Previously, we have displayed photos of Mission Leadership Councils without much in the way of explanation, since what MLC’s are, when they started, who goes and such things were previously described.
However, this time, we thought we might show how things move along from MLC to the Zone Trainings. MLC this month was held on Tuesday, July 1st, and Zone Trainings followed on Thursday or Friday, the 4th in each individual zone.
What better way to spend the first half of a great day than in the company of fellow missionaries and learning more about how to spread the Gospel more effectively?
Okay, so let’s back up a little and review what MLC is – and how this one varies from the usual:
MLC brings together the Sister Training Leaders and Zone Leaders to receive instruction from President and Sister Hanks, from Senior Staff, including the Assistants to the President, and selected Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders.
Planning for MLC actually starts in the weeks between the last MLC and this one, and is always different. What kind of training do we actually do? Where does it come from? Is there a manual that provides the training? Who does what? Where do training ideas come from? Glad you asked!
In determining what needs to be trained, President is frequently guided by training that he and Sister Hanks receive from semi-annual Mission Presidents’ Seminars which are led over three days by a General Authority – this past one by Elder Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve. Prayerful consideration of what the Presidents received, based on the particular needs of missionaries in the Alabama Birmingham Mission, is naturally a major element.
But where else do training needs originate? President Hanks would be the first to say that EXPERIENCE is what drives the potential content followed by spiritual confirmation.
In the letters that President Hanks receives each week from your missionaries, he encourages them to write of their experiences: their successes as well as instances where things don’t work out as planned; things that are happening in their personal, everyday lives that can help, uplift, inspire other missionaries; problems of all kinds, ranging from their apartments to the kind of food they eat; most importantly, what they have learned – or felt they needed to learn better – as they teach The Restored Gospel.
(Speaking of letters, and their importance in understanding what’s actually going on in each companionship, area, district, and zone, consider that there have been between 250 and 300 missionaries in our Mission since July 2013. The math is pretty easy: over a thousand every month; over 14,000 letters this past year. For a statistically-minded, marketing professional like President Hanks, these letters provide all manner of insights into both individual missionary as well as overall trends throughout the Mission.)
With that background, this MLC was different in a few ways, not the least of which was the introduction of Elder and Sister Lewis as very welcome additions to the Mission Office staff. Originally, they were assigned to the positions that Elder and Sister Tyler vacated back in March. However, just as they were settling into the office (and learning what Alabama is like), Elder Bohne was forced to undergo emergency surgery – and his wife was naturally at his side for the next ten days of his hospitalization. Thrust into the breach, Elder and Sister Lewis presented some of the myriad details associated not only with their new assignment, but parts of what Elder and Sister Bohne usually present.
Then, the Elder and Sister Jones, as the housing coordinator and Mission Nurse respectively, weighed in with training in their areas, plus the other portions of what the Bohne’s would have presented. Anyone who has ever seen a Mission Office in operation can appreciate just how much such Senior Couples do – and how much has to be absorbed very quickly to ensure that missionaries’ daily needs are met.
Then, by assignment from President Hanks, presentations were made by Sister Training Leaders as well as Zone leaders, followed by Assistants to the President. Just in case one might think that they just sit back and build an hour of training in all their available time, it’s appropriate to clarify: in order to plan and organize their training, they not only have to develop it themselves, but they’re doing against the other myriad responsibilities that they have to accomplish each day as leaders and trainers. If one of our readers has a son or daughter in one of these positions, please understand just how vital they are to the functioning of the Mission, and just how well they do their work. How grateful we are for them. And that’s just the ones who are presenting the material.
Consider for a moment that these are young men and young women who – perhaps just a short year ago – were sitting in a high school or college class. Perhaps that class lasts for fifty minutes and they could often find it hard to stay awake. Now, they’ve gotten up early enough to a two or three hour drive before a day of training begins at nine o’clock as they come from the dispersed eleven zones around the Alabama Birmingham Mission.
They will get their first break – for lunch - at 12:30 for a half hour, and then it’s back to the Council – not just training, but training that they have to understand, internalize and then build into their own training they will be giving two or three days later within their own zones. They are being entrusted to get this important training (about everything from teaching and preaching, to health and safety, and everywhere in between), to every serving missionary – ensuring that “the water gets to every last row.” And, all the while, their input, suggestions, and observations are being sought, since this is – after all – a council.
After a full day of training and council, it’s back to the fields of labor. Each set of Sister Training Leaders and Zone Leaders heading back to their areas, already beginning to plan how they will build role plays, exercises, training and inspiration customized for their own area. And, at the same time, probably planning an exchange with Sisters or Elders that very evening or at the very least, meeting with investigators or Less Actives or Ward members/Leaders. And then, continuing that program development for delivery within the next 24-28 hours to their zones of anywhere between 15 and 25 fellow missionaries.
Just two questions come to mind from this description:
• Where else on earth could you find such levels of commitment, leadership, inspired dedication and love for the Gospel among young people their age?
• Is there any doubt that the President and Sister Hanks love these of your children so very much for what they do every day, and for who they are?