Thursday, June 30, 2011

June 2011

June 2011 President’s Message
In our zone conferences last transfer, we talked about keeping all parts of our missionary work in balance. We reviewed the fact that over the past year we have introduced the new, simplified curriculum lessons, which have really helped us improve our teaching. We’ve learned to teach better with the Spirit by pausing, asking inspired questions, listening, discerning through the Spirit, and then teaching to meet the needs of the investigator. We’ve understood better than ever before that investigators must make and keep commitments to repent, pray, study the Book of Mormon, and attend Church if they are to gain their own testimonies. We have practiced inviting investigators to be baptized in the first lesson. I believe we have really improved our teaching.

Then, two transfers ago, at our last Zone Conferences, we focused on planning with the Spirit and organizing our areas so that we can work smart. We talked about finding and visiting less active and fully active members as the most effective ways to find new investigators.

In our most recent zone conferences, we’ve talked about the reality that we’ve got to focus on all three of those aspects (planning, finding, teaching) to move to the next level. We’ve set a new Standard of Excellence of 2-3 new investigators per week per companionship. We are excited about bringing all three elements of our missionary work into balance, and really moving to the next level.
We love you! President Nelson

June Departures
The June 2011 Missionary “Departures” are as follows:
Sisters Language
Sister MayLyn Bartschi                  English
Elder Matthew Bonham                 Spanish
Elder Jacob Byington                     Spanish
Elder Jordan Call                            Spanish
Elder Andrew Cottrell                    Spanish
Elder Jared Cragun                         English
Elder Kelvin Curtis                        Spanish
Elder David Gourdin                      English
Elder Justin Judd                            English
Elder Brandon Kenney                   Spanish
Elder Joel Morales                          Spanish
Elder Corwin Oakes                        Spanish
Elder Lance Watkins                       Spanish

June Arrivals

The June 2011 “Arrivals” from the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah are as follows:
Sisters                                            Language
Sister Tirsit Kathy Valentine          English
Sister Kaitlin Elise Gray                 Spanish

Elder Alejandro Albornoz               Spanish
Elder Jared Brandon Alvarado         English
Elder George Samuel Bond              Spanish
Elder Derek Daniel Crabtree            English
Elder Jordon J. Crayton Spanish
Elder Steven James Holbrook         Spanish
Elder Joshua P. King                       Spanish
Elder Timothy A. Matthews            Spanish
Elder Mahonry Moises Meza          Spanish
Elder Raymond Folau Moala          Spanish
Elder Byron Ray Schlechty             English
Elder Jordan Walton                        Spanish
Elder Elder Jason C. Warhurst        Spanish

Talk On The Streets
     Book of Mormon Musical. The talk on the streets in the New York City metro area as well in the media (television, radio, internet, etc.)” is the Broadway play, Book of Mormon Musical. Recently, it has generated a tremendous amount of attention, namely because of the 14 Tony Award nominations. The content has been described by not only our Church and others as well, as “blasphemous and offensive.”
When dealing with negative publicity--an on-going situation since the Church was restored--the Church doesn’t acknowledge it. We speak for ourselves through our beliefs and our actions. The Church’s style of “fighting back” has always been to increase peoples’ public awareness of who we are and what we stand for, rather than making any connections to specific issues. Media campaigns in different are being increasingly researched and implemented.
     A recent statement of the Church sent out is as follows, “We have no desire to react or acknowledge the musical itself. This proposal (below) seeks to take advantage of the top of mind awareness by establishing a New York City presence.”
       We desire to cover the greater Manhattan area with transit and out advertisements June through September, 2011. This will coincide with the Tony Awards to be held on June 12 and will enable a presence as the ‘Book of Mormon Musical’ continues to receive media attention.” This would include:
     *Times Square digital and static billboard
     *Outdoor digital panel advertising in multiple Midtown locations
     *Heavy advertising in subway stations
     *Heavy advertising on subway trains
     *Heavy advertising on taxi cabs will be advertized as the source people can visit for information (research shows that 40% of people base their understanding of Mormons on inaccurate information).The Church will track the results of the campaign measuring: the increase in visitors to the in New York, time spent on the website, missionary chats, missionary requests, etc. This will happen on a weekly basis.
       We know that we are involved in the Lord’s work in these latter days and that all things will work for our good. Could anyone have ever imagined that the phrase, “Book of Mormon,” would become a buzzword on the streets of New York? As someone added, “Reading the book is better than the play.”

