Many of you know that I have been struggling here in Hengchun for the last three-four months. The beginning of this week was merely an extension of this tough situation. We had a few lessons, biking around for miles, same old, same old.
On Friday morning, we were doing a Weekly Planning Session, and both my companion and I just sort of vented our frustration, wondering aloud what we were supposed to do. Then it all at once sort of hit me: There is very little unity between the missionaries and the members. The members have no idea what we are doing every day, and we haven't really helped them understand what they need to be doing to help along the work. We thought for a moment and decided that we needed to meet with the Big 5 (The Branch Presidency, Relief Society President, and Elders Quorum President), and discuss with them the lack of growth in the area, and what we can do to start growing church membership in Hengchun. I called up President Zeng, and plans changed: Instead of a meeting, he'd give us the third hour of church services the coming Sunday to talk with the members about missionary work. Realizing the potential in this, we prayed for guidance and through many small revelations we put together an amazing presentation.
When we started the class, we showed them a chart that mapped sacrament meeting attendance numbers over the last two years. They were stunned. Several members pointed out that attendance has been a flat-line, despite baptisms that we've had over that period of time. We then told them that with concentrated effort from both the missionaries and the members working together, we could increase attendance by 400% over the next two years. We discussed where those people would come from, and then unveiled our plan, stating that we would never be able to help others come to church if we weren't doing the things our church leaders have asked us to do.
A brief outline:
- To begin, you must become personally converted.
- Do personal prayer daily.
- Personally study the scriptures daily.
- Attend church.
- You must be converted in order to start working on the next step, developing an eternal, sealed family.
- Do family prayer daily.
- Study the scriptures as a family daily.
- Have Family Home Evening every week.
- Your home must be in order in order to help our Branch grow into Hengchun Ward.
- Home Teaching
- Fulfilling church callings
Clean the church building.
- Attend the Temple as a Branch every month.
They were able to clearly see how each step and sub-step correlated directly with raised church attendance numbers. Many were excited and willing to go forward with the new vision for their Branch.
After the meeting, one of the sisters came up to us. "I can tell you put a lot of effort into this, and that you really care about the work and about us. I feel like I can trust you with teaching my husband. Come over this week and I'll introduce you to him." I was floored. This was a very special request. I knew then that the Spirit was working, and I felt grateful that I also was in tune with the Spirit enough that the members were feeling willing to trust us with their precious referrals.
I'm excited for another week! Great things are happening!
“My ‘It's-been-a-really-long-day’ look.
“My ‘I'll-try-to-make-up-for-it-and-force-a-wimpy-smile’ look.
“My companion Elder Liu making calls.”
“Our posters for our Sunday presentation. “