Missionary Picture Goes Mildly Viral on Twitter

I received a message from Elder Ward, one of the missionaries in my Ward yesterday morning asking me to checkout Twitter. Apparently, he had received a message from a friend in California (we live in Charlotte, North Carolina) about seeing a picture on Twitter that reminder her of him.

The picture showed two missionaries playing a pickup game of street ball. When he looked at the picture he was surprised to see that it was actually a picture of a game he and his companion, Elder Spencer, played the day before. Someone observing them took a picture and posted to a Twitter account of almost a million followers (last I checked they had a combined total of 7,000 retweets and likes).

The game was of eternal consequences because if the missionaries won (which they did) the other team had to attend Church that Sunday. Now we just need to work on our branding so that people don’t confuse us with the Jehovah Witnesses :)

 

elders

In order for the Elders to send the picture home they asked me to edit out the questionable language. I posted this censored version to Facebook and it was picked up by Mormon Memes, which received some comments about my edits. Personally, I like my version a lot better :).

 

Some Help With Your Ward Mission Plan [TEMPLATES]

Ward Mission Plan Template

In March of this year I was called as the Ward Mission Leader. It took me by surprise because I’ve only been in the ward/state for four months. At the time, I really only knew the Bishop and the Elders Quorum President (and that’s because the EQP helped us move in).

However, more surprisingly was when the Bishop shared with me that the Ward Council had set a goal that year for 15 baptisms. The year before the ward saw 7 baptisms and it wasn’t until the end of last month that we had our first baptism for the year.

I’ve never been one to turn down a calling, but if there was one I wanted to turn down it was this one. On the way home from church that day, I lamented to my wife how I never wanted to be the Ward Mission Leader because there always seemed an unrealistic/vague number associated to the success of the calling. I felt there was no way to magnify my calling if I wasn’t hitting that goal.

To compound things, two weeks after I accepted the calling both the Bishop and Mission President requested a mission plan from me. Having never done this calling before I had no idea where to start. The Bishop sent me the plan from last year and from that I was able to quickly pound something out.

I’ve since calmed down about my calling and have gotten into a rhythm with our missionaries (in North Carolina there’s four missionaries per ward). I vowed I would do better than 99% of the Ward Mission Leaders on my mission and I think I am starting to get the hang of the calling.

In fact, I might dare say that after a few months I’m actually enjoying myself. We still have 14 baptisms to go, but I’m not so wound up about numbers and now I am just focusing on doing my best.

To help others, I thought I would provide both mine and last year’s mission plan. They may not be the best, but hopefully they might help a newly called Ward Mission Leader who is breathing into a bag trying not to hyperventilate.

A few notes on these plans:

  • UPDATED: As stated in the comments by John, the Ward Mission plan should be an effort between the Ward Council, Bishop, and Ward Mission Leader. Due to the fact that I starting in March, I was more thrown into the mix of things, and the time to plan the upcoming year had passed. I still worked closely with the Bishop and we sent out a copy to the Ward Council (no one really provided any additional feedback), but the majority of the work fell on me. I still haven’t gone through the process of planning next year, but knowing my ward, I am anticipating that they will want me to write the first draft of the Ward Mission Plan. So, hopefully this post is still helpful and relevant.
  • The plans are simple and basic, which is intentional. I am actually working with our Elders to put together a tactical plan of everything we want to do in depth. However, the last thing I wanted to do was supply the tactical plan to the Ward Council. I’ve learned the less complex a vision is the less people stress about it. In a future post I hope to share my tactical plan.
  • You will notice at the end of my plan I’ve requested the ward goals, which  I’ve not yet to receive.
  • Finally, I make mention about a Youth Missionary Program title Prepare the Way. This is something I’ve been working on and hope to share it here soon. I think implementing something like this will make a big deal.

Again, I hope these are helpful, and if you’re a seasoned Ward Mission Leader, by all means, please share your plan from over the years. It would be nice to see what everyone else is doing!

