Sunday, February 17, 2008

What Do LDS Mission Presidents Do?

Gerald J. Day in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism says: "Since new missionaries arrive and seasoned missionaries are released each month, training, retraining, and making new assignments and transfers are perpetual tasks.

The mission president, under supervision from Church headquarters, establishes mission rules, study patterns, goals, and discipline. His assignment requires constant travel to zone conferences, which are also testimony meetings, at least every six to eight weeks. The president and his wife have direct contact with the missionaries by phone, mail, and personal visits. They continually foster programs of goodwill, service, and understanding." (Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol. 2, Mission Presidents; Copyright © 1992 by Macmillan Publishing Company).

One of the best ways to prepare to be a mission president in my opinion is to read a mission president diary to see what they do on a daily basis. There are a few mission president blogs that help us learn the daily happenings of mission presidents up close and personal--Steven Mann's Durban Mission Blog and Mike Murray's Called to Serve: Mission President of the Pennsylvania Philadelphia Mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The most detailed is Mann's but Murray has some interesting things included.

My daughter's mission president's wife Mary Perriton has put up Anyanghasaeyo:News of the Korea Daejeon Mission also. It is mostly a photo exhibit of the happenings of the mission with just a little narration of activities. She is into the multimedia experience and has a few nice slideshows. She also has missionary letters quoted as does Mike Murray on his site. You learn that mission presidents have to read weekly emails or letters as part of their responsibility. I gave them a plug in my post entitled: "New Mormon Mission Blog Gives Legitimacy to Elder Ballard's New Media." I hadn't discovered the other blogs yet. I now wonder if all mission presidents' were instructed to create a blog from the 2007 mission president group.

Alan G. Perriton of the Deajeon Korea Mission as do most mission president had a special zone leaders' council with a full day of training in the mission home.

Karen Acerson tells us in the Italy Rome Mission that her husband: "President Acerson has his hands full with missionary interviews, phone calls, and reading their weekly letters. In addition, he holds mission councils where the district and mission leadership meet 4-5 times a year, fills callings, and smooths ruffled feathers, but he’s kind and loving and is the right man for the job. They love and respect him and listen to his counsel and advice.'

The oldest mission blog on blogspot is Grandma Chubby's Stuff. Lenore Sturdy Ashby with her husband John Howard Ashby in the Romania Bucharest Mission. She has been sharing her and her husband's exploits since November 2005. They will be concluding their mission in a few months. She has some great pictures of her missionaries and a few things from time to time about activities they have taken part in.

Steven Mann, President of the Durban Mission and his wife Susan have some interesting posts on his Durban Mission Blog that describe their routine in exact detail. It is quite illuminating and entertaining.

Lets trace President Mann's activities as reported by his wife Susan.

July 9, 2007

During his first week the family was met at airport by the departing Mission President Brock and his wife who were accompanied by a few tall missionaries who were between 6'1" and 6'9". They went to the mission home where the living room is called the Testimony Room I guess because that is where in coming and out going elders bear their testimonies. There are guards on the street in front of the home with lights on 24/7 with a wall and electric gate surrounding the place. One elder related to their son how he had been stabbed but only sustained scratches. He hit his assailant with a water bottle which caused him to run off. A sister missionary sent home early from a different mission came to their mission to get one of the Durban sister missionaries to go home early with her but the elders hide the sister and later whisked the sister away to another part of the mission. The assistants put the offending sister on a plane to Johannesburg, South Africa. The Mission President and his wife bore their testimony in the Pinetown Ward. He met with all five missionary zones' elders and took group pictures. They held an open house with the local leaders. Their non-member neighbors from across the street came and met them. On Sunday they spoke at the Mpulanga township where the prayer was in Zulu but the rest in English and then they drove back and attended their own ward meetings.

