October is here with shorter days and the promise of cooler temperatures. I am truly amazed at how quickly this year has flown by and to think that this is my second October as a mission president. I am grateful for all that I have learned and yet humbled as I realize that there is still much I would like to change and improve. Perhaps you can relate to some of these feelings.
At this time last year, we had just established our mission standards. I am grateful that so many of you have exercised your faith, worked diligently and raised your expectations as you have striven to hit the mission standards. One of the important things that I have learned is the true value and purpose of our mission standards. They are a guide, a reference, a target, and should be a source of inspiration. They must never be a substitute for our purpose, which is to bring souls unto Christ. If we think correctly about mission standards, and use them properly, they will help us to be balanced in our work.
Last October, I also asked our missionaries to teach complete lessons and suggested that this should be our standard. With this past year’s experience, I have learned that teaching full lessons is difficult and probably not appropriate with most of our investigators. For a 45-minute lesson, we should take about 15 minutes to establish expectations and to understand the needs of investigators. We should take another 15 minutes to teach doctrinally correct principles that are clear and simple, and based on the needs of our investigators. We should then use about 15 minutes to extend an invitation that is given in a spirit of kindness and love and designed to help others come unto Christ. Invitations are probably the most important part of the lesson because faith is established as people act and have experiences, not by simply hearing and understanding.
Probably the most important principle that I have learned in the last year is the importance of companionships. I am so grateful that the Lord, in His wisdom, sends us out two by two. This work was not meant to be done by individuals working as individuals. The work of teaching and testifying must be done “two by two” (Luke 6:7; D&C 42:6). The Savior himself established this pattern with his apostles. As we learn to love one another and truly care for our companion, we will better understand how to love and serve those we meet on the street. As we lift, inspire and help each other come unto Christ, we will better understand how to accomplish our missionary purpose and help others walk along that same path.
Sister Blickenstaff and I have learned much as we have served alongside you in this great work. We are ever thankful for your devotion and sacrifice in this cause. We pray daily for your success and happiness. Let us all press on!
President and Sister Blickenstaff
Mentors of Champions