General Authorities’ Visit
     In June, our Mission was privileged to receive a visit from Elder Craig Christensen of the Seventy and his wife Debborah and Elder Gerritt W. Gong of the Seventy and his wife, Susan. They were on a Mission Tour—the first for Elder Gong.
     Elders Christensen and Gong and their wives have spend years “on the road” in service to the Church. Elder and Sister Christensen spent seven years living in Mexico. He served as Mission President and as well as president of the Mexico South Area. Elder Gong and his wife are en route in Hong Kong where they will be living for a number of years. Elder Gong will be serving in the Area Presidency.
     While they were here, they held two Conferences for the missionaries as well as two firesides. The Christensens held a fireside for the Spanish-speaking members in the Plainview Stake (they both delivered their talks in Spanish). The Gongs held a fireside in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn where they spoke in Chinese (Sister Gong served her mission in Taiwan?). Their mission tour also included a trip to Times Square in Manhattan to view the Church’s current media campaign — I Am a Mormon/

New Senior Missionary Policies
     Notification was received by the missions that the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles have recently approved changes in the policies regarding senior missionaries. The downturn in the economy, has made it increasingly difficult for many senior couples to fulfill missions—many retirement funds targeted for missionary service have been significantly diminished. The policies will hopefully make it possible for more couples to serve.
     Service. “As of September 1, 2011, couples may serve for 6, 12, 18, or 23 months. In addition, there will be a $1,400 per month cap established for housing costs. This will be especially beneficial in the New York South Mission since housing costs are among the most expensive in the world. There will also be help provided to cover utilities and furnishings. Couples will continue to pay for food and other personal expenses.
     “The cap on housing costs is intended to allow more couples to serve and allow Church leaders to make assignments without being constrained by whether couples can afford housing costs.”

Area Organization – The “Map Plan”
   “Organize yourselves, prepare every needful thing, and establish an area, even an area of order (DC 109:8, with some liberties).
     Change. Recently, there has been a simple, but extensive change in the way missionaries work on a daily basis. As a mission, we have re-organized all our areas. The Black Box, a card file of names and addresses used in the “old days,” is history. As a mission, this reorganization has taken hours and hours, but the benefits and the increase of efficiency have been immediately recognizable.
Simply speaking,
(a) Area organization starts by organizing the Branch or Ward directory and entering the member names, addresses, etc. on an Excel spread sheet—active as well as less active, then adding investigators, former investigators, referrals, etc. (b) Missionaries then get a map of their proselyting area and divide it up into smaller zones marking the location of every member in that zone. (c) They reduce the size of the maps and names so that they fit in their planners—the map on one page and the lists of corresponding names on the opposite page, so everything is visible at a glance.
     As many missionaries stated, they now always have a specific place to go—a person to look for. They focus on people not streets. It makes planning easier and enables the missionary to “work smart.” In their Daily Plans, their goal is to have a name written down to visit for every hour.
     “The Map” It’s a three-part process. (a) Find the address (hopefully someone is home), (b) 2-2-5. Then knock at least the two doors on each side and five across the street or across the hall (c) the third part of the plan is to “fearless” -- the mission word for contacting people you meet on the street as missionaries travel to and from the address.

