptation to delay will come from one or both of two feelings. They are polar opposites: one is to be complacent about what we have already done, and the other is to feel overwhelmed by the need to do more."

I feel like that is the key. People are afraid of what their potential really is. In a way, the SMART acronym for setting goals is sometimes used as an excuse to not make yourself stretch for something much higher than you're currently achieving. You don't let your dreams help push your vision of what you can accomplish a little further either because you don't see it is possible to do more so you're complacent or because you are overwhelmed that by setting a much higher goal you may have to actually change something and work harder. Likewise, we have a bad habit of beating ourselves up for missed goals rather than celebrating the achievement of doing more than we had been doing. If you set a goal of contacting 100 people in a day and you only achieve 53, I think the Lord is so much more happy with you than if you set a goal of talking to 10 and achieve 8 or even 11. 53 is something to celebrate! And in trying to do so much more, you begin to learn things-- skills that make talking easier and more natural, ways to change and optimize the way you use your time, and you do the little bit more everywhere you go you do your best to not allow anyone to pass by without trying to talk to them.

We are in the process of learning and experimenting! It is so great! This week we have been able to see many mighty miracles from it. One thing that we learned is that in trying to contact so many more individuals, we actually ended up teaching lessons right then and there to tons of people. This week we only achieved a fraction of our goals of 100 people contacted per day but we got so many more new investigators. From our first transfer together, Hermana Barnes and I averaged getting 2-3 new investigators per week. We had the excuse that our area was pretty much starting over and it was just a white area where we were trying to find where the latinos are hiding out. Here are the numbers from the last 3 weeks:

Week 1: 6 new investigators -- this is the week we decided that we would independently do absolutely anything it takes to double baptisms and baptize monthly in our area

Week 2: 8 new investigators -- this was the week where we were chosen to be the companionship President Hall would focus on to help us double baptisms

Week 3: 15 new investigators -- that was last week

The Lord has been blessing us mightily! I think that is probably the highest I've ever achieved on my mission thus far. I honestly don't know if/how we're going to keep it up. But that is where the faith cycle comes in. In the faith cycle (as explained in Alma 32), we control the first half of faith with our actions and the Lord controls the second half with his power. We definitely have seen his power in leading us and guiding us to exactly where we needed to be at the exact right moments to find and teach last week. But now we go back to our side of the faith cycle of not throwing out the seed yet from our complacency (of what we achieved last week) or fear (of not being able to do it again). I am so excited to make this week the best of my mission so far! Not everyone we've found will progress, but in finding so many more, we will be able to filter out who we should continue to focus on and we'll continue putting more and more people in the filter to see who will progress.

Now for some fun stories from this week...

First of all, we've lately been continuing to run 2 miles3 times a week and last week we began to run up and down this loop-hike we found in our area. It is a new preparation-day tradition we have and it is super fun! We're super excited to go and do it today! On the uphill part we run super super slow, but we do it! It is sweet! Note about that- I am so up for doing the La Luz trail on the Sandia mountains with someone when I get back! (walking-- and probably when there hasn't been snow for a while)

Last Friday we had a ward party of a Thanksgiving dinner and also a talent show. The ward had asked the missionaries to do 2-3 talents. They were the best things in the entire world!!!!

Quick background to this story-- in our ward, we have 5 sets of missionaries. In Spanish work that is pretty typical right now and our ward is our district also.-- So we had one of our Elders who is from Ecuador be the announcer person and then we had 4 missionaries sit at a table with things in front of them like toothbrush, toothpaste, hair stuff, shaving stuff, pudding, et cetera. And then we had the 4 companions be behind them and the four people sitting in the chair were the faces and the companions behind them were the arms to do everything. Hermana Barnes was the face and I was her arms. The announcer then guided us through a morning in the life of a missionary. We started off sleeping and then we woke up and did exercises. Then we ate a hearty missionary breakfast of pudding. Then we brushed our teeth. Then the hermanas did makeup and the elders shaved their faces (with the plastic cap still on the razor). And finally, we did our hair and then we were ready to go out for the day. It was so much fun!!!!! I still think my favorite part was the pudding. I couldn't see her, so I opened up my can of pudding and then started shoveling huge spoonfuls of pudding into her mouth. I guess I didn't really give her time to eat and swallow the pudding before I shoved another one at her face (plus, she was laughing-- so not my fault!) and she ended up with pudding falling out all over her face. I found out the next day that the spoon had been next to the brush, so there was a hair in the pudding the whole time that she just had to eat through because I just kept on putting more pudding at her face. haha!! And the foundation too... a past missionary had left a bunch of dark foundation, so we took it and I poured out tons onto my hands and just slathered it all over her face. Another great part was that at the end, the announcer asked the audience what missionaries do then and some kid yelled out "take a shower!" so I grabbed the cup that was there for after we brushed their teeth and held it over her head like I was going to pour it on her. Haha! She screamed and scooted back into me! I also did her hair nice and crazy! It was so much fun!!!!!

The other talent ended up being epic!!! We missionaries acted out the creation. Earlier that day, the rest of the missionaries got together to prepare and practice that from what ended up being 1pm to about 4. Hermana Barnes and I were busy finding and teaching people, so we didn't go to the practice which ended up being so much more fun for me at least because that skit was completely improvisation for us! We thought it was going to be this cheesy comical thing, but it was so legit and I have no clue how they got it together so well! There was a fog machine, they had figured out the stage lights so the lighting was fantastic, and the best part was probably the music-- they used a song from the movie Transformers. We all had different parts. One elder was God and on the first day when he created light and there was amazing lighting and fog it looked great! I ended up being "mother earth," so on the 3rd day, I came out and did a little improve dance as I scattered and threw flowers all over the stage. There was a fish, Hermana Barnes was the eagle for when the fowls of the air were created, and there was a monkey for the beasts, etc. One elder did a perfect job of holding his position being the tree of life haha! They went through Adam and Eve etc. It was fantastic!!! I wish you could have seen it!! It just so happened that right when Adam ate the apple, the music suddenly hit a huge beat in the music and everything changed haha! I love being a missionary!!

