Friday, April 17, 2015

Senior Missionary Conference

23 March 2015 Senior Missionaries serving in the Finland Helsinki Mission, including the Temple and office missionaries.
 In March we participated in a senior missionary conference with all of the senior missionaries serving in Finland.  It was wonderful to get better acquainted with those serving outside of Helsinki and spend time with all of those participating.  We met in the mission home, and started in the morning with a brief business meeting, and then in turn each shared information about ourselves and our connection to Finland.  Several of the missionaries are native Finns or have served missions in Finland previously, or are married to someone who has served as a mission here.  The only exceptions are the Schuetzes about whom I will write a bit later.

The sisters prepared a delicious lunch and dinner for us!
After a delicious lunch we had an excellent and motivating discussion about missionary work here in Finland and taking advantage of the opportunities we have.  Some of the highlights:

Our Duty is to Extend an Invitation

President Watson shared the conversion story of a sister in Vaasa.  The sisters had met her on the street and invited her to learn about Christ.  She very abruptly and curtly rejected them.  A week and a half later they were surprised to see her in church on Sunday.  The Elders had met her on the street the day before and invited her to come to church.  She was baptized three weeks later.

She explained later that she was feeling very badly about the way she had treated the sisters, and so when the Elders extended an invitation, she felt compelled to accept it!   Even a rejected invitation may be preparing a person to eventually accept the gospel.  That lesson is so important for all of us, because we do receive more negative than positive responses.

It is important for us all to remember that everyone has their agency and we cannot force anyone to accept the gospel.  But we are in complete control of whether or not we extend an invitation.  The only failure in missionary work, is the failure to extend an invitation!

The Lord is Moving His Work Forward

Here in Finland and throughout Europe many of the new converts are not native to the natioin where they join the church.  There are many from China, Vietnam and recently Nepal, as well as from Africa.  Even ten years ago in Kiev and Vladivostok we were aware of many Chinese who joined the church.  Many of these people will return to their native countries and will eventually form the foundation for the church when missionary work is allowed to proceed there.

Elder Schuetze shared the following experience.  During the 1980's the East German government welcomed many guest workers from Mozambique into East Germany.  Some of them were taught the gospel, baptized, given the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthood, and nourished in the faith, even thjough a few of the local members were critical of this effort.  Then abruptly the government changed its policy and these workers were deported.  There was an attitude of "I told you so." among some of the church members.

However, in 1999 when Mozambique was opened to missionary work, these converts from East Germany played a key role.  They had returned home and remained faithful.  They had taught family members and friends the gospel and baptized new members.  The Lord was preparing the way.

These faithful members contacted thee Area Presidency in Johannesburg and requested for church materials for Mozambique.  The area leaders checked with Salt Lake and learned that there were no known members in Mozambique.  A month or two later, the Area Presidency received another letter from the members in Mozambique asking where their supplies where.  So a representative was sent from South Africa to Mozambique to see what was going on.

Upon arriving in Mozambique the church representative was impressed to be picked up at the airport by men in white shirts and ties.  As they headed to the meeting place - a large bowery with roof and no sides - he was amazed to see the street lined with adults and children in Sunday dress, singing church hymns.  These workers had returned home and shared the gospel with their family and friends.  Some where ordained elders and baptisms had been performed.

And He continues to do so by bringing His sons and daughters to the gospel, when they cannot currently receive it at home.
Anne and I, as well as other missionaries here in Finland, are making a special effort to assist these non-Finnish members in assimilating into the church.

Meet the Mormons

In the evening after dinner, we were able to watch "Meet the Mormons,"  the full-length movie that most if not all of you have already seen.  We were excited to learn that the Helsinki Stake in conjunction with the mission is planning to rent a theater for 1 or 2 days to show the movie to members and non-members alike.  This will be a great missionary opportunity!  We loved the movie and are excited to share it with our YSA and other contacts we have made in Finland.  The movie will also be shown in other areas of Finland.

We returned home grateful for the opportunity to be engaged in this wonderful work and associate with such wonderful people.  We are particularly grateful for Pres. and Sister Watson and their dedicated leadership.

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