Tag Archives: missionaries

When You List Your Personal Strengths, Are You Remembering This One?

unspecifiedWe really, really look forward to Mondays. That’s “Email Day” around here. Each week I update our missionary-son, Landon, on our lives and share a short gospel principle that’s, hopefully, encouraging. I also ask him three to five questions about himself and his mission experience.

Last week one of my questions invited him to list some of the strengths, gifts, or talents he’s noticing he is developing. I thought I’d hear him talk about some newfound courage or ability to love others or a developed work-ethic. His answer (and what follows is all he wrote about it) caught me a little off guard:

“I think I’ve just realized my weak spots right now. I have noticed that now when things get rough the first thing I do is turn to the Lord. Which if you count Him as my strength, I guess there’s one.” (Elder Mickelson, January 2017)

Each of us possess talents and talents-in-embryo. We each have strengths and gifts. But when we’re in a covenant relationship with the Savior, He becomes our greatest Gift. Many of us take courage when approaching a challenge when we’re reminded of some gift that will give us an advantage in the sticky situation. But, doesn’t having the Savior as our Advocate, Redeemer, and Savior give us the ultimate advantage in mortality.

The next time you are facing a problem, remember to list all of your gifts, especially the ultimate Gift. He is our greatest source of strength…

Be Encouraging…

BJM

The Gift of Tongues, Courage, and Our Son the Missionary (a letter to Landon)…

unspecifiedI wrote to Landon today and sent the letter through the Church’s “pouch” system, which is great but slow. Not knowing exactly when the letter will arrive in Mexico, I tried to share some ideas with him that will not be “old” no matter when the letter arrives. Here’s part of the letter:

“Dear Landon (sent through the Pouch on Jan. 3, 2017) (sorry for the small font size and spacing…gotta keep it under a page!)

“Man, I wish these letters could make it to you the next day like in the MTC! I loved knowing you could hear from us in just 24 hours most days. Knowing this letter may take a month to get to you isn’t very fun! But, I want you to get physical mail every once in while and the emails are more “conversational” so these letters will be more just me sharing things about the gospel as if we were sitting on the couch downstairs. I miss our gospel conversations!

“I learned a pretty important truth from one of my students and I know we’ve talked about it before but I want to share it again. In fact, I’ll be sharing two things today and both are important to missionary work and the work of salvation in general [I’m not including the second idea in this blog post]. Here’s the first truth…

“I was asking my students about the “gift of tongues” and what was required to receive that gift. Of course, the students mentioned praying for the gift and studying the language which are obviously important and I’m sure you’re working on those two. But one student surprised me a little with her answer. She said, “Courage is the most important thing. Once I decided to just try to speak to people in their language, knowing that I’d mess it up and a few people would laugh a little or make fun, my language skills took off and I really noticed the gift of tongues.” Most of the class nodded. When I pressed them a little, they all said that they had to just get over the fear of messing up in front of others. Interestingly, trying to use the gift before they had the gift was actually part of receiving the gift. They saw real growth when they showed the Lord that they weren’t going to let fear dictate their progress or actions.

“I think it is true of all gifts, and there are more gifts available than just the ones listed in the scriptures in 1 Corinthians 12 and Moroni 10 and D&C 46. In fact, there are endless gifts to help us overcome endless mortal weaknesses. If we are trying to develop the spiritual gift of forgiveness, we have to be a little gutsy and forgive someone who may hurt us again. Or if we are trying to develop the gift of service we have to go out of our comfort zones and offer help even when it is uncomfortable. So here’s the principle: Qualifying for the gifts of the Spirit requires courage. When I was a bishop, I prayed for the gift of discernment which means, in part, the ability to know the thoughts and intents of the hearts (through the Spirit) of those I was serving. I prayed for it, a lot. There were times when I would sense someone was struggling after passing them in the hallway or seeing them in sacrament meeting. I would worry though that if I asked them, they’d look at me weird and tell me that they were fine and then I’d look like a overly-worried, nosey bishop. But after a while, I decided to just ask people when I had those moments and hoped that they’d feel my love and God’s love and even if I was wrong, they’d know I was asking because of that love. So, I got brave and started opening my mouth more. And 9 times out of 10 they were struggling. Maybe 9.5 times out of 10. And that gift grew and developed and was a real blessing to certain ward members and to me. But it wouldn’t have developed had I not got over myself and my fears and started just acting. I’m grateful the Lord was willing to bless others through that gift, but courage was a key.

