Sunday, August 28, 2011

First "Real" Week

Our first week in the office went very well.  For me it has been a week of learning how to do the things I did in Japan the New York Utica way.  Even though the software has been drastically upgraded, the basics aren't that different.  Now it's just a matter of remembering where everything is and getting the computer letters, etc. up to a better way.  Sister Riedelbach is a wonderful person, but she freely admits the computer is not one of her strong points.

Bill, on the other hand, is almost starting from scratch.  The finance part of his job is totally different than what he did in Japan (he knew this was going to be so) and he never took care of the cars or apartments, either.  Not that he doesn't know cars, but this job has nothing to do with mechanics.  He will be selling cars, buying cars, dealing with all the details of getting damage and wear fixed (what? missionaries damage cars? No!), inspecting cars, and compiling reports from information the missionaries submit to him on their mileage and fuel usage.  No small job, he is discovering.  Thank goodness we don't have to change apartments very often, because he is going to be a very busy man.

Saturday we got some wonderful spiritual nourishment.  We went to the Zone Leaders Conference and got to listen to Elder David Cook of the Area Seventy preach for two hours without a break and it was wonderful!  He based his talk on D & C 4:2 "...O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength..."  He talked about the heart, defining it as worthiness.  He said there are two levels of worthiness: the minimum and the higher level.  The minimum is the rules outlined in the missionary handbook.  Then to illustrate the higher, he told about his experience in the Language Training Center (pre-dated the MTC).  He was learning Spanish to use in the New York mission and they spend 12 hours a day memorizing discussions.  By the time he was half way through, he wasn't making much progress, so he started getting up at 6:00 instead of 6:30 a.m. to study.  After a few weeks, he still wasn't making progress, so he started getting up at 5:30.  At the end of his training, all the missionaries were tested to see how well they had done with their memorizing.  A few got 100%, some got 90%, and so on.  He brought up the rear with 4%.  Memorizing wasn't his strong point.  It took him another 9 months to get the discussions memorized, but when he finally did it, he got the trophy (a toothpick missionary stuck in the top of an oatmeal box) for the best in the mission.  And how does that equate to a higher level of worthiness?  He put his heart into doing what was hard for him and learned what needed to be learned.  He also said he was a pretty poor student in high school--he went skiing 60 times his senior year.  "Do the math, elders!  There aren't 60 weekends in a year, much less a winter."  But after his mission, he became a straight A student.

The next principle was "might" which he defined as work.  He talked about the importance of hard work in missionary work and began quoting President Ezra Taft Benson.  President Bulloch interrupted him and said, "They know this, Elder Cook.  Would you like them to recite it?"  And all the missionaries got to their feet and began quoting, "I have often said one of the greatest secrets of missionary work is work!  If a missionary works, he will get the Spirit; if he gets the Spirit, he will teach by the Spirit; and if he teaches by the Spirit, he will touch the hearts of the people and he will be happy.  there will be no homesickness, no worrying about families, for all time and talents and interests are centered on the work of the ministry.  Work, work, work," and here the missionaries put their heads down and pumped their fists and said "Work, work, work!" as loud as they could without shouting.  It was fun and impressive and moving.

Mind was defined as skills.  We use all the skills we have been blessed with and have developed to further the work.  Instead of taking the path of least resistance (giving service to members) we take the harder path and spend more time finding people to teach.

Strength was equated with urgency.  "Don't waste your time", he said.  "Faith requires sacrifice."  As you can see, we really enjoyed Elder Cook.  We had lunch with the missionaries and had a good time getting to know some of them.  I'm sure we will share more about them in future blogs.

As some of you may be aware, Hurricane Irene showed her face in New York today.  She didn't do any damage in Utica that we know of, but it started to rain in the middle of the night and continued throughout the day.  I think it stopped about 8:00 p.m., but I'm not sure; it gets quite dark by then.  The Weather Channel called it a light rain, but it seemed pretty heavy to us.  We had to use our windshield wipers on high as we drove to church today.  We also got some pretty heavy winds, but it quieted by the middle of the afternoon.  We were going to take a picture of us in front of our apartment today to include with the blog, but it really wasn't a good idea today.

We talked in church today.  Bill told some really great stories about missionary work and I gave the same talk I gave in Lovell before we left, since it was on missionary work.  We were told we would probably be speaking quite often since our branch is so small.  I guess we'll be using the skills we developed in Hong Kong when we had to speak on average twice a month.

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