Elder Kopischke Visit

Saturday, November 29, 2014


For missionaries, general authorities are even better than celebrities. With this in mind, it is easy to imagine the excitement we had to hear from Elder Erich W. Kopischke of the first quorum of the seventy. He spoke at two half mission conferences on Oct. 27 and 28 and a Mission Leadership Council (MLC) on Oct. 29. As he spoke, we were not only hearing from him but also from the Spirit of God as we received revelation for our own circumstances and areas.

Elder Kopischke is a master at being "led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which [he] should do." (1 Nephi 4:6). He led all meetings with an open question and answer format, teaching to the needs of the missionaries, using at least two scripture references to answer every question. He encouraged all missionaries to try an experiment: write down a question and listen for the spirit to answer throughout the conference. The experiment was a success; much revelation was received!

A Couple Highlights: 

The Faith Cycle 

Elder Kopischke explained that it is not always a lack of faith that leads to unmet goals. Sometimes it is God's will that we reach them; sometimes it is not. This discussion led to what Elder Kopishke calls the faith cycle. "Faith is a principle of action and power," as stated in Preach My Gospel page 116. Elder Kopischke used Alma 32 to expound on both the "power" and "action" parts of faith. Action is the part of faith that we control. We are not responsible for the outcome,but for the action that will lead to the outcome. Heavenly Father can choose to give us a miracle, but regardless, we must fulfill our part of the faith cycle. When we do all we can we should not be discouraged no matter the result. 

Doctrine Principle and Application

Elder Kopiske taught the difference and correlation between doctrines, principles and applications.He advised us to focus more on the Doctrine than on the Application. He mentioned that as we understand the "Why?" we will automatically find the out "How to." It is like that old saying, "Rather than instructing someone how to build a boat, teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea." The doctrine is contained in the lessons we teach (The Plan of Salvation and the Gospel of Jesus Christ)! When we sub-categorize the doctrine, it is called a principle. Those principles lead us to take some form of action, which is the application. Although applications vary from area to area and mission to mission, the doctrine is always the same.

Zone Conference

Friday, November 14, 2014

In this past round of zone conferences we were blessed to hear the inspired words of many of our mission leaders. The addressed topics ranged from how to help investigators come to church, the importance of prayer, teaching by the Spirit, and the Atonement of Jesus Christ. It was a Spirit-filled zone conference that helped us as missionaries to know how to better fulfill our purpose and how to strengthen our own testimonies.


One topic covered in zone conference was helping our investigators come to church. Oftentimes it is difficult for investigators to come to church due to work schedules, lack of transportation, feeling out of place, not knowing anyone, etc. We were taught that if we involve the ward council and explain the "why" behind coming to church, our investigators will have a greater ability and desire to come to church and receive the blessings that come from doing so.


 The importance of prayer was also stressed at zone conference. Because "no one can know spiritual truths without prayer", it is essential for our investigators to understand why we should pray and how to pray. Investigators must come to recognize the relationship they can have with God, in that He is their Father in Heaven and He wants to hear what they have to say. They also need to know how to follow Christ's example by praying in the correct format. The importance of saying kneeling prayers with our investigators was stressed as a way to show even more respect and devotion to our Father in Heaven.


In Preach my Gospel, there is an entire chapter dedicated to recognizing the Spirit. Sister Riggs helped to remind us of how vital it is gain revelation from the Spirit in our daily work as missionaries. She focused on the word "vital" as a distinct indicator of the importance of the Spirit When someone goes into the emergency room, their vitals are immediately taken. Without regulated vital signs, things can go seriously wrong. In the words of Sister Riggs, "We're dead without them!". The same goes to having the Spirit with us when we teach. We MUST teach by the Spirit if we want to help people become truly converted to the gospel of Christ. Teaching by the Spirit comes as we take the time to prepare and as we are "light on our feet" during lessons, meaning we are willing and ready to go whatever direction the Holy Ghost points us.


