Tag Archive for: change

Divine Tutorials

It’s been an enjoyable week of 1-1 coaching interviews for Monic and I in Amsterdam, Leiden and Rotterdam.
We continue on our last round of these interviews before returning home at the end of June.
For some of the missionaries it was their first and also, sadly, their last interview with us.
I have considered these 25 – 30-minute personal coaching sessions as divine tutorials.
They’re certainly a little different from university tutorials!


Some personal definitions of these sessions would be something like this…
𝐃𝐢𝐯𝐢𝐧𝐞: Relating to and filled with inspiration and love from God.
𝐓𝐮𝐭𝐨𝐫𝐢𝐚𝐥: a one-on-one learning session, with a young missionary, where we come to know one another better, discuss problems, challenges and seek assistance through heaven’s help.
Over these last few years, there have been thousands of these 1-1 sessions.
Each different, but in some ways the same.

The Last Session

This week was no different, except we all knew this was our last session together.
We talked, we shared, we problem solved, we taught, we listened, we laughed, we cried, we prayed, we encouraged, promises were shared.
As I listened, I realised that as each missionary shared with me their personal challenges, it was as if each of them were being tried in a very personal and unique way in what I’d call, the 𝑳𝒐𝒓𝒅’𝒔 𝒇𝒐𝒓𝒈𝒆.
Why is missionary work so hard sometimes?
Why does the Lord let such difficult things happen?
Why did it work out that way?
My witness is this…
As they apply the teachings of Jesus Christ and develop His attributes in their own life’s, I know that every single one of them changes.
I know that 𝒐𝒖𝒕 𝒐𝒇 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒇𝒐𝒓𝒈𝒆, 𝒄𝒐𝒎𝒆𝒔 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒔𝒕𝒆𝒆𝒍.
Individually, they are galvanized and welded into a powerful cohesive group of friends in the Belgium Netherlands Mission of De Kerk van Jezus Christus van de Heiligen der Laatste Dagen
It is beautiful to behold, over and over and over again.
These moments will be treasured forever and ever.
Have you experienced a divine tutorial?

“Look how far we’ve come…”

After their final departing testimonies, I asked the six missionaries to line up in front of the rostrum.
“Elder Johnson, can you stand the middle of them please.”
“Now take 13 steps away from Elder Johnson, in any direction you like.”

And off they went.

“Elder Santos, you take another 4 steps, so 17 in total.”
At that point he was in the corridor and then he came back into the chapel.
“Elder Johnson, will you please represent Jesus Christ.”
Some further instruction was given to them all.


“Take 1 step towards Jesus Christ”.
“Now, take your second step…”
“Third” and so forth until all 13 steps were taken and all of the sisters had returned to stand by Jesus Christ (Elder Johnson).
Elder Santos was still a little distance away, so I asked him to take his final 4 steps towards Jesus Christ.
Tenderly, they embraced one another.
In the analogy, each step represented a 6-week transfer in the mission.
Sisters have 13, and Elders 17.
As they immersed themselves in their purpose, to invite others to come unto Christ through their 18 or 24-month mission, something miraculous happens.
One by One – they 𝒄𝒉𝒂𝒏𝒈𝒆.


Step by step, day by day, week by week, transfer by transfer, they edge closer to Jesus Christ.
“For we walk by faith, not by sight.” – 2 Corinthains 5:7
What did He see in each of them?
As they struggled, with their faults, failings, and human frailties, they too felt of His healing hands and frequent tender embraces.
Like each of them, He sees all of us as souls worth saving.
“As we are made new in Christ, our very natures change, and we no longer want to go back to our old ways.” Elder Robert D. Hales.
We literally become “in Christ… a new creature…” 2 Corinthians 5:17
On your journey through life, how does Jesus Christ give you the strength to change?
Ask the missionaries – they can help!

