Friday, August 28, 2015

June Meetings

    Missionary Check-up with our May Batch of missionaries was on June 4. This is always a great meeting because the batch is excited to see each other. I teach about Adjusting to Missionary Life and stress. We separate the new missionaries and their trainers for part of the time. President Mangum leads the new missionaries in a discussion while the Assistants lead one with the trainers. President Mangum asks them three questions: 1. What's different than you expected? 2. Better than you imagined? 3. What's your biggest adjustment. It's always interesting and insightful to hear their answers. We then have them all back together and President Mangum talks to them all about the discussion as well as gives them some counsel. The Assistants teach a workshop on how to do base lesson plans on the lessons from Preach My Gospel.

    Mission Leadership Council on June 5. In May we had a special council on ways that we can help improve the mission so we had a follow up on that and there was a great discussion on what the leaders had been doing in their zones to help improve the obedience and joy of the missionaries. I taught about the Stress of Leadership and I used the principles of President Uchtdorf's wonderful talk "Forget Me Not". 1) We need to be patient with ourselves. 2) We need to understand the difference between a good sacrifice and a foolish sacrifice. 3) We need to be happy now. 4) We need to remember the why of the gospel. 5) The Lord loves you! The Assistants taught the importance and power of prayer as leaders and missionaries. President Mangum taught about patience and the importance of not being short-sighted and delaying gratification while we press forward. He said that patience is an action word and gave examples from the scriptures. Alma the older praying, watching and waiting for Alma, the younger; Nephi building the ship; Alma and the people in bondage. He also said that God demonstrated patience with the process of the restoration of the gospel. Patience is a purifying and refining process. It's important to learn to wait as we continue to be steady and persistently work. He taught that patience is actively working without getting discourage and cheerfully doing all that lies within our power. As always, it was a great meeting with wonderful missionaries.

Specialized Zone Training Meetings
    We decided to have some Specialized Zone Training Meetings in June. We wanted to teach some principles in smaller groups so there was more interaction. They turned out to be very positive experiences and we will do them again sometime when we feel a need. A lot of the information we had been taught at the Mission Presidents Seminar in April and then tweaked to fit our mission's needs.
     President Mangum began with some business items and then shared the beautiful prayer given by  Elder Gordon B. Hinckley to dedicate the land of the Philippines for missionary work:

“We invoke Thy blessing, Father dear, upon the missionaries who shall come here, that Thy Spirit may touch their hearts, that their lives may be clean and virtuous, that their examples may be marvelous before the people, that they may be blessed, as it were, with the ‘gift of tongues,’ that they shall speak the language of the people, that they shall work with singleness of purpose to Thy name’s honor and glory, that they shall go forth without fear, that none shall stay them, and that they shall declare with teaching and testimony, the restoration of Thy holy work for the blessing of Thy children. Father, give them joy and courage and faith and satisfaction in their labors, and make them fruitful.

“We invoke Thy blessings upon the people of this land, that they shall be friendly and hospitable and kind and gracious to those who shall come here, and that many, yea Lord, we pray that there shall be many thousands who shall receive this message and be blessed thereby. Wilt Thou bless them with receptive minds and understanding hearts, and with faith to receive, and with courage to live the principles of the gospel, and with a desire to share with others the blessings which they shall receive. We pray that there shall be many men—faithful, good, virtuous, true men—who shall join the Church and who shall receive the blessings of the priesthood, and who shall accept and grow in leadership, that Thy work here shall be handled largely by local brethren, under the direction of those who hold the keys in this day and time, according to the law and order of Thy church.” (Gordon B. Hinkley, “Commencement of Missionary Work in the Philippines.”)

President Mangum then discussed how this prayer is being fulfilled and told the missionaries that they are entitled to the blessings promised if they work for them. He also taught about the importance of keeping covenants. 

     The meetings were long but filled with great training and interaction. After the introduction we passed out some puzzles without showing them a picture of the puzzle and had them work on them as companionships. After a few minutes we asked how things were going and asked if there was anything that would help. Of course many said having a picture would help (some had already asked). We then put up the picture; the Manila Temple. We let them work on them for a while longer and then asked what they had learned from the process. It was fun to hear the things they learned--working together, teamwork, unity, it was hard, etc. The principle we were teaching was that we need to begin with the end in mind. We need a vision/picture of where we want to go. We then taught about how going to the temple needs to be the focus of our investigators and new converts.

"Missionary work should begin and end with our minds focused on the blessings of the holy temple."
Elder Russell M. Nelson
     Along with teaching about the temple President Mangum explained the process of finding, teaching, baptizing, and helping the new converts to become truly converted. We taught about ways to find because as we're taught in Preach My Gospel "nothing happens in missionary work until you find someone to teach". We divided the zones into smaller groups and had them act out ways to find and the rest of the missionaries guessed what they were doing. We then talked about that type of finding. It was a fun break for them as well as a good way of teaching of different methods to find people to teach.
     We also taught about the importance of an investigator really understanding the covenants of baptism. We studied from Doctrine and Covenants 20:37 and talked about the Lord's Standards of Baptism and how they would be manifest in the investigator. We also talked about how they should be manifest in each of us as members of the Church because the standards are the same for us as we partake of the sacrament weekly and endure to the end.
      The Assistants taught about the importance of being sealed in the temple and the power of the temple. They used great illustrations and a touching video about the sacrifices of a family to go to the temple. They taught that we need a vision to accomplish the things the Lord has asked us.
       President Mangum concluded the day with closing remarks. We held seven of these meetings throughout the mission. Each of them turned out great and it was worth the time and effort. We also enjoyed the time visiting with the Assistants in our travels.

San Pablo Zone--June 1

Santa Cruz Zone--June 2

Lucena Zone--June 8

Lopez and Marinduque Zones--June 9

Cabuyao Zone--June 10

Lipa Zone--June 11
Batangas and Mindoro Zones--June 12

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

June 2015 Departing and Incoming

     We said good-bye to our largest batch on June 16. There were 26 of them--actually 27--but one had to leave 3 weeks early because he broke his arm and needed surgery. This batch had great and strong missionaries and the mission will feel the loss. We enjoyed a long but wonderful evening of sharing memories and testimonies. We love our missionaries and it's always tender to say good-bye.
This was an extra large, extra fun group. We will miss them.

We said good-bye to a wonderful Assistant as well as the rest of this great group.
The Elders loved how they looked in their suits. They don't wear suits at all in the Philippines so they hang in a closet
in the Mission Home for the 2 years. Some of them had them tailored so they would fit well. Great looking group!
The last group of photos shows them crowded in the 3 Jeepneys and ready for the 2 hour drive to Manila.
It's worth it--they get to go to the Manila Temple before heading home.

Two of our wonderful sisters had their parents (and one brother) come to pick them up. 
After a few days of visiting and enjoying the sights in the mission they stopped by for a fun visit before heading to Manila. We loved our visits.

We only received 11 new missionaries---they are a great, enthusiastic group!

We had a great sister arrive off cycle the first week of June so we consider her part of this batch.