Friday, December 5, 2008

Joseph B. Wirthlin's Motivates Trinidad and Tobago Missionaries To Baptize Thousands

Joseph B. Wirthlin as young missionary (Provo Daily Herald)

Throughout the years Elder Wirthlin has addressed the mission presidents' seminars which are held each year in June. In June 2006 in the class of mission presidents was Reid Robison and his wife Diane who were called to be mission president in the West Indies Mission.

Reid describes his mission as "We live in Trinidad and spend half of our time traveling throughout the mission. Our assignment is from July 2006 to July 2009." He has personally taken to heart the address Band of Brothers, has become the theme for the West Indies Mission which is the fastest growing mission in the LDS Church today. Many months they have averaged over 200 baptisms. President Reid Robinson has been so motivated by this theme he has his missionaries do things like hug one another and people enthusiastically raise their fists in celebration after baptisms. The missionaries are very close knitted with one another and the members.

In July 2008 one missionary reported teaching 68 lessons in one week: "The area is doing great probably the best ever we have some great members, they all are doing missionary work. We never taught a lesson this week without a member. Everyone is excited about working. We are having great attendance at church. We decided to focus on member lessons this week so we made the goal to not have a lesson without a member that means we would always have a member with us and we did it. We had 68 lessons with a member present and 0 others."

Dr. Di reports on their blog under the post Band of Brothers on 4 December 2008:

One of the mottoes for the West Indies Mission is "Band of Brothers"

We can say that because we don't have young sister missionaries and us older sister missionaries are quite happy to be part of this powerful group.

There is quite a bond among the missionaries in this mission. I often overhear them ending phone calls with 'love ya brother' and I have never seen so many manly back slapping hugs in my life!

I noticed an example of this brotherly attitude towards the work of bringing souls into the kingdom as I looked over the elders' weekly success stories. The elders share a success story each week in an email to President Robison. The assistants select a few of them and send a collection back out to all the missionaries so they can see the blessings happening around the mission. I post some of them on the mission website here but wanted to share these two together to tell the a complete story.

Elder Holmstead (San Juan, Trinidad) – Well we were having a rough time in our focus area and decided to change it to a place called Bagladesh and it was so fun. We found a lot of kind people but not anyone to really baptize. Then at church, few weeks ago, a lady named Anita showed up whom we gladly went to teach, and she was amazing! She was very prepared, however, the only problem was that she got deported from Trinidad to Guyana but she said she would find the church and she did. She is one of last week’s 66, and boy am I happy. We were in Bagladesh for one reason, her being that main reason, and now she is a member!

Elder Dayton (Rose Hall 1, Guyana) (The story behind Elder Holmstead’s) We had received a referral from the office elders of a lady who was pretty much ready for baptism but had recently moved from Trinidad to Guyana. The first week we couldn’t get a hold of her and didn’t have any luck finding her. Just the other day, I saw an unfamiliar face in church so I began to talk with this lady. It took me a minute to put it together that this was the referral we couldn’t get a hold of. Right there on the spot I asked her if she wanted to be baptized after church. She responded without hesitance and a confident "yes." We did absolutely nothing but watch her be baptized...that is the definition of the Lord knowing who he wants in his church and getting them there.

Nov 24 Success Stories

Matt Martinich on his blog LDS Church Growth has been chronicling the success. In one post he wrote on 12 October 2008:
Trinidad

Today a new branch was organized in Trinidad in the city of Port Fortin. A group was organized six months ago. There were almost 30 members and investigators in attendance at this historic event. This is the first branch to be created in the southern part of the country. I believe this is the 11th congregation on Trinidad. Still no word on when a stake will be created for the island.
In July 2008 in a post on Update of Growth in Church he wrote:

Growth in the West Indies Mission

The West Indies Mission baptized over 200 converts last month. Sister Robinson, wife of the mission president, says the stake in Trinidad and Tobago will be created very soon. Most of the converts are still in Guyana.

The branch in Tobago has recently grown substantially. Attendance at worship services has been less than 10 until recently (the branch was organized last year). Now there are between 20-30 attending with baptisms occurring.
On 22 May 2008 in a post entitled Stakes in Guyana and Trinidad he wrote:
According to Sister Robison, wife of President Robison of the West Indies Mission, paperwork for the first stake in Trinidad was approved by the area presidency. Paperwork has been sent to Salt Lake and if all goes well the stake will be organized this summer. Furthermore, Sister Robison stated that the first stake in Guyana will be organized in the near future as well. She did not specify where in Guyana it would be located, but most likely will be in Georgetown. The West Indies Mission website can be found at http://westindiesmission.com/ .
I am including the Band of Brothers text to help you be motivated by his inspiring message to has helped inspire a marvelous work in the West Indies. Elder Wirthlin wrote:

Some of the choicest blessings of my life have been the close friendships I have experienced over the years. Often, these friendships have been forged in the fires of shared experience. I think back with fondness on the football teams I played on, the missionaries with whom I served in Austria and Switzerland, the bishoprics and stake presidencies with whom I served. I think about my family—the happiness and grief we have shared and how those moments of tenderness have amplified the love we have for each other. Most recently, I think about the indescribable bond of brotherhood I have felt within the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

Though each of these groups was very different, each had common characteristics. Perhaps this is because we struggled so much together, or perhaps because we linked arms together in a common journey where we had to depend so completely on each other. These relationships are the foundation of many of the most precious and rewarding moments of my life.

It is my desire to discuss establishing a bond of brotherhood in your assignments. Please understand that when I speak of “brotherhood,” I include our wonderful and indispensable sisters in that definition.

Establishing a bond of brotherhood is critical. If those who serve with you feel this mutual love and trust, the work of the Lord will thrive and heaven will aid you in your efforts. Fail to establish this bond, however, and you may find your work tedious, toilsome, and unproductive.

A Lesson from World War II

Some years ago, Stephen Ambrose wrote a book describing the experience of a company of paratroopers during World War II.1 The army was developing a new kind of warfare the world had not seen before. They were training men to parachute out of planes—often behind enemy lines and at immense personal peril—to attack, and to meet strategic objectives critical to the overall success of the war effort.

Easy Company of the 506th regiment, 101st Airborne Division, was one of those groups. Formed from volunteers, the 140 men began their training in 1942. They had been told that their training would be harder than any other in the military. In fact, it was so challenging that two out of three men couldn’t make it and either dropped out or were assigned to a regular army unit.

The night before D day, Easy Company parachuted behind enemy lines. Their assignment was to take out a battery of artillery guns. But in the chaos of the drop, only 12 of the 140 men were in position to carry out the mission. Nevertheless, they knew that if they didn’t take out those guns, the Allied soldiers storming Utah Beach would suffer heavy casualties from the artillery.

To make matters worse, the guns were manned and defended by more than 50 elite enemy paratroopers who had dug a series of trenches about the battery, heavily fortifying it against any kind of assault.

In one of the most well-executed and heroic operations of the war, 12 men of Easy Company assaulted the position, routed the enemy, and destroyed the artillery guns.

In later action, Easy Company took part in the ill-fated Operation Market Garden, facing enemy forces in Holland and Belgium. Later they were among the forces that held Bastogne against encircling enemy panzer units during the Battle of the Bulge.

By the time the war ended, the highly decorated Easy Company had taken heavy, heavy casualties. Forty-eight of its members had died.

In the scriptures we learn of other groups with similar bonds. King Mosiah’s sons were heirs to the throne. They could have led lives of comfort and ease. But they abandoned their lives of privilege, walked into enemy territory, and preached the gospel to thousands of Lamanites, baptizing many. (See Alma 17–26.)

Think of the great souls who ushered in this last dispensation: Joseph, Hyrum, and Samuel Smith; Parley and Orson Pratt; Brigham Young; Heber C. Kimball; Wilford Woodruff. They also formed a great band of brothers who, though very different in personality and background, were all united by a common goal: to serve their God and build His kingdom on earth.

One of the key tasks you will face is to establish this spirit of brotherhood among those who serve with you. Without this sense of loyalty, sacrifice, and love, your work not only will be less successful but also will be much less rewarding.