“So, how can you take your courage up a notch? What can you do today to show the Lord that you won’t get in your own way when it comes to the gift of tongues? How can you muster even more courage to just go and talk, open your mouth, regardless of your current skill level?

“I know that as you continue to show the Lord your courage (and I know you are courageous, or you wouldn’t be out there in Mexico surrounded by strangers!), He will literally fill your mouth with His words, in the language of the people you’re serving…”

There’s a few more paragraphs in the letter and the font was so small he may not even be able to read it. I hope the idea of developing courage is a blessing to him and the missionaries around him. It has been to me!

Be Encouraging…

BJM

 

A Letter to Our Missionary Son…

mickelson-and-coronadoOur oldest son has spent 6 weeks in the Missionary Training Center in Mexico City and recently flew to Guadalajara where he will spend the next 22 months or so. We email him each week and I try to write a letter to him each week as well…Here is a recent letter I sent, hoping he’d receive it close to when he arrived in his new area:

December 20, 2016 (Pouch)

Dear Landon…

This is my first letter through the Pouch system and I’ll be interested to see how it works. I’m writing this on Tuesday, December 20 and will mail it today so keep track and let me know how long it takes for this to get into your hands. My guess is that it will go from here (Logan) to Salt Lake, to your mission office and then must be hand-delivered by an office elder to you, right? So that may take some time. I know that I can email you each week and I will always do that, but I like writing these so that you have a physical copy of some of the things I would like to share with you and teach you that I think will bless you. I would imagine you will not be able to print the emails so you don’t have access to them throughout the week. Anyway, let me know how this goes and how often do these pouch letters are delivered to you.

I can’t believe you are in Guadalajara!!! You’ve met President and Sister Clayton, been interviewed, met the APs, and met your trainer! You’ve also been assigned you first area and are meeting ward or branch members and a few of the people in your teaching pool I would imagine. So awesome. You may also feel a little overwhelmed with it all and a little frustrated with the language, even though I think it has been coming along pretty well according to your reports from the MTC. So, you have a few decisions to make. In case you’ve not already made them, here are some ideas:

  1. Decide right now that obedience is the first law of heaven
  2. Decide right now that loving your companion doesn’t depend on what he’s like as much as on you choosing to love and serve him
  3. Decide that the Book of Mormon isn’t only central to your investigators’ conversions, but to yours
  4. Decide to follow the council of the Mission President no matter what
  5. Decide to trust in the Lord

You’ve already learned how to overcome frustration or discouragement or homesickness while in the MTC, or at least part of how to do that. And to be honest, you’ve learned things that most parents only dream of their son learning as an 18-year-old. Where else can this kind of growth happen? I love where you are and what you’re doing! You have already learned how to lean on the Lord for help and I promise you, Heavenly Father knows exactly where you are and what worries and excites you! I promise that is true.

We are so excited to hear the details of Guadalajara and the Claytons and your trainer and district and zone. This is it. You’re the real deal now. It is high adventure from here on out. Elder Neal A. Maxwell shared this: “Now we are entering times wherein there will be for all of us as Church members, in my judgment, some special challenges which will require of us that we follow the Brethren. All the easy things that the Church has had to do have been done. From now on, it’s high adventure, and followership is going to be tested in some interesting ways” (“The Old Testament: Relevancy within Antiquity,” in A Symposium on the Old Testament [Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1979], p. 12) There will be boring moments in the missionary field and slow times for sure, but you out there, in the middle of the Lord’s work!!! You have a family that loves you and thinks about you all of the time and misses you and prays for you multiple times a day. You have a companion who loves you. You have a mission president who loves you. You have friends who love you. You have people from the other side of the veil who will help you and whisper to you and encourage you through the Spirit (2 Nephi 32:2). And, you are blessed with talents and gift more than most. Use them.

