Developing Talents and Teaching by the Spirit

In previous blogs I have talked of the Missionary in Training program.  It might be of interest to some to know how this program came into being.  A journal entry from March 6, 2013 talks of the beginning of the program – along with some insights about developing talents through the power of the Holy Ghost.  On that date, I walked from my place of employment to a nearby Deseret Book store – with the plan to buy some “Future Missionary” badges for some grandchildren.

March 6, 2013

“On my way to the store, I received inspiration relative for a Christmas poem for this year – and was surprised that the inspiration came so much before the Christmas season.  I wrote down the ideas that came to me for future reference.  I guess this inspiration came because I earlier read from a Christmas “Church News”.  (I am a bit behind on my reading!)”

On that occasion, the inspiration through the Holy Ghost started to come.  And as it did, I recorded enough notes -and some verses – to be able to tap into the Spirit at a later time to receive the full message.

For 25 years I have written a new song or hymn for each Christmas season.  And over the years, I have learned to request – AND RECEIVE – these by the power of the Holy Ghost.  I have asked for specific help and have been grateful when the help and inspiration has come.  (And I have long hoped and prayed that the Lord would send to me the man who could write the music for all of these.  That is still future tense, however!)

That March morning was kind of “spirit overload” (an interesting challenge) and I couldn’t write all in a few minutes.  But, shortly thereafter, I used my notes, the verses that I had written or had been given to me – and prayed for specific guidance of the Holy Ghost for the poem that I wanted to write – and for the inspiration already given me of the Holy Ghost.  And the words soon flowed.  (And after they did, I gratefully acknowledged the power of the Holy Ghost and thanked Him for the words given to me – acknowledging the true source of that which came – knowing that it wasn’t Kevin Hunt material.  Though I had a part in the process.)

I love the Parable of the Talents!  I am sure that you recall this.  Most folks, when they hear this story, think that it is about putting money in the bank and getting interest – though financial success can be a part of it.  In the day of Christ, “Talents” were/was actually money.  But I love to think of it literally about talents – like writing, song composing, playing a musical instrument, singing, art, taking tests, sports, etc.  The same process applies to teaching a lesson or making a presentation.

The Lord gives each of us talents or gifts (like Gifts of the Spirit).  And he gives us opportunity to learn and to develop these talents for the building up of his kingdom and to share with others.  That is the key!

Some of our talents are given to us because of circumstance or need – and we get them and hardly recognize them as talents of the Lord.  When I was a sixteen, my current Bishop came to me and asked if I would work for him in his flower shop.  I did so.  When i started there, I knew nothing about floral design.  But, I took advantages of opportunities to learn to create.  And over time, and with a lot of practice, I became a skilled creator and designer of flowers – for wedding bouquets, funeral arrangements, corsages and flowers for all occasion.  I have enjoyed this talent through the years.

Another scenario.   When I was a Scout, our Scoutmaster – Mr. Nelson – taught all of us Scouts how to cook in Dutch ovens.   I continued to develop this talent on my own.  Then, over time, and through a lot of practice, I became a rather skilled Dutch oven chef.  And I have very much enjoyed sharing this with family and friends.

Genealogy and family history research is another example.  When I was twelve, I had opportunity to take a genealogy course that lasted just a couple of months.  But, I caught the spirit and with time and a lot of practice, I can now skillfully accomplish research for my and for others.  This has been a great blessing to many people.

I could go on and on … the Lord has been good to me.

Other talents I have asked for and have worked to develop them after being given the talents.

In the Parable of the Talents, it says, “And unto one he gave five talents, to another two and to another one  EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS SEVERAL ABILITY.”  Then he that RECEIVED the five talents went and made them other five talents.  And son on with the one who HAD RECEIVED two talents.   And then there is the case of the guy who had one talent given to him (without him doing anything for it) his his away.   Even though given of the Lord, he did nothing with it.  He did not share it with others.

Then at his coming, the Lord gave the man with five double – and so with the one with two.  But the one that was given one and did nothing with it, his was taken away and given – as a bonus – to the man who had five.  The five and two had learned how to magnify their talents and used them to serve others – rather than keeping them to themselves.

Over time, and through practice, I have come to realize that all talents are given to us through the Holy Ghost.  Not too many people have come to this realization.  Once I came to realize this, some glorious things happened in my life.  The Lord wants us to  have and use many talents.  And as we learn and receive talents by the Holy Ghost and serve others with them, He will magnify them and give us more and more.  It is a pretty exciting concept.

he process is pretty simple:  Pray for help.  But, don’t pray in generalities.  Get real specific.  Say, “Heavenly Father, I am anxious to write a poem about …..  I pray specifically for the Holy Ghost to inspire my thoughts on this subject and give me guidance and direction.”  Then go to work to learn the skill, learn the lesson, study, perfect, etc.  Then after your own extensive preparation, talk again with the Lord.  Thank him and the Holy Ghost for his guidance and help on this ……. poem (ow whatever).  Pray for added help as you perform or do or write – or speak – or whatever it is.   Then do the act … teach the lesson, perform the talent.  And be in tune to the Spirit.  Act upon what you studied and the inspiration gained.  And at the end, pray again in Thanksgiving for the guidance and direction received.  Recognize the Holy Ghost as the source of the talent, ability or knowledge.

We are always told that we are to teach “by the Spirit”.  But no one tells us THE HOW of such a task.  it is always in generalities.  When I was on my mission, it was the same.  We were always told to “teach by the Spirit”.  We were told that time and time again.  It was years later – through time and a lot of practice that the HOW came to me.  And when it hit me, it was glorious indeed.  Fabulous!   Words do not describe the feelings, the results and the exhilaration of having the Spirit with me.  The results were phenomenal!  My capabilities were magnified.  And I was working on the errand of the Lord – not on Kevin Hunt steam.

Of course to have the Spirit – and to develop talents and teach by the Spirit, one has to do the basics:  Keep the commandments, read the scriptures, say regular prayers. And if doing these things, then the Spirit is able to dwell with you.  Then with the Spirit, you can take His help and guidance to the next level by asking for specific help.  It is all kind of exciting!

So, what does this have to do with missionary work and mission preparation?  I believe that it is incumbent upon all of us to develop and use our talents so that we can be prepared to serve as the Lord needs us.  And as we learn to teach by the Spirit, we become servants of the Lord and can become effective teachers.  And in so doing, we can realize that we are on the Lord’s errand and that it is actually the Holy Ghost who is doing the teaching.  A beautiful and wonderful concept for missionary success.

By Kevin V. Hunt

Ideas for Older LDS Scout Advancement

By Kevin V. Hunt

Scouting Blogger and author

A couple of weeks ago I blogged  LDS Varsity and Venturing Changes Underscore need for Missionary Training on this site – an article about coming changes in LDS Scout units for older boys.  I commented about the need for even better missionary training at home following these changes.

A couple of readers commented and asked questions, so now I’d like to share some thoughts on Advancement and how that could happen with the changes.  (This article also appeared as a blog Making Older Scout Advancement and Leadership Opportunities Happen on thescoutingtrail.org.)

In the previous article, I talked extensively about the program planning function and how this will ever be key in creating an effective program for our older youth.  I would like to change gears a bit now to talk about how we might all work together to assist boys ages 14-17 still “be Scouts” and how we might help them become Eagle Scouts.   And I apologize that this blog is a bit longer than it maybe should be.  I will soon head to Scout camp for the summer so my blogging time is a bit limited as I anticipate a summer with little or no internet capabilities.  So, bear with me …  (Read it in installments if needed!)

Admittedly, the new look of older Scout programs will be a rather major challenge for us to face.   But, with our united efforts, it will still be possible.

The Original First Presidency Letter stated: “… Young men over the age of 14 who desire to continue to work toward the rank of Eagle Scout … should be encouraged and supported in their efforts and should be properly registered as Scouts.  Adult leaders who are assisting with merit badges or rank advancement with older boys should also be registered and completed required training.”

Following the announced changes, a Questions and Answers section was added on LDS.org about the upcoming changes.  One question says,

”What if my son is 14 or older and still wants to earn his Eagle Scout? According to LDS Public Affairs, any Latter-day Saint young man over the age of 14 who “desire(s) to continue toward the rank of Eagle will be registered, supported and encouraged.” These young men will need to be registered with the BSA in order to work toward the recognition.”

In the aftermath of the LDS decision about Varsity and Venturing, the Deseret News published statistics that were rather interesting.  These statistical charts showed that the average age of youth achieving the Eagle rank nationally in the BSA is 17.3 years.

