Saturday, August 31, 2013

The 8 Attributes of a Successful Zone

Family and friends,

Ok everyone I have finally polished up the 8 attributes enough that it is ready to send… its still a work in progress but this is a close to final product. Before sharing this I have to say that I don’t deserve the credit for any of these ideas. This list is a compilation of various ideas and experiences that I have acquired over many months of missionary work through simply observing, asking, practicing, and learning. These ideas and techniques come from many great minds of the Ecuador Guayaquil North Mission such as Elder Linares, Elder Vielma, Elder Lopez, Elder Rios, Elder Ayala, Elder Carrillo, Elder Tibanlombo, Elder Muñoz, Elder Magill, of course President Amaya, and countless others that are too many to name. Likewise much of these strategies and ideas come from my wonderful mother and father and above all there are many that came directly from my Heavenly Father through whisperings of the Holy Ghost. Thus the only thing that I get credit for is being a good observer, having a strong desire to learn and improve, and for writing all these ideas down and applying them. I am truly grateful to my Father in Heaven for blessing me to know so many wonderful people who have helped me in so many ways. I thank all who have helped me to create this and sincerely hope that these attributes can help all who read them and apply them. I believe strongly that the basic principles in this list can be applied to any and all aspects of life. Obviously there are some parts that are specifically for future and current missionaries (especially zone leaders) but that doesn’t mean that the ideas and basic principles can’t be adapted and applied to anyone in any situation. Whether you want to be a better student, parent, coach, teacher, employer, employee, team member, brother, sister, or grandparent I promise that these principle will bless you and help you be more successful in all that you do. These are eternal principles and all 8 of these attributes are attributes that our Heavenly Father possess and perfectly masters. I know that he desire all of us to obtain them and perfect them as well. They are a key part of becoming more like His beloved son Jesus Christ. Enjoy and let me know what you all think I’d love to get feedback. 


Elder Remington 

8 Attributes of a Successful Zone

1. Unity: Be one in thought, desire, and purpose.
(a)   Always have the mindset that we are all a team!

(b)  Have companionship exchanges frequently to ensure solid baptismal dates and get to know all of your missionaries. On exchanges teach them correct principles and be an example, but most of all take a sincere interest in them asking what they like, what are their plans and dreams, how are their families, etc. Remember their names and the details of their lives and the stories they tell you and then ask them specific questions about things they told you. Help them feel important and validate in all that you do. This will increase the confidence, love, and respect the missionaries have in you. It will also assure that they are motivated to work hard.

(c)  Have group prayer and fast as a Zone for the names of all the people who have baptismal dates for that week, and their challenges for all those people. All the missionaries then pray for those investigators. (3 Nephi 27:1 and Alma 17:2-3)

(d)  Before going to the district meetings, briefly meet together as a Zone and review the Zone’s progress with the monthly goal (how many baptisms you’ve had so far in each sector, how many baptismal dates you have in each sector, and how well you are prepared for the following month as well).  Use this time to congratulate those who have had great results in baptisms, church attendance, and lots of baptismal dates. Consider giving out little prizes to motivate them, and asking those who have had success to share with the Zone advice of what they have done to have such success. This should be a brief but inspiring meeting in which everyone is on the same page and leaves more excited about reaching the goal. (D&C 38:27)

(e)  In Zone or District meetings, show unity by having everyone sit in a semi-circle.  Some missionaries like to sit in the back or all in scattered parts of the room. Make sure everyone is seated together in a way that shows unity.  Think of Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, it’s that same kind of idea, that everyone feels that they are equals, that they are important and that they all contribute to the same great cause. (Moses 7:18)

(f)  Talk in terms of unity. Never tell your missionaries, "Hey you guys have to do this" or "You’re doing this wrong" or "Why did you do that?" This makes the missionaries feel like you are trying to command them and eliminates feelings of unity and promotes feelings of anger, irritation, stubbornness, pride, and resentment.  Always speak in terms of a team using the words, ¨we¨ and ¨us¨, for example:  "Let's do this” ...  We need to improve in that” ... “How can we all apply this?” … “We did a great job on that.”  See the big difference? This is a small detail but it’s magical and it works great to foster greater unity, love, respect, loyalty, and a sense that we are all a team. (2 Nephi 33:12)

(g) Remember that it all starts with your companionship as zone leaders. You both have to be an example for everyone else in the way you communicate, work, and laugh together. Your companionship must be exemplar in unity, service, and obedience so that all the rest can follow and it will be contagious for the whole zone.

