We'll start with the Gilbert Temple Open House. The missionary aspect of it (which isn't supposed to be called that but whatever) is not run well. The tent that people go in and are supposed to visit afterwards to sign a comment card is out of the way and the sister missionaries who aren't allowed to proselyte stand at the entrance and talk to each other.
We were expecting referrals everyday from the open house. In our companionship we haven't gotten a single one yet. The zone has received six in three weeks.
So we made some phone calls to the committee chair and talked to him about making it more productive. The missionaries are under strict instruction not to proselyte. But the ushers are not. We threw around the idea to have the ushers standing by the exit of the temple and the entrance of the tent to invite people in.
They called us later and said they would make the change but that was the extent to which they could go. The church does not want people to feel pressured with the open house. That's probably why Elders aren't invited- we'd baptize too many people :)
This last week reaffirmed why I love the Latino culture. We had a meeting in a member's home with a part member family that we are teaching. I asked them all to consider a miracle that they have seen in the last 24 hours. We sat in silence for a couple of minutes and the wife said, "I wake up breathing everyday."
The way she said it was so sincere. I think their culture is so much more aware of the small things that they have been blessed with. I love it.
I broke the churches new referral website this last week. I told you how a couple of minutes ago I accessed it when I wasn't supposed to and got five missed phone calls from SLC. Well, they gave me the go ahead to try it out for a while. This last week I figured out how to break into the global referral pool, giving me access to every single mission and area's referral pool! Woops!
I called them and let them know. They thanked me and got right on fixing it. I suppose they haven't found the fix yet since the website has been down for two days.
While skimming through the list of referrals in the DC South mission I found someone that I knew from high school! How cool!!
I had a really cool experience with planting seeds a while back. At our last mission-wide meeting two missionaries from Yuma came up to me and said:
"Did you serve in Yuma?"
"Yes! Six months of heaven!"
"Guess what? We got a phone call this last week from a random guy in Yuma who had found a pass-along card in his couch with Elder Sawyer and Elder Johnson written on it!"
Pause. Elder Sawyer was my trainer and we were together 19 months ago. And this guy just found the card.
So, never lose hope when something you do doesn't work instantly! This man stumbled upon something I gave him almost two years ago and he is only now ready to act!
We got dropped by three people this past week :( One of them moved, another got anti'd, and another got evicted.
Ok, returning to my "thesis" statement of this letter, things are changing.
For the better.
I went on exchanges this past week with the APs and to their ward. I left in awe. Their ward has the following organization (see picture)
The paper is a rough draft of our plan but it is basically the same.
The idea is to split the load and reduce the burden that the ward council has. The ward mission can do everything they do and more. The ward in Tempe has 40 ward missionaries. Each sub-committee is in charge of things like baptismal programs, teaching, fellowshipping, temple trips, invitations to activities, activity planning, etc.
It is genius. It is inspiring. And we're going to make it work here!
We're working on selling it to the bishops right now. They are correct when they say, "We are undermanned right now!"
You know what? You will always be undermanned until you baptize more people. I've been thinking about the story of the St. Thomas branch in Canada that baptized the architect, plumber, etc to build their church. I have enough faith for that.
"If missionary work is the number #1 priority, everything else will come." - the Bishop of that ward in Tempe. Member conversion deepens, members have missionary opportunities, ward members are involved, retention increases, and ward efficiency increases.
I'm willing to sacrifice to make it happen and I hope that our wards will be too! Every transfer the work stalls because of transfers. With this system in place, that will not happen because the ward, as they're supposed to, will be leading the efforts.
Good things happen to those who adapt. Success comes to those who compromise.
Anyway, I appreciate all of your support!
Love, Elder Johnson