Friday, March 18, 2005

Mission papers are in

Interviewed with the bishop on Sunday and the stake president on Thursday. Three words: It's on, baby! I may be in the MTC as early as mid-June.

I'll let you all know when I find out where I'm going. I indicated a strong preference for learning a new language, in part because I've had facility with that sort of thing in the past and I feel like I ought to put that talent at the Church's disposal, and in part as a sort of cop-out: mastering a new language would be an attainable secondary goal, giving me something to focus on besides the much more difficult primary goal of convincing others that there is truth in what I'll be preaching.

I must admit that the idea of spending two years preaching the gospel, and thus exposing myself to the elements, the scorn of others, and possibly worse, has gotten me a bit nervous. At the same time, however, there have been very strong and clear signs that this is what the Lord would like me to do, and that He will sustain me in this calling. I also know that if I put forth enough effort, the experience will likely be a "refiner's fire" that will help me grow personally and spiritually.

Anyway, I have a few questions for all of you who have served missions. If you could go back to the time just before your missions, how would you prepare yourselves? What would you study - scripturally or otherwise? What activities would you engage in? What would you pray for? Any other general advice?

All comments will be appreciated!


At 3/29/2005 10:31:00 AM,

A thousand congratulations and apologies for not getting back to you sooner on this. I was just talking to my father-in-law about missions the other day. We concluded that a mission is almost a microcosm of life; that it's both frustratingly hard and rewarding at the same time. A friend of mine put it another way: it's like climbing mount everset; while you're doing it you wonder if you're crazy, but when you get to the top you realize how cool it all is.

I suppose it would be pretty presumptious of me to give advice, but since you asked, I'll give it a try. Studying the scriptures will help. Praying too. I suggest praying to know what to pray for. It seems a bit parodoxical, but some of the most profound prayers (including all temple dedicatory prayers) are given by revelation first. And some of my most powerful experiences with prayer have been when I've felt that the words weren't my own.

Contrary to how I may seem on the blog, I'm not a very opinionated guy. As far as being a missionary goes, I'm pretty live and let live. One thing, I've found, though, is essential and missionaries are HORRIBLE at it. Wherever you go, whether you learn a language or not, the most important thing you can do is learn how to speak people's language. In italian there are two words for language "Lingua" which means language as in English, Italian, Russian, etc. etc. and "Linguaggio" which means in a much less slang way "lingo". A linguaggio is almost the technical terms that each field like law, business, science etc. has. So when I say learn the language, I mean learn the "linguaggio".

This may be easier for you b/c you haven't grown up in the Church and aren't bathed in church-talk. But one things most missionaries fail to do is to teach the gospel in terms that people understand. Instead, they teach it as if they were teaching an LDS Sunday School. For example, we go to church to take the sacrament, right? But say that to a catholic, and they'll have no idea what you mean b/c in the catholic church (as I'm sure you know) there are 7 sacraments. In fact, the catholic use of "sacrament" means something like the LDS use of "ordinance".

Obviously, I believe the Spirit can "translate" a bit. But the more you teach people in their own language, the easier it'll flow. So your best bet is to learn the language (Lingua) well, so you can then lean to teach in the linguaggio. Whether you go "english" or not, take a good dictionary and learn words. Also, when you find out where you're going, learn about the local religion.

Sorry if this came across as a little preachy; I guess I feel like I've seen too many missed opportunities because of silly missionaries who think they don't need to learn either type of language because "the spirit will teach them."

good luck.

Let us know when you find out where you're going.


At 4/03/2005 09:53:00 PM,

Belgium and the Netherlands. :)

Got the call Thursday. I was surprised to receive it so soon - exactly two weeks after I put my papers in. In any case I'm really excited and happy to be going (start date is July 6th). I already speak French, and I'm not sure whether I'll also be learning Dutch. We shall see.

I already feel like this is absolutely the right
place for me. I never even suspected that there would be a mission where I
could learn a new language (which I asked to do) and use my preexisting
abilities in another. I'm also going to an area where the majority of the
population has a minimal religious background (I think 90% of Belgium is
nominally Catholic and 80% of the Netherlands is nominally Protestant) but very
few attend services on a regular basis, and very few allow religion to guide
their lives in any significant way---- in a nutshell, that's exactly who I was
until age 22. And so I feel that I have a good chance of identifying with some
of those I preach to, and then showing them the "next step."

So.... did everyone enjoy Gen. Conference?

At 4/11/2005 12:05:00 AM,

Elder Potter, congratulations! I agree with Patton that a mission is largely a microcosm of life in general, and I would add that at times, at least, it follows the template that every great preacher, prophet, apostle, or scriptural missionary followed. I found comfort in knowing and seeing that my work and the work of my associates as a missionary was the same work in the same essential manner as it has been in for the great priesthood bearers from scripture.

Put promises to the test; step out on the line; make yourself available to speak for the Lord as you feel inspired by him, and enjoy the moments you have to be a living witness for Christ and hsi saving sacrifice. Godspeed.

Jason Knapp




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