Monday, February 24, 2014

Zone Conferences!

We just finished our first week of zone conference and tomorrow we start week 2. Here are a few pictures from the conferences. I will write the details about what we did at them another time.

Zone Pictures:

Best Area Book Awards Went To . . .

Scripture Chase Awards Went To . . .

Top Test Scores From Each Conference (there were three of them) went to:
 All four of these missionaries scored 100% Good job!!
Missing is Elder Kubat!! I forgot to take his picture!
Congratulations to them all!


Saturday, February 22, 2014

Mission President's Seminar in Mexico City

A couple weeks ago we had the wonderful privilege of attending the Mission Presidents' Seminar for the Mexico Area in Mexico City. Not only were we able to meet and be instructed by our very inspired Area Presidency, but we also received training from Elder Dallin H. Oaks and his wife, and Elder Craig Christensen of the Seventy and his wife. It was such a pleasure to be instructed by them and certainly an experience we will always remember.

In all of our meetings, working with members to find and teach investigators was emphasized. Elder Oaks told the story of how his missionary grandson observed that the members were praying for the missionaries to find people to teach and the missionaries were praying for the members to find people for them to teach and what was being neglected on both sides was the actual finding.

He also mentioned that when the Church began to strongly emphasize member missionary work, the missionaries "stopped rowing and waited for the members to push their boats to shore". He taught that missionaries need to be actively seeking new people to teach on their own by talking with everyone they meet, as well as work with members.

Some of my favorite quotes from President Daniel Johnson from the seminar are:

Elder Johnson quoting Elder Bednar--"If we want different results, we need to change the way we teach. If we keep doing what we are doing now, our results will be the same."

Don't ever ask an investigator to do something that you yourself are not doing.

Satan is hastening his work. If we don't hasten ours, we will be left very far behind.

Don't leave this meeting discouraged. We do need to do better, but we need to look forward with an eye of faith, trusting in the Lord.

The best protection missionaries have is obedience because then they have the guidance and protection of the Spirit. What worries me the most is knowing we have some disobedient missionaries without this protection.

Some principles that were emphasized in our training are:

1. Missionaries need to understand that finding and teaching are ONE activity not two separate ones. Most missionaries either focus on finding or on teaching, not realizing that they should always be doing both at the same time.
2. Missionaries need to understand that they are on their missions to help the members. The members do not exist to help the missionaries.
3. Missionaries should teach a gospel principle in every house they enter.
4. Missionaries should ask for a name in every lesson they give (which means ALWAYS).
5. Every missionary should read, understand and live every single principle they teach. They can not teach with clarity something they do not understand and they cannot teach with power something they themselves are not living.
6. Missionaries need to raise their expectations. God does expect us to do a lot more than we are doing, and with an increase in faith and obedience, God can help the missionaries baptize weekly.
7. We need to raise our sights. We need to teach more, teach better, and find better. And every night each missionary should ask him/herself, "What must I do tomorrow to improve over today?"

And from Elder Oaks . .  .

Our first priority is to increase baptisms. However, we should not set goals for the number of baptisms since that depends on the agency of the investigator. But missionaries can set preliminary goals that lead to baptism--such as how many lessons they will teach and how many new investigators they will find.

Here are some more pictures from our time in Mexico City:

One of the highlights of our seminar is visiting with friends. And it is nice to find out our challenges are not unique!

Here we are with the Calls from the Mexico City North Mission and the Reeves from the Mexico Puebla South Mission. We are so sad that both of them will be returning home this summer and we will miss them very much at our future meetings.

We stayed at an airport hotel but had our meetings at the old MTC on the temple grounds. The temple is closed right now for remodeling, but the visitors center just opened after being closed for two years! It was fun to see that. The center is beautiful and very well done.

And as you can see, we didn't starve. This was just a snack between meetings. Kudos to the chefs who did a fabulous job with the food. 
 And the decorations. I loved all their attention to detail. 

 Now we are just sad that we won't have another seminar until October!! But we are ready to put in practice all that we learned!

Friday, February 21, 2014

A Little Advice to Parents

Dear Parents,

We understand you are excited to have your son or daughter return home. Having been parents of missionaries ourselves, we can relate to that excitement. And we are so grateful for parents who support their missionary children by writing regularly.

But please remember that your child needs to stay focused on his or her mission up until the very last day. And when parents write about all the fun things they are going to do when the missionary returns, or how the parents can't wait for the missionary to meet his new niece/nephew/sister-in-law etc., or the exciting vacations they are planning on taking together, it really messes up the missionary.

