Just got a letter from Elder Pulsipher today! It was kind of personal, but I know there are some family members who would want to read it and he had a good message for all of us. He sent a story with it, but it is really long so I am going to summarize it....
Elder Brook and Elder Line were shot-gunned into a new area. They knew members would be an important part of their focus. They began calling families in the ward to set up times to visit them in addition to their dinner appointments. The Iverson's were one of those families. Sister Iverson describes their first visit: "I could tell they were going to talk about our member missionary efforts and you are always a little anxious about that as a member because you feel nervous that they might push something on you that you don't want to do. But I could tell right off that they actually weren't going to do that." Elders Brook and Line explained that they were there to help them set their own missionary goals. They didn't introduce a program but had an open honest discussion about their goals and concerns. The first visit was pretty simple and neither the Iversons nor the missionaries remember anything extraordinary happening. The power came in the second visit.
The elders went back a week later to follow up on the previous visit. "It was evident that they had prayed about us and came prepared to help us with the goals that we discussed," said Sister Iverson. Elder Brook said that, "I honestly feel like our desire was to help the Iversons be successful missionaries. We weren't just going to get to a referral." They shared a quote from Elder Holland from Preach My Gospel about listening and taught the Iversons how to transition from small talk to meaningful conversation by asking questions that matter and listening with love as they interact with people every day. This totally changed the way Brother and Sister Iverson viewed missionary work. "It became more about loving people instead of wondering how to give out a Book of Mormon or invite someone to church," they explained.
The missionaries continued to work with the Iversons and they role played. There was a genuine foundation of trust and care between the Iversons and the missionaries. Future missionaries continued to follow up with the family and they discussed names of friends whom they were reaching out to. Some did not work out the way they would have hoped, but seeds were planted. But one did! Sister Iverson was at the park and befriended another mom. The mom didn't have many friends that same age who had young kids. Sister Iverson said she had lots of friends who were young mothers because she was a Mormon. She involved the young lady, Stephanie, in upcoming kid friendly activities with these other young mothers. One of them was the primary program. Stephanies daughter loved it and begged to continue going to church. They did and that sparked more interest in Stephanie. The next step was meeting with the missionaries. Sister Iverson explained that the missionaries could answer all the questions she had and they began teaching her with Brother and Sister Iverson. The teaching went smoothly and Stephanie was baptized January 2013.
What up Abba! I don't really know why, but when I read this story I thought of you and felt like I should share it with you! Out there in the Prairie you might have a few friends who aren't members I'm guessing. I don't know if the missionaries that you have over ever talk to you about your own missionary work, but that is what we are all about in this mission. It just seemed like the "Sister Iverson" was a lot like you! So next time you have the missionaries over have them teach you how to be a missionary! Then go out and teach the Gospel to those other Prairie mom's! Haha!
It wasn't a long letter, but it was exciting to hear from him and like I said, he had a great message! We have the opportunity to have our missionaries over quite a bit, being a small branch and community, and have actually been working with them a little here in our branch with a family. But I never thought to ask them to teach me how to be a better missionary. I guess in some ways they teach us something each time we are with them. I think we could all ask ourselves how we could be better missionaries! Time to take Elder Pulsipher up on his challenge!