The Utah National Parks Council (located in a nearly all LDS Utah council) wrote on this subject and gave other interesting statistics:  “We look forward to providing Scout programs to all interested youth, including those age 14 and older who want to continue participating or are on the trail to Eagle. Of those who earn the Eagle Scout award in our council, 93% complete the requirements at age 14 or older and 67% attain the Eagle rank after age 16.”

Pretty daunting news.  And with the coming changes, this means that we will all have to work harder to make it happen – and probably earlier.  So, what are we to do?  What is to be done?  How can the boys remain as Scouts and how can they achieve their advancement – and particularly the leadership requirements.  All good questions!

Well, I have had a few thoughts on the subject – and which I would like to share with you now.

First …  at the time of the annual BSA rechartering with the Church, the person in charge of completing the charter process should take extra care to contact each and every one of the boys turning 14 after January 1st (and their parents).  (This will be an ongoing question critical in the first year – but to be answered each successive year.)  Each boy should be willing to make a commitment right then about whether or not they want to be Eagle scouts.  And this will be kind of a major decision for them.  Do they want to follow the family and church tradition?  Or are they going to say that they are done and satisfied where they are?  All boys wishing to continue their Scouting connection (and adults who work with them) will still need to recharter with the troop.  That will mean new applications for all older boys.

It is very important that the registration remain current without any break.  If there is a lapse, they may not be able to ensure that they have tenure and leadership for the necessary time.  Boys can’t wait until they are seventeen plus and then suddenly reregister to become a “death-bed eagle” before they turn 18.  One of the saddest days of my life was having to tell a Scout in such a situation that it just was not possible for him to complete his Eagle award requirements before he turned 18.  He was a sad young man.

Another key for the leadership requirement – and tenure – is to remember that the time for these can start as soon as the Scout has earned his Star or Life awards.  Remember too, that a Scout needs to have six months between Star and Life and again from Life to Eagle.  But say a young man gets Life three or four months before his 14th birthday.  That three or four months can count toward the next rank IF the Scout is both registered and in a troop leadership position.  So, it is rather critical to make sure that every young man is in a troop leadership position.   Good record keeping is paramount.

Another key will be working with the council to make sure that all of the current advancement records – from whatever unit – are all transferred to those registered in the troop – after the rechartering decisions.

For many years I have been the advancement chairman for all three units – Scouting, Varsity and Venturing – in my own ward.   And I believe that we have a pretty strong Scouting program and support in our ward.  We have a fabulous 11-year Old Scout leader in Jonathan Nichols.  That guy is a saint!  He has worked overboard to ensure that each boy (who wants to) graduates from his program as a First Class Scout.  And the Scout troop leaders have also been great.  Most of the boys graduate from Deacon/Scouts as Star or Life Scouts.  And then they all struggle to get the other requirements completed.  A few boys get it done about age 15 – which is excellent.  And still, like the National BSA statistics, the majority still get ‘er done when older still.  And this is always a challenge … since by that time, the “fumes” have all kicked in (that’s car fumes and perfumes) and this makes for a major impact on the boys and their advancement.

As I conduct Scout board of reviews for our Scouts, I always ask them two or three questions at the end of each review.  One is “If we pin this badge on you at the court of honor … will you feel that you have EARNED the badge?”  (And discussion follows.)  And the other question (usually just before the “have you earned” question) is “Do YOU WANT to be an Eagle Scout?”  And then there is a follow-up question to that.  It is, “Whose job is it to make you an Eagle Scout?”

This questions kind of shocks some of the newer kids.  We then talk about how parents, leaders, and others can assist them, but in reality, it is their own personal decision to become an Eagle Scout – and it is their own personal duty to take charge and make this happen.

So, in light of the coming changes, it still boils down to this.  Does Johnny, himself, REALLY want to be an Eagle Scout?  And in spite of changes, is he willing to do anything that may be required (even acting independently) to make it happen?  (And we can’t rely simply on over-zealous mothers to make Johnny an Eagle Scout!)

After that decision time, older Scouts can push themselves forward to make it happen.  But, we have seen that often this doesn’t happen on their own.  It will take help from all of us to achieve the goal.

Next then, is that it will probably take a strong advancement person or someone else to help the youth stay on track.  The advancement chair can (as always) continue to encourage and talk with the boys individually in the hall etc. to help motivate and inspire.  Being ready with the updated advancement records of merit badges and rank dates can be very helpful.

