Monday, June 20, 2011

The best mission in the Church... Really

We have received a couple of letters and some emails from Christopher and from what he has told us, things are going well in Batavia.  Christopher and his companion held a baptismal services about a week or so ago which was really exciting for them.  I believe that this is the first baptism that they have had in Batavia for a while.  Christopher tells us that there are several more people that they are currently teaching who are also close to baptism as well.  It is always exciting to hear this kind of news and we are always praying that things will continue to go well in all of Christopher's missionary work.

In Christopher's latest email, he told us how grateful he was to be in the best mission in the church.  Of course every missionary says that and of course every missionary is right.  Here is how Christopher describes it:
"I honestly am in the best mission in the entire world! We get sooooo many awesome opportunities out here that no other missionaries get! It's amazing! The Sacred Grove, Hill Cumorah, the Pageant, Motab! Oh and we're the only mission doing online proselyting(i've really come to enjoy writing). Could life get any better for a Mormon missionary? Dont think so! It's amazing! We really get to know Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon in a whole different way, gaining an incredibly strong witness of the truth of it all! I cant believe how blessed I've been in the way my life has twisted, turned and led me here to this mission today. It's a miracle."
If you noticed in his description of the best mission in the Church, Christopher mentioned that his mission is the only mission that is doing online proselyting.  If you haven't heard of this before, it is a very different way of doing missionary work and breaks from traditional tracting and teaching.  Most missionaries are only allowed to use the Internet to write a weekly email home and to do some occasional research on for upcoming Sacrament meeting talks or lessons.  They cannot use facebook, youtube, blogs or any other kind of social media web sites.  Well, in Christopher's mission things are very different.  The missionaries are encouraged to create a blog, a facebook page and reference church related youtube videos.  They are asked to create blog entries each week that talk about church related subjects and help to explain why missionaries do what they do.  Christopher is currently maintaining a blog at .  Not your typical or traditional way of doing missionary work.  But with the proliferation of social media, it just might be a big part of the way that missionaries get the Lord's work done in the future.

Christopher told us about one interesting story to which I think many missionaries can relate.  As missionaries they obviously meet and talk to a lot of people every day.  Apparently there is a man that Christopher and his companion see around town and talk to from time to time.  Well a couple of weeks ago this man came running into the church during the regular Sunday meeting, yelling for the missionaries.  He had been shot by is son with a BB gun and needed some money to get a prescription filled.  We aren't really sure of what else might have been going on in this man's life, but from what Christopher told us, the prescription was only about $10 so the Branch President handled the situation and sent the man on his way.  A missionary has to be ready for all kinds of unique and unusual experiences and this was just one of them.  There are probably many more to come.

If you are from around Utah, you might have heard on the news recently about a tour that the Mormon Tabernacle Choir is just starting this week.  I'm not sure of all of the places where the tour will take the choir, but New York just happens to be one of them.  In Christopher's description of all of the opportunities that he has in his mission, attending a Mormon Tabernacle Choir performance is another one of those great opportunities.  The choir will be performing in at least two locations very close to where Christopher is currently serving and he has made arrangements to attend both performances with several of the people that he and his companion are currently teaching.  Another reason why Christopher is excited about seeing the choir is because, being from Utah, there are several members of the choir that Christopher knows and would like to see.  One of them being his old choir teacher from his high school days back home. 

Another big opportunity that is coming up next month is the Hill Cumorah Pageant.  Christopher has already made plans to attend some of the performances again with several of the people that they are currently teaching.  Can you think of a better way to teach a missionary lesson to an investigator than to take them to a performance such as the Hill Cumorah Pageant and have it played out for them by live actors?  What an experience that will be, I'm sure.  And again, being from Utah, there is bound to be plenty of people attending the pageant that Christopher knows.  Who knows, maybe the Rochester, New York mission is the best mission after all.  Well, we do know one thing, it is definitely the best for all of the missionaries who are or have ever served there.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The work is moving forward

We haven't had a lot of news from Christopher since his Mother's Day phone call.  He has sent home several of his voice recordings that he keeps as a daily diary.  A lot of his entries talk about all of the tracting and teaching that they do.  Both Christopher and his companion have been doing a lot of tracting and teaching.  Unfortunately, most of their appointments have not gone much beyond the first few lessons.  But the good news is that out of all of the new people that they have contacted and all of the lessons that they have taught, they have several people who have been attending church each week and have a baptismal date scheduled. 

There are some days when Christopher and his companion just go all day long.  He told us about how they walk up and down the streets and just talk to everybody that they see.  People on the street, standing in their yards, sitting in their garages, wherever people are, these missionaries just walk up and start talking.  During one day recently, Christopher and his companion taught ten lessons and found four new people to teach.  Christopher says that his approach usually starts out with either the weather or just some random topic that crosses his mind as they walk up to the person and start talking.  Then he will segway into their belief in God and finally into one of the first lessons.  Speaking of the weather, Christopher said that it has been raining in New York about as much or more than it has been raining here in Utah.  The wet weather has kept them from doing as much tracting as they would like in a day.  He said that their is so much water that it pools up in the streets and in the yards.  Even with an umbrella, Christopher says that they are still soaked by the time the day is over.

Christopher told us about a recent zone conference that they had in his area.  The zone conference was partially held in the Sacred Grove and then finished up at a nearby Stake center.  He said that they talked a lot about conversion and also listened to a talked by Elder Holland which was actually a talk that Elder Holland give at the MTC while Christopher was there.  Christopher really loves Elder Holland's talks and wanted us to download as many as we could find from the Church's web site, burn them onto a CD and send them to him.  All of the talks combined filled up about four CDs, so Christopher should have a lot of good things to listen to. 

Just this week we finally got a letter from Christopher rather than the voice recordings on a memory card.  Transfers came and went again and both Christopher and his companion are still in Batavia.  Christopher was kind of hoping to stay in Batavia for at least one more transfer because this month is when most of the people that they have been teaching, have baptismal dates set.  From what Christopher said in his letter, the first of these dates is coming up this weekend.  That will be really exciting for Christopher since this is probably the first baptism that he has experienced as a missionary.  Since they have been so busy with all of the teaching that they have done and the baptismal dates that are scheduled, Christopher told us that they haven't had as much time for tracting.  As a result, their teaching pool is down right now which just means that they have a new challenge.  He said that they will be spending a lot more time tracting and contacting new people over the next few weeks so that they can build their teaching pool back up to where it was a few weeks ago.  With all of this missionary work going on in Batavia, things are really exciting for Christopher.  It is always good to see the work moving forward.

Christopher has been playing the piano a lot during his mission.  He said that he plays the piano at all of the missionary meetings and during Sacrament meeting on Sundays.  He has learned a lot of hymns and has really improved his sight reading abilities.  I'm sure that his musical ability has really benefited both himself as well as all those who hear him play.  He told us in his letter that he was even asked to play the piano at a funeral that was held recently in his Ward.  Christopher has always enjoyed playing music and it is great to hear that he has been able to share his talents for music with the people that he is serving on his mission.