I love you more than you can know!

Love,

Dad

Throw Back Thursday (A Post on Discouragement)…

 

 

handwritten-letter-to-a-friend

(I recently had a person talk about how much they appreciated this post from months ago. Since I don’t have anything to write about today, I’m doing a “throwback Thursday”…)

 

Not long ago one of my previous and wonderful students entered the Missionary Training Center…and wouldn’t you know it? It was tough. Just like it is for most of the missionaries there. And just like it has been for most of the missionaries who have ever been there. Including me to some extent. I sent a few thoughts her way, and hope there is some help for some other missionary out there…I’ve edited a few details to protect, well, whoever…

Dearest Sister _______,
You’ve been there a few days, and if you’re normal at all you’re probably feeling a little bit of discouragement…
 
I know. I felt it, too. In fact, long after your mission experience, you will feel discouragement, and you’ll feel it over a lot of things: dating, marriage, finances, school, employment, pregnancy, children, callings, neighborhoods, sin…everything. I wish it were different, but it just isn’t.
 
But…with all of the discouragement coming in the future, you have much, much, much more enjoyment coming. There will be so much more enjoyment than discouragement. In fact, there will be enough enjoyment and satisfaction to more than overshadow the frustration, I promise. The joy of marriage will overshadow the discouragement of dating. The happiness in employment will overshadow the toughest days of college. The love of being a mother will make up for the struggles you may have getting pregnant. The hard things don’t go away, they are folded up and tucked away and only remembered occasionally. Your focus will be on the joy.
 
Your mission will be a pattern of that. Though you might feel discouraged today, in about a week things will be balancing out. And in a month, you won’t remember feeling this discouraged. And your life will go much like that. So a mission is great practice for life. It is hard practice, but good practice.
 
Here are a couple things that helped me, and still do:
 
1. I try to picture discouraging moments as a future funny story. I can either feel discouraged, or I can shrug and laugh a little and pray for better “luck”. When I tell someone else about my frustrations and try to laugh a little, I feel better about it.
 
2. I often picture myself thinking about this in a week or a month. I ask myself, “Will I still feel this bad a week from now, or will I feel fine? In a month, will I be ok?” I can’t think of many instances where the answer was anything other than, “As bad as I feel right now, I know I’ll be all right in a week or so…”
 
3. I try to imagine myself telling my children (when they’re older) about whatever particular trial I am going through. What do I want to be able to tell them about my reaction and effort? What will they learn from my current situation? What can I teach them about “hard things”?
 
You probably have a dozen other emails to read, so I’ll end. Well, except for one thing: When Christ miraculously healed people during His ministry, it was usually when things looked the worst. He knew the people would be all right, but they didn’t. Christ knows that you will be all right, even if you don’t. But you will. Sooner than you think. There is a big difference between being alone and feeling alone. In Heavenly Father’s family, there is no such thing as being alone. There is a little voice inside of you that is telling you that you can do this, you can make it, you can learn the language, you can love your companion, you can, you can, you can…Just listen to that voice.
 
So many people love you and are praying for you, myself included. Missions are hard. But you are on the “front lines” so you have direct access to Heavenly Father. You’re His daughter, and that’s that
 
If, by chance, you’re not feeling discouraged, then this is awkward. File this email away and give it to a sobbing companion when she needs it 🙂
 
You’re great!
 
…And the letter ends… I hope it was helpful, and she is doing wonderfully, and not because of the letter. She’s doing great because she is great and she is participating, directly, in a great work. For all of you future (or current) missionaries…you are, too.
These views are personal, and are not the official views of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints...