I guess we better be doing member missionary work! Get on it!
Subject: "I'm not a big, fat panda. I'm THE big, fat panda!"
Tracting. What an interesting job that missionaries have. If they gave you the job description ahead of time, missionaries would work a lot harder to avoid having to tract. The definition goes something as follows:
Tracting: walking endless miles, knocking on endless doors, talking to endless people, and possibly finding two or three people that you could teach. For more effective finding see also "Work with Members".
We've been tracting a lot lately, and it's gotten difficult. It seems like the people in my last area were more willing to at least listen and try out the message. People here in Sabotsy Namehana just tell us that they "already have their Jesus". Seriously? We white people did not cross the PLANET to come here and tell you some guy's name so that you'll be saved. We came here because our religion is true, and we want you to be blessed from the fullness of the truth, not from just a part of it.
This one lady was kind of funny. We knocked on her door, and after I explained that we are missionaries she went off in French. My companion told her that I am from America, not France, so she tried to repeat herself in English. I stopped her and explained that I actually speak Malagasy. Finally she told us that she has "her Jesus" and that's all she needs. And then she shut the door.
One more story about contacting. We had taught this kid named Ando a few weeks ago, and he seemed really cool. About twenty years old, willing to study, and really nice. Just recently we caught him at his house, along with the rest of his family. Our goal is to teach fathers, so we found the dad and started talking to him. And I have very rarely been rejected so thoroughly.
He is from the Jesosy Mamonjy ("Jesus Saves") church, and there's all kinds of stuff I could tell you about how apostate they are, but that will have to wait for now. He was actually pretty nice at first, until my companion said that we have a "new gospel message that you don't know yet". The guy reacted as if we had suggested killing and eating his family. "HOW DARE YOU think there is something I don't know about the Bible! I KNOW my Bible!" Elder Andriamanganoro tried to explain that our message is not in the Bible (it actually is, but you have to know what you're looking for). He meant to say that we have a new message, not that this guy didn't know the Bible. But this Jesosy Mamonjy guy (or JMG, if you will) wouldn't hear of it, but sent us into Bible bashing.
My companion told him about eternal families and JMG quoted a verse about a woman, who marries a man that dies, and then marries the dead guy's younger brother. Husband number two takes a dirt-nap, and then husband number three, and so on through seven brothers, until the woman finally dies. Christ is asked who she will be married to after the resurrection, and Christ responds that people are not given in marriage after the resurrection. They went on debating and arguing for a while, and JMG just kept repeating that he has a "full Bible".
Finally I cut them off and told JMG that his Bible is NOT full. I actually have a list of eleven books that are mentioned in the Bible as being scripture, and yet we don't have them (you can find that list in the Bible Dictionary under "Lost Books"). So there is scripture that does not exist in the Bible. That shut up our apostate friend. Finally he just said that he doesn't need any scripture than the Bible and sent us away, refusing to let my companion bear testimony of our church. We felt like we had handled the situation as best as we could, but it was still sad. That guy just doesn't fully understand where the Bible came from, but he wouldn't listen when the truth came knocking on the door. Maybe he'll be more willing to listen to another missionary down the line.
But enough of that madness. Our tracting has started to produce some good fruits, although they may be few for now. I think I talked a little bit about Setra before, and he is way cool. We also found this one-legged guy named James that seems really willing and ready to learn. I made up some pirate names for him, like James the Wobbly, but I forgot most of them. But he's really nice. He even offered to go to our church or something to learn, since we shouldn't have to walk out to his house. We told him that that is our job, and we really don't mind it at all. His eyes just about popped out when we offered to stop by around six o'clock. "Are you serious?? That's WAY too late!" From his reaction, you would have thought we had suggested midnight. That's the Malagasy schedule for you. So we'll be teaching him tomorrow morning.
I also went on splits yesterday (Sunday). Elder Austin, our zone leader, called me the night before, explaining that the assistants had demanding that he and I go on splits ASAP. I don't know what it was for, but Elder Austin said that everything went well, and offered some tips on how I can improve.
The funny part of the splits was hearing Elder Andriamanganoro talk about his day. The companion that he was with (Elder Midgley) came to Madagascar about ten days ago, and his Malagasy is not great. Elder Andriamanganoro's English was good enough for them to communicate pretty well, but it was rough while they were teaching. My Malagasy told me how he would: tell the investigator something, listen to their response, and then translate it all for Elder Midgley. Elder Midgley then tried to add in his two cents, but it apparently came out un-understandable. So Elder Andriamanganoro ended up teaching mostly by himself. But he is a good spirited guy, and we all had a good laugh about it at the end of the day.
Incidentally, I saw part of the broadcast about missionary work that came out recently. I think they showed it in your churches a few weeks back, if that sounds familiar. Elder Austin had to watch it, so I got a good peek. One of the benefits of being with the zone leader. Anyway, it really hit me just how much they want us to work with the members. It was not "this is the missionaries job", but more like "this is the ward members' responsibility TO the missionaries. And to God." In that spirit, I would like to repeat my challenge to all of you, since nobody seemed to follow through on it so far.
Right after you read this, call up the missionaries in your ward (you can get the number from the stake directory or your bishop) and offer to go teaching with them once this week. Then write back to me about it, whether you actually taught with them or not.
Notice that it's called "missionary work", not "the missionary's work". One of the definitions of "missionary" is: a person who is highly in favor of a work". Are you in favor of God's work?
Preach My Gospel has a quote from President Monson that says, "When performance is measured, performance improves. When performance is measured and reported, the rate of improvement accelerates.”
Your performance is to help the missionary work. Measure it in your journals for yourselves, and report it back to me and (most importantly) report back to God. I promise you all that it will accelerate your spiritual improvement. And between the war we are waging with Satan and all the other work that God has for us to do, we'll need all the progress and improvement that we can get.
And actually do it this week! All it takes is a phone call to local missionaries and a short email to another missionary. And with that little effort, you could be the one that God needs to help "that one" person get converted. If you were in grave danger, I bet you would be very grateful to the person that saves you. Our job as members of the church is to save people's eternal souls. Now get off your butts and Just Do It!
I may have infringed Nike's copyrights somewhere back there, but you get the idea. I realize that we are all busy, but if we have to choose between being busy in God's work and being busy with something else, which should we choose? You all KNOW the right answer, so go ACT on it and Choose The Right.
Okay, enough catch-phrases.
("Every member a missionary".)
I'm pretty sure that we all understand what I'm trying to say here.
("A marvelous work is about to come forth among the children of men".)
So no more quotes.
("See that ye serve him with ALL your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day".)
Keep writing if it's convenient, and help the missionary work whether it is convenient or not. I love you all, the work that you do, and the stories that you share. We've all just had a great week. Let's get out there and have another one!
- Elder Arrington