That brings us to the subject of how to stay in the troop and how to achieve leadership requirements.

I guess this is a time to share my own personal experience.  I earned my own Eagle Scout award just before I turned age 14 (and so did my four Eagle brothers – and I admit that I didn’t have to be prodded by Mom and others to do it).  As per the church system, I moved up into the next upper level – Venturing Exploring (that was before Varsity Scouting).  In that program we had grandiose plans.  We planned to go to Hawaii.  But, after all of that planning – and a steady diet of basketball – we ultimately didn’t even make it to the giant Arizona metropolis of Sunflower, Arizona.

I lasted only about six months in that do-nothing program.  I then made the choice to go back to the Scout troop and remained there until I went on my mission.  Now, I know that I was a bit unique, but it was a glorious time for me.  I conducted merit badge classes for my younger troop brothers.  I kept the troop records.   I became the troop’s Junior Assistant Scoutmaster – a fabulous title and truly wonderful job for an older Scout.  I served more like an adult in the troop.  I did not report through the SPL but he reported through me to the Scoutmaster.  I have already blogged recently about how I became the catalyst to take our entire troop from Arizona up to the National BSA Jamboree in Farragut, Idaho.  I became the Webelos Leader – and then 11-year old Scout (Blazer) leader when legally too young to do so.  And it was all a grand experience for me – and my fellow Scouts.  I loved the leadership opportunities.

In our upcoming situation, I believe strongly that the Troop Guide position is perfect for some of our LDS older Scouts.  This BSA position counts for Eagle advancement and is actually quite flexible in its job description.  And you can have every boy – if needed – be a Troop Guide.  It is flexible enough that you can use the position – and the boy – to help meet the needs of the older Scout himself – as well as other Scouts in the troop while getting in his own leadership requirement time).

Now you have probably not even heard of this Troop Guide position because it really has not existed in the LDS church – because all of our boys have moved up to Varsity and Venturing at the specific ordination ages – and thus have by-passed the Troop Guide opportunity.

The Troop Guide is a fabulous position but no one knows about it.  The way it works, an older Scout is registered with the troop.  And he is assigned a patrol – either a new-Scout patrol or even an older-boy patrol – or he serves at large in the troop to multiple patrols.  He is an instructor.  He is preassigned specific troop or patrol meetings to teach Scout Skills – or even merit badges.  He does not have to attend every troop meeting but would be there at least once a month – but perhaps more.  (If this is to occur, the troop meetings may need to be on a night other than the Teacher/Priest meetings so that he can go to both – or he would have to miss his Teacher/Priest meetings when assigned as an instructor in the troop.

The Troop Guide can be found with various job descriptions on-line as I found after spending an evening researching it in preparation for this blog.  Again, I believe that it is a flexible position that you can mold any way that you wish.   Here is a description that was written for a Scout with other older Scouts in an older boy patrol.  (And again, every one of the older boys can be Troop Guides and be given specific tasks or roles.)

  • Create activities that are fun and interesting to the older boy patrols.
  • Work with ASM for the Older Boy Program in selecting merit badges to work on at weekend campouts.
  • Attend Patrol Leaders Council (PLC) meetings.
  • Prevent harassment of new Scouts by older Scouts.
  • Refresh older boy patrols in the basic Scout skills.
  • Regularly attends troop meetings, troop campouts, and troop events during his service period.
  • Set a good example.
  • Enthusiastically wear the Scout Uniform correctly.
  • Live by the Scout Oath and Law.
  • Show Scout spirit.

The Troop Guide description for an older boy assigned to a New Scout Patrol is very similar:

  • Help all first year Scouts earn advancement requirements through First Class (serving in a role similar to a Cub Scout Den Chief – but assigned to the 11-Year Old or New Scout Parol
  • Help older boys who have not completed First Class – assigned to help specific Scouts needing his individual help (probably on a hike or a meeting separate from the troop.  (Two older Scouts – Troop Guides – could also be assigned together to one or multiple Scouts interested in advancing)
  • Advise patrol leader on his duties and responsibilities at Patrol Leaders’ Council (PLC) meetings.
  • Attend Patrol Leaders Council (PLC) meetings with the New Scout Patrol Leader.
  • Prevent harassment of new Scouts by older Scouts.
  • Help Assistant Scoutmaster train new Scouts by older Scouts.
  • Guide new Scouts through early troop experiences to help them become comfortable in the troop and the outdoors.
  • Teach basic Scout skills.
  • Regularly attends troop meetings, troop campouts, and troop events during his service period.
  • Set a good example.
  • Enthusiastically wear the Scout Uniform correctly.
  • Live by the Scout Oath and Law.
  • Show Scout spirit.

