Thursday, December 29, 2016

November 20th & 27th 2016: Planning Brings Miracles & There's Nothing Wrong with Challenging Everyone

Planning Brings Miracles
Lately the Mission Leadership has been really focusing on planning and becoming "full purpose missionaries". For longer than I should have, I’ve been going into lessons with the thought "I'll just follow the spirit and it will teach me how to teach this topic". Though many times we were able to teach the lesson I noticed that the spirit too often was not there. For a while I have been doing my best to figure out why and we have finally figured it out. It's because our "faith" that the Spirit would guide us wasn't really "faith" is was a justification for not doing everything in our power to prepare. I read a conference talk this morning that explained really well about this. It said something along the lines that faith can never take away someone's agency. Meaning that if we really want a family member, friend or anyone we know to change their heart, repent and accept the gospel, they still have their agency and our willingness and our desires will not change that. 
Another part was that faith PREcedes the miracles. Before someone can be healed, they must first receive a blessing. Before we are baptized or partake of the Sacrament we must show our faith and repent. When we prepare ourselves for miracles then we qualify for God's work in our lives. For a while I was just expecting that God would work through me and trusting solely on this. For a long time I was failing to realize that we must do everything in our power before the power of God helps us make up the difference.
This last week we have really put in a lot of effort into planning and things are just falling into place. We have back up plans for our back up plans and have every lesson planned out thoroughly.
Just as President Zarbock teaches us to do, I applied this to real life.
I will use the example of my ambitions. I want to become an Orthopedic Surgeon after I return from my mission. Obviously there is a long time and a lot of work before that. If I just say I want to do that but take classes for art, auto-shop, and other things, sure they are great but they won't help me become a Doctor.
I've noticed that in every one on of our lessons we are working towards certain things, incorporating repentance and helping them have that "mighty change of heart" because that's our main goal here. I've noticed that the road to baptism has become clearer and it revolves around repentance and the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
So many times we have these amazing goals and too often don't make effective plans for them. Because of that there are a lot of "I'll do it tomorrow’s and a lot of "empty yesterday’s. Planning really does help us achieve our potential and has helped me see more clearly God's plan for these people. I love you all and I want you all to know how much I think of your guys. Sometimes before we go to sleep one of your names pops into my mind, and all too often I find out why the next week at email. I pray for you always and just know that some Elder way out in the middle of ocean on a little island cares about you. God has a plan for all of us and He knows us. Never forget that and make steps and plans to show Him your love for Him. Repentance is a process not an event, so take that first step and become the person God needs you to be. I'm not perfect and have my own sin and temptations but my heart has changed so much because of planning and taking those steps to change. Then as I showed my willingness, Christ has changed my heart from those things. Thank you for all those who have helped me along my path. I love you all!
 Elder Hanson
    There's Nothing Wrong with Challenging Everyone
So this past week was different but a good different. To start off I was on an exchange while Elder Parker was sick. After that he was sick for another day so we didn't really get to go out until Thursday. Thursday was obviously Thanksgiving and because of district meeting we only had a short time to go out before Thanksgiving. During our feast we watched "The Best Two Years" and it was really, really good. Everyone was laughing but I think people also took a lot out of it as well, I know I did. One of the things they said was "is there anything wrong with challenging to everyone?" That really stuck with me and then I realize how important that is. As missionaries people really do expect us to do that because that's what we do. It really helped me realize why we need to ask and why these people need to be challenged. 
We have made very high goals this week for the amount of people invited to be baptized and to come to church so we are going to be working hard to get that. I have really gotten to see why talking to everyone and inviting everyone is so important. It kind of reminds me of the Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory part when they are testing the eggs and nuts. They have to test every single one to know which ones are not ready and which ones are ready. I think that's kind of how missionary work is, we test everyone and challenge everyone. To be honest there are a lot more people that need more time but that's the beauty of Gospel because for most people the time will happen and that's all that matters. 
I know for my own family, especially my father, timing was everything. For a while the timing wasn't ready until one day when the setting was right, the Spirit showed him the way. 
I would like to challenge everyone who is reading this regardless of who you are, your age, or anything like that to give one of the best gifts. I want to invite you all to find a Book of Mormon and write your testimonies inside and then give it to someone you love or feel prompted to give it to. If you need to make a list and pray about who, do it! Think about the worst that could happen, they say "Thanks, but I'm not interested" and then they put it aside for another day. That's literally the worst that could happen. Then think of what usually happens. They say "Thank you, I appreciate this very much" then they might start reading that night, a week from then or maybe a year or two from then but they will read it. And when they read it the Spirit will testify that it's true. I know this because I have read it, I've read it from cover to cover and tested Moroni's promise and I know by the power of the Holy Ghost that it is true. It was honestly the single biggest turning point in my life to really show me that there is something greater out there, something or someone that actually knows us and it's not just a belief like so many people say but it's a knowledge. I know that we all have desires to share these things and sometime we might not know the words to say, that's why God has given us His words to speak for us. All we have to do is ask people to read the word of God. I testify that if you will have the courage to give a simple gift, God will prepare the way. I know these things are true and I love you all, and pray for you every night, I hope you know this. 
Elder Hanson

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