Mission Leadership Council

Every six weeks, the leaders of the mission gather together to counsel about the relevant matters of the day.
Our topics yesterday included:
– Study Your Language (SYL) – daily!
– Teaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ
– Drawing on the Powers of Heaven
– Being united, knit together as one
– Dealing with constant Change
– Hot Chocolate and Sifting – see Luke 22:31-32
– To the Rescue – Ministering to the one.
– Christlike attributes
– Team work
– Communication Skills
– Social Media and Content Updates…
These are very special days, never to be forgotten.
As missionaries come and go in the mission, gaining an understanding of leadership and counselling together, is such an important part of their growth and development.
Oh – and we also like to have a little bit of fun too!
The pictures capture just one of our lively learning activities of the day!

At the Front Door

10 seconds into your car journey, you get that sneaky feeling…
You recognise the whispering thought, before it was too late!
Did I forget anything?
Did I remember to close the windows at home?
Did I turn the lights off?
Is the door locked?
Is my passport in my bag?
Do I have my house key?
You turn around just to make sure, only to discover that you have everything after all!
Relief, happiness and joy fill your heart having endured a few challenges and moments of doubt.
It wasn’t too late, to make sure and be certain.
Fast forward, to that event, that all of us will face one day.

At Death’s Door

Many years into life’s journey, you get that sneaky feeling…
You recognise the whispering thought, before it was too late!
Did I forget anything?
Did I remember to open the windows of heaven?
Did I turn those spiritual lights on?
Have I unlocked my heart to the enticings of the holy ghost?
Sacred covenants – did I make, keep and honour them?
Is my temple recommend current?
You reflect back just to make sure, only to discover that keeping covenants means you have everything after all.
Relief, happiness and joy fill your heart, having endured many challenges, by staying firmly on the covenant path.
It wasn’t too late, to make sure and be certain.
Our covenants with God did not start here and will not finish here – they are eternal in nature.
Making and keeping covenants are the key to eternal life, just ask a missionary – they can help.

Confronting ourselves with ourselves

How often are you confrontational with yourself?
A couple of weeks ago, I asked some confrontational questions on the subject of pride and humility in our missionary zone conferences.
It is my experience that it’s human nature to see faults in others, and yet much more difficult to see faults in 𝒐𝒖𝒓𝒔𝒆𝒍𝒗𝒆𝒔.
Most people run away from confronting themselves because it can hurt.

Call your Mum!

A good place to start, is by calling your mom (mum!) – she loves you and knows you well enough to really help!
We need to find enough humility to be willing to confront ourselves.
It is extremely important to be willing to admit and confess your sin, weakness, and failure.
I am a witness to the fact that there comes a time in life when confronting ourselves with ourselves is obligatory – a time when one must concede or confess the error of one’s way.


Ultimately, it starts to occur, when a prideful heart, yields to humility and meekness, and is “willing to submit to all things” – see Mosiah 3:19.
Departing from former ways, one begins to understand Psalms 51:10 which reads; “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”
It is always the penitent, who know the seriousness of their sin, who approach God humbly and say, “I have nothing to offer but a broken and contrite heart.” (Psalm 51:17)
It is then and only then, that the battle with ourselves is on its way to being won.
Henry B. Eyring said; “Daily repentance is the pathway to purity, and purity brings power.”
Self-confrontation allows us to see ourselves as we really are, rather than what we want to see.
Even though it can be agonising, it allows us to grow and expand into a fuller, more settled version of ourselves.
Confronting ourselves is not about berating or criticising ourselves.

Asking Questions

It’s about asking difficult questions and committing to the process of self-reflection and self-inquiry.
“Confront the dark parts of yourself, and work to banish them with illumination and forgiveness. Your willingness to wrestle with your demons will cause your angels to sing. Use the pain as fuel, as a reminder of your strength.” – August Wilson.
It’s about holding yourself accountable.
Am I becoming the person I want to be?
Am I doing what I said I would do?
If you’re seeking to make progress in your life, learn to confront yourself.
What do I need to confront myself with today?

