This week flew by! One of the highlights from this week was definitely our Zone Conference. In the past, our previous Mission President held Zone Conferences in the gym at the church, and we would set up tables to sit at as we listened and took notes. This time, however, we sat in the Primary room. About forty missionaries divided by gender (separated by a considerable gap at President Whitney's request) all crammed into two corners of the Primary room to make room for a table with a projector, a podium, and enough room for those speaking to comfortably move around while teaching. In other words, about fifteen sisters had a thirty foot by twenty foot rectangle to sit in, the speakers had another similarly sized area to stand in as they spoke, and the remaining twenty five to thirty missionaries were in a rectangle about thirty feet by twenty feet. We were incredibly cramped, but it was a spiritual experience nonetheless.
Another highlight of this week was seeing one of our Investigators get baptized! I haven't really gotten to know this young man very well, considering that I've only been here two and a half weeks, but I was still happy to see him make the promise to God to follow him. He was a little nervous at the Baptism, not because of the ordinance itself, but because of all the people that were there watching him. It was able to go over well though; in the words of Shakespeare, all's week that ends well, especially if it's a baptism!
Something that we spoke about a lot at Zone Conference that I've been thinking about a lot lately is what it means to be a successful missionary. I've known many good missionaries who struggled to baptize; the first baptism on my mission was the first one on his, and he had been out for a little over a year! He was an excellent missionary who I still look up to today, but if I remember correctly, only four people he taught on his Mission have been baptized. On the other hand, there are missionaries that are incredibly disobedient, but they're in danger of catching pneumonia with how often they're in the baptismal font! I had always been irritated when missionaries would brag about how many people they've baptized because I was aware that many good missionaries go home without having baptized anybody, and they are often sensitive about that. What we were taught in Zone Conference is something that has helped a lot. Our Mission President quoted directly from Preach my Gospel: You can know you have been a successful missionary when you:
* Feel the Spirit testify to people through you.
* Love people and desire their salvation.
* Obey with exactness.
* Live so that you can receive and know how to follow the Spirit, who will show you where to go, what to do, and what to say.
* Develop Christlike attributes.
* Work effectively every day, do your very best to bring souls to Christ, and seek earnestly to learn and improve.
* Help build up the Church (the ward) wherever you are assigned to work.
* Warn people of the consequences of sin. Invite them to make and keep commitments.
* Teach and serve other missionaries.
* Go about doing good and serving people at every opportunity, whether or not they accept your message.
Nowhere in that list does it mention how many baptisms we see because of our efforts! Our purpose is to invite others to come into Christ by helping them receive the restored Gospel, through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, Baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. Now, this isn't to say that baptism isn't central to our purpose, but rather that an abundance of baltisms or a lack thereof is not an indicator of our own righteousness or success. I hope that as I move forward in my mission, I'll be able to keep this mindset to avoid both pride and discouragement.
Hope y'all have a great week!