So, in summary, the Guide would be a leader kind of between the Patrol Leader and the adult leaders.  He could work specifically with the new Scout patrol – and in this role (kind of like a Den Chief – but to older Scouts) he would teach and train Scouts in specific Scout skills.  He could do this with a group or with a couple of boys on their own.  He could be perfect to work with two or three boys who are behind and need some individual attention.  He could be preassigned to teach specific skills at troop meetings or campouts. If on a camp-out, he should not be there to goof off but again to teach specific skills, be the example, wear the uniform, etc.

If you have a group of these older Scouts, they could be their own patrol in troop meetings and on outings.  Of if you have only a couple of them, let them cook and hang out with the adults.  Plan ahead and give them specific leadership tasks.  With advance notice, they can plan ahead and be prepared to be a true teacher and guide.  The Troop Guide is flexible enough for the troop to kind of custom design a role for each young man – with definite things that they should accomplish in their service – new Scout patrol, scout skills training at troop meetings and/or campouts, or by individual assignment to specific Scouts.

Older Scouts can also attend Scout Camp (again not as a goof off – but as a troop leader).  And older Scouts can also be encouraged to attend NYLT and other youth leadership training opportunities through the council and the troop.

Another idea that I have been toying with is to be a catalyst – to start my own “Super High Flyin’ Eagle Battalion troop.  In such a troop, I could invite any and all older boy Scouts (from all around our town) who very seriously have decided they want to become Eagle Scouts.   I am still thinking of this option since it could be real fun with a team of die-hard dads who loved Scouting and want to give their sons the opportunity to also achieve the Eagle Scout Award.  I haven’t committed to this yet, but it is making me think and dream a bit.

I hope that these ideas may be helpful to you.  I would welcome comments about your own thoughts and how to make a success of the coming opportunities.  Let’s all take a personal interest in the older Scouts and give them opportunities to be true leaders – using the skills and training they have already received as Scouts.  Help each young man customize a plan for his leadership requirements and the growth of him and his fellow Scouts.  It could be exciting!

Best wishes along your Scouting Trails …  Kevinthescoutblogger

 

 

 

Journal Writing can be a Blessing now and Forever

Journal keeping is a sill that all prospective missionaries could or should develop in preparation for a mission.  And a journal as a missionary is a special blessing – both now and forever after.  Journals can bless ourselves and all of our family members – and maybe others too.

I began keeping a journal on May 20, 1973 – when I was age 18.  On that Sunday morning, I was in a young adult Sunday school class taught by a former Bishop, J. Darwin Gunnell.  On that occasion, he taught us from the words of the current prophet – President Spencer W. Kimball.

The Lord Jesus Christ himself emphasized the great importance of record keeping to the Nephites and Lamanites.  “And Jesus said unto them: How be it that ye have not written this thing.”

“I am glad that it was not I who was reprimanded, even though mildly and kindly, for not having fulfilled the obligation to keep my records up to date.

“Early in the American life of the family of Lehi, his son, Nephi, said:

“Having had a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God, therefore I make a record of my proceedings in my days. …

“And I know that the record which I make is true; and I make it with mine own hand; and I make it according to my knowledge.” (1 Ne. 1:1, 3.)

“This great record included not only the movements of his people but events from his own personal life.

“Accordingly, we urge our young people to begin today to write and keep records of all the important things in their own lives and also the lives of their antecedents in the event that their parents should fail to record all the important incidents in their own lives. Your own private journal should record the way you face up to challenges that beset you. Do not suppose life changes so much that your experiences will not be interesting to your posterity. Experiences of work, relations with people, and an awareness of the rightness and wrongness of actions will always be relevant.”

“No one is commonplace, and I doubt if you can ever read a biography from which you cannot learn something from the difficulties overcome and the struggles made to succeed. These are the measuring rods for the progress of humanity.

“As we read the stories of great men, we discover that they did not become famous overnight nor were they born professionals or skilled craftsmen. The story of how they became what they are may be helpful to us all.

“Your own journal, like most others, will tell of problems as old as the world and how you dealt with them.

