Monday, December 31, 2012

President's Weekly Letter #17

(1 Nephi 18:1)

Belgium/Netherlands Mission


The December 2012 Zone Conference focused on working smarter. The premise is, working smarter using effective methods while finding and teaching, will greatly improve our opportunity for success.  Our work is too long and hard fought just to waste opportunities to obtain progressing investigators.  Most companionships are already working hard and working hard is important to continue.    Thomas Edison said:

Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” -Thomas Edison

Working smarter includes the following points surrounding the processes we use to find and teach, work with investigators and our attitude.  We need to become real good at what we do because it is the only thing we have control over.

Process – Finding and Teaching:
·      Post the written stake mission plan and/or your ward mission plan in apartments and follow the plans.
·      Shelf Life usually follows the half-life rule; every day that goes by, people who expressed interest of any level are half as likely to still want to hear your message.  When people say you may come back or give other indications that they may be interested, get back soon.
·      The conversion process is much like a belt in an assembly line.  Do you put people on the belt at the first contact; then don’t go back while looking for someone else to put on the belt?  It takes too much work to find new people.  Contact them frequently once they show interest.
·      Not all who get baptized are golden at first.  Most are not.  Many baptisms started out with a “somewhat interested” which grew into “conversion.”  Therefore, “You may come back sometime, even though I am not interested,” could be golden.  Don’t give up on them and go looking for someone else.  Calling back on them is better use of your time than cold, door knocking with mostly flint hard response of “Not interested.”
·      Are you ever sick and have an appointment?  The variable is never to miss the appointment.  You have many alternative options:  call the District Leader or Zone Leader, Assistants to go in your stead, go sick if it’s not too bad, change the appointment, etc.  Never just not show up.  Be professional and have integrity.
·      Always do the area book before 4:00 pm.  Be out with the people after 4:00 pm
·      Look for opportunities and do service.  Earn some dinner appointments with non-members.  Try to also do something for the next door neighbor who is watching you do your service project.
·      Leave when you get the win, the spirit is strong; you leave an impact this way.
·      Train to help units in Apeldoorn and Rotterdam to develop their own 1 point plan in the Wards and Branches.
·      Review the Mission Plan document distributed at Zone Conference outlining our intent to follow the Stake, Ward or District Plans.  Follow this.  If asked to talk about missionary work or the missionary plan, then follow this document.

Working with Investigators:
·      Teach them faith to be baptized.  At some early point in their investigation, they don’t need to know more.  That comes all their lives.
·      Baptism is an act of faith.  The miracle of a witness comes after the faith. (Ether 12:6)
·      They grow in faith with spiritual experiences.  Visit them daily so they may feel the spirit.
·      Track commitments they need to live
·      If they keep commitments they will gain testimonies
·      Know your top 10 contacts.  The people on the list may change daily.  New contacts may jump to the top of the list, but be aware of who is your top 10.
·      Prioritize your investigators, Your day’s activities should support the Top 10.
·      Plan for people not lessons.  Ask yourself what they need to do, not so much as what they need to learn
·      Use baptism questions to focus weekly and daily planning and preparation.  Conversion doesn’t have to be complex.
·      Train for continuity in teaching process
·      Follow up on promises made by investigators

Positive Attitude:
Have high expectations – believe in what you are doing and your ultimate success (clean to the bone).  Keep a positive, upbeat, enthusiastic and passionate attitude.

Eliminate self-limiting beliefs.  Over life’s experiences, you make-up self-limiting beliefs to help you cope with life.  Eventually, those beliefs run your life and you forget that you made them up in the first place.

Alibis mean nothing.  Do not use them.  Everything is based on results. Break the mentality of, you are not having success because of outside factors.  Realize you, alone, are responsible for all your results, all of the time. Be brutally accountable for this with yourself.

Always ask:  “What am I doing to create these results in my life?”

Never allow:  “This isn’t working for me because _____”, if the reasons you list are not your own actions.

Never allow:  “It is not me, it is the ___ that is causing my lack of success.”

