Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Miracle of Conversion

Sights in Santiago

More Sights in Santiago

The Bread of Life

Recently, after giving a devotional speech in a local ward, President Laycock was approached by an elderly woman. Bent with age and smiling past strands of silver hair, the woman stopped President Laycock as he left the building. She thanked him for his words and for his service and then reached into her handbag. Wanting to give him a gift, she offered him all she had ... a small roll that she had been keeping. Accepting the wonderful gift, President Laycock thanked her for the Spirit he had felt in the meeting. President Laycock has kept the roll and looks at it often to remind him of the love of the Chilean people. Interestingly, the roll has not molded. Rather, it has hardened and preserved itself. The frail Chilean Sister will probably never know that her sweet, selfless offering has been the subject of object lessons taught throughout the Santiago East Mission. As we consider the Bread of Life and what Christ means to each of us, let us remember to "be not weary in well doing for [we] are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great" (D&C 64:33). We are sure that this little woman was inspired by the Holy Ghost to share what she had with President Laycock. We are extremely grateful that she followed the whisperings of the Spirit and made a difference in our lives. President Laycock keeps the roll on his desk next to a small plaque that states: "Con amor... Obramos en el Jardin de Dios." (With love... we work together in the Garden of God.) This is the same plaque we made before coming to the mission. Our missionaries have given one to every Bishop, Relief Society President, and Stake Presidency in the Mission.

The Santiago East Mission Enjoys Being Together to Celebrate Chile's Bicentennial

Fanta is a mission favorite!

Even our new missionaries were understanding Chilean Spanish
well enough to enjoy the festivities.

Landon Laycock (President and Sister Laycock's teenage son)
demonstrated his Chilean trompo (top) talent by flinging a spinning top
directly into the palm of his hand.

We love our missionaries!

The Santiago East Mission is Unified and Happy!

200th Year Celebration in Chile

As Chile celebrated her 200th birthday, the Santiago East Mission celebrated by setting goals and coming together as a unified group of Disciples and Representatives of Jesus Christ. We celebrated with music, a fireside, review of local Chilean Customs and of course empanadas!

Chilean Empanadas!

Assistants Livingstone and Carroll, with the help of our Chilean panel (Elders Cuevas, Ortega, Montecinos, and Villagran and President Laycock), answered questions about the Chilean people, culture, and history.

Assistants Livingstone and Carroll, with the help of our Chilean panel (Elders Cuevas, Ortega, Montecinos, and Villagran and President Laycock), answered questions about the Chilean people, culture, and history.

The Mission joined together in singing the Mission Song to conclude the evening's festivities

The Mission joined together in singing the Mission Song to conclude the evening's festivities

September 7th Arrival of 15 New Elders

Arrival of North American Elders at the Santiago Airport

Arrival of North American Elders at the Santiago Airport

Arrival of North American Elders at the Santiago Airport

New Elders meeting their new companions

New Elders on their first day in the mission at the Santiago Temple

We received 15 new missionaries (13 from the United States and 2 from Argentina) on September 7th. This remarkable group of young men adapted well immediately and consistently demonstrated a desire to go to work as soon as possible. We conducted the orientation meeting for the new missionaries in the Pocuro Ward. After the initial session, we moved to a room on the second level of the Ward House, where we reviewed certain Mission rules, Schedules and read together in Spanish and English the talk by President Kimball “Lock Your Hearts.”

Inspired Visits From Our Leaders

Beginning on August 20 the Santiago East Mission had the great blessing of being able to participate in various Devotionals, Mission Training, and Mission President Training Sessions with The Chile Area Presidency and their wives, Elder and Sister Costa, and Elder Scott.

We were also blessed in the East Mission to be able to attend a Devotional in which Elder and Sister Corbridge, along with Elder and Sister Costa spoke to the Young Men and Young Women of the Region at the La Reina Stake Center. Sister Corbridge spoke on the importance of deciding to decide and the importance of forgetting one’s self and going to work. Elder Corbridge spoke about the fact that “We” are our greatest work in this life. What we make of ourselves and what we are becoming must be part of a conscious and deliberate plan. We should follow the example of Christ as the Way the Truth and the Life. All of our choices will define us, even the little choices along life’s journey. Sister Costa urged the youth to be in the right place at the right time. She explained that she was able to meet and eventually marry Elder Costa because she attended a Young Adult Activity sponsored by the Church. She taught us to “choose the better part.” Elder Costa asked what do Nephi, Ammon, Alma, Joseph (of the coat of many colors), the Sons of Mosiah, Joseph Smith, Daniel, the 2000 Stripling Warriors and David all have in common? He explained that they all accomplished miraculous things as young single adults or as Young Men and Young Women. He encouraged all of the youth to make substantial contributions to the Church in the form of time, service, temple service, magnifying callings and through consistent faithfulness. He said that Angels go to bed at 11:30 p.m. He also admonished the Youth that they should not limit themselves to just have "virtual friends." He said to "have friends of flesh and blood." He spoke of the importance of marriage in life to perfect us and teach us. He concluded by testifying of the Savior, of His strength, His example and His atoning sacrifice.