2. Diligence: Steady, consistent, earnest, and energetic effort in doing the Lord’s      
work… (working) persistently and with great effort and care. (PMG 121)

(a)   Focus and concentrate all your efforts on your objective as a missionary:  “Invite others to come unto Christ by helping the 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.”  As a part of this, completing your monthly goal as a Zone should be your passion and every waking thought. In everything you do, try to think about how to improve and better pass your goal while walking, eating, studying, taking a shower.  Every part of your day should be designed to better reach that goal.  Have a strong hunger to baptize. (PMG 10)

(b)  Work, Work, Work. There really is nothing that substitutes hard work. In the mission you can either be freight or haul freight. Haul freight and help all the missionaries in your zone haul freight too. Working hard avoids distractions, avoids boredom, avoids temptations, keeps you focused, and keeps you happy. There’s nothing better than coming home from a long hard day of work! (PMG 128)

(c) Be willing to make sacrifices (comfort, time, effort). For example you might get along with your companion a lot better than other missionaries in you zone but even still you will sacrifice being with your companion for many days to do companionship exchanges because you know it will help the zone baptize more and that’s worth it to you. There are countless examples like this one but the principle is always the same that there is nothing more important to you than being efficient in the Lord’s work.

3. Love: Feeling of deep devotion, concern, and affection. (True to the Faith 96)

(a)  If you love what we do ... you will do it well J

(b)  Lavish them with praise and appreciation for all they do. Give specific compliments and serve them frequently. See them not as they are but as they can become and help them recognize and reach the potential they have. Apply this wonderful advice from President Eyring with all your missionaries. ¨Every person is different and has a different contribution to make. No one is destined to fail. As you seek revelation to see gifts God sees in those you lead in the priesthood—particularly the young—you will be blessed to lift their sights to the service they can perform. With your guidance, those you lead will be able to see, want, and believe they can achieve their full potential for service in God’s kingdom.¨ (Help Them Aim High).

(c)  Pray specifically naming all the missionaries in your Zone, asking specific things for each missionary, and then writing the thoughts and feelings that come to mind and heart (PMG 97). This is the key to lead your zone by revelation and become a truly inspired leader because you don’t know the exact needs and challenges of all your missionaries but God does, praying in this way gives you access to that information and that helps you lead in a very personal and effective way (3 Nephi 3:19). Really care about each of your missionaries and their temporal, spiritual, and emotional welfare. Most of all help to keep their spirits high, this is a high priority. Be willing to defend and protect your missionaries from all danger that lowers their spirits or focus.

4. Obedience: The submission of our will to God’s will.

            (a)  The First Law of Heaven (D & C 130:20-21) obey and be blessed! It really is that simple.
(b)  Enjoy the spiritual guidance and support to direct the work. Have peace of mind and a clean conscience in all you do. Understand that all other attributes will be in vain if you don’t learn to master this because without obedience you won’t have the Spirit and without the Spirit you won’t have success. (PMG 176 Presidente Benson)
(c) Never hesitate to correct disobedient actions or inappropriate attitudes or comments but always remember that it is important to do it in the opportune moment and in private. Do it with love and with scriptures and they will learn and change. (D&C 121:43)

5. Organization:  Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God; (D&C 88:119)

(a)   Daily planner and area book must be updated daily. The way you use these inspired materials is an evidence of you love and dedication to the people you are serving and if you use these materials well you will be guided in your efforts and they’ll become a source of revelation for how to serve better in your sector. Teach your missionaries how to use them well and motivate them to always do it. In planning always put specific names of people in the plan and the back up plan to use time wisely. Never put ¨tracting¨ as a plan or backup plan. Tracting is only a backup to the backup plan or should be done when prompted by the Spirit.

(b)   Organize all baptismal dates of each sector in the zone in a chart in a notebook or on a whiteboard (but make sure it is easily accessible and visible in the house so that you can look it over often) and update it always. Love that chart and look it over and think about it with your companion. This is a great moment for revelation and decision making about where to go for companionship exchanges or baptismal interviews. Make sure that each sector is the zone is strong and baptizing.

(c)   Work with members. It’s the key to success in always baptizing and having converts that stay active. Make sure everyone in your zone has good relationships of trust with all the members. Use the progress report, attend ward council, attend missionary coordination, and communicate regularly with the ward mission leader. Be a good friend to the members; make them laugh but always with a balance. Share 10-15 minute messages after meals and then ask for referrals. Plan Family Home Evenings with them and nonmember friends. Be a joy to be around and make them excited about missionary work!