27 July 2007

They had a break in. Both their cars were wrecked. A sister missionary had her head bashed in a car accident by bumping it in the car's trunk. His wife reported on their first round of zone conferences: "On the other hand, we've had a round of "real" zone conferences that was fun. The drill is: Song, prayer, etc; birthday recognition, "pick a tie" by the hardworking elder of the month; recognition of those who have completed a level of the Master Teacher program; information from the office couple on cars, boardings, and getting ordinance dates in (apparently we have a number of men without priesthood ordination dates on file, who are serving in branch presidencies and other priesthood callings!); the Dalebouts then go out and check all the cars, and visit the boardings. The Pres introduces the theme of the conference, and the Assistants carry on with training while he pulls the missionaries out for interviews. Sister Pres (me!) gives a talk supporting/expanding on/jazzing up the theme somewhere in the middle. I also organize lunch. Ever had pizza 4 days in a row? Afterwards, Steve and the Assistants go out on splits with the elders in the zone." On the 24th of July the sisters and the mission president's wife had a P-Day Sisters Activity. They conducted their first transfers of seven elders

9 August 2007 They completed their first cycle of transfers, zone leader training, and zone conferences. On Wednesday August 1st they greeted their first batch of new missionaries who came from the MTC because the Johannesburg MTC was being remodeled. The missionaries received instruction, had their pictures taken, and had dinner with the mission president, his family, and office staff. Following dinner they had a testimony meeting. One companionship spent the night the rest went with other elders.

Later in the week on Wednesday the missionary assistants called out the transfers. On Thursday all the transferred missionaries went to the Pineville Chapel to make the changes. The mission president and his wife went and talked with the elders and sisters. "The missionaries really are a family. In the transfer meeting, Steve had the new zone leaders and district leaders stand, and as he gave out trainer assignments I introduced each new missionary. As each new trainer was announced, the missionaries would "OO-OO-OOH" and "AA-AAH". The the departing missionaries bore their testimonies. It was very impressive. I think that instead of sending home "returned missionaries" we are sending home very well-rounded "member missionaries". These missionaries have been finding, teaching, baptizing, activating, teaching members to be missionaries, doing service, teaching English, modeling how to teach classes, conduct meetings, and speak in Church, playing piano, singing in choirs... Missions have changed since my day!"

A departing dinner was held after which they had "story time." We had another dinner at the mission home with the departing missionaries, and "story time" where they each told something from their mission experience. I hope they wrote them all down. The missionaries are supposed to write to the mission president every week, and then when they go home, they get all the letters back, so they should at least have that record, if they haven't kept a constant journal. They also have their planners, so if they save them they have a record of their investigators, and how they helped them progress.

On Friday they put the departing missionaries on a plane home. Then they drove up to Newcastle (3-1/2 hours NW of Durban) to meet the new area President Elder and Sister Parmley of the Second Quorum of Seventy at his bed and breakfast where they had dinner. The next day Saturday they began a tour of the mission. A zone conference was held where all four of them spoke. The mission president's wife did a Preach My Gospel chase (like scripture chase) and couldn't believe how competitive some of the elders were: "Pick me! Pick me!" Then Steve went over some things they could ask themselves to determine if they were really Preach My Gospel missionaries. For lunch they had sloppy joes then a group picture was taken. They then proceeded to what the mission president's wife called a twig not a branch for another zone conference with missionaries in eZhekini which meets in old slaughterhouse building. The mission president is proposing the church form a stake from the Newcastle Branch, eZhekini Branch, and Ladysmith Branch. They returned home to Durban to prepare for church the next day. On Sunday the mission president and his wife received training from the General Authority. They tried to catch a stalker who was harassing the sister missionaries. They held a two stake fireside with the members with the members.

On Monday and Tuesday they resume the zone conferences with catered lunches. Tuesday night there was dinner with the mission presidency and their wives. Wednesday morning the Parmley's left but the mission president held zone leader training. Wednesday night they attended a rugby dinner with non-members.

I will conclude the Durban Mission portion by sharing what the mission president Steven Mann himself records as his activities:

Monday August 20, 2007

"Today we bring you "The Mission President".

First let me give you an outline of a few days of a mission president.

