I love Lake's contacting tool with the survey. President just trained us on briefer approaches in both tracting and contacting. It includes a brief introduction, a statement, and then a question. The questions on that survey are perfect. I want to try the full survey, I think that's cool. To help our mission improve in finding, President Hanks has us count "unplanned invitations." We used to just count contacts, but everyone counted those differently, so President Hanks said in order for it to count, it must be a specific invitation to be taught, and then we have to ask for referrals. Twice. Whether or not they're interested, we always ask who they know who could benefit from meeting with missionaries, or from service. Often we ask them to think of their friends, family, and acquaintances who may be going through a hard time, have religious questions, are suffering from the loss of a loved one, are sick, lost a job, had a divorce, recently moved in, etc. The same things President Monson encourages when asking for referrals from members. If they give us one, we ask, "Who else do you know?" and keep asking until they have nothing. Our mission standards of excellence are 70 unplanned invitations in a week, so 10 a day, and those have to be independent of tracting. We do store contacting sometimes, which is honestly my least favorite. There are missionaries here who will spend HOURS in Walmart doing store contacting. I have had miracles from store contacting, but I find it's easy for missionaries to be distracted and ineffective in stores. I can normally find more than 10 people on our way to and from appointments, or while we do less active hunting. I think it's a lot easier to talk to people outside than in stores, but sometimes weather forces us to do our contacting inside. Sister Hall and I committed to never getting under 100 unplanned invitations a week, and we always surpass it. I don't have a strong testimony of numbers, because we're about people, but it does bother me when I don't get my numbers, so I make a strong effort to hit our goals. Of all the key indicators missionaries focus on, the only ones that we have 100% control of are the unplanned invitations and unplanned acts of service (unique to President Hanks). They can say no, but we will still invite them. I don't know why I went on that rant--it's just interesting to see the differences in missions. We have it easier here in our contacting (I think) because of the friendly nature of the South. We'll get nasty people sometimes, but people generally like to help people, and they all love Jesus, and it's not weird to talk to strangers because....it's the South. I imagine that would be harder out West.
It was a fantastic week! It was a long week. We got to see Meet the Mormons also, and it was wonderful! Every single missionary was crying with the missionary mom story. So trunky!!! We watched it at the church building that we had personal interviews with President Hanks in. That was possibly one of my most favorite interviews with him. I've worked with him for so long now, that I see him as my mission president, but we're also good friends. With my recent release, he asked my advice on calling and setting up mission leaders, and it was nice to just talk since we have mutual trust. Thinking about it just makes me happy, because I love and respect President Hanks so much. Knowing that I have gained his respect and trust and a lifelong friend makes me uber happy.
I didn't tell y'all about Justice last week. We met this kid outside a store on his bike. He made this box thing that holds an amp he also tweaked and connects to his iPad (he build a holder for the iPad into the contraption as well. He bikes around bumping tunes, and videos some of his rides. This kid is so cool! He's 18, but a junior in high school, and still seems very young. He was interested in the gospel, and we taught him the restoration since then. He has great questions.
Saturday morning we went to see him, he wasn't home, but we briefly met his mom, but she didn't have time to talk to us. We both felt impressed to tract a certain street. The first house we knocked we got a return appointment. Her name is Letoya and we're teaching her family tonight. We met some cool, uninterested people, and then saw Justice's bike! He emerged from a friend's house and we were able to teach him and the friend. We contacted another one of his friends who came by and asked for referrals as always, she sent us to a lady on the street, who definitely needs some service. She was excited we came by. She is a retired teacher and used to have elders volunteer at the school, and loved them. I think she has great potential. God definitely had a hand in the timing of all that. We went back to our apartment to meet with a laurel.
We were blessed to have two set appointments with investigators to take her to, and more blessed that they both fell through. As a back up there was a less active family in the area I felt that we should go to. We were slightly delayed with a few detours and waiting for traffic, but finally arrived in the general area, and decided to park a little bit away from the apartment and walk the rest. There was a man just getting into his car, so I asked if he knew the members. He didn't, but we conversed and he was open to us sharing a lesson with him. We taught him a 30 minute restoration with the member. It was incredible. His name is Jonathan, he has a brilliant mind, and the gospel makes sense to him. We learned that he was taught by missionaries when was 12 and set to be baptized, but his mother had qualms and called it off. He is probably close to 30 and it was amazing how much of the gospel he remembered. He is definitely prepared. We invited him to be baptized and while his response wasn't a direct 'yes' or 'no,' he definitely answered in the affirmative. God's timing is remarkable. He was visiting his girlfriend's house, and said he just stepped outside to his car for a breather, he didn't even know why. Then we approached him. The laurel connected with him on an experience he had, and I'm still marveling at all the details that made that perfect. God is a micro-manager.
We got into the homes of more people from the ward. With Stake Conference and General Conference, I feel that even though I've been in this area for a month, I still don't know the ward very well. We've done what this ward calls the Family Mission Plan, with several families, and made some other appointments with other families. The spirit has helped us out so much. This past week, I have felt that I know what I need to do, most of the time, and the spirit definitely brings things/names/people to my remembrance. Sister Hall is killing it. She hates biking, but will suggest it some days because she wants to like it. She has been approaching people on her own, and really just stepping up. I'm so proud of her, and she makes me so happy. I'm very grateful for her memory and skill with logistics, she brings so much to this companionship.
I got to play piano in Primary yesterday during second hour. I really enjoyed that. The chorister had her dad, the former bishop come in with a bunch of old ties, and based on how well they would sing a song, he would cut off his tie at the top, middle, or bottom. The current bishop passed by, and he called him in, and the current Bishop asked if the primary children would sing a song for him. One of the kids called out, "if you cut your tie!" Bishop said, no, Bishop E had planned on cutting his ties, but he hadn't. The kids sang and did a good job, so good that the former bishop distracted Bishop D and cut his tie off!! Bishop was cool about it, but seriously wasn't planning on that.
I love this ward and area. I'm so happy we keep getting to know the ward better, and see them get excited about the work and give us referrals. We have a member missionary class coming up, that I"ll write more about later after it happens. We got trained on it this week, and it's outside the box, but approved by area authorities because it's handbook-friendly. It's going to be really cool. The Stake has been working on it for over a year, and we get to execute it!
The church is so true. So thankful for the scriptures and the spirit they enable us to have every day of our lives. We can get direction and be led by the spirit every hour of our days. That constant companionship is something I've come to love and enjoy more than ever before.
Thanks for your unwearied service. Y'all are amazing.