Q&A With Elder Spencer Call

Elder Russell M. Ballard. Courtesy lds.org

Remember, brothers and sisters, we’re not marketing a product. We’re not selling anything. We’re not trying to impress anyone with our numbers or our growth. We are members of the restored Church of Jesus Christ, empowered and sent forth by the Lord Himself to find, nourish, and bring safely into His Church those who are seeking to know the truth.

Elder Russell M. Ballard
“The Essential Role of Member Missionary Work”
October 2003 LDS General Conference

Hey family and friends!

So last week was a great week!…kind of felt like a drought week – lots of powerful spiritual lessons, people committing to do ‘x’ and change their lives, and working more with members as we push for a stake in March…and no one comes to church (the biggest indication of progress, to me). Well, that’s actually not true – three people did come. I need to be more grateful – in some areas people would give their chopped off fingers that they found in their bag of flour to have one person in church (see Dad’s letter so you’re not weirded out). But it’s alright – as of late I’ve felt that I need to improve in how I invite folks to repent (commitments). So there’s a focus point for me right now.

Q&A with Elder Spencer Call

There were a bunch of questions from you, family, so I’ll answer those and share a brief experience:

1. Spanish Scriptures (Andrew)

So in my call packet, it just told me to bring scriptures in my native language. Then, in the Provo MTC, they gave me the really kind – triple and Bible. I love the nice kind just for ease of finding things, but they are pricier. My companion’s have all said they prefer the nice tabbed kind. More important than knowing the language is knowing and living the doctrine, so if you buy the scriptures in Spanish now, that’s great, but if you wait until the CCM you won’t be hurt.

2. Teaching Methods

The key to teaching is to do so as the Savior would – it’s that simple! *wink wink* Most of all, you just need to know where the investigator is coming from – what is their level of education? None? Barely can read? Graduated from the best university in Honduras? What has their religious experience been before? How is their relationship with God right now? After you get to know them (see PMG Ch 10 ‘How to Begin Teaching’), keep things basic and by PMG. Many missionaries, including in my mission, add in their own analogies, ideas, and even sketchy doctrinal ideas. Don’t need to do that – stick to PMG, study it, learn it, live it, and love it. Then practice teaching simply and always testifying.

3. Following Up

As you gain experience, you come to see how well people understood the commitments you left (if they read or not, if they prayed or not, why they liked church, etc). Most often, my experience has been that those who really want to change and improve (aka repent) will want to share what they’ve learned – “Elder – you told me to pray last time, and I did, and I felt this strange thing in my chest…but I liked it!” That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t even ask about it if they’re a good investigator – ALWAYS follow up. If you don’t follow up, there’s literally no point in doing anything.

Similarly, for those who don’t keep commitments, you just need to find out why (Elder Elmer often just keeps asking, “y por qué, Hermana?” until we hit the root reason why they didn’t keep the commitment). Many times I’ve been too quick to say, “Welp, they didn’t read, so they don’t want it. Time to move on.” Well wait a minute there – I have no idea why. So let’s find out with sincere, loving, inspired questions.

4. Teaching Youth

Many missionaries (particularly here) will try to be the youth’s best friend, but even more important is that that youth has an awesome friend in the ward. You’re leaving one day, but Jose two doors down isn’t going anywhere for a long time. Many of my investigators have sought a doctrinal conversion with greater intensity and sincerity after having a positive social transition to the local unit. So teach simple, teach with love, teach by the Spirit, but let the people love and teach the person more.

5. Meals

That depends in each area, but in our mission, many families will offer to give lunch or dinner on one day every week. For example, in Puerto Cortés, every lunch and dinner was with a different member family. That’s great to become friends with the members, but even cooler is then saying, “Hey Sister Benitez, you’re the Primary President here in Puerto – will you come with us to visit this family with a bunch of kids?” Here in La Entrada, a poorer area, we have less meals, but that means fruit salad yummy yummy so I’m ok. 🙂

6. Finding News

“You don’t teach and convert families on their doorstep – you do so in their homes.”
Elder Vasquez

Go out, knock on the first door you see, and talk to them. Teach them, invite them to church, and set a lesson to come back when the entire family will be there. Here’s a typical door approach from Honduran Elder Call:


*comes to a door*

“Buenas!” (shouted with love)

*person comes to the door*

“Buenas tardes, Hermano! Somos misioneros de la Iglesia de Jesucristo, y mi nombre es Elder Call. Compartimos un breve mensaje de Jesucristo, y quisiéramos pasar y compartir algo con Ud. y su familia – está bien?

“Good afternoon, brother! We are missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ, and my name is Elder Call. We share a brief message about Jesus Christ, and we’d like to come in and share someting with you and your family. Is that alright?

