Monday, April 11, 2016

4-11-16 President's Weekly Letter

Dear Elders and Sisters,

I hope that you enjoyed listening to general conference as much as I did! I am so grateful to live in a day when there are prophets, apostles and other inspired leaders to help and guide us. I received much counsel that was personally relevant and I look forward to studying the talks and striving to implement the things I learned in the coming days.

In my email to the mission last week I brought up a concern about personal and companionship study. This important subject has continued to be on my mind. “Effective daily study must always begin with prayer. Study is an act of faith requiring the use of personal agency…. Getting good results from your study depends on having a strong desire to learn, studying with ‘real intent’ (Moro. 10:4), “hunger[ing] and thirst[ing] after righteousness” (Matt. 5:6), and searching for answers to your investigator’s questions” (PMG, p. 17).  Your studies should increase your faith in Jesus Christ, which will increase your desire to repent and improve. “This kind of study prepares you for service, offers solace, resolves problems, and gives you strength to endure to the end…. Learning the gospel is also a process of revelation.” It involves “ideas that come to your mind and feelings that come to your heart” (PMG, p. 18).

I am grateful for the thoughts and insights that you share with me each week in your emails. Here are some comments that I received from missionaries last week:

“On Saturday [my companion] and I decided to have a more effective personal study. As I studied from the scriptures, a talk from Elder Holland, and PMG, and as she did her thing, the spirit was so strong. I learned so much in that short personal study time that we had. That spirit carried into [our] companionship and language study and throughout the rest of the day. We were so pumped all day. We talked to everyone, and we had some very successful lessons. We talked to people that were interested in English class and the Gospel. Some people even self contacted us. The blessings that come from super effective personal study are REAL. They are so rewarding.”

“As I use personal study to plan for lessons and investigators, I have noticed that the focus of my studies has changed. When I first came on my mission, I spent a lot of time searching the scriptures for specific answers to hard questions like polygamy, etc. I have noticed lately that, as PMG states, if investigators are struggling to progress, they are having a problem with either their testimony or their commitment. I think this applies to all RC's, LA's, and even myself. Using the scriptures to build faith is the best way for people to overcome their problems. If we truly have faith in Christ and the prophets that he has called, these frankly small issues can be overcome.”

A missionary who is currently training one of our newest missionaries commented on something his companion said, “He marveled at the fact we have 4 hours to study in the morning. He commented that our 4 hours of study can make us more effective for the rest of the day than it would be to just have 4 more hours of proselyting on the streets. If our study time isn't making the rest of the day more effective, we're not doing it right. We've had some good studies so far, and I hope and expect they will continue to go well.”

Thank you for reporting your weekly “obedience numbers” to me. I appreciate your efforts to improve and hope that you will establish patterns of obedience that will continue to bless your lives after you complete your service as full-time missionaries. During this next week, I invite you to pay particular attention to the effectiveness of your personal and companionship studies. Please do the self-evaluation activity at the top of page 25 in PMG and share with me the results in next week’s email. In addition, please evaluate the effectiveness of your companionship study in helping you to “(1) build unity in your companionship in order to teach by the Spirit and (2) focus on the progress on those you teach” (PMG, p. ix). Please also begin in next week’s email to report how many times that week your companionship study was focused, helped increase effectiveness, and invited the Spirit.

I promise you that as you have more effective and spiritual morning studies, your faith to overcome personal weaknesses and your desire to work diligently will increase. Individually and as a companionship, you will become more effective in teaching by the Spirit and helping your investigators resolve concerns and progress towards baptism. You will be able to powerfully teach repentance and baptize converts, successfully fulfilling your purpose as a missionary!

President Blickenstaff
Mentor of Champions 

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