Admittedly, this is easier to talk about than to accomplish. Some people seem to have a natural ability to lead. They inspire people and bring out the best that is in them. They have an ability to infuse people with vision that transcends their own lives and inspire greatness within them.

I’m not sure there is a recipe that can turn an ordinary administrator into a great leader. But I am certain that there are things these great leaders have in common. The following principles may assist you in creating a band of brothers.

Never Forget the Value of a Great Cause

Captain Moroni lived during a time when evil men were conspiring to destroy the liberty and lives of his countrymen. How did he rally the people of his day? He rent his coat and wrote upon it, “In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children” (Alma 46:12). Moroni knew the power of a great cause.

Helaman, the oldest son of the prophet Alma, led the stripling warriors. As you remember, Helaman was the one Alma entrusted with the sacred records. I suppose Helaman was more of a scholar than a warrior. But he lived in a time of conflict and war, and when the 2,000 sons of converted Lamanites took up their weapons of war, they asked that Helaman be their leader. Every student of the Book of Mormon knows their story. These young men had great faith. They were obedient. “They never had fought, yet they did not fear death” (Alma 56:47). Their confidence in the Lord was unshakeable: “Behold our God is with us,” they said, “and he will not suffer that we should fall” (Alma 56:46).

After many battles, although every one of them had received wounds, not one soul of them perished (see Alma 57:21, 25).

These young men knew why they were fighting. They understood the nature of their sacrifice. Helaman wrote that “they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives” (Alma 56:47). They knew the value of a great cause.

Average leaders used the carrot and the stick to motivate those around them. Great leaders communicate a vision that captures the imagination and fires the hearts and minds of those around them. Average leaders inspire people to punch a time clock. Great leaders inspire industry and passion.

You can get people to work by using threats or by promising rewards. But if you want to create a band of brothers, you must inspire those who work with you and encourage them to give their all in a great cause.

Understand Your Priorities

If someone were to ask you who we are as a people, what would you say? Who are we as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?

The answer, I believe, is a simple one given to us by the Savior Himself. We are a people who love the Lord with all our hearts, souls, and minds. And we are a people who love our neighbor as ourselves. (See Matthew 22:37–39.)

This answer satisfies many of the questions asked about why we do what we do. Why does the Church ask so much of its members? Because we love the Lord, and we love our neighbor. Why do we do temple work? Missionary work? Welfare work? Because we love the Lord, and we love our neighbor.

These are the roots of all that we do. We do not send our missionaries out into the world to collect statistics. We send them into the world because we love our Heavenly Father, and we love our fellowmen.

That is who we are as a people. That is why we do what we do.

Settle into the Harness

No great cause ever succeeded without great effort.

One of the reasons the men of Easy Company volunteered for hazardous duty was that when they went into combat, they wanted to be next to someone they could trust—someone who wouldn’t do something foolish that could get them killed. They didn’t want to be next to someone who was lazy or who hadn’t paid attention during training or who wasn’t physically capable of what was required. These men had worked to the limits of human capacity.

From the days of Adam and Eve until now, our Heavenly Father has commanded that we work. Work is the foundation of success and creation. It is the secret of every successful enterprise.

Even so, there are some who go to great lengths to avoid work. In fact, a few people I have known have worked exceptionally hard to get out of work. This is something I have never understood. My father was a hard worker, and he taught me to be the same. Some of the most fulfilling moments of our lives are when we establish worthwhile goals and work to achieve them.

I know that some stop listening when they hear about goal setting. I have found it exhilarating. Each night, I think about my goals and what I want to accomplish the next day. And then I write on a small card the key things I can do to bring me closer to my goals.

Give your best effort. Settle into the harness and work with all your might. As you do so, you will find joy in your service.

“Fear Not”

Fear can make us run away from things—things like setting and achieving goals, developing relationships, or becoming the people we know we should become. Sometimes fear can even paralyze us to the point that we don’t even try.

Fear can be a thick fog that smothers our dreams. It can be a cage that restrains us from reaching our destiny. It can be a weight that restrains our every step.

