Monday, May 4, 2020

New way to find and teach

Please send a "friend request" to our facebook page:  

Bret'nJeanette Smith  

We will be posting on facebook in the future.  That's what our missionaries are doing now they are in quarantine  so we're learning to do the same.  We would love to be friends!

Saturday, March 28, 2020

A missionary's perspective on coronavirus

27 Mar 2020

It’s Not a Reformation, It’s a Restoration

Could there possibly be anything worse for the missionary work than this coronavirus?  We have been heartbroken to see our mission dismantled, missionary by missionary.  We have felt like “what was the use?”  We worked so hard here in the DR to get along with the members, to help the missionaries be bold and have courage in their contacting, to teach with the spirit, obey all the rules.  We created a culture of obedience with pure motives, of humility, of immediate repentance, of seeking personal revelation, of consecration. None of that will be passed on to another generation of missionaries because all of our missionaries are gone (or are leaving).  We have felt like someone mandated that we whitewash an area because the work was ineffective.  We have felt like we were being deemed failures.  But then we realized that the missionary work in the entire world is being whitewashed, not just in the DR.  And I started wondering, what shall we do?  How can we bring the gospel to all the world?

Social Media the Cure?
I have long been suspicious of social media (ever since my first article on Meridian “Why I’m Wary of Facebook” caused such a stir).  I totally agreed with my friend Alicia Hamilton who called Facebook “A Shrine Unto Oneself.”  I saw people gathering “friends” only for the purpose selling something or of bragging about how many friends they had.  It seemed exceedingly self-serving.

I didn’t really approve of social media because it hampered people’s ability to interact in person, because it was ripe for abuse because people could bully one another, because people started on-line affairs that led to real affairs, because it so often became an addiction, because too often “humble-brags” led to feelings of inadequacy in others.  Plus, when social media first became a “thing”and nobody knew the rules or the etiquette, I got burned.  So, I have been pretty skeptical.

Now the world is in isolation.  The coronavirus has forced everyone to stay in their casa and the only way to interact is through social media.  Ever since we first had to sequester our missionaries (11 days now—since the 17th of March) I have been hoping that we could return to the normal way of working.  I saw our missionaries as being in limbo, wasting time.

I didn’t feel effective as a Mission Leader because the missionaries weren’t doing missionary work, and so what was there for me to do?  We’ve been busy buying plane tickets, and re-assigning companions, but I wanted to teach my missionaries the gospel, like they wanted to teach investigators the gospel.  I was quite discouraged.

The “Ah, Ah”
I started praying to have hope, to see purpose in our being here.  I also prayed to find an effective way to do missionary work.  Yesterday a sister missionary called me because her companion was going crazy trapped in the casa and unable to teach.  She is a missionary with little hope of going home soon.  The borders of her country are closed, even to citizens.  I realized I needed to help her find a long-term solution.

While I was talking to her, I received the inspiration to let her teach!  I told her to consider my proposal:  Instead of visiting the church twice a week for an hour each time just to talk to her family on the ward clerk’s computer, she needed to visit the church every single day and find people she could teach on-line.  This may seem like an obvious solution, but we have been told to keep our missionaries in their casas and allow them to leave only twice a week to use the internet.  But I looked at President, who heard my conversation and he nodded his head, indicating I could continue with this plan.

I invited the sisters to do something a district leader had done once when I was in a district meeting.  We sang a hymn, three verses, and during the time we were singing this hymn, we were supposed to think of people who needed the gospel in their lives.  Then we were supposed to write the names down.  I don’t know many non-members here, so I thought of non-members I know from home.  Lots of people came to my mind that I hadn’t even consider sharing the gospel with before.

I encouraged the sister and her companion to do the same.  Then through an app the missionaries use called “hangout,” I gave them permission to contact, via internet, the people on their list.  I invited to tell these people they were anxious to do what they had been called to do—teach the gospel.  I suggested they invite the people on the list to help them do what they were called to do, and let them teach the missionary lessons via internet.  The majority of the people we teach here in the DR don’t have the technology to be taught on-line, but many of the people in other countries have this technology.  It didn’t matter where in the world the people on their list lived, they could still be missionaries and teach the gospel, which is what they really wanted to do.

The motive of these sister missionaries was not to have the highest baptisms in their zone, or in the mission, or to please their district leader or zone leader, because we don’t even have district leaders or zone leaders now.  Their motive was to bring souls unto Christ.  I loved the idea of continuing to teach the gospel in this way because it keeps my missionaries happy and it brings converts to Christ.

