Friday, July 5, 2013

July 2013 Build Faith, Skill & Increase Urgency

1 July 2013

Farewell President & Sister Lifferth
Well a few of my heart strings have been tugged on this past week. We drove President and Sister Lifferth to the airport last night and dropped them off. Honestly, I have come to love them so much!  It was a little sad to see them go (but I'll see them in a few months!).
Sunday morning we were down at the airport to pick up the Maxwell's.  They are great! I already love them.  They had a big day yesterday concluding with a big Fireside last night.  It felt a little weird sitting up on the stand with Elder Dudfield and Elder O'Reirdon from the Seventy on one side and the two Misson Presidents on the other side, with all of the Stake Presidents from the Melbourne region in the congragation. A very important formal meeting, but it went really well!
We have been doing our exchanges all week. I was so tired by the end of the week! But, it was highly productive!  We'll see how long we can sustain these exchanges.  The schedule is just intense.  We don't really have time to eat during them so we just carry a bit of light food in the car.  Our three fold purpose of the exchanges is to build faith, skill and increase urgency.  Because this is our purpose, we are going into every exchange with such purpose and energy (ie. running in between doors) so it takes a toll a bit but the results are amazing!

One exchange we had 20 minutes to tract. We knelt and prayed about where to tract. We went to the street and received two return appointments from the two doors we knocked and our 20 minutes were up.  I felt great though. I loved that conference quote: 'don't die with music still in your radio'.  I'm trying to apply this quote and give everything I have to other missionaries.  What an opportunity!

Well, all is well in our area.  We still want to baptise monthly so well work on that.  I'm excited about the 'Work of Salvation' Broadcast, it is so evident that this work is hastening!  I am grateful to be apart of it!

8 July 2013
Well it has been such a different week this week but many valuable lessons have been learnt.  The whole week we have been joined at the hip with the Maxwell’s, which has been a huge privilege for me.  Tuesday they met all of the Zone Leaders and later in the week they met all the missionaries in two big meetings divided geographically as those serving in the east and those in the west.

Sister Maxwell & President Maxwell

It has been a big learning curve for me but I have loved it. There are lots of things that I didn’t anticipate but looking back at it, I should have.  I was expecting President Maxwell to come in guns blazing saying "jump" and me responding "how high?"  He is a very wise man though, he has come in completely contrary.  I know he has a vision he wants to implement, but he first wants to analyse where we are at.
He recognises the success that we are having at the moment and is all for learning the current culture and practices of the Mission.

There are over 250 missionaries here in Melbourne, alongside with many members, expecting Elder Maxwell to know everything as they wait for profound responses to questions.  The fact that his father was an Apostle just adds to that pressure.  The reality is that he has never been on this side of the world before and hasn’t served a mission for 30+ years.
You could imagine the pressure he is under as a Mission President all while they are just trying to wrap their heads around driving on the other side of the road, locating the shops etc.

We have been spending nearly every minute with the Maxwell's this week with the sole purpose of being able to get them up to speed as quickly as possible and really want to make them look as impressive as we can.  We have been helping them with things from getting a curling iron with Sister Maxwell to going through the basic rules and culture of the Mission.  I have been the driver this past week which has been great.  We have really been utilising every minute we have to inform them about the Mission.

It has been a huge success!  They have spoken so well in all their countless meetings, and we have been endorsing them to all we see.  All missionaries are so excited and have such a positive feeling about them, which is so important. 

One huge risk whenever leadership changes is that those who lie under the stewardship of the leader have a natural tendency to test the waters of the new leader, ‘what and what can’t I do?’ ‘Have any rules changed?’  One of our highest priorities has been to minimise any of these feelings some missionaries may have.   Strategically, the Mission President in opening remarks to the missionaries made it very clear that he has reviewed the mission culture and rules and completely endorses and supports them alongside with the current leaders.  He is such a wise man!

Honestly it has been such a privilege to be able to spend so much time with the two of them this past week. They are both such Christlike, inspired and smart servants of the Lord. We are so privileged as a missionary to be under their inspired leadership.

