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Noble Family Baptism

Hello all: We baptized Amanda and Haley on Sunday! (see pictures attached) E. Palma baptized Haley, and E. hunter returned from frisco to baptize Amanda. What a powerful Spirit accompanies baptisms!

Also, Pres. Maynes came and spoke in our ward-- it was completely awesome! I felt like we were getting a sneak peak at our upcoming Zone Conference. One fact he shared is that two years ago, our mission was averaging a yield of
one baptism from every 55
new investigators. Now, that number is up to one from every 10. That shows how far we've come as a mission.
I also have learned a very important principle-- a very great secret (at least, in my eyes). Chapter 6 of Preach My Gospel focuses on Christlike Attributes, and we are encouraged to continually seek to self-improve; our personalities, patience levels, and desires all need constant renovation. But for a long time I've thought that simply acting like the person you want to be will make you become that person inside as well. I suppose many people think the same way. And so we bite our tongues in a moment of anger, hoping absence of ill-willed words will create an absence of ill-willed thoughts. So also do we express the loving concern we hope to eventually feel. But this approach, unaided, is terribly slow and less-effective than we often appreciate. Sarcasm, impatience, and judgment often remain in our minds and hearts, even though we have the good sense not to accept or express them. I found my own insight in the Book of Mormon. Alma 31:5 tells of Alma's missionary game plan for reclaiming the apostate Zoramites:

And now, as the preaching of the word had a great tendency to lead the people to do that which was just—yea, it had had more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything else, which had happened unto them—therefore Alma thought it was expedient that they should try the virtue of the word of God.

As I pondered on that, I remembered how Alma's missionary grandsons, Nephi and Lehi, reclaimed half of the Nephite lands simply by preaching the word (Hel. 5:50-52).

Then, when the Gandiantons "entrenched themselves in the land," those righteous Lamanites "did
use every means in their power to destroy them off the face of the earth" (Hel 6:20). Finally, when every other tactic proved unsuccessful, "they did preach the word of God among the more wicked part of them, insomuch that this band of robbers was utterly destroyed from among the Lamanites."

How powerful is the word of God! Over the past while, I haven't been using my study time most effectively. With Church, District Meetings, Zone Conferences, Transfers, Interviews, and other activities eating many of my morning study times every week, I often simply rush through a chapter or listen to a talk and call my study good. But it doesn't really sink in. And so I've been experiencing the frustration of wondering why I'm not progressing very far spiritually. Boyd K. Packer summed up my point like this:

"True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior. The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior." (Preach My Gospel, p. 19).

I know it sounds weird, but if we study-- really study our Scriptures, we will start to change and improve. We will receive revelation, and experience a mighty change of heart. As I've applied this lesson, I've found my thoughts more focused, my attitude happier, and my spirit cleaner. My desires and my heart have changed. I'm growing much better than I was. I hope I never forget that lesson from my mission-- study, study, study!

-- Elder Watkins
Colorado Denver South Mission

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