(d)   Work smart. Many missionaries will find a lot of people, then teach all those people, then baptize all those people, then give them the follow-up lessons for new converts, and then have to start all over again. That’s why a lot of sectors or zones will pass the goal one month and fail the next because there is no consistency. Maintain a balance of constantly doing all 4 at the same time. Most of all constantly remind and motivate the missionaries to find new investigators without stopping, always always always. Also don’t just focus on the current month but also plan ahead and already be preparing well for the future so that you can start the next month well hitting the ground running and not having to scramble to start all over with a new program.

(e)   Use the members to help bring lots of investigators to church and to make sure they have a spiritual experience there and that they feel welcome and comfortable. Follow very specifically #4 in the Weekly Planning Session (PMG 148) its super solid. Make a little chart of who will ¨take these people to church, who will greet them, and who will sit with them during meetings.¨ Then put a name under each part and plan with the members so that it happens. For example:

Investigators              Bring              Greet              Sit By

(f)    Understand and apply the proper doctrine of goal setting. Balance is the key. A goal that is too low doesn’t help you reach your potential by stretching and really working and sweating for the goal, it permits you to just coast and stunts your growth. Likewise a goal that is too high and unrealistic only discourages you because you feel like no matter how hard you work you always come up short and in the end you baptize less than you would with a smaller goal because you work less hard because you feel like it doesn’t matter you won’t reach your goal anyway. Make sense? Therefore, it is necessary to base yourself in solid goal setting principles found in PMG 146 especially this part, ¨Focus on people. Although you will use numbers, be able to support your numbers with the names of the people where possible.¨ Trust me that this is golden and its one of the biggest secrets to completing every single goal you set. Thus when you are setting your monthly goal for baptisms if you have 3 people with a baptismal date and you put a goal of 2 than you lack faith but if you put 6 your faith is dead because faith without works is dead and your works are the baptismal dates that you set in preparation for the month. Ultimately the most effective way to work is that the number of baptismal dates you have should be equal to the goal you set. If you want to set a high goal… WORK HARD! Don’t just set high goals when you haven’t done the sufficient work to deserve that high goal because then you’re just setting yourself up for failure. Work hard, have lots of investigators with baptismal dates and then put the high goal but now it a good goal because your faith has works to back it up. I can’t tell you how many missionaries don’t understand this principle and how much pain it would save them if they did. Understand it and use it. It isn’t complicated. It’s simply applying PMG and it works.    
6. Communication: Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. (1 Corinthians 1:10)

(a)   As we learn from the scripture above, speaking to each other and communicating is a key to being joined together in the same mind and united as one. Have brief Leadership Meetings with the District leaders after each district meeting. Give them feedback and suggestions on their district meetings. Train them how to be better leaders. Encourage and inspire them. Discuss the needs, goals, and specific plans for zone that week such as companionship exchanges or interviews. Especially be watchful that all missionaries are lively, healthy, obedient, and they are getting along with their companion. Discuss difficulties and problems in the zone and find solutions.

(b)   Use text messages to encourage, inform, and receive important information from the zone.

(c)   Give feedback frequently and be positive and specific. Give feedback with love and receive feedback with humility.

(d)   Call the missionaries during the day to motivate them and in friendly subtle way remind them to set baptismal dates and find new investigators.

(e) On exchanges make that kind of feedback for 5 essential things:  the agenda, the folder, the daily report, Christ-like attributes (using sincere compliments PMG chapter 6) and their teaching skills (studying PMG Chapter 10 together and then having practices based specifically in what they most need). Your missionaries need to see you as their leader and at the same time their friend. They should follow you out of love and loyalty and not out of fear or intimidation.

7. Quality Teaching: Now you as teachers are not being sent out to teach new doctrine. You’re to teach the old doctrines, not so plain that they can just understand, but you must teach the doctrines of the Church so plainly that no one can misunderstand. (PMG 193 Harold B. Lee)

(a)  Immerse ourselves in PMG by studying it daily, looking up scripture references, doing the study activities (few actually do them but they’re great for applying what you learn), and living what you learn. Watch ¨The District¨ videos and analyze them with your companion. Consider sharing some of them for part of a district or zone meeting to emphasize certain principles.  

(b)   Always have practices using real investigators in companionship study and District meetings.

(c)   Teach the importance of always setting baptismal dates in the first or second lesson at the latest. Be an example in boldly doing that and helping others do it as well in the companionship exchanges. Help missionaries get over their fear of setting a baptismal date. It should become natural to them and they should be very confident and comfortable in doing it. Remember that in His first visit to the Nephites, the first principle that Jesus taught was baptism… we are His representatives thus we should teach as He taught. (3 Nephi 11)

(d)  Evaluate teaching after each lesson and practice based in the points found in PMG 21.

8. Attitude: A missionary with a good attitude produces good results.

(a)   The thoughts we sow will, accompanied by faith and hard work, will be the fruits we reap.
Think about baptisms and you will baptize.

(b)  Be brave, straightforward, bold, and confident with other missionaries, investigators, and members by never accepting no for an answer or throwing in the towel easily. Never be a creature of your circumstances, be a CREATOR of your circumstances.

(c)  Always have a smile and be grateful for the extraordinary privilege of being a missionary!  Know and never forget that you are currently involved in the most important work on the face of the planet. Understand that you are at the right place, at the right time, doing the right thing and have joy in what you do J (Alma 36:23-25).

(e)   Follow the prophetic counsel to see men not as they are but how they can become. Have a positive attitude when talking about others. Don’t focus on the flaws and weakness of others, help them strengthen those weaknesses. Be positive and think big. See their strengths and help them reach their potential. Develop the capacity to look at your companions, missionaries, members, investigators, and everyone you meet as a child of God with divine qualities. Remember that if a child is told all his life that he is dumb, selfish, and will never amount to anything in his life then it is most likely that he will live that way. Likewise if you raise a child with love and care, praising him for all that he does and telling him how wonderful he is then it is likely he will live in such a way. People almost always live up or down to the expectations you set for them. Set high expectations for all your missionaries and help them live up to them J  

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Doing Well

From Elder J. Remington's Mother:


You may be wondering why you haven't received a general letter from Jacoby for several weeks, well I'm wondering the same thing.  I guess being A.P. is a lot busier than Elder Remington imagined, and he just doesn't seem to have the time to write much at all.  In the past four weeks all he has sent is a few sentences saying that he is happy, and he is learning a lot.  What more could a mom want, right?

He did also explain that he is busy writing and perfecting a list to send out to missionaries in his mission and in other missions called, "8 Attributes for Zone Leaders." He is doing it in both English and Spanish so the translation part is taking a while to get it just right.

Anyway, just wanted you to know that Elder Remington is happy and doing well.  

Thanks for all your love and support!


P.S. I am sending him a birthday package soon, since it takes 8 weeks for him to receive packages. [His birthday is November 1st]. I would love to put in the package birthday letters and wishes from his friends.  If you want to send me an email message I will put it in the package for him.  Or if you'd rather just send him a birthday card on your own, here is his address:

Elder Jacoby Remington
Mission Ecuador Guayaquil Norte
Edificio Mallorca 4 Piso
Casilla 16160

Guayaquil, Ecuador

Sunday, August 4, 2013

First Weeks on the Job

Family and Friends,

These first few weeks in my new assignment have been very busy, educational, interesting, exciting, stressful, and spiritual all in one. This assignment has lots of mixed emotions. It is a great privilege and great responsibility at the same time. I think back on how the way that I completely admired and looked up to the assistants when I first started the mission and I feel a lot of pressure and honestly I can feel really inadequate at times... but then I remember that God is the one who makes the assignments and that if He has called me to this assignment then its because He has provided the way for me to do it well :) simple but true (1 Nephi 3:7). My companion and I have been talking about how we have to find a balance between learning from the failures and successes and past assistants but never comparing ourselves. Comparing is always wrong because either you put other people down or you beat yourself up (pride or insecurity) and both are very destructive to our spiritual progress. We've got a good rhythm going with the way were working together and its really a wonderful experience to learn from one another and grow together. Its a huge blessing to be such great friends because we really trust in each other and its natural to communicate and always give feedback on things we need to change or improve. At the end of each day in daily planning we go over what we did well that day and how we could've done better. Then we set goals and plans for specific ways that we will improve the next day. Its simple, practical, and effective. President Amaya always says that you should improve just 1% everyday and that way in 100 days you'll have become a different person, new and improved :) and after 2 years you will have become about 730% better if you do it right... thats why theres no going back to your nets when you go home. You've got to be a new person and maintain that improvement and conversion to the Lord. Being companions with Elder Magill has really helped me in that process. 