Our third quarter goal has been very inspired by the leadership broadcast.  Something I have a very strong testimony about is that 'success is achieved as we align with the brethren'.  For that reason our third quarter goal is ‘Members are the key 163’. I have attached a poster of this slogan that every missionary should now has stuck on their wall above their study desks.  Collectively as a Mission we are united in faith and excitement as we move forward to achieve this goal.

This coming week interviews start.  Every day for the next few weeks we will be escorting the Maxwell's to interviews where we will have a choice opportunity to train 'skill on working with members'.  This skill will be so vital to develop and act on as missionaries and members, while we are still on such a high off the wings of the ‘Work of Salvation’ broadcast.

After discussion with my companion, the Zone Leaders and approval from the President, our prioritised key focus for the next few months will be to develop greater skill, faith and urgency.  Our ‘4 hour exchanges’ are designed to target these three points.

Well, all is well on my end. T here is not a day that goes by where I don’t express my gratitude to my Heavenly Father for giving me such a precious opportunity to grow as a individual as I try to loose myself in helping others.  It does not go unrecognised that I am the luckiest missionary in the Mission.

I know the church is true, It is so evident that the prophecy that Joseph Smith made back in 1832 in Ohio, recorded in the 88th section of the Doctrine and Covenants also known as the section of the ‘olive leaf’ is now being fulfilled.  ‘The Lord will hasten His work in His time.’  Now is that time!  We have received greater counsel and vision as mentioned would happen.  We are living our lives in such a pivotal part of the earth and churches history, what a privilege!  Shall we not go on in such great a course!

Elder Bennallack



15 July 2013
This week has been one of the busiest weeks of my mission. We have been doing interviews all week with different zones. We are 4 down with 6 to go.
Because President is new, he is taking a long time with each interview, he is averaging 17 minutes an interview which quickly adds up when you're interviewing whole zones. Friday he went through 46 interviews from 9am in the morning till 8pm at night! He must be tired!
The missionaries are so lucky to have the Maxwell’s. I think during the course of my mission I have only been interviewed twice and the extent was as follows:
“Elder Bennallack how you doing?”
“Great!" I would reply.
“Hows the family doing?"
"Really good."
"That’s great! Well Elder Bennallack, we sure do appreciate ya! Lets have a word of prayer."
Obviously I was able to have such an amazing relationship with the Lifferth's, I’m sure President Maxwell must be tired!
While the missionaries are being interviewed, we have jumped on the opportunity to train the missionaries and skill is one of the main things lacking at the moment as a natural result of such a young mission.  Elder Bellon and I have been presenting an hour and a half training, which is good fun all about members.
When you're having 4 hour meetings, it is so key to keep everyone interactive which I feel we have done a great job doing, lots of role plays.
We have really been trying to align with the brethren with their vision on ‘member missionary work.’
A lot of our missionaries just don’t know how to work with the members, skill is lacking.  To kick-start it at our meetings last week, I made 250 copies of a case study that Jonny sent me when he was serving.  It was given to everyone in his Mission.  We did the same here. I handed it out to everyone. They all read through it once while they were waiting to meet President Maxwell and we committed them to read it through as a companionship again looking for what they did well and to record impressions that come to mind on what we can do in our area’s to build the members trust.
When I read through this in Wantirna South we decided to actually buy $1 cards from the ‘Reject Shop’ and wish every member in the ward a happy birthday on their birthday. This was only possible in our ward because our ward list was small with only 15 percent less active. There are so many things you can do to let the members know that we care. We expect so much from the members yet we don’t put in the effort ourselves to build that relationship of trust. This is something I’m quite passionate about. My past three baptisms have been through member referrals, members are so key.
Anyways back to our training that we have been giving. We have introduced a new statistic into the mission. '30-minute programs taught over member referrals received.'
We have introduced a ’30 minute program' into the mission which entails teaching a lesson for 30 minutes to a member of the ward regardless of them being active, less-active or a recent convert.  The missionaries have been instructed to go in, leave a promise that a name will come to every family members mind as they teach, and then to teach a doctrine from the 'Preach my Gospel' lessons. They will discuss that name that comes to mind after their message and help the family member make the next step with inviting this name to come closer to Christ and to introduce them to the missionaries.  We have been doing these all week and without fail, referrals always come.  We have instructed the missionaries to teach seven of these lessons a week.
There are huge benefits that have prompted this new statistic we will record.  First off, it's going to help build that trust with members. Friendships will develop, members will gain assurance that the missionary can teach and carries the light of Christ.  The faith and excitement of the members will increase, which will result in members offering their homes as a teaching environment, offering to fellowship, give rides and the number of member referrals will increase.
Joseph Smith said that a religion that doesn’t require sacrifice will not endure. As the members sacrifice their time they will become more deeply interested and invested to this great cause.
That is one huge reason for instructing missionaries to teach these lessons, but the other side of it is the benefits that the missionaries will have. As mentioned earlier, this mission is lacking in skill, especially teaching skill.  The Area Presidency has instructed that missionaries within Australia should be teaching a minimum of 20 lessons a week. At the moment the mission is averaging 13, with some companionships teaching left, right and centre while others are only teaching one or two a week.  For teaching skill to improve, missionaries need to teach.  As the missionaries teach these seven lessons a week, that average will rise to 20, missionaries will teach with greater unity and practice following the spirit.
Anyways in a few paragraphs I have tried to explain our training and vision, but we have faith and confidence it is what our mission needs at this time.
On another note I was also able to conduct five four-hour-exchanges this past week, which were so beneficial. I have a rewarding, fulfilling calling!
This coming week as mentioned interviews will continue. Friday I’ll be flying down to Tasmania with President for interviews. He will be coming back on Saturday night but we will be staying down there till Wednesday 24th. Were going to exchange with every missionary in Tasmania, it's going to be great!  We'll fly back Wednesday and that same evening we'll drive up with President to Wangaratta for interviews in the bush.
Well miracles happen everyday in our mission, how grateful I am to be a part of them!
Elder Bennallack