On Saturday August 21, the East and North Mission met in the Pocuro Chapel and listened to speeches by Elder and Sister Amado and Elder and Sister Costa. Elder Costa spoke about the role and calling of a member of the Quorum of the 70. He explained that all members of the Quorum are Special Witnesses of Jesus Christ. He taught that as one of the 7 presidents of the 70, he has the opportunity to meet twice a week with the Quorum of the 12 Apostles and the First Presidency of the Church. He testified that a central theme of those meetings is to focus on the calling to proclaim the Gospel to all the world. He encouraged the missionaries to use Preach My Gospel, stating “If you believe, all is possible.” Mark 9:23. Elder Costa told the Elders and Sisters to Think Big and Do Big Things. Sister Costa spoke of her love for the missionaries even before she knew them when she and her husband were about to preside over a mission in Brazil. She compared it to the love felt for an unborn child. She confirmed the strength and power possessed by Elders and Sisters to do good and influence lives. Sister Amado spoke about the power of one’s calling as a missionary, noting that “there is someone prepared for you to teach.” She also spoke about the importance of the blessing to be called as a representative of Jesus Christ. She testified that it is the power to work miracles, the power to save eternal lives, and the very power to represent Christ. She quoted President Kimball when he said that he would declare the Gospel with all of his might, first running to share the gospel, then walking, then crawling, then pulling himself by his arms and finally, when he had no more strength by yelling to declare the message of the restoration. Elder Amado told the Elders that they are at great risk when they do not obey. He explained that there is nothing worse in this life than not being worthy to feel and be guided by the Spirit. Elder Amado cautioned all of the missionaries to avoid being alone with members of the opposite sex. There are no excuses. He referred to worthless excuses for disobedience as “escusas de cinco centavos - five cent excuses.” He boldly declared his testimony of the restoration and explained that no success in the mission work can be accomplished without the Spirit.

Left to Right, Sister Laycock, President Laycock, Elder Costa of the Seven Presidents of the Seventy, and Sister Costa

Left to right: Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles, Sister Laycock and President Laycock

On Monday August 23, we were privileged to meet with Elder Scott, Elder and Sister Costa, Elder and Sister Corbridge, Elder and Sister Zeballos and Elder and Sister Amado, along with six other mission presidents and their wives (Swenson, Humphrey, King, Kemp, McArthur, and May). We began the meeting with a question and answer session. Prominent among the statements by Elder Scott was his declaration that we, as those who preside over the missions in Chile, are preparing the leaders of the Church. Elder Scott noted that two of the men sitting in the room at the time had served as missionaries in the mission over which he and his wife had presided many years ago. We received an outpouring of the Spirit as we participated in practice sessions for teaching lessons from Preach My Gospel. Imagine receiving teaching suggestions from an Apostle, a President of the Quorum of the Seventy and three members of the 1st Quorum of the Seventy. To conclude the morning session, we had a testimony meeting in which each person present expressed their testimony in one minute. Among the many lessons learned throughout the day, we were especially moved by the power of a “one minute” testimony when stated in the context of heart-felt belief. Elder Scott taught us that we must understand the concerns of those over whom we preside or we cannot help them. He encouraged us to observe, listen, discern, and to express love in word, deed, tone and vision. To be effective leaders, we must be direct and clear in our teaching and in our instruction.

Doing the Lord's Work in the Lord's Way

Simplified Curriculum

We implemented the Simplified Training Program in sixteen separate training sessions conducted over a period of four weeks at the La Reina Stake Center. We first obtained permission from Elder Zaballos of the Area Presidency to teach the entire mission the simplified curriculum.Since the East Mission is the smallest Mission in the world, we were able to gather the Mission Zones from the North for 8 sessions of training and later the South Zones for 8 additional sessions of training. The Spirit was strong as we asked the Elders and Sisters to report on their placement in practice of the concepts learned together. We instituted a practice session that allowed missionaries to rotate to Elders and Sisters other than their own companion and practice taking on the role of both missionary and investigator. After each practice, we evaluated what we learned and then re-practiced the concepts studied. We taught the eight lessons directly from the lesson plans provided by the Church Mission Committee as follows:

1. The Doctrine of Christ

2. The Role of the Holy Ghost in Conversion

3. Revelation through Prayer

4. Revelation through the Book of Mormon

5. Revelation through Church Attendance

6. Teach People, Not Lessons

7. We Invite, They Commit, We Follow Up

8. How to Begin Teaching

Saying Good Bye to Leaders in the East Mission

We had two separate departures during this Transfer Cycle: August 9 and September 6. This entire group of faithful Elders served in various leadership responsibilities, including district leader, zone leader, trainer and Senior Companion. All of these Elders have left their mark on our lives and leave a legacy of love and goodness in the Santiago East Mission.

Left to right: Elder B. Evans, Elder Brady, Elder Bagley and Elder Osborne

Row 1, left to right: Sister Laycock, President Laycock, Elders Huchins, Ouimette, Blankenfeld, C. Smith, E. Smith, Osborne, B. Evans,
Row 2, A. Evans, Brady, Noall, C. Evans, Thorup, Wyatt,
Row 3, Killian, Scalese, Alvarado, Valverde, Stagg, Frost and Skinner