I appreciate the concern that Dad expressed in the letter this week about safety here in Mexico. President Mendoza explained things very well in his letter to the families. I really have no idea of what is on the news there and in other parts of the world, but, based on the phone calls and letters we receive in the offices, I think that they paint the picture a lot worse than things really are. (Or maybe it is just that those who call are family members who love and worry about their missionary sons and daughters.) As you know, I spent six months in Reynosa, and as an assistant to President Mendoza I am quite involved with everything that goes on in the mission, both frontera (border) and ciudad (city). And I can tell you that, yes, there are things going on, but that the missionaries are protected and the work goes on.
This week was wonderful. Monday and Tuesday we were involved in the sacred process of transfers. As always, it was incredible. This time, we finished in record time. (Of course, last transfer we finished quickly but spent the rest of the week making changes to the transfers as we received more information about the missionaries.)
I have described the transfer process before, but one of the parts that most impacts me is how much we pray. We start with a prayer. We place the zone leaders and we pray. We place the district leaders and we pray. We place the tutors and we pray. We place the senior companions and we pray. We place the junior companions and we pray. When we finish, we pray. Participating in the transfer process has helped me strengthen my testimony that church government and organization, as well as who is called to what calling, is a sacred thing and truly inspired.
After the last prayer Tuesday night, when we were finishing the transfers, I took a few minutes to look at the transfer board. For a few minutes, it seemed as if my eyes were opened. I saw the potential of each missionary and each companionship, how each brought certain strengths but also certain weaknesses, and what they could achieve if they worked together.
I don’t know if I have told you this before, but I have discovered that personal growth, improvement, and progression in the mission field are accelerated. If a missionary works hard and sets goals, he can achieve miracles in the lives of others and his own life much quicker than he could at home.
As part of the transfer process, we decided that it is time that the assistants change area. Our current area, Victoria, is somewhat distant from the offices, so next Tuesday my companions and I will be transferred together to America, an area closer to the offices. I have never opened an area before, but I am excited. It will be somewhat of an adventure, an experience for learning and growth. We are going to work hard, building on the foundation that the missionaries before us left in the area book, and looking for the Lord’s chosen children who are waiting for the Lord’s chosen servants.
Wednesday, we had our mission president´s council, which is a meeting with President Mendoza and his counselors. We talked about the needs of our mission and thus chose the topics for the next day’s zone leader council.
Thursday we had the ZLC. It was incredible. President Mendoza began teaching us two great principles. First, he taught us about sacrifice, based on the story of Cain and Abel, and the importance of sacrificing what the Lord asks, not what we want to give. Then he talked about councils and their role in the Church. President Mendoza is a great teacher.
When Elder de Hoyos came to our mission two weeks ago, he also taught us about councils. He taught us many things. One of the things that most caught my attention was his teachings about questions. He told us that good questions are one of a teacher’s most powerful tool. He told us that he himself has been trying to ask more questions instead of giving more answers. For example, he said that when he is in a conference with an Area Seventy or stake or mission presidents and someone asks him a question, and he begins to give a response, but President Johnson, the Area President, tugs his jacket, reminding Elder de Hoyos to respond with a question that helps the questioner find is own answer.
So I have been trying to follow his example. When I prepared my topic for the ZLC, all I did was make a list of good questions to prompt discussion and help us find the answers as a council. It went well. It was truly amazing.
Speaking of missionaries, in his letter Dad . . . asked me what helped me decide to serve a mission.
There are many things that helped me make that decision, but I think one of the most important factors is that I made that decision a long time before I turned 19. At least since I was 14, and probably a lot earlier, in the back of mind I always had two prime goals: go on a mission and become a good husband and father some day. It was part of my mindset.
Of course there are lots of other factors, such as good friends, good parents, being active in church, Mutual, and seminary. Another important factor was my pre-mission experiences with missionary work. I still remember my mission-for-a-day feelings and experiences.
When I think about my peers that decided not to serve, I think that they also made that decision long before they turned 19, or they consciously made other decisions that would later impede full-time missionary service--decisions such as not to attend seminary very often (or not to participate if their parents forced them to go). Decisions to spend time with the wrong sort of people, or decisions to break commandments.