22 July 2013
This week has been full on but it's been good!

I flew down to Tasmania on Friday and am currently typing from an ipad belonging to a senior couple up here in Deloraine.
It has been a crazy few days. (I'll attach lots of pictures because I only have until tea is ready to type).
It was Elder Bellon's 21st on Friday. The zone leaders and I, alongside with a member, organised and painted him that huge banner wishing him a 'Happy 21st'.  We tied it to a bridge over a main road and then I drove past it with him when it was up. It was priceless seeing his reaction in the car as he noticed it was for him...
He had a great birthday, another is just of our office being decorated.

Next are a few photos of Tasmania that I took through the window on the way in. its a beautiful place.
We stayed in this fancy as hotel Friday night overlooking the harbour in Hobart. There was a beautiful view from the 16th floor of the Grand Chandler Hotel.

Derwent River, Hobart
Saturday morning before the interviews, we got up before sun light and watched the sun rise at the top of Mount Wellington with the Maxwell's.  There was still a little snow up there.
Early morning from the summit of Mt Wellington, Hobart.
Anyways after a fancy cooked breakfast in the restaurant later that morning, we were off to do some proper missionary work. Interviews went really well, we really felt like we have changed the way they will do things over here now. Everyone is so excited about working with the members.
Across the mission there has been hundreds of member referrals come through as a result of these 30 minute lessons, its exciting.
We attended Glen Huon ward on Sunday, they are so 'okka' down there. Even though I'm a Australian I felt out of place! The church is huge in Tasmania compared to the rest of Australia if you look at the amount of members per capitor.
Elder Bennallack

29 July 2013

What a week, where do I start?
Well Tasmania was so beneficial, we left feeling so good about what we were able to do for the missionaries. It felt like a bit of a holiday at the start just because we stayed in a hotel with President the first night and we had our P-day on Monday, but it was a really great trip.  We put a thousand kilometres on the car in four days!  We were able to exchange with every companionship in Tasmania down south and up north.  We started with Glen Huon and Glenorchy, moved then to Rosny and Hobart then drove up North on our P-day in preparation for our exchanges in Burnie, Devonport, Deloraine and Launceston.

