3:39 pm. Our internet has been down for nearly 3 days, so we have some catching up to do. Today we had nothing planned (Thursdays are dead days) so we planned a paint out with Rodell and Paulo. Carl and Nicki went with us. We were going to Dao to paint with Paulo, but he was unable to host us, so I took us to the ocean near San Jose and we rented a table/umbrella on the beach and we painted away.
Yesterday, Wednesday, we went to Sibalom and picked up Dunito. He had cut bamboo for me so I could try to make an easel. I will show what turns out later. We hired Dunito to clean-up around here some and he came and worked hard. Sister S. worked in the yard with Dunito and I tried to make the easel. I had to buy an brace and bit to drill holes. I haven't even seen a brace and bit in about 50 years. I will try to bring it home to add to the tools.
Dunito burned all the leaves and limbs. We had smoke going through the compound and neighborhood. The leaves were wet, and/or green. The air con and fans pulled smoke through the house. It was a pretty fun day.
Tuesday we had district meetings and we were reminded of a talk by Alvin R. Dyer. It was given by Elder Giddins, an assistant to the president at zone training. The talk ("The Challenging and Testifying Missionary") is absolutely great instruction for all who do missionary work. Some of the quotes that struck me and Sister Sessions:
As I look back into my first mission as a young man, I remember one of my companions. He was a very brilliant student. He came into the mission at 20 with a doctor's degree. He had gained that in mathematics, and perhaps because of his training and his scholastic abilities, had in his mind solely that conversion to the gospel was a matter of detailed mechanism made possible by forceful teaching and the presentation of certain gospel facts that people might then, by power of argument, be made to accept the truth.
I remember that everything about that bothered me because it did not seem to me the way to preach the gospel. He was the most wonderful of companions. He is today one of the most successful architects in America. He became a professor at Brigham Young university on his return from that mission and he has lived to change his ideas about conversion to the gospel.
We had many long, long discussions about this in the hills of Pennsylvania. When we could not find lodging with the people, we would lie on our grass or bough beds made up in scout fashion, and talk about this. I used to emphasize then, when I was only 18, that the way to teach the gospel was by the "Power of the Holy Spirit."
This has been with me all my life - there can be no other effective way to teach the gospel. I have come to know as years have gone by, that thing is truly the fact. The more I see of people coming into the Church, and I have seen many thousand's I see the reality of this one thing that the Lord knows who He wants in the Church. This has been determined beforehand and there isn't much that you and I can do to destroy that. The only thing is, that He has invited us to assist Him. If we move the same way, the Lord will lead us to these people.
One of the most difficult things to remember is that this matter of teaching by the spirit is the special talent that a missionary has been given, and unless he uses it in testifying of the truth, he may lose it. And when he once loses it he may never get it back again.
This type of missionary is one of true valiance. For he has learned by courageous early elders of our own dispensation- like them he is unafraid- in testifying and challenging - "yes, at the drop of a hat," - meaning at any slightest opportunity - at any sign of reaction or response on the part of listeners whom he seeks with almost the persistence of a hunter.
His code: He sets out at the beginning of each day firmly resolved that before he seeks rest from his labors of the day, that someone will hear and feel the influences of his "Challenge for Baptism." He knows that without the "Power of the Spirit" he is nothing so far as leading souls unto baptism. This "Challenging and Testifying Missionary" has learned one thing of above all else, that of the power of testimony and of how it awakens interest in the hearts of good people.
"But with some I am not well pleased," said the Lord, "for they will not open their mouths, but they hide the talents?" . . . which talents. . . "Which I have given unto them, because of the fear of man. Wo unto such, for mine anger is kindled against them."
"And it shall come to pass, if they are not more faithful unto me, it shall be taken away, even that which they have."
"For I, the Lord, rule in the heavens above, and among the armies of the earth; and in the day when I shall take up my jewels, all then shall know what it is that bespeaketh the power of God."
This reproof is not against missionaries for not teaching, but for their failure to testify by the Spirit.
This is what teaching by the spirit is; your gift, your talent, your power is in the feeling and the impression that you give unto the people and not in the slow, methodical way of teaching. I want to say I think the great majority of our converts come into the Church not because of the way we teach the gospel, because often the pressing of Gospel subjects confuse their minds.
The missionary often says, "We have met the most wonderful family today and we are going to challenge them Wednesday." How do you know where you are going to Wednesday? Why didn't You challenge them last night?