Time after time, the men of Easy Company knew fear. A few days after D day, they were walking down a road toward a French village when an enemy machine gun opened fire on them. In spite of their training, the men ducked for cover and froze. The company commander, Lieutenant Dick Winters, knew if they stayed there, his men would be cut down. So he stood in the middle of the road, away from cover, bullets whistling all around him, and ordered his men to move out.

His men stared at him, not believing what they were seeing—but only for an instant. The courage of their commanding officer inspired them. Then they moved out. Because of Lieutenant Winters’s bravery, the men survived.

We may not be immune to being afraid, but we do not have to succumb to it. My friend Harold Brown once said, “It is better to face fear once than to live in its shadow.” I believe he is right.

We are surrounded and uplifted by the faith of our members and by the hand of heaven. If only we could see that, our fears would have far less influence over us. Move forward with faith, believing you will succeed! Don’t let fear of failure stop you from greatness. Let your example of courage inspire those around you to “fear not” (D&C 6:34).

Press on in Faith

Louis Pasteur, the famous microbiologist and chemist, once said, “Let me tell you the secret that has led me to my goal: my strength lies solely in my tenacity.”2 May we understand the wisdom of his words.

Joseph Smith has always been a great example of perseverance to me. From the time he was a young man, he was persecuted, mocked, and reviled. And yet he pressed on. He watched as loved ones died. He was cursed and threatened by enemies. He was betrayed by friends. In spite of innumerable hardships, he pressed on.

One night a mob of 40 men stormed the Prophet’s house and pulled him and Sidney Rigdon outside. Emma, Joseph’s wife, screamed and pleaded with the men to stop, but they did not listen. The mob tried to force nitric acid down the Prophet’s throat. They stripped him and covered his body with tar and feathers.

He survived and managed to stumble back to his house, where a terrified Emma was waiting. It took his friends the entire night to scrape the tar from his skin.

The following day this heroic prophet rose and spoke to those who had assembled for the Sunday meeting. Among those present in the congregation were members of the mob who had assaulted him the night before.3

Joseph never looked back. From the day he was called of the Father, he pressed on. Through sickness, suffering, ridicule, and betrayal, he pressed on. He pressed on until the day he gave his life as a testimony of the restored gospel.

A Band of Brothers

Stephen Ambrose titled his history of Easy Company Band of Brothers because of the bond of fellowship these men felt for each other. This sort of brotherhood happens when people give their hearts, might, minds, and strength to a cause greater than themselves. When we work together in a bond of brotherhood, when we love each other and are loyal and faithful to the great cause to which we have been called, the impossible becomes possible.

It is our opportunity to foster this brotherhood. Teach those who serve with you that we are not competing with one another. The men of Easy Company weren’t great because they were trying to stand out as individuals. They were great because they worked together.

One of the men of Easy Company remembered a conversation he had with his grandson.

“Grandpa,” the little boy asked, “were you a hero in the war?”

The old soldier thought about the question for a moment and then replied, “No, but I served in a company of heroes.”4

Those who will work with you all have within them the potential to be heroes. As you inspire those who serve with you and give them a vision of the great cause, help them set their priorities, and encourage them to settle into the harness, overcome their fears, and press on in faith, you may create your own company of heroes.
The missionaries of Trinidad and Tobago in the West Indies Mission are taking this charge to heart as they bring literally hundreds of people in to the fold. Their enthusiasm is quite contagious as they have implemented group baptisms that include as many as a 8-12 people. Underlying this whole process is the mission president's love for the elders then the elders' love for each other and finally their love for those they teach. It is amazing the influence the words of the Lord's servant Joseph B. Wirthlin had on motivating men like Reid Robison to action. His words will live on in the action of this band of missionary brothers.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I found a Wonderful site on Isaiah!
http://www.isaiahexplained.com/
The site has free lessons on every chapter.
Very well done and in the author’s own voice.
Every Isaiah Chapter has the Analytical Commentary of Isaiah. Enjoy this personable verse-by-verse commentary of Isaiah by well-known Hebrew scholar Avraham Gileadi.

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Temple President.

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