“Your journal should contain your true self rather than a picture of you when you are “made up” for a public performance. There is a temptation to paint one’s virtues in rich color and whitewash the vices, but there is also the opposite pitfall of accentuating the negative. The truth should be told, but we should not emphasize the negative.  The good biographer will not depend on passion but on good sense. He will weed out the irrelevant and seek the strong, novel, and interesting.

“Your journal is your autobiography, so it should be kept carefully. You are unique, and there may be incidents in your experience that are more noble and praiseworthy in their way than those recorded in any other life. There may be a flash of illumination here and a story of faithfulness there; you should truthfully record your real self and not what other people may see in you.

“Your story should be written now while it is fresh and while the true details are available.

“A journal is the literature of superiority. Each individual can become superior in his own humble life.

“What could you do better for your children and your children’s children than to record the story of your life, your triumphs over adversity, your recovery after a fall, your progress when all seemed black, your rejoicing when you had finally achieved?

“Some of what you write may be humdrum dates and places, but there will also be rich passages that will be quoted by your posterity.”

And then here was the clincher … the challenge from a prophet (and just as good today as it was back then):

“Get a notebook, my young folks, a journal that will last through all time, and maybe the angels may quote from it for eternity. Begin today and write in it your goings and comings, your deepest thoughts, your achievements and your failures, your associations and your triumphs, your impressions and your testimonies. Remember, the Savior chastised those who failed to record important events.

So, my friends, I took the challenge from my former Bishop and from the Prophet.  I went home that day and found a little notebook and began writing.  Later I began purchasing nicer journal volumes.  And the truth is that from that day forward – from May 20, 1973, I have literally made a DAILY entry in my journal for EVERY day since that time.  That now equates to over 150 volumes and 30,000 plus pages on my life and those I love or whom I come in contact with.

My first 100 volumes were hand written and I loved handwriting in the journals.  It was fabulous.  Then I started doing weekly packages on the computer.  (And when I get another 200 pages, I print these and put them into a bound volume.)  Now I admit that I have not made the final journal entry for every day of my life.  I now write daily notes at the end of the day – on my characteristic 3×5” index cards.  And then when I get time, I type these up into the full entries (and the notes give me the detail to do so).  This system has worked real well for me.  (When I had missionaries out, I typed the full week’s entry package in time to e-mail to them on their P-Day.)

These journals have been a great blessing to me and to our family.  We are very frequently found researching past volumes and it is amazing and wonderful to read these entries.  There has been much that is mundane that has been recorded but in the process of daily entries, there is much that is fabulous.  The journals show my progress made in life, how the Lord has guided my life and the great blessings given us of the Lord.  And this has been magnificent!

A suggestion for any missionary: …  Keep a detailed journal of your experiences.    Then on your weekly P-day, use your camera or a scanner and take pictures of each journal page.  You can actually do this the night before the P-Day.  You can then send this home as your weekly letter.   (And this will save you time at the computer on your actual P-Day.)  Several of my children did this while on their missions and it worked wonderfully.  (And as Dad, I typed up the entries and sent them out in e-mail messages to a large list of their friends – both family, members and friends (including as many non-members as possible.)  I highly recommend this system to you.

Some suggestions for your journal writing:

  • Decide TODAY to write and to do it each day
  • Develop a set time each day to write and do this religiously – this could be at lunch time, study time, just before dinner, at the end of the day, etc. The key is to be VERY CONSISTENT!
  • Write even when you feel too tired to do so
  • Carry the journal with you everywhere and write whenever you have a few spare minutes (especially as you’re waiting for something or someone)
  • Don’t read past entries until six months or a year has passed … then the trauma will be over and you can see it all in perspective and can recognize the growth, progress, and blessings that have come in that time
  • Keep consistent in the type of books or files that you keep – so that you can keep them together and can research them easily
  • Develop a plan for archiving the records – and giving copies to key people or organizations (children, BYU, Church History Library or whatever)

Well, there you have it!  There is your challenge!  I hope you will take up the journaling challenge (at whatever your age) and that you will find great joy and happiness through the years as you and your posterity reap the blessings of such an effort.

Kevin Hunt

 

LDS Varsity and Venturing Changes Underscore need for Missionary Training

Today the LDS Church made a historic announcement about its plans to drop the Varsity and Venturing programs previously held in partnership with the Boy Scouts of America.