Well, I'm so ready to make this week the best ever! I'm pretty pumped that on Thursday we have Thanksgiving and on Friday I get to go to the LA Temple with the departing missionaries! Plus, we’re going to continue to find so many people to teach so that we can find those who will progress! Life is so great!

~Hermana Whetten

For those of you who are interested in the letter that she talked about from her mission Pres. Here it is:

Dear Sisters and Elders of the Great California San Fernando Mission, 

Congratulations on the wonderful finding efforts that are taking place throughout the mission! For the second week in a row we have had over 180 new investigators! That is amazing!

This week I have continued to study and ponder the counsel that Elder Ballard shared with us at the Mission Presidents Seminar and in his recent General Conference talk, “Put Your Trust in the Lord.” I have also been praying to understand Elder Ballard’s admonition for us to refocus our efforts on our purpose to baptize and what that means for The Great California San Fernando Mission. This is a bit longer letter, but if you want to see how to double your baptisms in your area, please take the time to read it (or print it out to study later.)

It begins with prayer. “Brothers and sisters, fear will be replaced with faith and confidence when members and the full-time missionaries kneel in prayer and ask the Lord to bless them with missionary opportunities. Then, we must demonstrate our faith and watch for opportunities to introduce the gospel of Jesus Christ to our Heavenly Father’s children, and surely those opportunities will come.”

After we pray, we demonstrate our faith and go to work to find people to teach. As Elder Ballard said, “You full-time missionaries, if you want to teach more, you must talk to more people every day. This has always been what the Lord has sent missionaries forth to do.”

In Preach My Gospel it says, “Nothing happens in missionary work until you find someone to teach. Talk with as many people as you can each day” (PMG, p. 156).

These two phrases, “talk to more people every day” and “talk with as many people as you can each day” have been the focus of my thoughts. If you want to double baptisms in your area, you need to first double your new investigators. To do that, you need to talk to many more people and find many more potential investigators.

While we don’t have key indicators on the number of people we contact every day, or the number of potential investigators we find, these two things are the critical steps prior to obtaining a new investigator. After our personal preparation (prayer, study, goals and plans), they are also some of the things that are most within our control. While I can influence, support and encourage someone to come to Church or be baptized, I don’t completely control these things. However, how many people I talk to each day is something that is much more within my control. The Lord will never hold us accountable for things which we do not control. However, He will hold us accountable for those things that are within our control.

In Preach My Gospel, Chapter 8, in the tenth step of weekly planning (Finding), it encourages us to discuss “how many people you will contact each day” and to “set goals and plan to talk to as many people as the Lord puts in your path” (PMG, p. 149).

During interviews last week, I have encouraged many of you to evaluate your efforts to bring more souls unto Christ through baptism. It starts with contact many more people each day. I encourage all of you to do the following.

1. Review how many investigators you have that are progressing towards baptism.
2. Review the last four or five weeks and determine the average number of lessons you are teaching each week and how many new investigators you are finding each week.
3. Honestly determine the average number of people you are contacting each day.
4. If you feel you have an opportunity or desire to increase the number of lessons you are teaching, to have more progressing investigators, or bring more people unto Christ through baptism, commit to the Lord to do things differently.
5. Every night, set a daily goal for the number of people you will contact and talk to about the Church, and a daily goal for the number of potential investigators you will find. However, make these goals much higher that what you are currently doing. Make them so high, that you have to change how you work as a missionary to be able to accomplish them.

As I met with four zones last week in interviews, I asked many companionships these questions. On average, most companionships were only talking to about 7 people per day. Instead of talking to 50 people per week, what would happen in you contacted 30 or 50 people per day? Or 200, or 300 or 500 people per week? What would happen to your potential investigators and your new investigators? What would happen to your baptisms?

There are a few companionships that have already taken this challenge seriously and have made commitments to their Heavenly Father in prayer. I received text messages from one of them giving me a daily update on how things were progressing after their interviews. Here are the results from their first three days.

Day #1: Goal: Contact 50 people. Actual: 22 Contacts, 6 Potential Investigators, 1 New Investigator (with a baptismal date!)

Day #2: Goal: Contact 100 people. Actual: 53 Contacts, 7 Potential Investigators, 2 New Investigators

Day #3: Actual: 31 Contacts, 6 Potential Investigators, 2 New Investigators.

In only three days this companionship contacted 106 people, found 19 potential investigators, and obtained 5 new investigators. This was a very good companionship before they began setting high daily goals for Contacts and Potential Investigators, but now they are on target to double or triple their new investigators each week – probably with 10 to 12 this week alone.

That would mean that in a month, they would have 40 or 50 new investigators. In our mission, it roughly takes about 20 to 25 new investigators for every baptism, so this companionship should begin to baptize each and every month!

Sisters and Elders, I know that the Lord is preparing many people for us to teach and bring unto Christ in the valleys of this Great California San Fernando Mission (see D&C 123:12). Many we each set goals and make plans to follow Elder Ballard’s admonition to us as full-time missionaries to “talk to more people every day.” I know that as we do this, the Lord will bless up with great success.

In The Great California San Fernando Mission we baptize!

With much love,

President Hall

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