Groundhog Day

Every six weeks, Monic and I return to Schiphol Airport.
In the beginning of our mission, the pattern was arrivals on a Tuesday and departures on a Thursday.
Now, departures and arrivals all happen on the same day, a Friday.
We’re often there in between, for many other reasons too.
Regardless, we have a deep familiarity with Schiphol and our 42 day, six-week cycle.
Over these last 2 ½ years of consistent practice, we have learned many lessons.
Do you remember the 1993 movie Groundhog Day?
In the movie Bill Murray’s plays a cynical weatherman, who for some reason gets stuck in a repetitive time loop.
Repeating the same cycle over and over again (that was our 23rd last week) reminds me of the story line of the movie.
In the movie, through consistent practice, Bill Murray’s character Phil Connors, learns how to be remarkably resourceful by turning a challenging day into a great day.


During the course of the movie, he 𝒄𝒉𝒂𝒏𝒈𝒆𝒔.
The lesson?
The more you focus on others by serving, being grateful and appreciative, the happier you will be.
In real life, through consistent practice, each missionary learns how to be remarkably resourceful by turning many challenging days into many great days.
Each missionary 𝒄𝒉𝒂𝒏𝒈𝒆𝒔.
Likewise, their final day, is also a challenging one.
Transformed, these young men and women depart for home having become some of our dearest friends.
We all struggle to say farewell.
Departures are emotion filled, with tears of sadness and hugs aplenty.
In between their arrival and departure, we’ve experienced so much together – we’ve all 𝐜𝐡𝐚𝐧𝐠𝐞𝐝.
Moments later, the arrivals are also emotion filled, but this time the tears are filled with joy, wonder, excitement, and hugs aplenty.
The journey ahead will transform them too.
Every time is the same, but different.
What am I learning over and over again?
We create our own reality, by living to learn and learning to live.
Over and over again, we have the choice to make today, and every day, either sad or happy, dull or inspiring, meaningless or fulfilling.
What will you choose today to make it great?

Questions of the Soul

The autumn winds of seasonal change are blowing.
Leaves are whirling and twirling, falling to the ground.
It was a chilly wet morning in Rotterdam on Wednesday.
Monic and I were already in the church, snug in a comfortable room, busy with coaching conversations.
Upon finishing one conversation, I went to find the next missionary.
And there they were.


The Sister Missionaries were a little tired and cold.
Huddled together, wrapped in their jackets, they were warming themselves, comforted by the toasty radiator.
All week long, like their colleagues, they’d been boldly sharing messages about the Book of Mormon, outside on street corners, busy high streets and in parks filled with fallen autumnal leaves.
Physically, their hands and feet may have been a little cold, yet spiritually, their hearts and souls were glowing, filled with a flame of fire, burning brightly, fuelled by their faith in God and their knowledge of Him.
Thawed by the radiator and warmed by our conversation, they were ready to start all over again.
Doing what, you may ask?
Providing answers.


Daily, missionaries are asked lots of questions about life – 𝒒𝒖𝒆𝒔𝒕𝒊𝒐𝒏𝒔 𝒐𝒇 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒔𝒐𝒖𝒍.
• Is there a God? (Alma 22)
• Does God know me and care about me? (2 Nephi 26:24)
• Does God answer prayers (Enos 1)
• Why is life so hard sometimes? (1 Nephi 17:3)
• How can I find peace and joy? (Mosiah 2:41)
• What is the purpose of life? (Alma 34)
The Book of Mormon addresses all of these questions and more.
It is my witness that The Book of Mormon brings warmth and comfort in times of difficulty.
Perhaps you are whirling, twirling, tired or cold, physically or spiritually?
Are you in search of an answer?
Then speak with a missionary today and read the Book of Mormon.

Hand in Hand

As I sat listening to the testimonies of 16 departing missionaries heading home in a few weeks’ time, my thoughts returned to a memory, a clear image from my childhood.
I was 4 or 5 years old.

To the store…

My mum had asked me to go to the corner shop, to buy a loaf of bread.
I duly did so, returning with the bread, and chewing a toffee.
She asked, “What are you chewing?”
“A dainty” (a toffee), I replied.
She had given me the exact money for the bread.
At that point, I confessed, I’d stolen it and chewed it all the way home.

