Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas Letter to Missionaries, December 16, 2010

December 16, 2020
Dear Missionaries of the Oklahoma Oklahoma City Mission:
Sister Taylor and I and our family and the Senior Office Missionaries wish each of you a very Merry Christmas.  Enclosed with this envelope you will find a mission picture taken at our Temple Christmas Zone Conference in early December.  This is our Christmas gift to each of you.  Excluding eight of our senior couple missionaries and President and Sister Johnson who were unable to attend the Zone Conference, this picture includes every missionary currently serving in our mission. 
When we look at this picture and each of you we are reminded that we are all united in purpose, the purpose of "inviting others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end."  (Preach My Gospel p. 1).  This is the purpose of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost and we are united with each other and with them in this divine purpose. 
We look united, framed by the Temple, the House of The Lord.  High above us standing atop the temple set against the beautiful Oklahoma sky is the angel Moroni.  We are reminded that John the revelator saw "another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters."  (Revelation 14: 6-7).  You too are angels of God armed with the purpose of proclaiming the everlasting gospel to the people of Oklahoma and north Texas.  From atop the temple and from the Book of Mormon Moronitrumpets your sacred purpose and message. 
Each of you has consecrated his or her life to sacred purposes for the 18-24 months you are here in Oklahoma as a set apart, full-time representative of Christ.  Elder Christofferson of the Quorum of The Twelve taught "To consecrate is to set apart or dedicate something as sacred, devoted to holy purposes.  True success in this life comes in consecrating our lives--that is, our time and choices--to God's purposes.  In so doing, we permit Him to raise us to our highest destiny."  (General Conference, October 2010).  Through the consecration of your time and choices for the period of your mission you are helping to lift others to their "highest destiny."  In doing so, our Father in Heaven is lifting you to your "highest destiny."  You are becoming the men and women, the husbands or wives, the mothers or fathers, the church and community leaders God intends you to be.  You are becoming "true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we [you] shall be like him, for we [you] shall see him as he is...."  (Moroni 7:48, modified as noted). 
Near the end of his record, Moroni quoted his father Mormon teaching "And Christ hath said: If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me...Repent all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me, and be baptized in my name, and have faith in me, that ye may be saved."  (Moroni 7:33-34).  Mormon and Moroni taught there is a connection between our faith and the power of God given to us.  Moroni warned us to "...deny not the power of God; for he worketh by power, according to the faith of the children of men...."  (Moroni 10:7, emphasis added).  In other words, it is by God's power that His work is done and His purposes are fulfilled.  He does not force His power upon us.  He invites us to receive His power through faith in Jesus Christ.  As our faith in Christ grows, our access to the power of God increases.  Our faith in Christ and God's power allow us to "invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel...."  Prophets have promised us that "as our understanding of the atonement grows, our desire to share the gospel will increase."  (Preach My Gospel, p. 2).  God's purposes include each of us as well.  Through our faith in Christ and God's power we are each changed and become "as a very fruitful tree which is planted in a goodly land, by a pure stream, that yieldeth much precious fruit."  (D&C 97:9). 
The truth of these principles is evidenced by what The Lord has done in our mission since July 2010.  The Lord through His prophets and apostles asked us to increase the effectiveness of our teaching and gave us tools to accomplish this.  These tools are the "Fundamentals From Preach My Gospel:  Teaching More Effectively."  By applying these fundamental principles in faith you have done miracles here in Oklahoma and north Texas by the power of God.  You have become more converted to the Doctrine of Christ and more connected to your purpose.  You have learned to rely more on the Spirit when you teach, trusting that it is the Spirit that converts us and our investigators.  You have learned to seek and receive revelation through prayer, the Book of Mormon and attending church and you have learned to teach this to others.  You have learned how to begin teaching so you invite the Spirit and set expectations.  You have learned to invite, commit and follow up on commitments knowing that it is by making and keeping commitments that our faith and our investigators' faith increases.  You have learned to teach these good people of our mission according to their needs, not just teach "lessons."    
Since you began applying these principles in faith, 133 people have entered into sacred covenants of baptism.  This is enough to create a new ward in our mission!  If we add to this number the number of people committed to baptism for the rest of December and annualize this number, total annual baptisms would exceed totals for the last eight years.   The most dramatic growth has occurred during the last few months as we have risen together to a new level of commitment.  Building upon what He has done with missionaries and Mission Presidents before us, The Lord has given us power according to our faith to do His work.  The wonderful members of the church here in our mission have likewise been blessed with power according to their faith to establish The Lord's church in the stakes of our mission area.  We enter 2011 with great momentum fueled by our increasing commitment to follow The Lord in faith and do His work in His way.   
We pray for each of you and for your families.  We pray this experience will be all The Lord intends it to be for each of you.  We pray each of you will become the person your Father in Heaven desires and knows you can become.
With Great Love,
President and Sister Taylor

1 comment:

Kathi Palmer said...

Thanks so much for allowing the parents to view this blog. We enjoy reading it and seeing the pictures. We know it's a labor of love.