Hello all! This week was pretty cool, but mostly uneventful.
We had a super cool training from the Assistants, talking about how we can teach more effectively. A problem we have here in Mozambique is that everyone wants to sit and talk with us, but incredibly few people are willing to make changes. So we were encouraged to become ‘agents of change,’ instead of teachers. It’s interesting, I’ve noticed, to see that here, although we teach more people, the same number of people seem to be ‘elect’ as there are in any other mission. So we have the problem of sorting through those who aren’t willing to be the gospel. It’s definitely a different problem, but one that is a major concern. Our mission has one of the lowest retention rates in the world. I hope to fix that.
It’s not something I can do alone, and it’s not something I will probably see the effects of, but slowly, beginning with the people I teach, I want to make sure I teach those who are willing to make changes in their life. President Spendlove made a good analogy about this (which I never heard, but other missionaries have told me about). He talked about how on a scale of 0-10 in the gospel, most people we come into contact with are a 0. If we help them to see the changes they need to make in their lives, even if they aren’t ready to be baptized, it’s a good thing.
Most people progress from a 0 to a 1, or a 2 or a 3. Rarely you will find the one who will progress to a 7 or 8 or 9 but those people are the ones we need to keep talking to, and the ones who are willing to stop at 1 or 2 or 3 are making their own choice. This life is all about choices. No matter what I want, my life is going to be affected by the choices of others. By the same token, I can influence, but influence only, the choices of others. I want to be a good person. I want to be the person who helps everyone. But I can’t be. And it’s OK. What I can be is an agent of change. What I can do is influence others to see the light, and let them make the choices for their own lives.
To do this, we learned, can be incredibly hard. Because most people don’t really know what they want in life, it is hard to help them see what they can have. So, as agents of change, we must first help people to see what they want in life. For most people, if not everyone, this is happiness. Unfortunately, most people match money with happiness. It’s easy to get people to see that money isn’t everything. It’s easy to show that children, that a family, is happiness. The hard part is getting them to make the choice themselves to let the Lord show them what is best in their lives. The hard part is getting them to realize we have what is missing.
And so, we begin to teach. But as we begin, we have started to change our approach. We ask people what they want, instead of why we are here. We ask if they are willing to make changes, if they are willing to let the Lord help them. And, if they say yes, we teach. But we watch. We are here to find the people that the Lord has prepared, not the people who just want to talk to us. And they are out there. On Sunday, I met one of them (or so I think :P). Her name is Manuela. She came to church, and I asked her why she showed up. “I was looking at my life, and looking at my friends, and I saw that I wasn’t happy, and I wanted to be happy. So I came to church. I didn’t want to come in, because there was a guard and a wall, but something made me come in.” Wow. We talked to her a bit more last night, and started out with our new introduction. “What do you want out of life?” “Happiness.” “How do you think that you can get happiness?” “Faith in the Lord, and actions to prove that faith.” Wow. I’m humbled.
Ok, so maybe a bit more than an OK week.
Yesterday, the internet was out in Beira, so we couldn’t write home. Today, only one place has it, so it’s still hard. But it’s getting done!
Also, I just found out (as in, I just got a call, while I was typing this), that my beef jerky package showed up in Nampula. Two months after I left. So hopefully I’ll get it here in a few weeks, after the Bonini’s go up there and come back. We’ll see 😛
Love you all!
Elder A. Spencer Leake