Friday, November 18, 2011
Halloween in the Mission
NOTE: Molly and Sister Jack dressed up as each other for Halloween... :D
This week was one, giant revelatory experience!
President Erich Kopischke came to "tour" the mission. He held three Zone Conferences (to cover the seven zones...we each only went to one. I wish I'd been at all three!) and a special zone leaders' council. Sister Jack and I were so lucky to be representing the sisters at Zone Leaders' Council at President Kopischke's request. Elder Kopischke is so inspired and inspiring. If I had time I would just make this e-mail an "Ode to President Kopischke." It was so uplifting being with him! At Zone Conference he spent the majority of the time asking for our questions and then expounding from the scriptures. He started out by coming down off the stand and getting on eye level with us. These were his words, "We are now on eye level, okay? I am not anything more than you are." He said, "The agenda today is you." He wanted to know our questions and our concerns. He invited us to be taught by the Spirit. We had a few minutes at the beginning to write down the questions we had. He promised us that we would have answers from the Spirit. He wanted our experience together to be revelatory. Looking back, I think his whole approach was teaching us to teach ourselves.
President Preston spoke to us a little about how he is expecting a "White Christmas," meaning, of course, many baptisms before the new year. He said that his vision is for every companionship to have at least one baptism before the year is over. President Kopischke spoke to us about faith and miracles. We read Ether 12:19 and he explained that we feel true joy when we see with our own eyes the things that we pictured with the eye of faith. He took each of us back to the day we opened our call letter and read "England Manchester Mission." He asked, "What were your dreams?" He encouraged us to keep those dreams. "Do not bury your dreams," he said, "you will be dead the moment you do." In reference to viewing things with the eye of faith President Kopischke suggested that we run an "experiment." He wanted each of us to be personally committed to a white Christmas. Each companionship found a quiet room and prayed for a baptismal goal from the Lord. We were not to come out until we had both had the witness and were united and excited. We were not to come out until we had had a profoundly spiritual experience. We were praying for a number, but President Kopischke said, "This is not about numbers. This is about increasing your faith in Jesus Christ."
This experience opened the door for one of the most profound insights of my mission. To understand why you have to know a little bit of background.
About four months ago, at the very beginning of my transfer with Sister Maughan, we both received separate, unsolicited revelation that we would see three baptisms together. You might remember it. I remember writing about it in my e-mails. I still clearly remember sitting across the study desk from her and saying, “What do you feel our transfer baptismal goal should be?” I didn’t want to tell her that I was thinking three because it just seemed too far-fetched! When we both came out with it we felt the Spirit truly confirm it to us and we went to work! You might remember me telling you in my e-mails that Sister Maughan cut out a big “3” and taped it to our window. Every day we would see it and ask ourselves what more we could do to achieve it. We bled, sweat and cried. We worked our hardest. Because the goal came from the Lord we knew that it would happen! And then it didn’t. The transfer came to a close and we had witnessed just one beautiful baptism: Ash Houghton. We thanked the Lord for our blessings, but were a bit confused. The week after transfers she came back to see another of our investigators enter the waters: Hayley Parrish. That was still only two. I tried to just shrug it off, but never really felt closure. Why did the Lord tell us three if He knew it wouldn’t happen?
Fast forward. Elder Kopischke sends Sister Jack and I (and all of us) off to pray about a baptismal goal. We both feel four! I immediately doubt. Why should I trust the Lord this time when it didn’t happen last time I had a profoundly spiritual experience like this? I just pushed my nagging doubts to the back of my mind. The rest of Zone Conference carried on brilliantly. We had a fab musical number (a multi-lingual version of the Spirit of God which I was glad to direct). I received many other revelations and answers to many other questions. I soaked in the Spirit that was there; just lapped it up.
That night as we stayed over in the Swinton Sisters' flat I faced my doubts. I struggled and prayed for understanding and nothing really came. The next day at Zone Leader Council I knew that I was commited to work for it, but out of obedience not true desire. I couldn’t really put my heart into “the Experiment.”
It was that evening that the revelation finally came. As you know, David Anderson is an investigator that Sister Maughan and I found together. He was a slow mover and Sister Jack and I are so happy that he will be entering the waters of baptism this Friday. The night of Zone Leaders' Council I rang Sister Maughan to invite her to the baptism. We rejoiced together and as I hung up the phone I had the epiphany: three. Brother Anderson is number three. It happened in the Lord’s timing, but we truly had three baptisms! It’s as if I heard the Saviour’s voice in my ears, Oh ye of little faith. I dropped to my knees and repented of my doubt. The revelation was real and the Lord was in control all along, which means I could trust the revelation at Zone Conference. I ran up the stairs shouting to Sister Jack, “We’re going to have four baptisms!!! It’s going to happen!” It’s going to happen.
It will be in the Lord’s time and in His way, but I have all the confidence in the world that someday I will look back and be able to say: four. There is number four. And just as Elder Kopischke emphasized, this is not about numbers, this is about faith. My faith in the Lord has been strengthened this week. I am so grateful that President Kopischke facilitated this for me! He is truly inspired.
The Zone Leaders' Council was equally as revelatory. Some Kopischke-isms that you might like:
"If we do not set goals it shows we have no desires - and we will be judged according to our desires."
"It you miss the fun you miss it all."
"There is no reason to be discouraged when you are on the errand of the Lord."
"Do you honestly think that the prayers of agents will not be answered?" (pray like an agent, not an object - i.e. "help me do this" as opposed to "do this for me")
"You know, you get your £125 each month and you get to sleep in until 6.30 every day! What do you have to worry about?"
"Life is to make mistakes. If you ever think you can live without mistakes it is a sign of pride and arrogance. Joseph Smith never tried to cover his mistakes."
"Some of these promptings will bring you right out of your comfort zone. Okay! That is what we call an adventure!"
"When the Spirit rebukes it is never devastating or discouraging."
"Let your investigators teach you. As he teaches it, he will embrace it."
So there you go, President Kopischke in a nutshell : )