Date: Friday 18 Aug 07 Place: Newcastle about 5.5 hours from mission home.
5:00 Up thinking through issues
7:00 Breakfast and interview with Sr. couple
8:00 Zone Leader training for Newcastle Zone Leaders
9:00 30 min interviews with 10 missionaries while assistants train and review area books
1:00 Leave for Swaziland reading mission presidents handbook, branch handbook, and discussing
items with assistants
4:00 Arrive Mbabane, Swaziland for meeting with ward mission leader and missionaries
5:30 Discussions on Book of Mormon with family of 5
6:30 Family Home Evening discussion with part member family. Lesson on Alma 36 followed by learning primary song in South African sign language.
8:00 Dinner at Lodge with assistants
Notes: *The drive to Swaziland was much prettier than last trip. The hills are starting to turn green.
*Mbabane is up in the hills with big rock formations. Really a pretty area and will be spectacular when everything turns green next month.
* Lesson at 5:30 was in a one room house. There were no chairs so the elders and I sat on the floor, taught the lesson and read the scriptures by candle light. Family was wonderful and invited us back for the next lesson. Boy what a humble environment.
*Elders were fantastic teachers and worked wonderfully with the members.

Date: Saturday 19 Aug 07 Place: Mbabane, Swaziland
8:00 Drive to Manzini
9:00 4 missionary interviews
10:30 drive back to Mbabane
11:00 4 interviews
12:00 Zone Leader training
1:30 Exchanges with Zone Leaders
*Follow up lesson with recently baptized 18 year old boy and his older sister
*Follow up lesson with recently baptized 40 year old man and his 12 year old son
*Missionary preparation lesson with young man
*FHE with part member family and friends 8 young people
*Preach My Gospel training with 6 17 year-olds preparing to go on mission
* Visit to less active returned missionary
8:00 Dinner with Zone Leaders
9:00 Back to Bed & Breakfast
* Lessons were terrific
* PMG session was lots of fun with all those energetic boys

Date: Sunday 20 Aug 07 Place: Mbabane, Swaziland
8:30 Picked up for Church at Mbabane
9:00 Sacrament meeting at Mbabane
10:30 Drive to Manzini to pick up Elder Larsen and meet Branch President
11:00 Leave for Durban
6:00 Arrive Durban
7:00 Debrief trip, e-mail Logan
10:00 phone calls

*147 at Sacrament meeting in Mbabane
* Speaker just before me said she was going back to Jamaica. Turned out she knew Logan on his mission. She told me they called her momma G and that Logan was a great
missionary. Boy what a small world.
* Boarder crossing from Swaziland to South Africa tells the story of the two countries. On the Swazi side everything is done by hand and sometimes they don’t even bother. They would rather talk with us. Really friendly. On the S.A. side everything is computerized and business like.
* 3 new members confirmed at sacrament meeting and 10 investigators.
* From the Swazi border to the coast is bush with signs for game parks and lodges every which way. It will be fun to get up here some time with the kids.

Date: Monday 21 Aug 07 Place Westville (Mission Home)
Couldn’t sleep too well at night due to a cold coming on and a few issues to think about.
6:30 Up and dressed
7:00 Office to organize all the action items from the trip and make notes to staff on things to do
9:30 Interview with great missionary needing a little counsel
10:30 Interview with a sister missionary
11:00 Interview with companion
11:00 Presentation by Sr couple employment specialists on their activities
12:30 Lunch with Sr couples
1:30 Presentation by CES couples
3:00 Schedule review with Assistants to plan out December Zone Conferences, Interviews, and Exchanges
4:30 Call E. Young at area office to review questions and possible District creation
5:30 Dinner and discussion with Susan, Hunter, Morgan
6:30 Back to office to work on this Blog update
*This is kind of how days go out here. They are busy busy and go by fast. Everything is new.
*The assistants ask if the mission was what I expected and I said yes. They asked what was different from what I expected and I said, “The missionaries far exceeded my expectations. They are incredible teachers. They know their scriptures, and they work hard.” You can’t believe what wonderful teachers they are and what great grasp of the gospel of Jesus Christ they have. I really feel privileged to be their mission president and be able to work with them. No kidding every time I go with the missionaries to teach lessons I am taught by them. We are going to have the office elders start teaching the lessons to Hunter and Morgan on Wednesday evenings.

In case you can’t tell from this outline I am having the time of my life. Some days when the assistants and I and the office elders and the office couple get home from teaching it feels like the sons of Mosiah getting together after their missions. We take turns saying, “Wait till you hear about my day!!” I really am the luckiest man on Earth to be out here."