Expanded Vision
            Actually, in the wee hours of the morning this morning, (when I frequently receive personal revelation) I had a vision of senior couples all over the world, too old, too frail to go on missions, but not too frail to use the internet.  Couples with decades of experience in the church could be called as missionaries from their homes, if only to teach for a couple hours a day.  We could have millions of missionaries.  This could literally be the way we carry the gospel to all the world.

            All of the sudden, it was a good thing to have 1000 “friends” on Facebook.  It was a large of pool of potential investigators, and friends have friends, the referrals could be overwhelming!  In addition, shy people, or people with just a little interest who are afraid to commit to a lesson in person, might be comfortable talking online.  This may be what technology missions already know, but I received a testimony of it.

            I started thinking of what our purpose would be as mission president and companion at this time in our mission.  I got excited about “chatting” with our remaining missionaries.    Perhaps we can find a way to do a giant “zoom” or something, and we could teach them just like we used to at zone conference.  This is technology the area presidency already uses to communicate with mission presidents in the smaller islands.  The mission presidents in the smaller islands use the technology to communicate with their missionaries scattered over all the islands in their missions.  We just need to learn to use it.

            We have been really against tablets or smart phones here in the mission because of the risk of attacks.  Our missionaries already get robbed all the time just when they carry these tiny $20 phones that barely work.  Imagine if the word got out that missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints all carried smart phones??  Super dangerous.  So, we have been strongly against this idea.  However, if they stayed in their casas and used tablets to communicate and teach, that wouldn’t be so dangerous!

The Restoration
            We may have to throw away a bunch of things we have done for years in preaching the gospel and do things an entirely new way.  Door to door works here, but in few other places in the world.  With the danger of robbers, and viruses, being out in the streets just might not be wise in the future.  It truly may be safer and more effective to stay in casa, even in a place like the DR. 

In addition, the members would have to take more responsibility for the converts.   One of the biggest challenges we have had here is the war between the bishops and the missionaries.  The bishops seriously resent the fact that they don’t get to choose who is worthy for baptism and who is not.  We baptize whom we think is worthy and the bishop has the responsibility to ordain and fellowship and help this person grow.  The members like us to baptize people that are “golden,” so their responsibility after the baptism isn’t so demanding.  They don’t like us to baptize people who need a lot of ministering.  However, if the missionaries are just responsible for the teaching, and the members do the baptizing, confirming, ordaining and fellowshipping, the responsibilities change.  The missionaries grow their own testimonies by teaching.  The people learn the gospel, and the members better know the investigators so they have more of a desire to minister.

The Future
Where will the missionaries serve in the future?  Will there even be a need to gather?  They already are having virtual MTCs.  Will missionaries even need to move to a new country?  If technology reaches the whole globe, do they need to leave their homes?  If missionaries accepted calls in the past just so they could have an adventure in a new country, that motive would disappear.  They would truly accept their call because they wanted to bring souls unto Christ.  That could be a very good thing.

            This coronavirus could be a blessing in disguise.  First because people are being called to repentance, and hopefully they recognize this and respond.  Secondly, because we are truly learning to bring the gospel to all the world.  If the coronavirus can touch everybody in the world, so can the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.  I no longer think missionary work will be compromised.  I think it will be better than ever.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Still having fun

The tallest missionary in our mission --picking mangos that are just dripping from the trees

Doing what they can

All the exercise equipment and all the playground equipment was taped off today, I imagine to stop the spread of the virus

Tuesday, March 17, 2020


Covid-19 #2 (17 Mar 2020) 

Dear parents, 

How grateful we are to serve with your sons and daughters in the Lord’s cause. We love these young women and young men as our own. Please know that with the coronavirus, or COVID-19, affecting people here and around the world, our highest priority right now continues to be your missionary’s personal health and safety.  

To help ensure the missionaries’ continued physical and spiritual well-being, we are following the inspired and well-informed direction of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve, our Area Presidency, and the Missionary Department. We also are instructing the missionaries in following local and national government guidelines and precautions, reminding them to: 
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. 
  • Stay in their apartment whenever they themselves are sick. 
  • Avoid touching their eyes, nose, and mouth.  
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.  
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces with household cleaning spray or wipes.  
  • Wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (which should always be done if their hands are visibly dirty), and, if soap and water are not readily available, to use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. 

At the recommendation of the Area Presidency, we have asked all missionaries to remain in their apartments for the next three days (16-18 Mar) so that we can make an accurate assessment of the magnitude of risk in the DR.  All missionaries have been given the funds to buy a 3-week supply of food.  We will help the missionaries prepare and make sure their needs are met.  