President Riggs centered some of his words on a promise found in Preach my Gospel. That promise is as follows: "As your understanding of the Atonement of Jesus Christ grows, your desire to share the gospel will increase" (PMG p. 2). After attending a mission presidents' seminar in which Elder Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke about the Atonement of Jesus Christ, President Riggs felt prompted to share some of his words and thoughts with us. President Riggs taught us that it is crucial that we teach the "why" behind the Atonement. This leads us back to the Fall of Adam and Eve. As missionaries, we need to clearly teach the Fall in order for people to understand the power and necessity of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Without Jesus Christ suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane, His dying on the cross, and His resurrection three days later, we would never be able to overcome the consequences of the Fall and return to live with our Father in Heaven again. Those consequences being separation from God and our eventual physical deaths. Without the merciful Atonement of Jesus Christ, justice would overtake any chance we had to live with God again. Without the Atonement, we would become angels to the the devil! What an amazing gift that Jesus Christ has given us.

Day to Serve

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Annual Tri-State Day to Serve Event provided opportunities for missionaries and members of the church in our mission to unite with the community in an effort to serve those in need. 

Lasting from Sept. 11 to Sept. 28, the Day to Serve consisted of many events varying from location to location. Here are some ways in which our mission participated:

Group picture of those who helped to beautify the Boston-Hoffman school
People in the Arlington area cleaned up the surroundings of three elementary schools by picking up fall leaves. Sister McKenna was excited because she got to clean around the 9/11 memorial at the Boston-Hoffman school. She said it was a great community event and that it helped the principals at the schools to want to learn more about the Latter-Day Saints. 

Sister Clegg and a little girl have fun while serving
Sister Clegg, serving in the Mananas second ward, participated by cleaning graves in the  Bradley Cemetery. Her favorite part was seeing the children in her ward involved in service. The six and seven year old girls were in charge of cleaning the head stones with the help of adult leaders. The leaders shared how this was an act of service that they would always remember. 
Bishops, President of Mount Vernon Stake, Pastor of the Presbyterian Church, and others gather in service
The Mount Vernon Zone and the members who attend the Mount Vernon building assisted the Heritage Presbyterian Church in putting together meal kits and hygiene kits for needy children. Elder Liddiard said the favorite part of all who attended was being part of something that helped others who were in need. 

Ideal Studies

Friday, October 3, 2014

In our most recent zone training, we were privileged to hear the counsel given to us from the Lord through our mission president. A significant portion of the zone training was focused on having ideal studies. As missionaries, we are blessed with 2 hours of study time every morning. Sometimes the duration is increased to 3 or 4 hours when a missionary is in training or learning a language. Within this study time we strive to strengthen our testimonies and knowledge of the gospel, we prepare to teach the people we are working with, and we work on developing our teaching skills as missionaries. With all this time available to study, how do we make it effective?

President and Sister Riggs answered this question by advising us to "study in the name of Jesus Christ." Just as we do when we pray in the name of Jesus Christ, studying in the name of Jesus Christ involves handing our will over to Him. The Bible Dictionary definition of the word "prayer" reads, "We pray in Christ’s name when our mind is the mind of Christ, and our wishes the wishes of Christ--when His words abide in us" (BD, p. 707). The same applies to studying in the name of Jesus Christ. When we study in the name of Jesus Christ we put our heart and mind into our studies, we fully intend to act upon the things we study, and we strive to learn simply in order to strengthen our own and others' testimonies. In Preach My Gospel chapter 2 it states, "Getting good results from your study depends on having a strong desire to learn, studying with 'real intent' (Moroni 10:4), 'hungering and thirsting after righteousness' (Matthew 5:6), and searching for answers to your investigators' questions and concerns" (PMG p. 17).

