Monday, February 16, 2015

Feb. 16, 2015 - Thoughts on Preparing for a Mission

Sorry I do not have much time this week as the computers are acting slowly.

I'll respond to your question about your talk (Dad sent him an email asking about his experience in preparing for his mission and if there was anything he would have done differently) and hopefully I'll be able to read and answer your email about the witness.

I guess as I look back on the decisions I made leading up to the mission and what I now realize is that Elder cook is 100% right (Elder Cook reference below). In the end, school and work and other things like sports don't matter at all in this day and age. The most important thing that people should focus on is learning and living the gospel because that is where true joy and happiness lie. I guess my advice would be to focus on God and His church with all your energy and the other things will fall into place. It is not bad to do sports and hang with friends, but there is definitely more that would be worthwhile (i.e., the need to prioritize - refer to Elder Oak's talk "Good, Better, Best" --> Good, Better, Best  ). I was not as behind as the young man in the story, but I was not to the level that is expected of the Lord.

I guess the only way to encourage this type of learning is to have the leaders stress the importance of gaining that conversion. I'm sorry - it probably isn't much to work with: - ), but maybe a start.

Paragraph from Elder Cook: 

Elder Quentin L. Cook's Oct 2014 General Conference talk "Choose Wisely" -  Particularly this passage:

"I recently met a fine teenage young man. His goals were to go on a mission, obtain an education, marry in the temple, and have a faithful happy family. I was very pleased with his goals. But during further conversation, it became evident that his conduct and the choices he was making were not consistent with his goals. I felt he genuinely wanted to go on a mission and was avoiding serious transgressions that would prohibit a mission, but his day-to-day conduct was not preparing him for the physical, emotional, social, intellectual, and spiritual challenges he would face.7 He had not learned to work hard. He was not serious about school or seminary. He attended church, but he had not read the Book of Mormon. He was spending a large amount of time on video games and social media. He seemed to think that showing up for his mission would be sufficient. Young men, please recommit to worthy conduct and serious preparation to be emissaries of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ."

Feb. 9, 2015 - Thoughts on Service and Consecration

It is good to hear from home. Today the internet was actually reasonably fast for some reason. I  prayed for it to be so before we left the flat so I guess it is just a blessing from the Lord. That is good to hear about the (Legacy HS) wrestling team. I don't know why I enjoy hearing about those types of things so much. Like it absolutely has no affect on me out here, but I guess I just enjoy the glimpses of my old mates.

I have been thinking that I want my kids to learn commitment. I feel like somewhere along the way all of us just got too lazy and lost sight of the blessings of hard work. I don't know why we all turned out that way. I wish I had been able to see a glimpse of the blessings and benefits of working hard. It's good to hear about Aaron and wrestling. I really pray that he enjoys wrestling and wants to succeed more than anything and will commit to working as hard as he can.

That is an amazing story about Jordan (this is Adam's cousin that had a dislocated elbow injury last week during the Utah state wrestling qualifier tournament). That would have been gruesome to witness. I hate watching others go into intense pain. I remember at one wrestling camp, this kid broke his arm and just started screaming. It just sent chills throughout my whole body. I will definitely pray for him.

With regards to the making and keeping covenants (as it applies to serving in callings with all of your heart) - I totally agree. I have really been doing a lot of thinking on my shortcomings to all of the things that the Lord expects of us as disciples and followers of Him. I have made it a goal for when I get back after my mission to be that brother who the Lord can count on no matter what. I know that I did not do my duty during my high school years to magnify my priesthood and to be a faithful member of His church. I think though that the biggest issue for most people is that they really don't love the Lord (they may profess it, but they don't really feel it to the point of ACTION). They don't consecrate everything to him. I definitely felt back home that I had done enough. That isn't good though. It is not enough to do enough, you must give everything and at some point the Lord will accept your sacrifice and your calling and election will be made sure. Serving a mission has given me the opportunity to see wards (a geographical area of membership...similar to a Catholic parish) from a different perspective and you can definitely see which members are consecrated and which ones are just doing what is the expectation. 

I have also been doing a lot of thinking on this with regards to gaining that sure witness of all things. Throughout the scriptures, the prophets describe the visions that they have had, and also in the April conference, Boyd k Packer, gave a talk called the witness where he described when he received that witness for himself. I desire to receive that witness, but know that my sacrifice up to this point of my life is far from sufficient to be able to be worthy enough to even ask for one. I guess I was just wondering if you have had similar thoughts or feelings and what gave you comfort or direction in you service? 


Elder Otterson

February 2nd Letter - Lots and Lots of Tracting!

That is great news to hear about Jonah turning a new leaf.  I'm proud of him.  Living the gospel is hard though, I'll pray for him. That is nice to see.

The computers here are really slow, and I don't know why but sometimes I will only see letters from one of you or none of you (mom and dad).  But the next week I will see last week's letter as well as this week's...strange. Also, sometimes it doesn't update my inbox, so I will open the e-mail up and it will still show only last week's letters - so I'm not aware of any new mail. I don't know what is going on. I really do appreciate the letters and they do mean a lot and are nice to see every week. I apologize that I don't have many things to say each week. Maybe I just feel like most of the things that happen to me are kind of boring and no one really wants to hear that stuff in a "Missionary Letter". 

So, a little more about Mornington (my new assignment area).  The area is awesome! It is apparently one of the richest set of subdivisions in Victoria. Hugh Jackman has a house just in Mt. Eliza on the other side of the road that separates our area from the next one just north of us. According to missionary lore, the leader missionaries (Assistants to the President) received a call a couple of months ago from Hugh Jackman's wife's sister that she needed a blessing and they went to his house and administered one. This was a couple of months ago but that is pretty legit. The ward is awesome and they are super kind and feed us pretty much everyday which is super nice. I have been doing a lot of tracting (door-to-door contacting), trying to get new investigators in this area, but my companion and I are really bad with door approaches. Most of the people open the door, see our badges, and then close the door.  The stake has just implemented a family mission plan which is super cool and hopefully they will be more mission focused and help us out. At testimony meeting, a couple of the members said that we are some of the best missionaries that they have been blessed with (as for as ability goes), which was very nice to hear.

We had an investigator that a recently baptized member had brought to church last week. We had set up an appointment and taught him and he said he felt the Spirit and felt that what we said was true. We invited him to watch a baptism just in passing and he said he would see what happens. His friend urged him to come with him to the baptism and then wanted us to teach him again right after. We taught him, and the Spirit was definitely there, but we extended the baptismal challenge and he said he needed some time. We said okay but his friend bore testimony over and over and over again about the importance of being baptized into the church. Being a new member and being excited about his own conversion, it is sometimes difficult to temper that exuberance. The investigator was taken to church again by the new convert and after the meeting we asked how he felt and he said the whole thing was negative. It's just an example of how member-missionary work is such a delicate balancing act - knowing when and how to invite, and then letting the Spirit do the rest...and not being overbearing.  I have no idea what happened but that and tracting was the only thing that happened this week. 

My companion sings in the ward and at firesides all the time, which is great. But companionship study is always interesting because I am tone deaf and can't really sing with him. I feel so bad every time.


Elder Otterson