Ward Mission Plan 1 Ward Mission Plan 2

 

 

QUESTION: What is the new missionary verse to “Because I Have Been Given Much?”

The other day I received the following question via the LDSFriends contact form:

“On my way to church today I heard the song ‘Because I have been given much’ on the BYU-I radio station and there was an additional verse with something about because I have been called I too must serve, or something along those lines, really pertaining to going on a mission. Does anyone know the words to that verse? I would love to have them.”

I hadn’t heard that there was a new verse, but apparently there is (though, I am not sure if it is apocryphal or Church sanctioned). Here it is:

“Because I have been blessed Dear Lord, I too must serve.
I’ll leave the comfort of my home to teach Thy word.
I’ll find Thy sheep who’ve gone astray, and those who’ve never known the way,
I’ll make Thy work, my work today.
I shall give love to those in need
I’ll show that love by words and deed.
Thus shall my thanks be thanks indeed.”

Where are the Nones?

You know, the people who do not affliate with one of the main religious identity? Or as Gallop puts it “What is your religious preference — are you Protestant, Roman Catholic, Mormon, Jewish, Muslim, another religion, or no religion? (If respondent names “another religion,” ask:) Would that be a Christian religion or is it not a Christian religion?

It is interesting to me that in a time where our Prophet has called for an increase of missionaries serving in the field by calling all men 18 years and older plus sisters 19 and older that we have a slowing of those who proclaim religious devotion. Is this the time fortold where “Men’s hearts shall fail them”? Is that time still far off? Remember how Luke said the failure should come from fear. Are we becomeing a faithless people. Are the “Nones” that faithless people?

Gallop says; “Across the past five years, the biggest jumps in “nones” occurred between 2009 and 2010 and between 2010 and 2011 — an increase of 1.1 percentage points each between the two years. In absolute terms, 15.3% of the population had no explicit religious identity in 2009, compared with 17.5% in 2011.” And all this while missionary efforts are increasing as demand does.”

So here is the break down:

What is your religious preference -- Protestant, Roman Catholic, Mormon, Jewish, Muslim, another religion, or no religion? 2012 yearly numbers by demos

Whats your take?

 

Tyler

 

See the whole article at http://www.gallup.com/poll/159785/rise-religious-nones-slows-2012.aspx#1

How Attending the Temple Makes Us Better Missionaries

Editor’s Note: This is a missionary farewell talk given by Hemmert MacGyyver. He will be serving in Argentina and reports to the MTC October 5.

elder-macgyver-temple In the temple, we learn about many things our Father in Heaven wants us to learn, including His plan for us. He has also provided a way for us to help those children who have passed away without hearing the Gospel.

Each time we plan on going to the temple, we must prepare ourselves in a way that is pleasing to our Heavenly Father. There are many ways we can prepare to enter the temple and each works in its own way.

Some common ways to prepare to enter into the temple are: diligent scripture studies; fasting; prayer; collecting family history information; seeking guidance from church leaders, family members and friends. As we prepare, we can become more spiritually in tune by praying for the Spirit to be with us throughout our experience.

When we go to the temple we usually go for specific reasons. The first time we go through the temple, we go to receive our own endowments and we begin a new chapter in our spiritual growth. Experiencing the temple for the first time may be overwhelming for many people but with the help of family, friends, and church leaders, we can come to a full understanding of what is in store for us.

We can also gain a greater understanding when we return to the temple time and time again. After we are endowed, we have the opportunity to extend this great blessing to those who have passed on in our family. We can do this by participating in proxy ordinances that allow us to stand in on the behalf of those whom the work is being done for. We perform these ordinances because those who have passed on might have not had the chance to learn of the Gospel in its fullness in their mortal lifetime.

Each time we go to the temple we can gain a greater understanding and further knowledge of the covenants that we have made with our Heavenly Father. We can also create a closer bond with our friends and family that we are doing work for.

While inside the temple we are taught of our Father’s love for us and the love that He has for all his children. It is this same love that we must have for each other, whether we are friend or foe. We don’t have to like each other or the things that others do, but we should still love them as the brothers and sisters that they are.

As we learn to love our brothers and sisters we learn to love ourselves. It is through this love that we can share the gospel with those around us. It is with this love that we can turn to our Father and seek His guidance of how, what, and when we should teach.

It’s funny how some of the most difficult people to teach are those who we are closest to and love so dearly. It may seem harder to teach these people because we are opening ourselves in such a way that if it is not accepted we may end up losing that friend or possibly offending them. Yet, even as this may be so, we have also been instructed to have faith that if we are doing according to the Lords will, He will guided us and we can and will be told the very words to say even in the very minute that they are needed.

We may have many fears about sharing the gospel with close friends and even family but when we have the Holy Ghost with us in our conversations, their hearts will be softened and the message that they are in need of at that time will be revealed to us and we will be able to share that with them. This is only possible if we have the Holy Ghost with us at all times because we never know when these conversations may rise.

One way that we can be sure to have to Holy Ghost with us is by attending the temple often so we can remember what we learned in the temple and hopefully be able to use that knowledge to teach others. As long as we have faith in the Lord and we are listening to the spirit, we can and will bring others unto Christ. While in the temple we learn to listen to the spirit in such a way that prepares us to do this very thing.

Elder Richard G. Scott shares, “When we live righteously and have received the ordinances of the temple, everything else is in the hands of the Lord.”

“About sixteen years ago I decided to attend the temple and complete an ordinance at least once a week. When I am traveling I make up the missed visits in order to achieve that objective. I have kept that resolve, and it has changed my life profoundly. I strive to participate in all the different ordinances available in the temple.”

“I encourage you to establish your own goal of how frequently you will avail yourself of the ordinances offered in our operating temples. What is there that is more important than attending and participating in the ordinances of the temple? What activity could have a greater impact and provide more joy and profound happiness for a couple than worshiping together in the temple?” (“Temple Worship: The Source of Strength and Power in Times of Need,” Richard G. Scott, General Conference, April 2009)

I, for one hope to follow as closely in Elder Scotts footsteps and if I should live close enough to a temple, I plan on going at least once a week. I know that if a temple were to be built here in the Pittsburgh area that many of you would do the same if not more. It is with this same dedication that we must apply to the missionary work that goes on in this, or any area where possible.

When we involve ourselves in temple work, everything else tends to fall into place. The temple gives us the strength we need to step out of our comfort zone and share the gospel with those individuals we never thought we would.

There are many times that I have seen the missionaries in our ward go out of their way to speak to someone on the street, Elder Neilson would literally run to catch up with and stay one on one with someone just to give them a pass along card. I used to shake my head a bit and think that he was a bit odd, but now, I know at least a part of why he does this. He has so much love for the people out here that he just can’t wait to share what he knows with someone else.

The phrases and letters of o-y-m and t-t-e mean something to me, they say more than open your mouth and talk to everyone. To me they have come to mean don’t be afraid, have faith, find a reason to love this person and teach them. These 5 letters and others like them used in the mission field have so much more meaning than what they appear to have, and certainly are more than just letters of the alphabet.

Once we have an understanding, and keep that understanding, of our Heavenly Fathers love and divine plan that comes only from the teaching within the temple, than we feel that we can and need to share this light and truth with others.

Elder Russel Nelson shares the sacredness of preparing to receive the celestial truth the temple provides us, “To enter the temple is a tremendous blessing. But first we must be worthy. We should not be rushed. We cannot cut corners of preparation and risk the breaking of covenants we were not prepared to make. That would be worse than not making them at all.” (“Personal Preparation for Temple Blessings,” Elder Russel Nelson, General Conference, April 2001).

Just as we prepare to enter into the temple, we must also prepare ourselves to preach the gospel. One cannot remove the mote from their brothers eye until the beam is removed from their own. If one is worthy to enter into one of the holy temples here on the earth today, they are worthy to teach the word of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And to do so with the gift of the Holy Ghost that they may be guided as to whom to teach, what to teach, and when to teach it.

There are many in the world today that just as was said to Joseph Smith draw near to God with their words, but are from him in their hearts. We have all been saved for these very days that we live in. As such, we have been given a task to bring the children of our father back to him, this is not a Church were we come for a few hours each week and call it good. This is a church that is constantly growing, receiving direct revelation from our Heavenly Father as to what and how the affairs of the church are to be carried out.

These revelations have and still do come not just for the big details but for even the smallest of points in our lives as well. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not just something put together with toothpicks and string, or a card house, it is so much more. It is a house of order every detail accounted for and planned out and has been since it has been on the earth.

The temple endowment was given by revelation. Thus, it is best understood by revelation, prayerfully sought with a sincere heart. This is the same of the invitations that missionaries bring to those they teach. One of these invitations that has been given to all of us is to read the Book of Mormon, to do so with an open and prayerful heart and mind, then, just as Moroni has done, invite them to ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if the Book of Mormon is true.

Those who do so will receive an answer, one like many if not all of us have, that the Book of Mormon is true, and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the true restored church of Jesus Christ on the earth again today. It is through this great test of faith that we are made stronger, our faith is made stronger, strong enough that we will be made ready to enter into the temple and have the faith to keep and understand the covenants made in the temple.

The other day I was listening to some downloads on my computer, and a talk from Elder David A. Bednar from the Quorum of the Twelve began to play. It’s titled, “The Tender Mercies of the Lord”. After looking up the talk from the April 2005 conference, I found something that I’d like to quote from him, “Since last October I have reflected repeatedly upon the phrase ‘the tender mercies of the Lord.’ Through personal study, observation, pondering, and prayer, I believe I have come to better understand that the Lord’s tender mercies are the very personal and individualized blessings, strength, protection, assurances, guidance, loving-kindnesses, consolation, support, and spiritual gifts which we receive from and because of and through the Lord Jesus Christ. Truly, the Lord suits ‘his mercies according to the conditions of the children of men'(D&C 46:15)”. (“The Tender Mercies of the Lord,” David A. Bednar, General Conference, April 2005)

After reading this it hit me that having temples here on the earth today and having missionary work being what it is, that these are the Lord’s tender mercies which He has given to us. It is through the temple that we can and do prepare for missionary work, and it is by this work that others are able to get to the temple.

Missionary work and temples go hand in hand, just as so many aspects of the Church do. To even try to use one without the other just doesn’t work. They aren’t meant to.

A Testimony of Jesus Christ

Over the years my testimony has grown in many different ways, but during the last few years I have worked diligently to have the core of my testimony be focused solely upon Jesus Christ. In the early years of my testimony I believed in Christ, but unfortunately he was not at the center of my beliefs.

I didn’t realize that the Savior wasn’t the foundation of my testimony until I was a missionary. I went English speaking and it seemed that every other door I knocked on had someone who wanted to verbally battle with me over my beliefs.

After a while I reached the point that when someone wanted to argue about the Church I would ask them one question. The question was, “If Jesus Christ were to come to you today and tell you the Book of Mormon was true would you believe Him?”

The first time I asked this question was with an elderly gentleman who was quite devout in his own beliefs. I was astonished to hear that his response to my question was a defiant no. In fact, his answer took me so much by surprise I actually took a step back as if someone was about to hit me.

I was just so certain no one would say no that I wasn’t prepared when someone did. After hearing his response I ended our conversation with the parting statement that if Jesus Christ couldn’t convince him than there was no way a 20 year old boy, far from home, would be able to do any better.

As I biked home from this encounter I pondered on the scripture from the Doctrine & Covenants that states, “What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken…whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same” (D&C 1:38). For me, having this man tell me no was an example of the voice of the Lord and the voice of His servant being rejected.

For the next few weeks I continued to ask this question when people wanted to argue about the Gospel. Each time I received a no, and each time I was surprised to hear the answer. It really bothered me to hear so many people say they wouldn’t follow Jesus Christ.