In the same mission several months before President Mann served there was an unfortunate tragedy occurred in October 2006 when an elder slipped down an embankment and fell to his death. One of the mission president's responsibilities included dealing with the death of a missionary including contacting the parents and shipping the body home for burial.

President Mike Murray of the Philadelphia Pennsylvania Mission starts out with his mission call and takes us from his call in 2007 until now February 2008. President Murray is chronicling his mission for us so keep checking it out. His posts include more personal experiences with general activities and conversion stories. He has some good pre-mission stuff and an excellent post on solicitation by elders.

May 11, 2007

He attended a luncheon in Salt Lake City with Elder Earl C. Tingey and eleven other mission presidents and their wives. Elder Ballard and Sister Ballard attended after lunch there was a question and answer period conducted by the two General Authorities. They leave for their mission June 20th from Redmond, Washington. He knows Elder Ballard from work he did with the Church in the 1990s.

May 21, 2007

The couple held a huge free garage sale to clear out their house. He read the Preach My Gospel manual to prepare for his mission.

June 20, 2007

Left for Salt Lake City. On June 25th they report to MTC for five days of training "of intensive training and uplift."

Thursday, June 28, 2007

"The past five days at the Missionary Training Center (MTC) in Provo, Utah has been one of the most spiritually rewarding experiences of my life. To feel, in a very literal and direct way, the very personal love that God has for each of us makes me both happy and humble. And then to accept the responsibility that has been given to me, that to share this Good News to all who will be receptive is exciting and daunting. It is now our opportunity to invite others to come to 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.

Joyce and I joined 116 other new Missionary President couples from all around the world in an intense training program called the Mission President Seminar. We were instructed by Apostles and others as to our responsibilities and duties. I cannot think of a better way to spend my time, talents and energy for the next three years. This is a wonderful thing."

July 13, 2007

He is now on his mission. He writes the following: "We have about 120 missionaries currently serving in the Pennsylvania Philadelphia mission. About 70% of these are assigned to work in the greater Philadelphia area. The remainder are spread up north in Reading and Allentown, and down south to Wilmington, Delaware and some smaller communities.

The greatest growth of the church in this area is in the inner city where many Africans (primarily from Liberia), African-Americans, and Latinos (from Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico) are being baptized.

Yesterday I spent 4 hours in one of the most burned out sections of a ghetto with Elders Mills and Keach (both age 21). These two elders are "zone leaders". This means they directly coordinate the work of 32 other missionaries. Elders Mills and Keach live in a tiny little apartment that faces a dangerous street. There is constant crime in these neighborhoods. Yet Elders Mills and Keach are fearless. They have replaced fear with faith. They are also extremely well organized and have become great leaders and managers -- their tiny apartment has a fax machine, cell phone and two white boards with goals, plans and statistics all up to date. We visited two families whom they are teaching - a Puerto Rican mother and daughter and a Vietnamese father and daughter. The squalor of the buildings and homes breaks my heart. Yet the people we met are eager to learn about the restored gospel and sense an opportunity for a new beginning. It was a great experience.

My job has many different pieces to it. I'm trying to get my arms around it all. It makes alot more sense now than it did a week ago. I love serving with our missionaries and feel great purpose to what we are doing."

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

He relates his own personal conversion story.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

"Last week two of our missionaries serving in Allentown, PA were stopped by a local police officer who informed them that they were breaking the law and would no longer be able to continue their missionary work. The infraction? Solicitation.

Many communities have solicitation ordinances that require door-to-door salesmen to register at City Hall, obtain a permit or license, pay a fee and often submit to a police background check. Occasionally communities will use these local laws to try to stop religious missionary work. An employee at the City Hall said that our eight missionaries in Reading would have to comply with all of this -- including paying a $50 license fee per missionary.

In 2002 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that missionaries were not solicitors as long as they were not soliciting contributions nor selling goods or services.

I contacted a law firm in Utah that helps out in such situations. This firm has 93 attorneys and is one of the largest in the Intermountain West. A very capable attorney came to my aid and with the assistance of his paralegal they contacted the Allentown, PA city attorney and discussed the situation. Once enlightened by the Supreme Court ruling the city agreed to allow our missionaries to continue their work without interruption.