You can read about these changes on my recent blog as published on thescoutingtrail.com (Trapper Trails BSA Council in Ogden, Utah) at this link:  Varsity and Venturing Changes in the Church.  The article also contains some helpful information about program planning – still the heart of programs for church youth – under whatever name or program.  These are still correct and true principles!

The LDS/BSA changes for older boys again underscores the need for home and family missionary training.  This website is dedicated to the principle of home missionary training and specifically the Missionary in Training program.  This program can help parents and families fill in gaps and take more control and management of the training of their/your own missionaries.

I encourage you to take another look at it – and contact with questions about the program opportunities.

 

Kevin Hunt

kvhunt54@gmail.com

 

Vision of the Missionary in Training Program

 

THE VISION OF THE MISSIONARY IN TRAINING PROGRAM

 By Kevin Hunt

 It is interesting how the Missionary in Training Program began.  It started in October of 2012 when President Thomas S. Monson announced in the General Church conference that the missionary service age would be lowered to age 18 for young men and to age 19 for young women.  As this announcement was made, it was obvious to all that parents now would need to take a much more pro-active role in the training of their young children to be future missionaries.  Having sent out many children as missionaries, and having served many years in various missionary roles, this subject often presented itself in my mind.   But, no action was taken at that time.

On March 6, 2013, the subject took on a front-burner role with experiences that I had that day.   On that date, I recorded in my journal some things that happened just a few months after President Monson announced the new missionary age.  The entry reads:

MARCH 6TH – WEDNESDAY

“My morning as a school bus driver [in Mesa, Arizona] was rather routine.  I went walking on Date Street, read my Book of Mormon and enjoyed having no kids to drive for one school.  I had a late start for the junior high school so was a half hour later than normal getting back to the bus barn.  I clocked out for a big 45 minutes.

“I decided to walk over to the Deseret Book store – located just over a half mile away.  I had wanted to buy some “future missionary” badges for the children of our daughter, Kaylea and husband, J.D. – since they just bought mission-looking suits for their five boys.

[As I walked into the store to make the purchase, I had no idea of how this little visit to Deseret Book would impact my life in the future.  That impact was not evident but came to light later through subsequent events.]

“As I looked for the badges, I could not see them immediately.  But on another shelf, I saw some badges which said, “Missionary in Training”.  As I read the badges, my mind was instantly inspired to send a “call to serve letter” to the kids along with the badges.  And right behind that thought came a literal flood of inspiration for a much bigger program entitled: “Missionary in Training”.   My mind was enlightened and I became very excited with the thoughts that came.  And for the rest of the afternoon I was flooded with more inspiration.  This proved to be a really cool experience with the Spirit.  Wow!  [So, I began writing, writing as fast as I could and didn’t stop writing for six months.  The information literally flew through my pen to the paper.]

“And as this program and details of it came to me, I realized that it was much bigger than I am.  I realized that God was going to give me something special and that I had a work to do for Him and was grateful that I was found worthy of it.”  [Leaving the journal …]

That moment in Deseret Book was super powerful.  It was as if my head was opened and the whole program poured down into me.  I literally saw a vision of the whole program – with a lot of detail – in just that second.  And then for months I wrote and wrote and wrote.

So, with that revelation of the Spirit, the program (in spite of me – but and only through the Holy Ghost) is very exciting and wonderful.  And I am sure that it needs to be used by families everywhere.  But, like most things that I create – even though they come of the Spirit, I have had difficulty in figuring out what I am to do with it.

I printed seven copies of the book package and had a meeting with seven different families – whom I hand picked (including three of my own children) and none of them ever did anything with the program.  (Though just this week I received a message from a daughter in Ohio – who was before in Germany – saying that they are going to start it with their family.  I believe firmly that it is an inspired program and that it will work miracles for anyone who does it – and am still seeking that special family who will take it and run with it – and then write (or allow me to) their experiences on my Missionary In Training website.

Families can Plan Activities to Promote Family Faith

 

By Kevin V. Hunt

On this site, I have published material from the Missionary in Training program which I have written.  And there will be more to come.

In our mission preparation of our youth, we – as parents – need to make a conscientious effort to specifically plan and incorporate mission training and faith promoting experiences into our family life.  In doing this, not all mission preparation needs to be scripture reading and church stuff – though that is all important.

