Missionary Work in the Digital Age

10 Mar
A Montana sunset

A Montana sunset

Hello all! So much has happened since I last wrote you all, but for some reason I am struggling to write it down! I’ll do my best, but no promises on this letter being 100% coherent, haha.

Wednesday morning, our zone and the Kalispell zone hopped in vans to travel down to Bozeman for the all-mission meeting. It was amazing to see the entire mission gathered for the first time in ten years. A lot of my mission friends have already finished their missions, but it was still so good to get to see a lot of people I’ve missed. We were all seated thirty minutes before the meeting started, and the reverence in that room was palpable. Elder W. Craig Zwick of the 70 was our main speaker, along with Bro. Michael Hemingway of the missionary department. At the start of the meeting, Elder Zwick asked that he could greet each of us individually! We filed down a line and greeted both of our guests as well as President and Sister Mecham. I am always so impressed by how personal general authorities are with those they visit.

I don’t even know how to fully describe the meeting, except with the word powerful. Instead of the meeting being focused on the ins and outs of iPads and social media, they taught us the principles by which we can govern ourselves online, and ultimately govern ourselves in all things. The overarching question that Elder Zwick asked us throughout the meeting was, “Am I willing to change?”. The thing about iPads and technology is that it’s actually more for the missionaries than for those we teach. Elder Zwick said that no one is going to be more likely to get baptized just because they watched a video. Rather, by using these technologies as missionaries, we are establishing righteous habits that will bless us for the rest of our lives. Yes, there are and will be technological filters placed on the devices, and yes we will always work as a companionship to keep us safe. But the best filter, and the one that will last, will be our hearts.

All Mission Photo (The sun was sooo bright, so we're all squinty eyed. I'm in the 4th row, about the middle, directly above President Mecham)

All Mission Photo (The sun was sooo bright, so we’re all squinty eyed. I’m in the 4th row, about the middle, directly above President Mecham)

Along with purification, Elder Zwick taught us that “exposure brings immunity”. He gave the example of a disease epidemic that broke out in the early 1900s. The people that were most likely to contract the disease and die from it were those from rural communities that had never been exposed to it. On the other hand, the people in urban city areas had been exposed to it and had developed immunity. Such it is with technology. Our missions will not be our last exposure to technology or the evils that can lurk therein- now it the opportunity to purify our hearts for when we are online later. The best safeguard is your heart and personal integrity.

Another thing that I learned from Elder Zwick was to “simplify and intensify” your statements, especially when teaching. I have been practicing this in a more conscious way this week, and I have already seen the effects. We taught a lesson this week to a semi-less-active member who struggles with some word of wisdom issues. They acknowledge that what they are doing is wrong, but they don’t see it affecting their eternal salvation. With startling clarity, the Spirit put in my mouth the words, “No habit is worth not enjoying temple blessings”. The entire tone of the lesson changed from that point on, and we committed them to working towards going to the temple.

There were some new logistics introduced at the meeting, including new iPads! Yep, on Friday I turned in my trusty iPad that had been with me from the start and received a new one. The new ones have 32gb of memory instead of 8gb, and have significantly faster processors (our areabook/planner app actually loads quickly now! hallelujah!). The church is rolling out a new standardized approach to iPads and Facebook, so even though we’ve already been doing it for a year and a half, we will still go through the process and help them work out the kinks. We are taking a mission-wide hiatus from Facebook for a few weeks, at which point we will be trained to use it “officially”. I was pretty bummed about losing Facebook because we were just now really getting it going and effective in our zone, but I know that with this break and the new training, it will be even better. President Mecham also eliminated a lot of our “mission-specific” rules, including that we can now receive MyLDSMail emails all throughout the week! The principle is like that of normal letters- we can receive them at any time, but only respond on preparation day. So, I will now be getting your emails when you send them, but I will respond on Monday like usual.

Oh, there is just too much to tell this week! The elders that we share areas with had a baptism on Saturday, and President Mecham was the one that actually baptized her! The Mechams were in town because it was Stake Conference. Stake Conference was wonderful and we had truly inspired speakers. We had great lessons this week as well, and we are still working with our new investigator Cody- he is great!

I’ll just cut it off here so that you don’t have to read an entire novel of Sister Hoggan’s week, haha. I love you all so much! Have a wonderful week!

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