What was the name of the missionary who was stopped by the police? Elder Kelby Bosshardt from the small town of Redmond, Utah.

And who was the paralegal who assisted her boss on this project? Jackie Bosshardt, the sister of Elder Bosshardt."

Grandma Chubby's Stuff adds a few interesting things that are done by mission president's in foreign countries.

Here is a brief synopsis of her blog: In one post in November 2005 Lenore describes how President John Ashby performed a ring ceremony for a young couple who were married civilly before they went to the Freiburg Germany Temple. She also describes one of the first zone conferences they held in the Mihai Bravu Chapel. The mission president also passes out suckers to poor kids. They don't celebrate Thanksgiving so instead the mission president conducted sixteen missionary interviews at which they served pumpkin pie. In December 2005 they conducted four Christmas zone conferences with parties. "Each zone had a party the first day where we played games, had the missionaries perform skits, poems, music, etc., had a present exchange (which consisted of ties for the elders and scarves for the sisters) and had a murder/mystery dinner from the Book of Mormon. The second day we had a day-long conference where we taught and bore testimonies and shared beautiful music." Also that month they held a special Young Adult Conference reading the dedication prayer offered by Elder Russell M. Nelson at Cismigiu Garden (Park) on February 9, 1990. The mission president liked going there and reading the blessing to different groups including his in coming missionaries.

In February 2006 they went to a sacrament meeting in Sector 6 in a villa with no heat where the mission president spoke on Family Home Evening and conducted interviews. They have dinner with a Brother Doru who relates an interesting conversion story. In March 2006 the mission president set apart a young elder bound for the Ukraine Kiev Mission. In May 2006 the mission president conducted a district conference. Also Elder Russell M. Nelson came with his new wife Wendy to a conference with 700 members at the Expo Center in Bucharest. After the group went to Cimisgiu Park where Elder Nelson had originally dedicated the land for the preaching of the gospel so his new bride could see it. President Ashby who has the prayer down gave it again to the group. All the missionaries came to Bucharest to meet with Elder Nelson so there was a mission-wide conference.

There was also a massive flood in the country so the mission president distributed humanitarian aid. The mission president helped oversee the efforts. "Church humanitarian resources, missionaries and members in Romania provided immediate relief to flood victims. Members from four of the 22 branches in Romania, along with 18 full-time missionaries, lined up in a meetinghouse in Bucharest to assemble more than 3,000 hygiene kits and food packets. These packets, with blankets, bread and bottled water, were delivered to the Spantov, Chiselet and Manasterea villages along the Danube River. This was believed to be the largest emergency relief project undertaken by the Church in Romania."

In June 2006 the mission president held a couples' conference with ten senior couples in Sighisoara, Romania. The 120 missionaries all chipped in to buy him a Gypsy Wagon for his birthday which he drives around the streets of Budapest. I bet he gets a few conversations from that activity. In July 2006 he baptized one of his grandkids in the Black Sea who was visiting. In August 2006 he went to a mission presidents' seminar with 16 other mission presidents in Dresden, Germany to learn from Elder Ballard, Elder Tingey, Elder Huntsman, Elder Hafen, Elder Paul and Elder Wondra. The mission presidents took a tour of the city and a boat ride down the Elbe River.

In September 2006 the mission was officially recognized by the courts of Romania. So brush up on your ability to read legalese it might come in handy as a mission president. The mission president dedicated a new chapel in Budapest on the 24th of September 2006. In November 2006 some boys from Alexandria "twig" (not official branch) visited them. Later in the month they went and held services in Alexandria. They passed out suits and ties to most of the boys and a few members. In December 2006 the mission president registered the mission officially with the government.

