We saw all of your sons and parents/grandparents this week, and they are all doing great. They are also better trained, stronger in testimony, and full of pizza and brownies. As zone conference week follows transfer week, it was, as usual, fun to watch former companions and MTC buddies meeting up. It's very invigorating to work with a group of young men who like each other! (In contrast to the sibling rivalry in a certain South African mission home which will remain nameless...)
Elder and Sister Pier set me a good example as they "contacted" the pizza delivery man. He lives on the same road as the Berea chapel, but he said he couldn't come to church there: he gets up at 4am and races bikes every Sunday. But at least he's been asked!
These are examples of the kinds of encouragement and counsel our elders have received this month:
It has been a great year for the South Africa Durban Mission. Baptisms are up once again with an even greater emphasis on families. Temple attendance and missionaries serving (missionaries going out from our mission stakes and districts) are up dramatically. We have provided thousands of hours of service and strengthened the image of the Church throughout the mission. The districts have each formed district councils and are becomiing more and more independent. We have a number of new twigs (independent units) beginning to grow. The stone is rolling forth at an ever more rapid pace.
We are more obedient and hardworking than ever before and that is what brings us miracles and spreads the gospel. We have learned how to be more versatile and develop success strategies for each area we serve. Our teaching is getting better and better as we tailor each lesson and invite the Spirit to be our senior companion.
As we plan for 2010 we are poised to move the work forward with greater force and boldness. The mission has often talked about 5oo baptisms, but it was never really seen as a possibility. for 2010 it is a very real probability. We are starting the year with 14 December baptisms that will be confirmed the first Sunday in January. Our numbers of progressing investigators and investigators with baptism dates remain at historic levels. We have the tools, the missionaries, the training and the faith in place for extraordinary growth.
Here is what we must do:
Live the Mission Equation (Obedience+Hard Work +Faith=Miracles)
This is our touchstone. When we exercise faith, work hard and are obedient with exactness, miracles happen and the Spirit guides our every action. Don't let down your guard. The more exact you are in living the mission rules the more you will be guided by the Spirit. Don't make excuses or rationalize.
Teach by the Spirit
As you work to tailor each lesson to the needs of each investigator not only will the investigators understand and embrace the truth, but your own knowledge of the doctrine will expand beyond measure.
Be fully consecrated
You are a disciple of Jesus Christ. You are His missionary. As you take upon yourself Christ-like attributes and make every moment count you will be filled with his love and truly become His brother in the work. Be the missionary who really makes a difference.
Love your companion
Make a decision now that you will work well with every companion you have. That does not mean that you let him break the mission rules. It means that you put your personal ego and needs aside and work together to do the Lord's work.
Love the members and teach them how to be missionaries
We have great tools in the mission to do this. This year the big push will come from the stakes as each bishop and branch president is asked to be the "mission president" of his unit. Let's turn our 100 missionaries into 1,000.
What an exciting time to be in the Lord's army. What a wonderful blessing to be chosen to take the gospel of Jesus Christ to our brothers and sisters. I bear you my testimony that we are engaged in the greatest of all work, to assist in bringing about the immortality and eternal life of all mankind. I love you elders and love being engaged with you in this great work.
Assistants' Message to the brotherhood
This past cycle has been full of personal revelation and insight. You have experienced it last cycle with making tailor-made lessons for your investigators, and this cycle with seeking inspiration with what we want our investigators to DO, not just learn. We received personal revelation during all-zone conference, where we learned how we could make ourselves more like Christ. We have grasped the basics, now let us move forward. Let us make tailor-made lessons for every investigator. Let us seek inspiration to how our investigators will best progress into the waters of baptism. Let us accept the will of the Father, instead of letting our pride and knowledge hold us back and cause contention. This is the brotherhood. Let us join together and make each other even better than our potential. We watch out for each other. We strengthen each other. We will do our best, to serve you best, serving the Lord. Brethren, be good.
Our former missionaries continue to help us from afar. The Hafens "recruited" a couple who have put in their mission papers, and we hope they will reach us in the end! Please keep talking to all your friends (and yourselves) about joining this great labor. Our couples often say "If our friends could only come here for a few weeks, they would realize just how badly they are needed, and how much good they could do." To say nothing of the many members who would love them dearly and consider them angels. So if you're feeling like the younger generation is now running the ward/stake and you are not needed...think again!
Elders Mahloko and Murch spoke in Pinetown Ward today, and I was really proud of their maturity and the way they used the scriptures and Preach My Gospel. The stakes are being very supportive of missionary work - Hillcrest is beginning combined RS/Priesthood classes on Fast Sunday to focus on member missionary work and the Preach My Gospel Member program, like last year. Hurrah for Israel!
ps I saw three interesting business signs this week:
1. 20th Century Distributing (it looked closed; wonder why?)
2. "Fireworks, Schoolbooks & Standard Printers", an interesting combination...
3. Mississippi Seafoods - I really hope the seafood is sent frozen!