Missionary Quotes
     “In Astoria, Queens I knocked 1,060. doors (I counted them). We got a few call backs, but no progressing investigators. What I learned through that experience was that there are far more effective ways to find people to teach, and that is through members.”
     “When I came into the mission, I equated finding investigators with knocking doors. I spent hours and hours….I learned the painful way that it didn’t work. I was not working smart. I wish I had the tools that we are receiving now. It would have completely changed my mission.
     “Missionaries will never have to open their Daily Planners and find empty pages again. It makes it much easier to implement the directives found in Preach My Gospel. It will revolutionize our approach to planning and finding.”
      “I love this new “map system” way of working. It really provides more structure and helps us exercise faith that Heavenly Father will put the right people in our path. We even have a success story from putting it into action! We were looking up a less-active member and in the elevator of her building I struck up a short by friendly conversation with a man. Well, we knocked on the less active member’s door and no answer. So we decided to do the 2-2-5 rule. We knocked a few doors with “Católica” stickers and got rejected right away. Then we went up two flights of stairs and I heard Spanish through a door, knocked on it and the door flies open with the man from the elevator sitting with his family at their table having family dinner all together at 8:30 pm (very rare for NYC). The man looked pleased to see us and the family listened intently as we testified of the Book of Mormon and how it blesses families. They accepted a return appointment. I know that Heavenly Father is very aware of where we are and as we listen to the still small voice to the spirit, we will be led to the people we would have us speak with. Great work to be a missionary.”
Comparative Religion ClassStoney Brook University, April 2012
     In April, President and Sister Nelson were invited to make a presentation to comparative religion at
Stoney Brooke University. The arrangements were made by Elder Click and Elder Westover. The
presentation began by explaining a little about our missionary program:
     *There are six languages in the mission--Spanish, the largest, English, Mardarin, Cantonese,   
        Korean, and American Sign Language.
     *The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the 4th largest religious in the United States --  
        it's currently larger outside the US than in.
     *Missionaries are not paid by the Church—they pay their own way.
     *The word, Mormon, is a nickname. In Old Testament times a branch was broken off in times
       during the times of Zedekiah before the destruction of Jerusalem. Lehi, a prophet, and his family
       were led to the Americas where he and other prophets continued prophecying of the birth of    
       Jesus Christ and his teachings—a witness
     President Nelson began by relating the story of the Restoration and the appearance of the Father and the Son to Joseph Smith.Everybody was encouraged to participate and ask any questions as we went along. Some of the questions were as follows:
Q. Is the Book of Mormon more important than the Bible?
A. No, we believe in both of them. As it reads in the introduction to the Book of Mormon, the Book of Mormon contains the fulness of the gospel as does the Bible.
Q. What happens to babies who die?
A. They get a straight shot to heaven (some were visibily surprised).
Q. So you are saying that God has a physical presence?
A. Yes
Q. I am a Catholic. Do you believe in Peter and what he taught—when he was given the leadership of the church?
A. Yes.
Q. What about the priesthood and women?
A. For example, the Relief Society is a world-wide organization—the largest women’s organization in the world. The women are the presidents. Women also lead world-wide organizations of young women, youth and children. All positions operate under the umbrella of the Priesthood.
Q. Is Utah like the Vatican of Mormonism?
A. Yes. Utah is the “Vatican” of Mormonism.
Q. Do you have a living prophet today?
A. Yes, Thomas S. Monson
Q. What is revelation--what form does it take?
A. Mostly thoughts and feelings that come to the head and heart. We all receive revelation because we all have the light of Christ.
Q. It says here that you have the potential to become Gods--is that true?
A. Yes, we are literal sons and daughters of God. We Have the potential to become like him.
Q. Why did they kill Joseph Smith?
A. They didn’t like him. The Mormons were becoming numerous and very strong (at one point a city they founded, Nauvoo, grew to be larger than Chicago) . From a political standpoint, people feared that the Mormons would take over politics. The fact was Mormons were only interested in seeking religious freedom.
Q. What about polygamy?
A. Plural marriage is not practiced by our Church. It is, however, part of our history. The show on television has nothing to do with us.
Q. Why don’t blacks go to heaven?
A. They do. They just couldn’t officiate in the affairs of the church until the 1970’s. They have the same rights as everybody else.
Q. The Book of Mormon--is it done being written?
A. Yes.
     The Lord has commanded, “Seek learning, even by study and also by faith” (D&C 88:118). He has counseled us to learn the gospel and to gain an understanding “of things both in heaven and in the earth, and under the earth; things which have been, things which are, things which must shortly come to pass; things which are at home, things which are abroad; the wars and the perplexities of the nations, and the judgments which are on the land; and a knowledge also of countries and of kingdoms—that [we] may be prepared in all things” (D&C 88: 78-80).