We nearly missed our flight out from Launceston because we were just trying to make the most of our exchange in the morning. Our flight left at 13:05, I didn’t get out of a lesson until 12:15, baggage check in closed thirty minutes before the flight at 12:35. We came racing into the airport at 12:32 and checked in with thirty seconds to spare. By the time we went through security we walked straight onto the plane, perfect timing!

We were able to see so many miracles down in Tasmania. We really focused on faith, urgency and skill while we were  there. It was rewarding to look at a few of the results from our exchange in the form of statistics this morning.  The zone went from averaging 82 lessons taught a week to 127 this past week and they were able to receive 33 member referrals amongst the seven companionships!  How exciting!

We really are excited to watch the fruits of these member-lessons roll in. Every one we have taught we have been given referrals (even from much older couples.) Elder Bellon taught a funny lesson the other day. He taught one of these member lessons to a 90 year old couple. At the end of the lesson the name that came to their mind was the lady that comes once a week to change the husband's special socks that helps his circulation in his legs.

Honestly we are getting all of the members across Melbourne inviting their friends. Over the past few weeks that the missionaries have been teaching these lessons, as of this morning ,there have already been 423 member referrals given!  Referrals given by members are gold, keeping in mind the statistic that on average it takes a thousand doors knocked to find a baptism as a result of your own efforts, in contrast to the every one in five member referrals given resulting in a baptism!  Baptism dates are being set left right and centre as a result.
The average lessons taught per companionship per week has jumped from 11.3 to 14.6 with a high of 175 baptismal dates set mission wide, were excited!
We flew into Melbourne at 3pm Wednesday and left for Shepparton at 5pm for a training the following day. Although we are keeping super busy my heart if full of gratitude for the tender mercies the Lord is blessing us with in our own area.

We on average are only in Dandenong for a precious few hours each week allowing us only to be able to teach a few lessons. Despite the minimal time in our own area, we are blessed to have a baptism of our own this coming weekend. Mercedes from New Zealand is getting baptised on Saturday straight after her wedding ceremony to her fiancĂ© Kryger who has returned to full activity in the gospel, we're so excited! I have been working with these two beautiful people for the whole time I have been in Dandenong, there has definitely been some mountains they have had to climb to get to where they are now.  Oh what a privilege it has been to be apart of this journey with them, I have a lot of love for both of them!

Speaking of those I have love for, a man named Doug who I was working very closely with in Wantirna South finally made the decision to enter into a covenant with the Lord Saturday evening. It was such a privilege to be there and watch that ordinance take place, then be invited to be involved in confirming him a member of the church.

Although I'm sure it’s not 'kosher' with the church handbook, a very inspired Bishop invited Doug as then a non-member to give a talk in sacrament meeting last week.  During his talk he expressed his love for the Saviour after which announcing his decision to be baptised the following weekend being this past Saturday just gone.   Doug is a very smart Lawyer by profession; he will make a great Bishop one day!
As I was saying how much the Lord is blessing us despite the lack of time in our area, on Sunday we had an investigator bring his friend to the Sunday service. After sacrament meeting this non-member whom we just met ,expressed his desire to be taught and baptised!  My heart is tender and full of gratitude now just thinking of this tender mercy performed by the hand of my God.
I really feel His love and influence guide my life.  My mission is my everything.  It has changed and shaped my life over and over throughout the past 21 months.  Although I can't comprehend why I am so lucky to be brought up in a loving family teaching me my true identity and potential as a son of a Heavenly Father, I am grateful.
Thank you for all that you do for me. I constantly pray that you may be able to have everyday missionary moments so that you may be able to catch a glimpse of the joy I feel in my life everyday.
Elder Bennallack, Your son, your brother, your friend.