This week had some crazy changes to the worldwide missionary force. We received a transmission from the council of the mission board, including Elder Oaks, Elder Bednar, Elder Andersen, and others. Some changes include the schedule, in that we now have more liberty in choosing when we study and, according to where we're serving, when we get up and go to bed. For instance, in the jungle, where everyone's cooking lunch in the morning and stays up late in the heat, missionaries can wake up an hour later, study in the morning, and work until 10:00 PM. It sounds exciting. It involves a higher focus on proselyting, including less time for study. Another change announced is the amount of numbers we ask from missionaries. Whether it be on a worldwide level, mission level, zone level, or district level, we only ask for four numbers of the week, all focused on investigator progress. The idea is that missionaries don't need to feel pressure to up their lesson count or things like that just to have good reports. We do what is most appropriate to baptize more people. Incidentally, as a Zone Leader, it also means I don't have to continue asking for endless lines of numbers each week.
I was particularly impressed in the transmission by Elder Bednar's remarks, including his observation of the linked nature of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (being faith, repentance, baptism, the receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.) He taught there is no way way to separate the principles- all of them are the same message, and we should clearly demonstrate that to our investigators. Each naturally flows into the other...as he very adeptly showed in last April´s conference. I felt a good deal of the message centered on a scripture in Doctrine and Covenants 18:14: ´Wherefore, you are called to cry repentance unto this people.´ That ought to be the center of all our teachings -- a sincere change in the hearts and lives of people.
What we teach is difficult change. We ask for hard sacrifices. We were talking with one person who works at a funeral home. She tried to explain to us why it's not feasible to come to church on Sundays, in part because her mother needs her in the business. We calmly explained we would never, ever ask her to make such a sacrifice on our own volition, as we never had to do something apparently impossible to go to church. We explained that the difficult doctrine of Christ is to make high sacrifices to comply with His commandments. In the end, she came, and we had a very spiritual service. I know the Gospel is not easy, but rather that it demands change and sacrifice. Joseph Smith once said something along the lines of, -A religion that does not ask for sacrifice cannot create enough faith such as is necessary to return to God´.. I think that's true...only sacrifice can make our faith grow.
One other change that occurred was emergency transfers, now I await my new companion in a couple hours. I'll miss my last companion, Elder Santos, a lot. He was a wonderful companion, and we worked very well together. Thanks to his work in the last transfer before I came, my next companion and I will have a very successful month. I love you all, and I hope you had a good week.