I have visited with missionaries who are going home as early as March to as late as June who are struggling to stay focused due to letters from parents--particularly mothers. And when missionaries lose their focus, they get homesick, work less, are less obedient, and negatively influence their companions and districts.

So please be sensitive to that and help them "endure to the end" with an "eye single to the glory of God" by only writing things in letters that will help and inspire them.

Then, when your son or daughter returns home, they will truly return with honor, having been faithful and focused until the very end!

Thank you so very much!

Still Growing . . . Mission Council This Month

We now have TWELVE zones so that means TWENTY-FOUR zone leaders!
There are now so many of us, we no longer fit in our house.

Moving our meeting will be an adjustment for me since providing the food will be harder, but we will make it work somehow.

But we are so excited to work with this group of missionaries. They are awesome and we know they will do great things!!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

A Beautiful Day!!

Here we are!! 219 Missionaries (counting us and our senior office couple)  with Elder and Sister Craig Christensen, Elder and Sister De Hoyos, and Elder Martinez (area authority). I LOVE this picture!!

We had such a wonderful day meeting in the chapel with the Guadalajara East Mission and learning from our leaders. We loved the stories that were told and the advice given. And now it is time to get out and put it all to work!!

But first . . . a few more pictures . . . :-)

Lining up for the picture . . .
We are now 54 sister missionaries strong!

And just after the meeting with both missions! What a beautiful sight to behold!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

New Missionaries!!

We welcomed 16 new missionaries on Monday. Eight were sisters and eight were elders, eight came from the US and eight came from Spanish speaking countries--Mexico, Honduras and El Salvador.

The native Spanish speakers all arrived at 8:20 in the morning--after getting up around 1:30 to finish packing and head to the airport. Here they are after arriving and with their companions:

In the early evening we welcomed 8 missionaries from the US. Here are there pictures as a group and with their companions.

And a bonus. No, they are not companions. But they are friends from the BYU track team. Sister T on the left arrived 8 weeks ago and Sister B on the right arrived last week. They were reunited for a few minutes before they both went off to work. 
We wish everyone the best!! (So far, so good!)

Monday, February 3, 2014

Note to Parents of Missionaries who arrived today . . .

Just a note to let you know that your children all arrived safely. Those who arrived this morning from Mexico are now with their companions in their areas. Those who arrived from Provo tonight just left our house and are headed to the office or missionary apartments to sleep. They will be trained tomorrow morning and then head out to their areas.

I will post pictures on the blog later this week, but I will also email all the parents with a group and companion picture in the next couple days.

But as for now, know they are all very tired but in good spirits.
Hermana Wagner

Otra Despedida!

Farewells once again. This is always such a sad night.

We were particularly sad this time because Sister Lopez is the first missionary we have welcomed and sent home after serving her full term of service with us. We have two others who came after we did who have already returned home, but both were visa waiters in their respective countries and so came to us after already serving several months in another mission.

But Sister Lopez served her entire mission with us!! That means that we have been here more than a year and a half! The time has passed so rapidly (after those first few months:-) We wish we could make it slow down just a little.

We will miss all of these missionaries!! But we know they will do great things!
Final Transfer

Elder Mason Sanders---Mesa, Arizona
Elder Mario Alberto Pizaño--San Luis Potosi, Mexico
Elder Alejandro Zamarripa--Tiajuana, Mexico
Elder Kyle Headley--Clinton, Utah
Elder Geovanny Vega---Hidalgo, Mexico
Hermana Christiane Lopez--Palenque Chiapas, Mexico
Elder Jonathan Thompson--Tulsa, Oklahoma

Congratulations to you all for a job well done!
Also congratulations to Elder Zamarripa and Elder Pizaño for taking and passing the English Competency Exam!!

Change Day!!

I love change day. Well, to be honest, it is a long day with all that goes on, but I do love seeing all the missionaries at the church building!! Here are a few pictures!

Oh, and if you did not hear from your missionary today do not worry!! It is probably because they are traveling. We will not go to bed tonight until we know that every missionary is safely in his or her area.

 Elder D on the right with his grandson, (family picture) who is going to be training this transfer, making Elder D a great-grandfather.

 So those pictures were all outside. Here is what was inside . . . The assistants training the a new group of 8 missionaries who arrived this morning from Mexico City. (I will post pictures of that on Wednesday) At this moment they are with President Wagner at the airport picking up another group of 8 arriving from Provo.  So grateful to have them!