Part 3: Effective Missionary Work
Interlude: Being a More Effective Missionary
I mentioned last time that Elder Ride was able to see his ideas put into effect as I learned to share the planning process with him. But the result wasn't that we became an amazing missionary duo. To the contrary, it was that we harmonized, and worked together, and were just happier working together. That makes a platform on which you can do new things.
Here are the actual ways I found people that were actually baptized:
- Had them just walk up to me on the street and ask to be baptized
- Knocked on their door and started teaching them (this does work sometimes!)
- Picked them up as I was transferred into a new area and the other missionary who found them (via door knocking) was transferred away
- Found them through our missionary area book--old records kept by missionaries who came before me.
- Found them as referrals from members ("Hey, come over and teach my roommate the gospel, he's interested")
So based on my experiences, the #1 best thing you can do is just make sure you are ready to teach people the gospel. Because it's not like you have to have a master's degree to knock on a door. And you don't need a Ph.D. to be approached on the street by someone who is just going to ask you to baptize them.
How do you get ready to teach people the gospel? They teach you that on the mission, but I think the best way is to:
- Be humble. Don't let the missionary badge get to your head.
- Ask for specific help from God for each of your problems and challenges, every day.
- Expect difficulty and be as patient as you can.
- Educate yourself and ask questions of your mission leaders.
When you start teaching someone, it's important to:
- Get those people to actually come to the church (HUGE sign that they are ready to learn)
- Get people to meet as many members of the church as possible while they're there
- Tell them what the next steps are. Like literally say, "here is where we baptize people who want to follow Jesus Christ. This is called a baptismal font." Stuff like that.
Let's Be Original
It's fun to realize that you basically get to plan for teaching the gospel to a huge group of residents in some big city. You start kicking around ideas and then you get to decide if you have the guts to go through with them and see if they work.
English classes were a pretty great experience for me. We taught the gospel to a lot of people who came through those classes, but it was really about service and being generous to the community. Clearly, very few people are going to keep coming to a class where they constantly have the gospel pushed on them.
In one area, we went to the store, got some posterboard and cool markers, and made some attractive posters for our English class. Then we got permission to put the posters up around the city. It was really neat to see this pay off as our English class grew in size over time. We met new friends that way, and they got to 1) learn English, 2) make new friends, and 3) see that our church wasn't some crazy cult with a bunch of weird stuff going on inside.
We also threw parties. In my first area we put on a really successful Halloween party that was well-attended. I brought the idea to my next areas, and we even incorporated the cool dry ice effects and things like that. We ended up getting the dry ice from this cult (an actual cult) that was using it to keep dead bodies chilled (the bodies would be launched to space on rockets--this was an actual thing). Now that added a bit of freak to our Halloween! Nice people though, and we didn't hold anything against them of course.
This was all fun stuff. Members liked it, missionaries liked it, non-members liked it. Our mission president liked it, his wife liked it, and their kids liked it. So being original, creative, and planning events and things was actually really worthwhile and I highly recommend doing the same. Even if no baptisms come of it directly, you are building up the kingdom of God by putting together something that makes people go, "OK, that was pretty cool. I liked that."