Saturday, May 10, 2014

5 May 2014

A lot of crazy things happened this past week. Why don't we start with Tuesday?

The Tuesday following MLC is always "zone meeting," meaning that we train, not the district leaders. Prayerfully, we chose to discuss goals and goal achieving as our topic. The Sister Training Leaders (STLs) trained on goals that are wishful thinking and faith-filled goals. We followed up with how prayer is involved.

There is a lot of power in prayer. One of our wishes was that every missionary serving in the Phoenix South zone would leave that meeting with an increased desire to pray for specific goals and then pray to achieve them. 

We switched things up a bit and put the chairs in a giant circle and gave some time so that missionaries could share experiences that they had had with setting goals, in whatever sense, and achieving them. We heard some great stories about scholastic goals, music, scouting, sporting and more. All of the success came as the people did everything they could, consistently, to hit the goal they had set.

And then one missionary shared the best story I have ever heard. His story was about how he had become the best at Call of Duty. It was the funniest 5 minutes of my life because he was completely serious. He ended by saying, "And then I did it. I did what no one else had done! I unlocked the gold UMP! My eyes literally teared up. I paused my game. I turned off my PS3. And I went to school so proud of myself! But no one cared! And then I decided that there was more to life than games!"

Hahahahahahah I wish I could give it just a little bit of justice to how wonderful the story was. Everyone was dying. It was the perfect story. The missionary who told it is one of my favorite people in the world.

At the end of our zone meeting we had every missionary split up into their companionships, go somewhere in the church, and pray together about very specific things. There was a very special spirit as we left that day.

And since then the miracles have come. We doubled our stats last week. Doubled! Amazing miracles happened with people coming out of nowhere to get baptized, surgery dates being changed so that baptismal dates could be moved up, and many more mighty miracles (that's a lot of Ms). God is a God of miracles and if you don' t believe it, ask Him! 

People are interesting. We met a young girl this week who told us to come back later to talk to her parents. So, when later came around, we went back. We knocked on the door and she opened it with a big smile on her face. She was probably 9. From the back of the house we heard, "SHUT THE DOOR! WE'RE NOT INTERESTED, WE'RE CATHOLIC!" The girl innocently said back, "I'm not catholic!" Quickly the mother said, "SHUT THE DOOR."

95% of the "Catholics" we meet don't even know what Jesus did during His life. We know those are the ones baptized as babies who never ever went to church. The other 5% are my favorite ones: the ones who know and practice what they believe. If you're going to use something as an excuse, at least believe your excuse.

This past week we had interviews with President Toone. But they weren't normal interviews. They had a meeting with Elder Bednar this past weekend and were committed to getting the information to us as quickly as possible. So, instead of one on one interviews, we met and learned from President Toone. As part of that meeting, we were asked to give a training as well. More details on that to come.

The meeting with President Toone was amazing. I'm going to write some quotes. These come from Elder Bednar.

-"Successful missions can be measured by how active the grandkids are."
-For you to think about: What is it about missions that make them so powerful in conversion?
-"Talk to your missionaries about their memories from primary or young mens. What was their motivation to do something? Normally a treat. We have failed our children in helping them do things for the wrong reasons. Doing things because you get something is not the right reason. As missionaries, we need to act because it is what we are supposed to do, not because something is being offered. Our testimony of acting for the right reasons will bless us for the rest of our lives. 
-"Act, do not be acted upon."

The way that missionaries are called has changed.

This is the new method:

1) Three or four Apostles go, all together, every Friday, to process 200-300 new missionary calls each week.
--The set up is different. Each Apostle sits across from two screens. Sitting by him is a member of the Missionary Department.
--Each Apostle comes to this meeting while fasting and praying.
2) Picture of missionary comes on screen. Apostle asks questions while reading his background information. The representative from the missionary department responds as if he were the missionary. A small conversation is had. It is an interview [based on the information submitted by the missionary].
3) Then the Apostle says at a random point, "Show me a picture of President ___ from the ___ Mission."
--A picture of said mission president appears on other screen
4) The Apostle considers the Mission President. 
--"What do you have to offer Elder ___, President ___?"
--Another small "interview" is had.
--The relationship between the mission president and the missionary is now as important as the missionary and the mission.
5) The Apostle seeks for a confirmation on every single instance that the mission and the mission president are right for the missionary

Intimate evaluations are done with not only where the missionary serves but also with whom. Companions included.

"There is no mistake when Elder ___ is assigned to the __ mission with President ___. There is a reason a missionary is called somewhere, gets sick, and is reassigned elsewhere."

Amazing, right?

I had planned to go into a lot of detail about a devastating thing that happened to one of our investigators. It involves permission from a spouse but there is much more involved. I've been reflecting a lot about this topic this week. But I just want to ask one question to everyone who is reading this: What are you doing right now that is impeding the [spiritual] progress of someone near to you? Now why don't you stop

It was the saddest moment I've had in many months

As part of our training we also taught about the importance of fast offerings and raising the level of our fasts. Fasting isn't just going without food. It is a process of delicate preparation and then persistent prayer. And it works. We challenged all of the missionaries, under direction of President Toone, to donate fast offerings and fast with more intent.

It worked. Miracles? A less active family came to church for the first time in a year, a part member family did for the first time in months, and a family we're teaching managed to come! In a different companionship, a boy decided to get baptized in two weeks! 

I've never fasted without miracles. They're everywhere! 

Anyway, I need to run now! Thanks for the letters family! 

Have a great week and HAPPY MOTHERS DAY! 
Elder Johnson

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