This weekend was stake conference. I like stake conference. Apparently it's new church policy that the adult sessions of stake conferences are dedicated to hastening the work, which makes Stake conference so much better. I wasn't sure who was sitted on the podium to speak to us, but I knew he was a visitor, maybe a seventy or something since he brought with him a large brief case and looked kind of like Bruce R. McConkie. When a member of the stake presidency announced who was speaking, my entire BEING filled with excitement. Elder Clayton Christiansen, author of "The Power of Everyday Missionaries" spoke to us for about an hour that evening. Indeed. He had just driven from Boston and was only able to speak to us that night, and boy was it a charm.
Expecting to have such power in his voice for being a Bruce R. McConkie look-alike and for being like 6'5, as he began his talk he spoke in a quiet, peaceful voice that immediately penetrated every soul with the spirit. It was the best talk I've ever witnessed in my entire short life, I'm still in shock. I wish you all could have shared this incredible time with me. I'd like to share with you a few of the things he talked about, things that I could have NEVER learned in Curitiba. I wish you could hear these things in the way he spoke that evening.
He began his talk with the story of how he came to know the Book of Mormon was true and began devoting his life to it at the verge of leaving the church while in the halls of Oxford University. He read and prayed to know if the Book of Mormon was true nearly 7 times before receiving his answer, pleading with god to know if it was true, promising that he would devote his life to it if it was. He described his feeling after praying to know for the 7th time in the University, a peaceful, overwhelming feeling that overcame him and brought him to tears uncontrollably. He then went on explaining a few points of things that work in missionary work and things that don't with stories of his experiences. I will just share with you some the main points he presented:
1. Many people claim to not be interested in religion because too often they reject falsehood. Satan has done a remarkable job of painting God as someone we cannot believe in. Many people are sick and tired of rejecting false concepts of other faiths and have lost all hope in organized religion in general.
2. All people want to serve the Lord, whether or not they want to learn doctrine. They have desires to do good and want to help, but don't know where. Invite your friends to do service with you!
3. Don't ask people if they are intersted in learning more about your faith, but rather make them feel needed and wanted. He then told a humorous story about a missionary that came fresh from the MTC ready to work in Boston but wasn't able to get past the first discussion for months so he became discouraged. Elder Christiansen had a friend from Harvard whom he played basketball with in the church who he had been trying to share the gospel with, but only wanted to play basketball. After many times of asking, Elder Christiansen explained to his friend the situation with the new young missionary. He asked his friend if he would listen to the poor missionary's lesson and help him teach better. At the end of the first lesson, the missionary held out a Book of Mormon and invited him to read it. Elder Christiansen's friend begrudgingly accepted, and because of that choice he is now working in the Boston temple. Green Eggs and Ham!
4. Everyone has questions in their soul that are answered in the Book of Mormon. As you share it with them, give them specific chapters to read that answer those questions (ex. Moroni 8-Infant Baptism, Mosiah 18-Why god cares so much about Baptism, etc.) and ask them to write out the answers they receive from their reading. Writing forces you to think, thus allowing the spirit to enter more. Remember to teach them HOW to pray and read the scriptures. We live in an age where many people don't even read the Bible anymore.
5. People are only ready to receive the gospel when THEY are, not when we as missionaries are ready to teach them.
I will stop there since I feel too preachy. Take this knowledge I've gained and apply it to your missionary efforts! After the session was over, I had the opportunity to shake his hand talk to him for a moment. I told him how much his book has blessed my family in their missionary efforts. If I was able, I would love to go to Harvard Business school to hear him speak every day.
I now think I have time to share with you a story of a miracle I saw this week. On Thursdays, Elder Hougaard and I typically go to the University to man a table with free handouts and other goodies to get the church's name across the campus. This Thursday before going, I decided I wanted to get a sub from my favorite Italian sub shop. I like big sandwiches. Because of that we were a little bit late, but we got on the bus to head to the University. On the bus, a woman named Tiffany sat next to us who appeared to be under stress. She looked to me a lot like Al Fox, the tattooed mormon. She told Elder Hougaard that she felt really good from just reading "Jesus Christ" on his nametag. She said that she has a personal relationship with the Savior, but feels that God is angry with her because she tries to find happiness in the wrong places, and is unhappy about her life. She says that she is religious, but has gone for church to church trying to find the answers to her questions. I testified briefly to her of the love that God has for her, and of how we can overcome difficult things through the savior. She began to cry. It was a tender moment. She told us to "please stop by" as we got off the bus, and felt that angels were sent to her when she needed them. Our appointment with her is set up for Tuesday. After getting off the bus, I thought of the love that God has for her. Even though we were late because I made the childlish decision to get a giant sanswich, we were exactly where we needed to be.
This is not our work, it's the Lord's work, and God is a god of love. If we are obedient to the spirit, he leads us to do good to the children he loves so much. We can feel of that love when we serve and put him first. We would be nothing without him, and all he asks for is our help.
There are many more incredibly things that happened this week, but I felt you would all benefit most from these two things. I wish you all a happy week. I'm praying for you!