A Labor of LOVE

(*NOTE: Sorry, but for some reason, I cannot upload any photos this week. Will see if they will attach at a later date!)

January 12, 2015

Hello one and all! This was a crazy insane week! A lot is happening in the San Juan branch and there is a LOT to report on! The easiest way for me to submit this information to you, is through the letter I wrote to my mission president this week. Each week we are asked to give him an update of how we are doing personally and how the areas we have been assigned to serve in are progressing. The following is what I wrote to him:

Dear President,

Wow! This was a crazy week. As our key indicators probably show, we didn't teach a ton. Most of that was contributed to the fact that I had the stomach flu for 3 days. That was a bummer. Our transfer has really been set off a lot by illness thus far, BUT, the Lord is healing us and we are almost back to being 100% healthy :) The other reason we were a little slower this week was contributed to some REALLY amazing revelation that Sister Adair and I received for our area. She will probably write you regarding the same things, but the following is an account of my thoughts and feelings about the San Juan Branch after having been here for 4 transfers now.

So, as I'm sure you will read, Tuesday night Sister Adair and I were driving around trying to visit investigators and just NOTHING felt right. NOTHING. So, we both decided to go home and hash out some very specific goals with the Lord for this area regarding this transfer. When we prayed we both felt EXTREMELY prompted that through Less-Active (LA) members was how we were going to LIFT the San Juan Branch. After having served here for 5 months already, I was a little torn between what more I could do for the area. I needed inspiration and after receiving a priesthood blessing the day before, I felt SO strongly that THIS was the road we needed to take. This branch has seen 35 souls baptized in the last 6 years. And almost every single one of them is inactive. After truly thinking about it, THIS was the road we needed to take. So, we looked through all of our area books, found records, talked with members (this attributed to the bulk of time spent in bed recovering over 3 days) and found out that there are 38 LA members here in the Montrose area that could be attending the SJ Branch. If all of those members were reactivated, the branch would MORE than DOUBLE in size! (We have about a consistent 30 members at sacrament meeting every week). Throw a few convert baptism families in there, and you've got a ward. It became blatantly obvious to me that THIS was what I had been missing for the past three transfers. In the past, I had never realized that investigators weren't progressing because of the lack of support from the branch. The members would do all they could, but because of the size, no investigator would truly feel like they had entered into a family. A firm foundation needs to be established in order to increase convert baptisms in this area. And that HAS to start with the missionaries. The members of the branch are GREAT, but don't fully embrace the true meaning of missionary work. SO, my thoughts were to change the way they viewed LA members. Make it a labor of LOVE. Because truly, when we think about it, if we are treating these LA's like our brothers and sisters, they deserve WAY more. President Hinckley says in PMG that there is NO POINT in doing missionary work if we don't hold on to the fruits of our efforts. I couldn't agree more. And quite frankly, I feel like since I've been in SJ, we haven't spent enough time working to rescue these souls. They've gone by the wayside, as the bulk of our time has been attributed to finding and baptizing. BUT, I do feel that the Lord has specifically guided us to this revelation at THIS point in time for a PURPOSE. The branch was on the outs. Members were losing faith; even the LEADERS were losing faith. BUT, I have never been more sure about inspiration from the Lord, than this.

So, for the rest of the weekend, we basically devoted all of the proselyting time we could get (when I was feeling decently) to a branch initiative for these LA's. Sister Adair brought a tool she had used in Denver called 'Invitando En Fe,' and we went to work. We spent countless hours searching for a plan that would motivate the branch council to take their responsibility for these LA's seriously. On Friday morning during my personal study, I prayed SO intently that I would know exactly what road to take with this. It had been SO taxing on my mind and I wanted to completely submit to the Lord's will in whatever we, as missionaries, decided to do. Well, needless to say, for the next HOUR, I didn't stop writing down revelations. It was coming to me as if the Lord had been turning the pages of PMG for me. He led me DIRECTLY to where I needed to read for these members. I focused the majority of my studies on the 'Accountability' section of Ch. 8 in PMG. The rest was spent researching scriptures and discovering what more I could do to get through to them. By the end of my personal study, I had about 4 pages of notes on exactly what the LORD wanted done. I knew I had received the guidance I had asked for.

So, since we had asked the elders to ponder the same during their personal study that day, we got together and conjoined all of our personal revelations. When all was said and done, we had a SOLID plan for our branch council meeting on Sunday (yesterday) evening. When Sunday evening came around, I knew we had put in the effort (about 10 hours, we figured out) to be guided completely by the spirit. And that was EXACTLY what happened. We presented our portion for branch council. Used the words of the PROPHETS, instead of our own, and briefly described what we felt needed to be done. The list of 38 names we handed out right from the start was enough. The branch felt the spirit of the Lord testifying to them that we NEEDED to save these brothers and sisters. The spirit was so strong throughout the remainder of the meeting and the leaders of the branch council's hearts were softened. The meeting consisted of a lot of deep conversation about the fate of the branch. BUT, it was concluded that the Lord had established the SJ Branch for a reason and that we, as members, could concentrate our efforts more fully on the work of salvation. Several comments were made about how we could go about that and in turn, it was decided that the missionaries would be focusing all of our efforts on the BRANCH. Essentially, our call is to LIFT the area we are in. So, we told the Branch Council that whatever they needed (within reason, of course), would be done.

It truly was an inspiring meeting. I felt the spirit testify several times throughout the week that THIS was the miracle I had been waiting for. THIS was the purpose I was HERE, serving in this branch, at this specific time. I know without a doubt that the Lord is guiding his missionaries. I am SO grateful for the opportunity to serve here. I am so excited to see where the Lord will take us as we strive to save his sons and daughters. I love this gospel with all of my heart. I love the members of the San Juan Branch. I couldn't help but hold back tears last night as I expressed the love I have for each individual member of the branch. I know that everything we have been asked to do is inspired of the Lord.

Thank you for your trust in us as missionaries. The SJ Branch NEEDS Elders and Sisters. I am so excited to see what our efforts will result in. I love the CDSM with all of my heart. I have never been more excited to do missionary work and am so entirely thankful for the opportunity to serve.

Hermana Pierce

That perfectly describes every thought I've had this week. I love my mission. I love these people. Never forget the love of our Savior. It is perfect and encompasses every aspect of your day to day life.

Until next week!

xoxox, Hermana Pierce

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