A crucial aspect of effective studies is starting and ending in prayer. Praying brings the Holy Ghost into our studies. We learn in the scriptures that the Holy Ghost "shall teach [us] all things and brings all things to [our] remembrance" (John 14:26). Having that Spirit with us as we study is crucial for us to learn and remember all things God would have us know to be prepared missionaries. It is also important to ponder  upon the things we study. To ponder means to think about something carefully. In Doctrine and Covenants section 138, Joseph F. Smith wrote that he "pondered" and "reflected" over the scriptures. This pondering led President Smith to receive important revelation from Heavenly Father about the spirit world. We, too, can receive revelation for ourselves regarding those we teach as we ponder the things we study.
We have been commanded in the scriptures to "Feast upon the words of Christ" (2 Nephi 31:20). Our daily studies give us that opportunity to delve into the teachings of Jesus Christ and His prophets. As we are on our missions acting as Jesus Christ's representatives, we can strive to do our best to make our studies effective by truly studying in His name. As we continue to learn about our Savior and his teachings, we can take the habits and techniques we have gained on our missions and use them for the rest of our lives. We should never stop learning and our testimonies never need to stop growing!

Zone Conference (August 2014)

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

This past transfer, we had the privilege of learning from our leaders once again. We were taught an array of subjects, ranging from the Doctrine of Christ to inviting people to be baptized on a specific date. But any missionary can tell you what the overall theme of this Zone Conference was: The Spirit.


How do we RECEIVE the Spirit?

President Riggs reminded us that we may be given the gift of the Holy Ghost after baptism, but to receive the Holy Ghost is an "ongoing command". We learn from 2 Nephi 31:13 that certain steps must be taken in order to have the Spirit with us:

"...I know that if ye shall follow the Son, with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God, but with real intent... then shall ye receive the Holy Ghost..."

We must first "follow the Son, with full purpose of heart", but how can we do this? How do we know that we are choosing to following Christ with our WHOLE heart? When speaking at a Mission President Seminar, Elder Bednar taught the heart is the "sum total of our desires, affections, intentions, motives, and attitudes." As we personally reflect on each of those thoughts and feelings, we will know just how committed we are to our Savior.


What exactly is "real intent"?

To have "real intent" is to intend to act on the answer that we receive from God, whether or not it is an answer we're expecting or desiring. To have real intent is to submit our will to God and trust in Him completely. As we choose to live our lives in such a way, we will be receiving the Spirit continually! 2 Nephi 33:1 states: "...when a man speaketh‍ by the power of the Holy Ghost the power of the Holy Ghost carrieth it unto the hearts of the children of men." The Holy Ghost only has the ability to come unto our hearts; we have real intent as we let Him into our hearts.  


How does the Spirit work within us?

President Packer reminds us that: “The voice of the Spirit is described in the scriptures as being neither ‘loud’ nor ‘harsh.’ It is ‘not a voice of thunder, neither voice of a great tumultuous noise.’ But rather, ‘a still voice of perfect mildness, as if it had been a whisper,’ and it can ‘pierce even to the very soul’ and ‘cause [the heart] to burn.’" As we pray and study our scriptures daily, we must be searching for these whisperings of the Spirit.

We are able to do this as we take time to PONDER. President Joseph F. Smith was an excellent example of this: "...I sat in my room pondering‍ over the scriptures; and reflecting‍ upon the great atoning sacrifice‍ that was made by the Son of God, for the redemption‍ of the world..." (Doctrine and Covenants 138:1-2). We are promised that as we set aside time to ponder and reflect, the Spirit will touch our hearts and teach us truth.

President Riggs assured us that we may feel the Spirit prompt us to do something that we don't understand. And He may even prompt us to do something that ultimately doesn't work out! Elder Robert C. Gay tells us in the September 2014 Ensign: "Don’t fret at how irrational the voice of the Spirit may seem. God is in control and knows what is necessary and right. Always be guided by the Holy Ghost." Thus as full-time missionaries or even member missionaries, we will be blessed when we rely on the Spirit by "letting go and letting GOD!"

Nationals Game: Book of Mormon Blitz

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


The Washington DC South and DC North missionaries had the privilege of attending this year's Day to Serve Night at the Park. Our attendance last year gave us the opportunity to put our name badges out there and to talk to people about what we do, which is to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ and SERVE!