In January 2007 six missionaries returned to Moldova. In February 2007 there was a baptism, a marriage, a report from Moldova and missionary interviews in Sibiu. In March 2007 there was a zone conference in Arad, a missionary had his appendix removed, and sixteen new missionaries arrived. In May 2007 the mission president actually dedicated a well for water for the church in Odobesti and they visited the hill where Elder Ballard dedicated the land of Moldova. In June 2007 they established the Alexandria Branch. In July 2007 there were three zone conferences held and doctor from Germany talked to missionaries on how to stay healthy. In August 2007 there were new missionaries and outgoing missionaries and a sister's conference was held. In September 2007 there was a discussion of the work in Transnistria, one of three countries in their mission, a district conference in Ploiest, a zone conference in Moldova, and the mission president and his wife went to Switzerland for a mission presidents seminar with the area presidency in the Swiss Alps. In October 2007 the mission president's brother and his family came and hung around going on zone conferences with them. In November 2007 there was new arrivals followed by a large transfer. In December 2007 they had zone Christmas parties.

What are a few general things that mission presidents do?

In the Washington Tacoma Mission which started in 1990 President Sidney R. Henderson (1990-1993)organized the mission with stake and ward mission leaders,called full-time missionaries and set up a Mission Presidency. He also formally blessed the mission for proselyting. Special meetings were set up with the 13 Stake Presidents in the mission and a program was outlined that included member missionary involvement and missionaries assisting in home teaching. Missionaries spent a considerable time tracting even though he encouraged members to give them more referrals.

From 1993 until 1996 President R. Paul Thompson organized the mission in to more effective proselyting zones. He traveled extensively to members' homes giving dozens of firesides to investigators and new converts. There were 3,000 converts or 1,000 converts a year which is an average of 83 converts per month for their three years.

From 1996 until 1999 President T. Bowring Woodbury II concentrated on the missionaries becoming their own "first convert." He had close ties to Stake Presidents and the local missionary leaders. A turning point in the mission was when Elder Jeffrey R. Holland pronounced a special apostolic blessing from that time forward they baptized a 1,000 people a year and revitalized the lagging missionary work.

From 1999 until 2002 President Ronald A. Stone looked to the future of a new millennium and was going to build on the success of his predecessors.

President Spencer W. Kimball describes something presidents can do to increase baptisms: "President Rhee Ho Nam in the Korea Pusan Mission, with the help of the regional Representatives and the executive administrator...has given a strong emphasis to member-missionary work. He has only five districts and no stakes in his mission, but has instituted a program between missionaries and district and branch Presidents and members. They've had special workshops to train members on how to be member missionaries. Baptisms in that mission when President Rhee got there were about 16 a month. Now they are around 120 a month. The Korean members are bringing friends to their homes and providing referrals and the priesthood leaders are not asking members to do any missionary work which the district and branch Presidents are not doing themselves. Further, President Rhee stresses that those who come into the Church through tracting often must leave their old friends behind and hope to make new ones in the Church, but when members bring their friends into the Church, these new members automatically have ready-made friends within the Church. President Rhee says that the priesthood leaders and members not only help bring their friends into the Church, but they watch over them once they are in the Church with specific affection and concern." (Spencer W. Kimball, Mission Presidents’ Seminar, 22 June 1979).

In Preach My Gospel we learn: "The stake president also meets regularly with the mission president to coordinate missionary efforts, including the training of leaders and members, use and placement of full-time missionaries, and assistance in activation efforts."

Another thing mission presidents might do is attend ward missionary correlation meetings. Gordon B. Hinckley said: "missionaries do not need to neglect proselyting to assist in fellowshipping the members. The two efforts can go hand in hand. You have the Saints to help, all of them. You have bishops and their ward councils. You have stake presidents and their stake councils. Most particularly, you have the Member Missionary Coordinating Council, which meets periodically to consider missionary problems in the stakes and most particularly to keep track of and give an accounting of every new member who has come into the Church. Your own full-time mission president will frequently attend this meeting.Under the direction of this council, another six lessons will be taught to more firmly ground new members in their faith."

Because they are so busy they only have a few occasions to share the gospel on a one-on-one basis. Sometimes the mission president goes on exchanges with his office staff but usually that is rare. Grant Barton describes one experience he had on his mission: "When I was a new mission president, my wife and I didn’t seem to have time to personally share the gospel. But the words of the then-living prophet wouldn’t let us alone: “Every one of you should be a missionary in addition to what else you are doing. … You cannot go into eternity and look the Lord in the face if you’ve done nothing toward teaching the gospel to others.”

