Iowa Elders sang as they knocked and knocked and knocked and
They knocked on doors and froze and talked.
Sharing the gospel all the time.
Week after week, they sang as they walked and knocked and walked and knocked and walked.
Well, it's been a wonderful week in Iowa. A few really cold days and a few really warm ones (in the 30s!). Elder Newhouse and I have been walking all week. Sadly, some of it didn't turn out the way we would have liked as appointments fell through and people weren't home, but it turned out to be some good talking time nonetheless.- (slightly edited lyrics of Pioneer Children Sang As They Walked)
(By the way, we don't knock on doors as much as I probably made you think by the opening of this letter. But we still knock them! You can't be a real missionary unless you knock some doors... ;) )
We had the opportunity of having interviews with our Mission President this week. When talking with me about serving with Elder Newhouse again, he said "I honestly forgot that you had served together before." President Jensen is such a funny guy, but a Spiritual Giant! He is taking steps as directed from God that will revolutionize Missionary Work forevermore. I will include details about that in the future... *suspense*
This week I was asked by President by way of one of my Zone Leaders to have a specific training this week in District Meeting. I am to train and refocus the efforts of this district on helping an investigator be baptized after you have found them. As missionaries, we find lots of people to work with, to teach the message of the Restoration, and invite them to baptism, qualifying them as "investigators." Of all of these new investigators only a very small percentage actually get baptized. And sometimes, missionaries go so long in between preparing people for baptism they forget how it is done.
With that in mind, I have turned to Preach My Gospel and the Book of Mormon to look for solutions. Recently my focus has been really turning to working with members. As previously mentioned, our Bishop here in Waterloo is very missionary-minded! He is getting the bishopric and Ward Council excited to do missionary work as well. My Book of Mormon reading happened to be in Alma chapter 32 today. For those of you who don't know, Alma 32 is a chapter where the ancient American prophet Alma gives a wonderful allegory on Faith, relating it to a seed. Just like the primary song says
Alma is laboring with 7 other missionaries at the time this chapter takes place. (Just like a missionary district!) The beginning of Alma 32 says "And it came to pass that they did go forth, and began to preach the word of God unto the people, entering into their synagogues, and into their houses; yea, and even they did preach the word in their streets. And it came to pass that after much labor among them, they began to have success among the poor class of people" (verses 1-2). These missionaries, by their own diligent efforts, had begun to have "success among the poor." Since I have been in Iowa and teaching these wonderful people, I don't think I have taught someone who had a job AND a good family situation my entire mission whom I found on my own. We can see that even the efforts of Alma and his brethren, without the help of members, bring those that are in poor temporal circumstances."Faith is like a little seed:If planted, it will grow.Faith is a swelling within my heart.When I do right, I know."
Don't get me wrong, I love the people of Iowa and the people we work with, but sometimes it gets frustrating when everyone we work with has problems with the Law of Chastity, or the Word of Wisdom, or the means to provide for their family and live the Law of Tithing (for a detailed description of what these things mean see http://mormon.org/beliefs/
commandments, Live the Law of Chastity, Obey the Word of Wisdom, and Keep the Law of Tithing). Missionaries are called and set apart to help people progress spiritually, but more often than not, we need to help people get their lives in order temporally before they can be blessed spiritually by the blessings of the gospel and preparing for baptism.
Missionary work can be hard, but it is always worth it because of the love we are given by Christ for these people. As President Gordon B. Hinckley said "The process of bringing new people into the Church is not the responsibility alone of the missionaries. They succeed best when members become the source from which new investigators are found" (Ensign, May 1999, 106).
Members are the best missionaries. And we are focusing our efforts unite the members with the missionaries.
Elder Zachary R McKenzie
Iowa Des Moines Mission
D&C , 36
Doubt Not, Fear Not.