If you see yourself as a victim, by definition, you do not have power to change your circumstances.  On the other hand, if you see yourself as accountable for everything in your life, then by definition, you have the power to change your situation.  The Lord will bless you, but I am convinced He expects you to do all in our power to have the success you desire.

If you act enthusiastic you will be enthusiastic.  Therefore act: enthused, excited, energetic, optimistic, hustle, friendly.  Burn this self-image into your definition of who you are.

Hate negativism or caustic slant or doubt.  This spreads fast.  Abraham Lincoln said, “Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.

Just go to work.  Increase your intensity in executing the work.

Become addicted to the pursuit of conversions.
President Robinson

New Year's Eve Dinner--a day early

Bro. and Sis. Jansen invited all the missionaries serving in the Den Haag Ward to a special New Year's Dinner on Sunday evening, December 30, 2012.

Thank you for your kindness Br. and Sis. Jansen, we enjoyed the evening so very much and I know the missionaries did also.

Sister Nielson, Sister Israelsen, Elder Li, Elder Taylor, Elder Praag, 
President Robinson, Brother Jansen, Elder Maughn, Sister Jansen, 
Elder Seiter, Sister Seiter


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas Caroling

On December 21, 2012, President and I went with the Den Haag Missionaries Christmas Caroling to investigators.  We went to two families that we are friends with and then to some of the Elders families.  Last, we went to Ans, a sister that has set a baptismal date.  She had hot chocolate, Christmas bread, and gifts for us when we arrived.  

She even invited her neighbor over to hear us sing.

Sister Robinson, Sister Nielsen, Sister Israelsen, Elder Maughn, (on the floor), Elder Taylor, (thumbs up), Ans' neighbor, Elder Li, (on the floor), Elder Praag, and Ans, in the green shirt.  

Thank you very much for a wonderful night of Christmas Spirit!

Christmas Zone Conference

On December 18 and 19, 2012 we held our Christmas Zone Conferences.  I love Zone Conference.  Under new directive from the First Presidency, Zone Conferences are held quarterly instead of every month.  We miss meeting with all the missionaries often.  However, when we do have Conference, it is great to visit and become spiritually renewed.  President and I and the AP's, Elder Schulte and Elder Van Rij did the training on 'Working Smart'.  The Senior Couples made a great Christmas Dinner for everyone.  Ham and baked potatoes, salad, vegetable and dessert.  The Elders were surprise and excited when they saw real ham slices, not just deli ham slices.  Some of them enjoyed 3 slices! We did a tie/scarf exchange and celebrated Birthdays for December, January, and February until we can be together again.

Following are pictures from the conference.
Merry Christmas

Christmas Concert

Sunday, December 16, 2012 Rotterdam Stake held a Missionary Christmas Concert.  It is an opportunity for members to bring their non-member friends and family to a wonderful evening of scripture narration and Christmas music.  All the missionaries from the Den Haag Stake and Rotterdam Stake preformed a number, "Be Still My Soul".  It was great to see them up front preforming.  Sister Nielsen bore her testimony and Elder Li read a scripture.  

 I was back in the Cultural Hall, but look at all those missionaries up there singing.  President and I were proud of them.

I would like you to meet Sis. Grupmen, she organized the Christmas Concert and wrote the script.  She also directed the choir and she preformed a solo violin selection.  Bro. and Sis. Grupmen live in Gouda Netherlands and are world famous violinists.  They both are members of the Orchestra at Temple Square.  I could have listened to her play all night--it was inspiring.

President said he would take our picture.  Well, this is what I got, so I'll include all three.

 Sister Robinson and Sister Grupmen

We even enjoyed a laugh

Finally, the picture! 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

President's Weekly Letter #16

(1 Nephi 18:1)

Belgium/Netherlands Mission



On 4 August 1970, I wrote the following in my missionary journal.  I was serving as Zone Leader in Antwerpen, we had one companionship in Flemish speaking City of Brussels and the Franco-Belgium Mission had 22 missionaries serving in French speaking City of Brussels:

“Zone Leaders class today was good.  The President is pleased with Elder Free’s work.  In Brussels, he out baptized the Franco Belgium Mission - Brussels Zone (in the other mission) of 22 missionaries single handedly and they all were working in the same city!”