Last Sunday night, President Amaya gave an amazing talk at a fireside in the Quevedo Sur stake center (my old zone) and he decided to take us with him :) it was a wonderful experience! A few weeks before the fireside he planned something special with two zones as a little surprise for all the youth there. In the middle of his talk he said that he wanted to share something with everyone, he called up a missionary to play the piano. Right as he started to play the prelude of "Called to Serve" Elder Magill and I burst open the back door and 38 missionaries came marching in to the chapel singing with great enthusiasm the classic ¨"Called to Serve" .... wow talk about goosebumps and a super strong spirit that was felt by EVERYONE there :) tears were rolling down the cheeks of several people and everyone there had a huge smile as we sang proudly and happily with voices of thunder :) we walked from the back of the chapel up to the front where everyone could see us and then on the final verse two sister missionaries directed for everyone there to sing together... words cannot fully describe how happy I felt in that moment especially since this was my good old zone Quevedo Sur where I first started my mission (in Empalme) and where I had just barely left 2 weeks ago (Quevedo 1) therefore while I was singing I could see the faces of several converts, friends, people that I had interviewed to be baptized and seen grow, and many good people from all parts of the zone :) it was awesome. Then after singing President Amaya directed us in reciting together D&C 4 and then we all left together in an orderly manner. It was very powerful and there were several young men and young women who entered that chapel without any real desire of serving a mission and left from that experience with a fierce determination to serve a mission as soon as possible. After the talk I was able to chat with several of the people from various parts of the stake and it was a very special night for me :) Quevedo Sur will always have a special place in my heart. 

I continue to be amazed by how much this work is completely directed by the Spirit. Elder Magill and I decided the other day to go to the district meeting in Orquideas and when we got there they said that President Amaya would be arriving later that day to do interviews... coincidence.. I think not. Likewise we had transfers the other day and it was INCREDIBLE to see how inspired President really is and then later after the transfers we saw even more how every little change worked out just right for some people that were having problems and needed help. It really is a grand privilege to work closely with President Amaya. Whenever we are traveling together in the car rides I always like to chat with him and ask him tons of questions about leadership, missionary work, life skills, gospel principles, and all sorts of topics to be able to learn as much as I can from. Thats always something I've been good at haha asking lots of questions... I suppose it can be annoying to some people but personally its helped me out a lot in my life. Since I first started the mission I've always done it and I've learned a lot from simply asking questions. When I was in the mtc I'd ask questions about Spanish and talk a ton in Spanish to the workers and teachers there (thats how they realized that I should be in the advanced class and thats why I was able to go to Ecuador six weeks early), when I first got to the mission office I asked a ton of questions with the assistants there and to this day I remember very well the different suggestions and advice they gave me, in all the zones I've been in I always asked a ton of questions with my zone leaders and learned a lot from each one of them, and likewise from various members in the wards I've served that i really respect during meals with them I don't like to just eat... I ask a lot of question and learn. Its a good habit that has helped me out a lot and I recommend it to all. Talk more. Ask questions and learn. My dad calls this quality being a chatty Kathy haha but he too recognizes that it is important. 

I continue to deepen my appreciation for the marvelous book How to Win Friends and Influence People and the principles that I apply from that book continue to bring me success and help gain the trust and love of the missionaries here. They are lots of little things that make a huge difference. For example, there is a great part that I will forever remember that says "Remember that a person's name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.¨¨ That is so true. Just think about it everyone and imagine this situation. You're at a birthday party and then your friend introduces you to someone and you talk with them briefly but then they have to leave. Two weeks pass and then in the grocery store you see them and they come up to you and say ¨¨Oh hey how's it going? (awkward pause and gesture with hands) Remind me your name again¨¨ You say your name. ¨¨Oh thats right oh yeah¨¨ 

Ok now compare that situation with the following. You're at a birthday party and then your friend introduces you to someone and you talk with them briefly but then they have to leave. Two weeks pass and then in the grocery store you see them, they give you a big smile, come up to you and say ¨¨(Your name), how's it going?¨¨ Big difference huh. If they say your name it means they remembered you. It means you're important. Everyone wants to feel important and be validated. Remember people's names and it will take you far. Elder Magill and I try to do lots of little things to help the missionaries feel our love and feel and know that they are important. We made flash cards of the names of the new missionaries arriving and took the time and effort to study them all and memorize them during the week. When we were receiving all the 31 new missionaries that arrived this week we were able to give them a firm handshake, a warm smile, say their name, and welcome them to the mission :) Also we made a excel list of all the people who have birthdays this month and we call them the day of their birthday to sing to them and chat for a bit. They always smile and laugh and you can tell it means a lot to them. Who doesn't want to be remembered? Little things go a long way. 

I love you all and hope you are happy. Actively involve yourself in the work of salvation and you will be truly happy :)

Elder Remington