This last week was the realization of much prayer. A man came from another state to get baptized here in our ward. It was a happy day.
As I sat there during the baptismal service, I thought to myself, "I've done absolutely nothing for this baptism. I've met him once before today for 30 seconds." And then the thought came, "You've been obedient. What more can I ask of you?"
It was an interesting moment. I realize that, as we read in Job, the disobedient may still flourish in some regards, true growth and progress comes to obedience.
This was a special baptism too. His family came from all over the country to the service. He had such a great support group. He, his wife, and his kids will be in the temple in 363 days. None of his direct family knew until the day before the baptism that he was getting baptized :)
I was spiritually chastised at the baptism too. We were to be the witnesses at the service. The person who baptized him said the baptismal prayer just a little off and then quickly when he came out of the water went to change. I stood there trying to justify to myself that it was ok. One of the high councilors approached me as soon as we shut the curtains and said that he thought they may have said it wrong. We ran into the changing room and invited them to do the baptism again behind the closed curtains. We poked our heads around the stairs and wall to witness it and make sure it was done correctly. It was.
I sat in my chair feeling terrible afterwards. It was such a minor thing he did incorrectly (he said "commissioned by"). I'm not quite sure what I would have done if that high councilor hadn't pulled me aside but I sat in my chair repenting as soon as they had correctly done the baptism. Lesson learned.
This past week was, "THE MEETING." Brother Lee Donaldson came back from Salt Lake City to do some trainings with the MLC and some other missionaries chosen "at random." That meeting blew me away. He talked about teaching more effectively and "staying in our lanes of responsibility/stewardship." It was enlightening. I sat in my chair thinking, "For x months I've been teaching this lame way when I COULD have..." I resolved then and there to change everything so that I can teach better. It has made a HUGE difference already.
One of the things he invited us to do was change the way we teach about the Book of Mormon. Instead of teaching the entire restoration and introducing Book of Mormon in one lesson and then inviting them to read it before our next visit, we are moving some things around. He said that the average college educated recent convert reads 8 pages in the Book of Mormon before being baptized. "That is not enough."
So, to help them read more, we do this.
In our first visit, we teach the "Restoration" in 8 minutes using the pamphlets, focusing primarily around the pictures. Invite them to read the pamphlet between visits. End the visit with, "Next time, we're going to bring you a gift!"
In our second visit, follow up. Pull out "the gift" and talk about this amazing book that _____ to us or whatever. Emphasis its value in our lives. Relate the characters to our investigators. Help them learn how to liken the scriptures. Don't read every verse of a chapter, pick and choose some that illustrate a point. For instance in 1 Nephi chapters 1-4 we can talk about faith, prayer, and acting in faith, overcoming trials. Wow, that sounds a lot like what many people today do!
I left that meeting enlightened and excited. We put it to test yesterday, obviously changing that basic outline I just drew to help the needs of those we teach. It. Was. Amazing. The spirit was so much stronger and he left saying, "I can't wait to read this!"
The other part of that training that day wasn't so exciting. One of the internet proselyting people who works with Mormon.org came to talk with us. He said that we should not connect with people we do know personally know over Facebook.
I disagree. He said that the week after I had just finished doing one on one trainings with all the zone leaders emphasizing the power and potential of connecting with people everywhere, not just our proselyting areas in Mesa or Tempe. I wasn't very happy. I used 8 hours of my time to do these trainings. He sat in on one and said he loved it. Then later he went in front of everyone I had just trained to tell them the complete opposite. Not cool.
He told people to refer those we do not know to local missionaries then move on to finding local people. I totally disagree.
I talked to this man and President Toone afterwards about it. I told them the miracles I'm seeing through it. President Toone talked to me later and said, "You're the exception, Elder Johnson, not the norm." 70% of our mission hasn't even taught a lesson on Facebook yet. And with them being pushed strongly to teach locally, that number will stay that way since they can't look outwards for investigators.
I see online proselyting differently than SLC. They see it as 99% your own proselyting area. I see it 50% 50%. I am teaching people that live in Mesa over Facebook that we can't visit due to family situations. But I am also teaching people in Africa, Europa, etc who are meeting with missionaries, going to church, and setting goals for baptisms. When Facebook was introduced we were told that we were called to the AZ Tempe mission but our area now also includes the world. That was an inspired statement because I've seen it become a reality.
Anyway, I have President Toone's complete support to continue doing what I've been doing on Facebook and other tools. The vision that that side of the proselyting department has right now isn't high enough.
Good thing the gospel is still true!
Elder Gaspar is home now. This mission couldn't get rid of him though! He went to the airport for his flight and, once dropped off, realized that his flight was cancelled. So he got a ride back to the mission office and hung around an extra 40 hours waiting for his next flight haha. Poor guy.
We had a neat experience this last week as we were driving to visit someone. We were in a really sketchy part of Mesa and drove past this apartment and I felt immediately that we needed to knock the door. I turned the car around, drove back to the apartment, and knocked the door. A heavily tatoo'd man answered and said, "JOAN! THE MORMONS ARE HERE FOR YOU!" I said, "We're here for you too!"
They let us in. I was already surprised! Turns out they were a member family (part less active, some active) that had just moved in and needed to know where church was and at what time it was.
God works in mysterious ways.
Anyway, I'm excited to Skype this week! Merry Christmas everyone!
Thanks Grandpa and Grandma for the package! Love you!