And back again…

Gently and lovingly, she took me by the hand, and escorted me back to the corner shop, to confess my guilt and pay for the stolen goods.
In those few minutes of real need, mum was there… to help, support, guide, lead me along, and walk with me, by my side.
That day, I learned an important lesson in life.
Rushing into my mind, came a reflective connection.
I thought about each of the 16 missionaries and the one-by-one moments I’d had with them.
As each of them stood to share their personal testimony, I had a very bright recollection; a specific thought was impressed upon my mind.
Metaphorically, I took them by the hand to help them find their way, like a parent with a child.
Gently and lovingly.


A coaching conversation, a walk around the park, kneeling in prayer together, in studies with one another, a role play, a priesthood blessing, a telephone call, talking at the dinner table, having a meal in a restaurant, or simply travelling in the car…

Moments, just like mum had helped me to face a struggle decades ago, I was now there for each of them in their time of need, trouble, or distress.
I felt gratitude.
I felt privileged.
I felt honoured.
In our times of need, we were there “hand in hand,”  side by side, for each other.
“A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” (John 13:34)
As we freely show the Saviour’s love through our actions and service to others, we too can feel the same love in return.
How can you feel the Saviour’s love?


I am a witness to the power of missionary service.
Serving in a foreign land, learning a new language and adjusting to a different culture makes a tremendous difference in the life of every young missionary.
Departing from home, they arrive in the mission with many childish characteristics and behaviours.
It’s time to grow up!
Time passes.
Change happens.
Far from home, they become adults.
“When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became an adult, I put away childish things ” (1 Cor. 13:11).
Unlike childlike, childish suggests irresponsibility, being self-centred and immature.
Each of us will not mature spiritually until we choose, as the Apostle Paul phrased it, to “put away childish things.”
Missionary service is intense, demanding and frequently filled with hardship.
Yet, filled with a new purpose, each young man or woman, learns about being credible, reliable, accountable, disciplined and builds relationships of trust with God and others.
They develop their faith in God, they acquire wisdom through experience, they understand how to serve and love others.
They work hard, recognising that obedience, consistency, and endurance are all keys to success.
As they also learn to lead others, they must first master themselves and be steadfast in their service.
They choose to become Christlike and follow in His ways.
Over and over again, I watch each of them mature into adulthood.
How have you chosen to “put away childish things”?

Conversation Buddies

At our recent zone conferences, we held a communication activity.
We created a safe space to talk out loud and recreate a companionship council.
It was fun to observe, as each missionary verbalised their thinking.
They each taught one another something they didn’t know!
I noticed too, sometimes, we don’t listen to each other at all.
We may speak at each other, or past each other, rather than with each other.
Part of the exercise was to learn how to talk with one another in honest and effective ways.
Communication is an essential part of daily life, it’s like a lubricant for all our relationships.
Entering a conversation, we join with our own opinions, feelings, and experiences.
Conversations can hold immense power, create connection, and help us to grow.
With their conversation buddies, missionaries learned how to communicate more effectively, in turn leading to the need for some change.


Change is hard.
We’re all human, and we all have our struggles, right?
Your biggest rival to change is most likely some internal obstacle that is going on in your head!
– A lack of confidence
– Laziness
– Procrastination
– Stubbornness
When we attempt to change, sometimes we may apply the wrong tactics.
Yet, daily, seemingly small decisions, can all add up to make a big difference.


As I watch each missionary arrive at the start of their mission, over time, I see them develop, and change.
As each of them humbly turns to one another, and then ultimately turn to Jesus Christ’s great example, He increase’s their capacity to change.
Exercising their faith in Jesus Christ, it is only through Him, that they are all given the strength to make lasting changes in their lives.
He literally changes their hearts, because of His great love and empathy for the people He served.
He can and will do the same for each of us, as we accept His invitation to “Come Follow Him”.
Week in, week out, I am a witness to many, who have experienced a “change of heart” (Alma 5:26) as they learn more about divine communication.
Why not seek out a new conversation buddy, and speak with a missionary today…
How can faith in Jesus Christ help you to change?