This year, our mission initiated a "Book of Mormon Blitz", where we each planned to hand out at least one Book of Mormon either on the way to the stadium or on the way home. Here are the experiences of some of our missionaries:

"When we got on the metro I looked around for an empty seat next to someone I could talk to. I saw this guy who had his hood on and was playing on his phone. I was nervous that he wouldn't talk to me because he looked so closed off. We started talking and told me a lot about himself. He almost died when he was little, he's Christian, wants to be a cop, and wasn't planning on getting on the Metro that night, but he did. I know it is because we were supposed to meet and I told him that. I gave him a Book of Mormon and told him a little about it. He was super excited to read it. I also had him add me as a friend on Facebook so I could answer any questions he had and help him find the missionaries in his area. This morning when I checked my Facebook he had posted that he has decided to become a Latter-day Saint! He is awesome." - Sister Jillynn Christensen

"It was incredible to see so many missionaries at the metro all geared up and ready to talk to the vast amounts of people headed to the game. Looking ahead I could see several missionaries distributing copies of the Book of Mormon, pass along cards, and pamphlets with the new friends they met. We arrived at the first metro stop and people quickly departed off the metro.  The metro cars where left fairly empty since most people were headed to the game but as it pulled away I saw something that left a picture in my mind that will last forever.  The metro was passing and through the window I glanced and saw a girl sitting by herself flipping through her newly given Book of Mormon.  In my mind time froze as I thought about the wonderful opportunity we have as missionaries to make a difference. I don't know what is in her future, neither does the missionary that gave her the book. The one who does know is God and the brief moment she spent with that missionary may have been the start of a new life for her, a happier life, a life with the fullness of gospel. It was incredible for me to step back and think about how the small and simple things make the biggest difference, and often times we will never truly know the impact we make as we fulfill our purpose as representatives of Jesus Christ." - Sister Courtney Lamborn

"So we were riding home and I really wanted to give out the Book of Mormon I had. A lady came on next to where I was standing. I kept thinking I should talk to her, but I didn't know how to start. So I just said, "That's a cool necklace," and BAM! I got to start talking with her. She is from Belgium and works in advertising, and wants to get into international business. I continued to talk with her and got to know her more. She started asking questions about all the missionaries she saw on the metro, so I explained what it is we do and what we taught. Later her friend, whom some other Sisters were talking to, came over and didn't acknowledge me much. But cool thing! She continued to keep me in the conversation! So we got to the last stop where we were all getting off and I asked her if I could give her something. I explained how the Book of Mormon has helped me and changed my life, and that I would love to give it to her. She said sure! Then my companion asked her friend if she wanted one, and she said yes! We were able to give away TWO Books of Mormon!!! It was an amazing experience to feel the spirit guide me as I got to know her." - Sister Cherise Wright

"My companion and I both gave out Books of Mormon on the metro! I was so worried that I wouldn't find anyone to accept my copy while we were riding on our short metro commute to the ball park. I prayed to find someone who I would recognize was prepared to receive the Book of Mormon. The metro was packed and so I was standing close to a girl with head phones in. I complimented her shirt (which was actually her work uniform so she just laughed at me) but we got to talking and she told me that she was going to college and had been living with  her boyfriend since February. We only had two stops but I told her I was in the same phase of life as her and wanted to give her something that had helped me make decisions and receive answers to questions I had. I gave her the Book of Mormon and we had to get off before the doors shut but she was so grateful and looked really touched! God will always provide a way if we show him we are willing to act upon his promptings!" - Sister Hayley Taylor