Since we didn’t know many people who were not members of the Church, we offered fervent prayers that the Lord would lead someone to us with whom we could share his gospel. Soon thereafter, a young man walked into the mission office to deliver a bicycle. After we got acquainted, I showed Steve an artist’s rendering of the Dallas Temple, then under construction, and explained that in the house of the Lord, families are joined together forever. The words flooded into my mind as the Lord promised: “It shall be given you in the very hour, yea, in the very moment, what ye shall say.” (D&C 100:6.) Steve seemed impressed. I invited him to dinner, where we had a lovely gospel conversation, which led into the missionary discussions and his conversion.

After joining the Church, Steve told us that he had been praying to be led to the truth during the same period of time we were praying for someone to be led to us with whom we could share it! Great has been our joy with Steve as he has completed an honorable mission, has married in the temple, and is building a gospel-centered family. To continue to experience this same joy throughout eternity with him, with our children, and with others in Heavenly Father’s kingdom would be the greatest of all conceivable blessings."

Richard E. Cook
of the Seventy felt his time as mission president in Mongolia would help him in his new call: "In 1994 he and his wife, Mary, were called as missionaries to Mongolia, and when a mission was organized in that country, he was called as its first president.

He says that this experience as a mission president in a country where the gospel is just emerging will probably be an asset in his new calling, as it is necessary to establish cordial relationships with governments and help people come to know the Church."

Lynn G. Robbins
of the Seventy says about being president of the Uruguay Montevideo Mission at the time of his call to the Second Quorum of the Seventy. “When you go on a mission and begin teaching others and bearing testimony, the gospel is branded on your heart,” he says. “My mission had a pivotal impact on me, and I can’t think of anything else I’d rather have my sons do.”

We learn from C. Terry Warner that Elder David B. Haight who had never served a mission had a lot to learn in being a mission president: "He gave up all of this when in 1963 President David O. McKay called him to preside over what was then the Scottish Mission.

That mission demonstrated Elder Haight’s capacity to mold himself to the demands of a new assignment. Like many of his generation, he had not as a young man served a mission; and he discerned that he was unprepared in other ways. “I had been an administrator and trainer,” he recalls. “My scriptural study and contemplation had always been directed to the task immediately at hand—-a stake conference message, a training seminar, etc. In the mission field I needed to add an important dimension—-I needed to rise early, shut out the things of the world, study the scriptures systematically and with a prayerful heart, and give myself to meditation in an effort to understand the Lord and the scriptures. How was I going to teach 200 missionaries to rely on the Lord? I knew I had to go to work. It brought about a great change in my life.” He was fifty-seven years old, but as anxious to learn as a little child."

Elder Dennis B. Neuenschwander of the Seventy related his own mission president experience: "In July 1987, I arrived in Vienna to preside over the newly created Austria Vienna East Mission. The mission began with 34 missionaries—22 in Eastern Europe, including 8 couples and 6 elders. With the political changes occurring throughout Eastern Europe and the effects of several Apostolic visits, it seemed possible that much could be accomplished. But as a new mission president, I was unsure how or whether to proceed with actual proselyting.

When Elder Russell M. Nelson visited us shortly after I arrived, I asked him what the Brethren expected. Should we try to proselyte, as unlikely as such an effort seemed at the time?

Elder Nelson put his hands on my shoulders and said, “The Lord is master of the unlikely, and he expects the impossible.”

With that, I felt we could make some progress. In making the effort, we discovered that there is something bright and wonderful about the gospel to the mind of an Eastern European. The doctrine of temple and family relationships, the hope the gospel brings, the upward mobility of people, the idea of reaching beyond themselves, the understanding that there is more to life than just the temporal—all these aspects of the gospel have great appeal. Particularly the young people, who have lived solely in a materialist society, seem to understand intuitively that materialism does not bring happiness. They yearn for spiritual nourishment."

I like to do field research so this is some interesting stuff. Check out the Durban and Philadelphia blogs from time to time since the mission presidents' wives paint a nice picture of what mission presidents do. You can find out more from reading their blogs than you can by muddling through with only some training material from the General Authorities. If I hadn't read these blogs I wouldn't have understand the diverse activities they participate in.

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