We are asking your missionary to contact us immediately if they feel sick so that we can involve health care professionals and our area medical advisers. If your missionary has chronic or critical health issues that we need to be aware of, we also invite you to reply to this email to make sure that we address any concerns. We understand very well that the current situation may be stressful and cause concerns for some of our missionaries and their families, but we will watch over your missionary carefully and will communicate with them often. 

These are challenging times and circumstances, but to us this also is an opportunity to continue sharing the gospel.  At this time our missionaries are required to work primarily from their apartments, they will continue to focus on their missionary purpose by teaching and following up those they teach by telephone, studying the scriptures and Preach My Gospel, language learning and the words of our living prophets. 

We will continue to send updates to you as mission circumstances evolve.  Please be assured that we are completely dedicated to keeping your missionary healthy and safe. And we are most grateful for our loving Heavenly Father’s supporting hand in caring for them. May he continue to abundantly bless you and your family, every missionary, and the people we have been called to serve. 

With our greatest love and appreciation, 

President and Sister Smith 

(Traducción al Español) 

Covid-19 #2 (17 marzo 2020) 

Queridos padres, 

Cuán agradecidos estamos de servir con sus hijos e hijas en la causa del Señor. Amamos a estas mujeres y hombres jóvenes como nuestros. Tenga en cuenta que, con el coronavirus, o COVID-19, que afecta a las personas aquí y en todo el mundo, nuestra mayor prioridad en este momento sigue siendo la salud y seguridad personal de su misionero. 

Para ayudar a garantizar el continuo bienestar físico y espiritual de los misioneros, estamos siguiendo la dirección inspirada y bien informada de la Primera Presidencia y el Quórum de los Doce, nuestra Presidencia de Área y el Departamento Misional. También estamos instruyendo a los misioneros a seguir las pautas y precauciones de los gobiernos locales y nacionales, recordándoles que: 
  • Evitar el contacto cercano con personas que están enfermas. 
  • Permanezca en su apartamento cuando ellos mismos estén enfermos. 
  • Evite tocarse los ojos, la nariz y la boca. 
  • Cubra la tos y los estornudos con un pañuelo desechable, luego tírelo a la basura. 
  • Limpie y desinfecte objetos y superficies que se tocan con frecuencia con spray o toallitas de limpieza doméstica. 
  • Lávese las manos a menudo con agua y jabón durante al menos 20 segundos (lo que siempre debe hacerse si sus manos están visiblemente sucias) y, si no hay agua y jabón disponibles, use un desinfectante para manos a base de alcohol con al menos 60% de alcohol. 

Por recomendación de la Presidencia de Área, hemos pedido a todos los misioneros que permanezcan en sus apartamentos durante los próximos tres días (16-18 de marzo) para que podamos hacer una evaluación precisa de la magnitud del riesgo en la RD. Todos los misioneros han recibido los fondos para comprar un suministro de alimentos para 3 semanas. Ayudaremos a los misioneros a prepararse y asegurarnos de que se satisfagan sus necesidades. 

Le pedimos a su misionero que se comunique con nosotros de inmediato si se siente enfermo para que podamos involucrar a profesionales de la salud y asesores médicos de nuestra área. Si su misionero tiene problemas de salud crónicos o críticos que debemos tener en cuenta, también lo invitamos a responder a este correo electrónico para que podamos tratar cualquier inquietud. Entendemos muy bien que la situación actual puede ser estresante y causar preocupaciones para algunos de nuestros misioneros y sus familias, pero cuidaremos de su misionero y nos comunicaremos con ellos a menudo. 

Estos son tiempos y circunstancias desafiantes, pero para nosotros también es una oportunidad para continuar compartiendo el evangelio. En este momento, se requiere que nuestros misioneros trabajen principalmente desde sus apartamentos, continuarán enfocándose en su propósito misional enseñando y siguiendo a los que enseñan por teléfono, estudiando las Escrituras y Predicad Mi Evangelio, el aprendizaje de idiomas y las palabras de los profetas. 

Continuaremos enviándole actualizaciones a medida que evolucionen las circunstancias de la misión. 

Tenga la seguridad de que estamos completamente dedicados a mantener a su misionero sano y seguro. Y estamos muy agradecidos por la mano de apoyo de nuestro amoroso Padre Celestial para cuidarlos. Que Dios continúe bendiciéndolos abundantemente a usted y a su familia, a todos y cada uno de los misioneros, y a las personas a las que hemos sido llamados a servir. 

Con nuestro mayor amor y aprecio, 

Presidente y Hermana Smith 

New way to find and teach

Please send a "friend request" to our facebook page:   Bret'nJeanette Smith    We will be posting on facebook in the futur...