Elder Hunter Lock, a full-time missionary from Utah serving in Laie and Hauula, shares his experience working with members to increase missionary work.
For close to two years, I've had the amazing privilege of being a missionary here in Hawaii. For a kid from Utah County, it's been a dream come true. Growing up, I often wondered what it would be like to be a missionary in the Beehive State. If I'm being completely honest, I don't think I knew there were missionaries in Utah until I was a Deacon. When I received my transfer assignment to Laie, it felt like I was returning home early. I expected high populations of members and low amounts of missionary work. However, I quickly learned my original assessment was wrong.
Working on the North Shore definitely has its perks. For starters, there is no shortage of returned missionaries and prospective missionaries. Look left, look right, odds are one of those people either has been, or would consider being, a missionary. If their mission has been anything like mine, they will probably tell you that missionary work is hard, but when done correctly, it can be the most rewarding time of your life.
With a similarly-minded army of potential and returned missionaries, the work on and off the BYU-Hawaii campus has been booming. No matter where you are or what you're doing there's people to share the gospel with. Every member of the church has an obligation to do their part in hastening the work of the Lord. As famously stated by the prophet David O. McKay, "Every member a missionary!" However, in the Mormon-centric community that is Laie, there is some cause to wonder, is there missionary work to do?
Here are five tips from current missionaries on doing missionary work in Mormon-ville:
Pray for Personal Opportunities
We've all been guilty of saying a broken-record prayer from time to time. The "11 p.m. I forgot" prayer, the "break the fast" prayer, the "I really need to pass this quiz" prayer, you know the type. One of my favorite prayers that we often hear is, "please help the missionaries find people to teach". Now, please don't misunderstand me, there's absolutely nothing wrong with praying for the missionaries. As a current elder, I'm grateful for all the prayers in my behalf. Thank you. However, what we love to hear even more is, "please help me find people to share the gospel with". In Preach My Gospel, a missionary-work guidebook, we learn that the role of missionaries is to be full-time teachers, not full-time finders. Time and time again, the prophets and apostles have counseled the members to be brave and seek to share the gospel.
If you're thinking that you don't want to pray for such opportunities because you know the Lord will give them to you, I invite you to remember your baptismal promise to, "stand as a witness at all times" (Mosiah 18:9). In addition, never forget that Heavenly Father knows your talents and abilities and will not put you in a situation to share the gospel unless he knows you can do it. Trust that the Lord will give you tailored opportunities to share the gospel, and have the faith sufficient to pray for such opportunities.
If there's one thing we could all use, it's more blessings. With the Laie temple minutes away from campus, temple blessings are available to all of us. One of the great realizations I've had on my mission is that temple work and missionary work are one. You can't do one without also getting a zeal for the other.
Temple attendance not only gives you the opportunity to perform sacred ordinances for your family, it also enables you to have the spiritual power necessary to share the gospel. In addition, the temple grounds offer many wonderful resources, especially the Temple Visitors’ Center. If you or someone you know is interested in learning more or seeing missionary work in action, take the time to head over to the Visitors’ Center.
Use Social Media
Let's face it, you're probably not insta-famous or verified on Twitter. Between constant memes and obscure hashtags, it would be wise to send each of your friends and followers a personal thank you message for not blocking you. However, your lack of Facebook-finese should not deter you from sharing the gospel with others. In addition to being quick, sharing the gospel on social media is probably the simplest way of being a missionary and, as local missionary Elder Vete, was quick to point out, "Getting unfollowed on Facebook is a lot better than getting a door slammed in your face."
Now, what I'm suggesting does not mean 24 hour live-tweets about your scripture study and institute classes; over sharing can drive our friends away just as much as not sharing at all. Start small and be specific. Before you check your snaps, check with the man upstairs and ask him to help you to find someone today who you can share the gospel with. After you find someone to share with, identify their needs. What are their struggles? How can the gospel bless their life? If Heavenly Father were to direct message them, what would he say? As you do so, Heavenly Father will let you know exactly what you need to share with them and how to share it.
It's an exciting time to be a member. With President Nelson at the helm, the church is progressing fast into the future. One exciting announcement was the new approach to home teaching. Now called ministering, pre-planned lessons becomes inspired teaching, monthly visits becomes daily friendship, and duty becomes desire. Ministering blurs the line between church and daily life, making it easier to be a friend and then ultimately, help our friends come unto Christ.
I'm not sure where this comes from, but there is an ever-growing stigma in the church that missionary work means teaching non-members only. This form of thinking is destructive and stops us from seeing all that we can do around us. Every member of the church needs a friend who will support them in righteous living, and by lifting where we stand, we can help prevent future reactivation work as well as create lasting relationships.
Elder Lock and Elder Gallano share a pass-a-long card with a student.
In missionary work, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. We try a variety of ways to share the gospel, some successful, some not. In my nearly two years as a missionary I've tried several approaches, some of which include, caroling at Christmas time, giving away Book of Mormons and lemonade, and hosting a movie night, to name just a few. Of all the tools a missionary can have, being creative is the most important and least remembered one.
This principal is twice as important for members. The more creative you are, the more successful you will be. Don't be afraid to think outside the box when sharing the gospel. Think of the countless examples of creativity and resourcefulness found in the Book of Mormon. If Nephi hadn't been creative in building a bow or a boat, they never would have made it to the promised land. As members of the church, the Lord expects the same creativity, diligence and tenacity from us. So, get out there and find creative ways to share the gospel.
A Successful Member Missionary
Never forget that your success as a member missionary is measured by your commitment to act. As you consistently seek to find opportunities to share the gospel in any capacity, you will be blessed for your service. You will have the strength to share the gospel with your friends and family. When done correctly, missionary work is the most rewarding thing a person can accomplish. As you do missionary work, keep in mind that every invitation given, whether acted on or not, is a success in our Heavenly Father's eyes. You can rest easy knowing that you did your part and your joy can be full.