There´s definitely not two Elder Cameron Nelsons, there is an Elder Rxxxx Nelson, two Elder Nxxxn's and a Hermana Nelson, but with my being here, it´s fairly difficult for the package to go to the wrong place. I´ve talked with the supplies secretary and he said nobody else with our last name has gotten a package, so maybe it would be a good idea to check with Vanessa. Typically on arrival, we sign a receipt saying that certain things have gotten here, for example two cards Elder Nelson, 1 package Hermana G, 1 card Elder S, so she ought to have a record of it getting here. Hope that helps!
This week we had the mission leadership council on Wednesday and then turned around and had a special conference (like a multi-zone conference but shorter) on Friday. The mission leadership council has always been one of my favorite meetings. It´s held on the first Wednesday of every month and all of the zone leaders as well as the sister training leaders attend, along with President, Sister Erickson, the secretaries and us. This time the agenda had a pretty good chunk in it for us, and so we started preparing maybe a week before council. My topics were presenting and discussing a mission-wide definition of what should and should not count as a baptismal date in terms of key indicators and also how to help disobedient missionaries. They are two topics that I felt really comfortable handling and so I was fairly excited to be able to lead a good discussion on both.
Starting off on the baptismal date, the topic was chosen because we had been asked to reemphasize the revealed standard of the church on readiness of baptismal candidates, as found in Doctrina y Convenios 20:37, so we read that and started to analyze it in applicable terms and not just the somewhat abstract terms in the scriptures. I mean, we started to define what we feel a "broken heart and a contrite spirit" mean, as well as testifying before the church of the repentance made and the good works required. I felt good about the way the mission talked about it, and we came to a consensus on how to be more united in the way we count baptismal dates. We decided or reaffirmed that:
1. Minors must have written permission in hand in order to count as a baptismal date.
2. Couples living together must have their papers turned in to the city municipal office in order to be married in order to count as a baptismal date (that´s so that the indicator depends solely on their desire to be baptized and their repentance, not on an earthly process that sometimes gets mixed up by human error)
3. If they stop attending church for more than one Sunday, they must show consistency in having attended church before in order to continue to count as having a baptismal date (this shows that they have truly changed and having come to church the minimum 3 times isn´t because of a couple of really charismatic missionaries)and finally
4. If there are further transgressions to be cleared up, especially those confessed in interviews, the district leader will be the judge of if the person should have additional time to fully repent.
In coming up with these standards or really cementing them, we were able to discuss what is best for the mission of course, but I could listen to some of the leaders and their concerns about the investigators they teach. I couldn´t help but think again about how very different the lives of our investigators are. They literally live without the gospel in the form that we understand it. When we bring the message to their doors, there’s a veritable light that we bring and their decision to be baptized is a decision to keep that light by way of repenting and continuing faithful in the church.
On the topic of disobedient missionaries, I started off sharing DyC 50:4-7. It´s about how in the early church, Satan had deceived many of the members into thinking that his falsehoods were revelation and that basically what was bad was good and good was bad. President used it a few months ago in a training and it shows so well how missionaries give themselves over to living below their privileges, even when we already know it’s best to not even dabble in the disobedience in the first place. The last phrase is also very important. I know that in DyC it´s applied in a different way, but it says but wherefore, these will be rescued. I took that to mean that those people who have been tricked by the enemy into being disobedient will be rescued. That should be our intention whenever we take actions to correct a disobedient missionary. I then listed and we discussed several of the things that we can do as missionary leaders to help those missionaries to come back and repent while in the mission and ultimately remain faithful after the mission. They are things like reviewing their proselyting plans, their cell phone, their electronics, having regular interviews, and genuinely being up front and honest with their missionaries. We talked about some ways in which the zone leaders can take disciplinary actions to correct missionaries and I think the overwhelming influences in doing that have to be a non-tolerance for disobedience and at the same time, an overwhelming love for the missionary in question. Desiring what´s best for someone changes an interview from an interrogation or a "burn" situation to an open dialogue in which you can help the missionary see his errors and it helps a lot, especially because in most cases, pride is a factor. I mention that because I have seen how coming across too strong while correcting a prideful missionary just causes him to shut you out and become combative against whatever help I might have had to offer. That’s why it´s the most important to be listening closely to the spirit when we go to correct anyone.
Anyway, that was what I trained on. Elder Barrientos trained on how to work with recent converts and how to look for the best uses of our time. President Erickson talked about the Godhead. He presented us each with a copy of an Elder Holland talk that he gave in the mission presidents´ seminar that goes into some pretty close detail on why we should start with the most basic when we teach people about our Heavenly Father. One of the most spiritual things from his training was when he put about 9 scriptures up on the board and as we read them he asked us to look for similarities. As we read each one I kept thinking well, it's a direct revelation to a profet of God. Or sometimes it seemed like they were all times when He called his profets to attention or corrected them, but that wasn´t it. In all nine of the scriptures, He called the profet by his name before beginning to reveal His will. President hit that point really hard. He said that the first vision started with Joseph´s name, and that God is a personal God, who knows us personally. We have to teach that to people because they don´t know Him like we do. We teach that God is literally our Father in heaven and that he knew us before the existence of this earth. We teach that he demands spiritual progress and that we believe that we can one day become like him. We teach that He and His Son and the Holy Ghost are three distinct beings and that He and His Son have actual bodies of flesh and bone. Of all the eternal truths we teach to His sons and daughters, this is the most surprising and the most life-changing. If I know that I have a Father in Heaven who wants to communicate with me, I will read the scriptures, I will pray more than just when I need something, I will do everything possible to know Him and to follow His plan.
Anyhow, that´s my fill for the week, I know it´s true, it´s something that will definitely change your life if you haven´t knelt down to find out if it´s true. Do it tonight, once you do, you´ll have a different perspective on the commandments.
I love you all. I am praying for AJ and his family, and I know that it´ll all work out how things should. It´s part of the plan and there is no test or trial that is too great for the atonement. Congrats to Josh, I know he´ll do great, and good luck on keeping focused this semester, I know how that is!