*and we go in and teach*

Elder Vasquez often said to missionaries in divisions and in Zone Meetings, “You don’t teach and convert families on their doorstep – you do so in their homes.” While I have found that you can have a spiritually-stirring experience (which is important) in the street or on someone’s doorstep, a goal in teaching families is to have them all there with you, focused for just a few minutes on you and your message. As you get to know them and their needs, the Spirit will indicate exactly what needs to be shared in that first visit. Again, read Ch 10 How to Begin Teaching.

7. Beat the Heat

Drink water. Lots of it. And then drink some more. In some missions, you are allowed to wear hats and sunglasses (in ours you are). So that can help to. But your mission looks like it has a little bit of money so maybe you’ll have some houses with air conditioning.

8. Dropbox Photos

Darn virus yep my camera is fried. We’ll see what to do there. It’s alright though – Elder Elmer cut my hair (way to much) this morning so you won’t see the damage. 🙂

9. Jeison Fuentes

The poor kid has had to go out of town every weekend since his baptism, so he still hasn’t been confirmed *face palm* but he’s going to Seminary so that’s helping him get friends and learn the doctrine. We also shared with him FTSOY [For the Strength of Youth] because his mom was concerned that he wasn’t as righteous as she thought he should be (and he can keep improving always). But he wants to be a missionary, and wants to improve. We’re trying to remind him daily to read, pray, etc. But at least he’s lost his bigger problems (coffee, for example). We just need to help the YM and Branch Presy help him more 🙂

10. Spanish

Miriam, as you become fluent, you’d think about tenses. It kind of just happens. It’s hard to explain because Elder Elmer and I speak Spanglish and sometimes we don’t understand ourselves. Spanish came easily to me, but that was 100% and then some the Lord, guiding and preparing me through parents, ward members, teachers, and friends.

11. Story of the Week – Giving a Blessing with Porfirio Villanueva

We eat dinner on Sunday nights with La Familia Villanueva Maldonado – Porfirio (Dad), Zoila (Mom), and a whole bunch of kids (8). They’re quite humble; neither one of the parents can read or write, but they are a definition of truly good and without guile to me. They were baptized about 20 years ago here, and have been completely active during that time. They are quick to remember the Lord and often testify of His goodness to them as they teach and testify with us. Porfirio, who earns 300 Lempiras (less than $15) a day in construction, is the first one to open the church building on Sunday, at 7:30AM , and is often the last to leave after the meetings are over. He’s quick to listen to others and the Spirit, and loves the Lord deeply.

As we finished dinner, we asked if we could wash the dishes, which they lovingly replied, “No, Elders. Please don’t it’s an honor to have you here.” As we asked what we could do for them, Zoila asked if we’d give their daughter, Esmeralda, a blessing of health. We said we’d love to, but that Porfirio could, too. They, with some degree of bashfulness, replied they had none (it’s quite expensive). We gave them a bottle, and then I performed the anointing upon their request. Then, as we Elders laid our hands on Porfirio’s rough, leathery hands, hardened by decades of shoveling cement and moving blocks, the Spirit filled the room as he gave his daughter a Priesthood blessing of health. It wasn’t the perfect example of grammar (far from it, honestly), but his search for power in the Priesthood was well evident as he humbly invoked the powers of heaven upon her. Twas a special moment in their sweet home.

So, yes, as Andrew says, seek the spiritual gift of Faith in Christ. Be scrupulous in your search and your dealings with others, for integrity is required (Dad). And smile, despite the difficulties. I taught in Elders’ Quorum on that same lesson, and I loved testifying of how Andrew and I would begin each day of high school saying with a handshake, “It’s a Good Day!”

President Gordon B. Hinckley. (c) LDS Church.

As a missionary in England, Elder Hinckley worked hard to follow his parents’ counsel. He and his companions shook hands each morning and told each other, “Life is good.”4 Almost 70 years later, he suggested that a group of missionaries in the Philippines follow the same practice. “Yesterday was a great day in my life,” he told them. “Every day is a great day in my life. I hope every day is a great day in your lives—every one of you. I hope you can get ready to go in the morning and shake the hand of your companion and say, ‘Brother (Sister), life is good. Let’s go out and have a good day.’ And when you come in at night, I hope you can say to one another, ‘It’s been a good day. We’ve had a good time. We’ve helped somebody along the way. … We’ll follow up with them and pray and hope that they will come into the Church.’ Every day ought to be a good day in the mission field.”

From the Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Gordon B. Hinckley, Chapter 3

Love you all – have a stellar week!

Love, Elder Call

Thanks Dad for continually updating the website – what a special gift!

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