Monday, February 1, 2016

2-1-16 President's Weekly Letter

The New Year is a time of renewal. A new year. A fresh start. A time to consider such things as progress, change, improvement, resolution, repentance, and covenants.

Our mission vision includes the hope and faith that each missionary will be fully engaged in the process of personal conversion. The extent to which this happens is the foundation for all that we can or will accomplish as a mission, as individual missionaries, and as sons and daughters of God. Conversion is a process that includes repentance and the renewing of covenants. It is not something that we experience once in our lives, “rather, when repeated throughout life these principles become an increasingly rewarding pattern of living”(PMG, p. 6, see also D&C 50:14).

Our mission plans include an important charge that will help us greatly accelerate our personal conversion: Be strictly obedient. This is a process that must be undertaken by each missionary in order to successfully engage in serving the Lord. We are blessed to know the commandments of God and to understand why they will bring us protection, happiness and freedom. In addition, full-time missionaries are asked to voluntarily submit to many additional restrictions. Why do we have mission rules and why should we strive to obey them?

As missionaries we have tremendous responsibilities placed upon as that are clearly beyond our capacity to accomplish by our own wisdom, experience and ability. “The message of the Restoration of the gospel must be taught by divine power…. The Spirit is essential for teaching truths of the gospel in a way that builds faith in others” (PMG, p.3). If we are to fulfill our divinely appointed callings, we cannot lack this power.  In the recent worldwide missionary broadcast, Elder David A. Bednar put it this way, “Without the power of the Holy Ghost, we are utterly incapable of doing what we have been called to do. Do you really think that our capacity to explain the principles of the gospel is going to persuade someone in and of itself?" This power also does not come by simply putting on a nametag. It has a price. What is that price?

Last week I received an email from one of our newest missionaries that had the numbers “3/5/6“ at the top. I did not know what the numbers meant, but later in the email he explained as follows.

“Something that I learned over the past two weeks is the importance of exact obedience. Before I came on my mission, I committed to my bishop to be exactly obedient. Even getting up at 6:31 meant that I was starting the day off on the wrong foot. During the MTC, my branch president had us report 7/7/7, which is how many times we do something during the week. The first seven is getting out of bed on time, the second is starting daily planning on time, and the third is going to bed on time. We would report how many times out of seven we did each thing that week, and after going on both district and zone leader exchanges the past couple of weeks, I realized how much missionaries don't care about this. It is by small and simple things that great things are brought to pass, and I know that because [my companion] and I are trying to strive for perfect 7's, we have been blessed. We have been trying to sharpen the ax before focusing where on the tree we need to start chopping. And by being exactly obedient, I know that we will truly be blessed.”

President Ezra Taft Benson once said, “When obedience ceases to be an irritant and becomes our quest, in that moment, God will endow us with power.” I invite you to discuss this quote and today’s email as a companionship. Ask yourselves, what can we do to show the Lord we are willing to be exactly obedient in order to qualify for the power of the Holy Ghost? Make a plan to improve. I would also like you to report the three numbers, as explained above, in your weekly emails going forward.  

President Blickenstaff
Mentor of Obedient Champions 

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