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