Do you think you can teach a testimony? Can you analyze your own testimony of the gospel? Try and do it. Try and explain why you think Jesus is the Son of God. You will never explain it by physical reasoning. Where do you get the knowledge to say "I know Jesus is the Son of God?" John said, "Of this no man needs teaching."
The gospel of Jesus Christ is not knowledge. When people say they are glad to have a knowledge of Jesus they speak in what we call a manner of speech. The gospel is a feeling. It is controlled and governed by the power of the Holy Ghost, and this great personage has been assigned to administer the gifts and the spiritual powers of this life and you cannot and never will be able to take the place of this power as it ministers unto and influences people. This is what the Prophet Joseph Smith meant when he said,
"Faith comes by hearing the word of God, through the testimony of the servant of God. That testimony is always attended by the spirit of prophecy and revelations." (DHC VOL- III, p. 379)
Here is the right slant of missionary work. Dogmatic instructions tend only to confuse. Teach by the Spirit. A recent visit of the missionaries at home found a family of four still responding to their first visit of two days previous. The family was immediately invited to be baptized and they accepted the invitation. "The missionaries were wise, and prompted by the spirit received the commitment. This led to a more serious aspect in holding cottage meetings until baptism, and they found the investigators readily accepting each point of the lessons, for when investigators feel that the missionaries are truly the servants of good, they are fully susceptible to the message." Why, it is simple. If I believe with all my heart that you are a servant of God and you are teaching me, I'll accept everything you say. You don't have to argue with me. You are a servant of God. I know it because I have the spirit of God.
I remember as a young missionary we left the city of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, to go northward. The sky was blue, it was a beautiful day. It was so still it was almost dull. We had gone about one-half mile on a dirt road when a tremendous whirlwind came up and almost turned us off our feet. I said, "Brother John Clark; we must be going the wrong way." We turned and went the other way and had gone almost a half day into the country when we turned down a farm lane. I can still hear the dogs barking as we opened the outer gate and approached the house. The man said, "I have been expecting you young men." He had a neighbor who had dropped by and left him a copy of the Book of Mormon. Some missionaries had given it to the neighbor and he was not interested in it and had left it with him. "I have been praying every day that someone would come to tell me about this." Would you go into a lengthy series of lessons with that man? We did not. We went out and dammed the creek in back of his place and baptized him before we left.
I think the day will come when we will go to the doors of people and testify that we are the servants of God sent to them, call them to repent and be baptized, and I don't believe that day is too far away. The fact of the matter is, that's the way I think they used to preach it.
"We teach by the spirit, and let our investigators know that the Lord loves them and wants them to be members of His Church.'' (Note from Elder S. Be bold. Open your mouth. Let the Spirit guide your testimony. The Lord does love you. He wants you to be a member of His church. It is the only way. I do testify in His Holy name.)
(This reminds me of Springer and Gingery):
I was telling the president about a fine attorney we baptized recently. He got his testimony the first night. Here is a man who stands before the judgement bar and argues cases, but he got a different feeling that night. The attorney said he knew that Joseph Smith was prophet by the way the missionary said it. The missionary said, "We'll get him after the third lesson," and they did. This man had the stamina to withstand the three lessons. He said, "I didn't know that they were talking about. The only desire I had was to get into the Church. Now the missionary says, "You won't have to worry about me again, henceforth. I am a 'Challenging and Testifying Missionary'.''(I don't know if we were "challenging missionaries", but I seem to remember them accepting the baptismal challenge during the first lesson. The same thing happened with others. People feel the Spirit and accept the Gospel from the missionary's testimony that it is true. It is true.)
I know this plan is far greater than you and I. It is more than just a few baptisms and goals each month. We are preparing people to be leaders in the worlds that will follow this one. Do you suppose He will have to change the man or woman that He wants to prepare to be a future king and queen in some other world? That is ridiculous. This is God's work. Our work is to help Him get people into the Church. There is no other reason for being here. The element of success will come only when you use the things I have introduced today. Say to your friends, 'You ought to be a member of this Church! Now what about it?" LET'S GO MISSIONARY!
These are the things that struck me/us. This talk fits what we ought to do for our family, friends, those we meet (everywhere). We can not tell who the Lord has prepared and who He wants to invite into His church. So . . . testify first, teach when there is resistance. Invite others to come unto Christ and receive His restored Gospel. What a blessing . . . forever.