It wasn’t until I was reading Moroni 10:3–5 to an investigator that I stumbled across the reason why people were telling me no. In verse four I read something I had never seen before (and up to that point I had read this verse at least once everyday for over a year). It says: “And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost” (emphasis added).

The words, “…ask God…if these things are not true…” struck me with such intensity. I had never before asked if the Book of Mormon was not true. I had only asked if it was true.

Asking if the Book of Mormon is true, or asking if the Book of Mormon is false may sound like the same question, but in reality the questions are worlds apart. I found it a lot easier to accept something I have always believed in to be truth, than to fight against my spiritual upbringing and ask the Lord if it is all an illusion.

Once I realized the difference I finally understood why people were telling me no. In their understanding of truth, it was absolutely ludicrous for the Savior to say the Book of Mormon was true. For them they knew the Book of Mormon was false, and no one, including Christ could convince them otherwise.

This realization helped me see how important it was to ask if what I believed in was false. Having this intellectual and soul awakening experience really turned my world upside down and inside out. I realized I couldn’t continue preaching the salvation of Christ using the Book of Mormon (or even the Bible for that matter) as a source without first knowing that these words were the fruits of truth.

I knew the Book of Mormon was a book with powerful teachings, and  those who argued otherwise had never read the book in its entirety. However, I wanted to know for certain that the teaching which flowed from the Book of Mormon where more than powerful, but eternal. I had read many religious and spiritual books that had good teachings in them, but now I sought to know what Christ felt to be true.

I clearly remember the night I decided to pray on the possibility of the falsehood of the Book of Mormon. I waited until my companion was asleep before I slipped out of my covers and knelt by my bed. I had made up my mind that the only thing that mattered to me was to follow the Savior. If that meant forsaking all that I had been taught and going a different path than I was prepared to do so.

I remember praying that I was prepared to remove my missionary badge and my temple garments and go home if I discovered that Christ did not want me to follow the teachings of the Book of Mormon. I must also admit that it was a difficult prayer. Not only was I trying to come to terms about the possibility of giving up my mission and Church membership, but I also found it extremely hard to move past my own personal bias beliefs.

It was a struggle entertaining thoughts that the Book of Mormon was a lie. However, in order to succeed in my desires I knew it was necessary. Quite frankly I was scared, the sacrifices I was considering seemed to loom over me while I spoke with God on that quite April evening.

Yet, if the Book of Mormon was true I wanted it to be an appendage to my testimony of Christ, not the center of my testimony. I deeply wanted to understand what the Master wanted and to follow it no matter the cost.

I had been testifying of Christ, but I only believed in Christ because I believed in the Book of Mormon. For me I didn’t feel that was the testimony I wanted. I just couldn’t see how this was any different from the testimony of someone who grew up only knowing the Bible or the Quran. Do they believe because it is true or do they believe because it is familiar and comfortable to them?

I don’t know how long I spent on my knees but I know I spent considerable amount of time working through this question. It took time for my heart to accept the challenge I was giving it. I knew the real consequence of what I could be giving up. My family, friends, and how I viewed the world were centered around the Church and my belief in the Book of Mormon. I knew I wouldn’t just be giving up a religion but I would be giving up a way of life.

Through the turmoil and strife I did receive my answer. The answer was so strong, so certain, that even a decade or so later, I continue to feel the conviction of the answer. That night I felt the power of the Holy Ghost and I knew the Book of Mormon wasn’t false. However, my belief in this book came that night because in prayer I gained an in depth understanding for whom the Son of God is in my life. I now know the Book of Mormon to be a sacred document given to us to understand salvation because I now know that Jesus Christ lives and is the true source of this book.

I share this sacred experience because I believe it is more important to follow Christ than it is follow anything else. It is great to have other things like the Book of Mormon and Bible as further evidence of Christ’s divinity, but these things should not be our rock. Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and He is more powerful than any word, book, or person. He uses these tools to help us find him. Yet, the only way to know for certain His divinity is to strip away the restrictions we place upon Him. We must be willing to lose what we feel is important in this temporal world, to gain what is essential in the eternities.