Elder Free was a good missionary.  He understood the faith, work and personable relationship necessary to lead people to baptism.  Under the same conditions in the same City, success was different.  What causes such disparity?  I do not know, but can only extrapolate what I see and saw.

In our mission today, we see miracles every week in every city.  The prepared people are there.  We need only to find them, and in many cases they find us, invite them, and help them as they prepare for baptism.  If we do our best the spirit will convert and the people will have a decision to make.  I am convinced every companionship could baptize each month.  This is a goal that is attainable.  This should be a mind-set for missionaries as we go through the difficult chore of finding the honest seekers of truth.

For me, the numbers are only indicators that mean nothing except to capture trends over a period of time. But, I know if a companionship doesn't keep 3-5 progressing investigators all the time, their likelihood of baptism is limited.  Some investigators will choose not to be baptized.  It sounds brutal, but so much of missionary work is about the missionary. Do your best to break out of any self limiting beliefs you may have.  Remember, you made up the beliefs in the first place.

All I ask is you do what Elder Free did, you keep your back-log full with progressing investigators.  Do your best, put a smile on your face, enjoy the work, love the people and let your optimism really believe each of those investigators are going to be baptized. 

Not to discount holding ourselves to a high standard, PMG has it exactly right on p. 10, "A Successful Missionary." 

“Your success as a missionary is measured primarily by your commitment to find, teach, baptize, and confirm people and to help them become faithful members of the Church…Avoid comparing yourself to other missionaries and measuring the outward results of our efforts against theirs…Your responsibility is to teach clearly and powerfully so they can make a correct choice…When you have done your very best, you may still experience disappointments, but you will not be disappointed in yourself.  You can feel certain that the Lord is pleased when you feel the Spirit working through you.”

We cannot work much harder but we need to work smarter.  We presented at Zone Conference and are working on several steps to increase our success.  Distilled down, these steps determine our overall direction.

Overall Direction:
·      Gave the ball to the Stakes and told them, “The Mission plan is your show, the mission will follow and support your Plan.”
·      Trained by President Boom and Oddens in Antwerpen and Den Haag
·      Rocks – We are making a serious effort to internalize the attributes of Christ
·      President Kearon Conference increased our vision
·      Announced - Operation Build a Stake
·      Zone Leaders now do 2 Zone Trainings per quarter
·      Leadership 101 required of mission leaders, help your people succeed
·      Presentation Skills
·      Push to Work Smart

Elders and Sisters, please review your notes from the Zone Conference last week.  There was a great deal of material presented that will help us work smarter.  Prayerfully consider steps you can personally take to improve your performance and make commitments to improve.  The spirit converts.  Aside from how hard we work and our personal worthiness, we have control over only one thing: how good we are at doing what we do.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas.  This time of year is special to honor the Savior, Jesus Christ, for his offering.  Through the atonement we can return with our families to live with our Father in Heaven after this life.  We can also enjoy rich fulfillment and a blessed life while we are here.  The atonement allows us to do this by enduring to the end after we accept required saving ordinances.  When we endure to the end He will purify and perfect us.
President Robinson 

Christmas Dinner in Hilversum

President and I received an invitation to attend the Christmas Dinner and Musical Evening with the Hilversum Branch.  Wonderful evening. I love the members of the Church here in the Netherlands and Belgium! They always go out of their way to make us feel so welcomed and at home.  They always help us feel like 'family'.  Which we are--eternally.

 Elder and Sister DeLeeuw with branch members.

 Elder and Sister Lyons

 Elder Pimentel and branch members

 President and Elder Chantry

 Elder Pimentel visiting--heel goed Neterlands, Elder!

 It was a wonderful evening Hilversum Branch--thank you for the opportunity to enjoy an evening with you!