"Elder Brooksby and myself decided to park and walk around a little before we headed toward the game, so we said a prayer in the car before we got out and asked to be lead to those who our last two copies of the Book of Mormon were for. After our prayer we got out and started walking and not even 45 seconds from the time we left the car, this man pulled up to us and started talking to us about the Koran and how we needed to read it and how it would bless our lives. After he was done we started to talk to him about our beliefs and how we know that the Book of Mormon is scripture given to us to help come even closer to God than any other book on the earth, he said he would like one so we gave him one and invited him to read it :)" - Elder Andre Gleave
''On the way to the game I sat by this woman who was heading to Maryland to be with her boyfriend. We talked and talked about her life and from the conversation we had it was easily directed to the topic of faith. We talked a lot about having Faith in Jesus Christ and read a few verses in the Book of Mormon. She thankfully accepted. The next miracle was on the way home from the Metro. I ended up sitting by this man who loved to talk about religion. He told me that his dad converted to the LDS church a little over a year ago. He was discouraged because he told me that the missionaries were pressuring him to get baptized. We talked a lot about faith and baptism and now he will be more open to meeting with the missionaries. I have contact with both of them so you all will be updated with the miracles!'' - Sister Kelsey Smith
''On the way to the Metro, as we were leaving our car we opened the trunk and looked at the Books of Mormon available. My companion put two English copies in her bag, and I put in two as well, but then hesitated as I looked at the box that held the various copies. I pulled out a Simplified Chinese Book of Mormon. "Just in case," I said and placed it in my book bag. On our way home from the game, my companion saw an open seat on the metro next to someone and sat down. This time she was too tired to let fear or second thoughts hesitate her action. "Coming back from the game?" She asked. "No, just finishing up work." He responded. Conversation began and she learned that he was from China. With a small smile, she used what little Chinese she knew and asked him what his name was. He smiled approvingly and responded "Steven." For the next few minutes he taught her how to write a few characters in Chinese which she thoroughly appreciated. With only moments left, I asked if I could share the Book of Mormon with him and testified of how it had blessed my life. He accepted it gratefully and was lost in the crowd of departing people. Tired, we reoriented ourselves and started up an escalator to return home. But what to our surprise our saw Steven! He held the Book of Mormon and asked a question, "What makes this book different from the Bible?" With joy, we told him about it being a record of ancient America, bore our testimonies briefly, and gave him a mormon.org card with our number on it.'' - Sister Melissa Butts

What Legacy Will You Leave?

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

In the scriptures we read about numerous examples of people who left great legacies. Names like Captain Moroni, Joseph Smith, the Apostle Paul and countless others bring to our minds recollections of the noble and valiant lives they lived. In the Book of Mormon, for example, the prophet Lehi and his son Nephi left such legacies. The names of Lehi and Nephi are mentioned over and over again in the Book of Mormon as prophets remembered and followed their great examples. As we read further into the Book of Mormon we even find that Helaman himself names his sons Lehi and Nephi so the righteous legacy of his forefathers could be remembered:

Heleman said to his humble sons "Behold, I have given unto you the names of our first parents who came out of the land of Jerusalem; and this I have done that when you remember your names ye may remember them; and when ye remember them ye may remember their works; and when ye remember their works ye may know how that it is said, and also written, that they were good." (Helaman 5:6)

How do you want to be remembered? Do you want to leave a legacy great enough that others would want to name their child after you? That's one amazing legacy to leave! We have eighteen months to two years to leave a legacy here on our missions. Let us be that missionary to whom missionaries in the present and the future look to as an example. We can be that missionary who leaves a path of righteousness, obedience, and diligence everywhere we go. We can decide now to leave a legacy that will be remembered forever.

The best way to know how to leave our greatest legacy is to look to our Savior Jesus Christ. The legacy He left exceeds all others. Jesus Christ's name is known and revered all over the world. He is remembered as one who was and is merciful, forgiving, and divine. His was the perfect legacy to leave. We can all strive to follow our Savior's example as we establish our own legacies. Of course, we will not be completely perfect as He was. However, we can always look to His perfect example and exert all our efforts to be the best servant God would have us be, then He will make up the difference.

Leaving a great legacy is not going to be easy! It will take stepping out of our comfort zone. It will take talking to EVERYONE we see. It will take letting go of our pride and handing our will over to God. Heavenly Father knows we can do it. He knows the amazing potential we have and He knows we can reach it.
So, the question for each of us to ponder is this:

What legacy will I leave?