One of the great things that Lou and I did for our nine children as they were growing up was to participate in Church pageants.  For many years we were in the cast of the “Jesus the Christ” Easter Pageant at the Mesa Arizona Temple.  This had a major and very wonderful long-term effect of testimony building for the children.  Through our participation, each one has developed a very strong testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ – as our Savior and Redeemer, His life and mission.  This has had a profound effect on each of them individually and together as a family.

Two different times we made the effort and sacrifice to travel to Nauvoo, Illinois to participate in the pageant there.  And of course, the focus of this pageant is Joseph Smith and the Restoration of the Gospel.  I could write a lot about our Nauvoo trip – and maybe will – but here is an article about the beginning of our Nauvoo experience and our train trip to get there.
Nauvoo …  Our Adventure begins with a train ride.

A general interest story …  Years ago, our family had a glorious adventure together.  We were able to travel via train to participate as cast members in the pageant held annually in historic Nauvoo, Illinois.  Volumes could be written of that experience, but I’ll begin with a rendition of our train trip back there.

First off, I note that my wife and I have nine children.  So, taking nine children on a train and doing the Pageant was truly an interesting adventure – to say the least.

Prior to the pageant – for almost a year, we worked to build, create, and collect articles for our costumes.  Unlike the Easter Pageant, we had to come up with our own – take photos and submit them for clearance and authorization.  We looked everywhere to collect the many costumes – and especially the accessory items – the hats, the glove, the scarves, the ties, the socks, etc.  This was a major effort. But finally, the big day of departure came.

Going on the train meant that we had to get on it at Flagstaff to go east.  Our journey started as our neighbor drove our big van with all of us to Phoenix.  We thought that we were to go to the Greyhound station in West Phoenix to catch a bus to Flagstaff.  We got there and found a sign that said that the station had recently closed and that we were to meet a shuttle bus (run by the Indians) from the airport.  So, we were now a bit pressed for time but we rushed over there just in time.

At this point I should say that we had 25 pieces of luggage for our crowd.  This included all of our costumes, sleeping bags and bedding for all of us for the three weeks, regular clothes, food chests for two days of travel on the train – for our crowd, etc.  So, Brother Hale helped us get all of that loaded onto the bus and we were soon off on the charter connection.

Upon arrival in Flagstaff, the Indian bus line took us to a bus station – which was across the street from the train station.  He was kind enough to take us also to the train station.  We secured use of a giant old wagon on which we put all of our stuff.  The train folks assured us that we could leave the whole trailer in an open bin of the station – until our departure the next morning.

Another guy in our ward had a cousin in Flagstaff who owned a motel.  When Scott told his cousin of our service trip, he offered to give us two rooms in his motel for free for the night.  (Another great “tender mercy” of the Lord).  The hotel “The Pony Soldier” was located down the road about two miles.  (And our kids ranged in age from 1 1/2 to 17).  We had arranged for two taxis to come for us.  We learned that 5 was the maximum number of people to be in a taxi so that is why we had two.  And learning that there were 11 of us, they almost made us take a third.  But, they decided that the baby could sit on mom’s lap.

So, we had a grand time there in the hotel that night.  This was a first for us and the kids loved it.

Next morning early, the two taxi cabs returned to take us to the train station.  We were told that Flagstaff “law” would only allow any train to stop for a total of six minutes (so as not to hold up traffic – or whatever).   And if this was not met, the train conductor would be arrested and a new conductor would have to be sent to Flagstaff from New Mexico.  (True statement!)  We were told that the off-coming folks would have three minutes to disembark and us on-coming passengers (more than just our crowd) would have three minutes to get on the train with all of our stuff.  We were told that we could just go in as fast as possible, drop our stuff and then go upstairs – and then in a little while, we could return downstairs to the luggage area to organize and store our stuff properly.

We lined up all of our 25 items on the sidewalk and put with each person one – or multiple items – the kids whom we thought could best handle that part of the stuff.  One of the children was to take the baby and others were to have one or more items to be in charge of.  The children were all very psyched up and ready for the challenge.  When the train stopped our adrenilain (however you spell that) was high.  The folks coming off just kind of took their time and the second that they were off, we blew the whistle (not really) and the signal was “Run!”  And it was real crazy.  (There were multiple cars so groups could pick whichever one they thought best – so there were a lot of people lined up on the sidewalk by different cars.)

We somehow managed to get all of the stuff and us into the train – and then it was off full steam ahead.  We went upstairs and found the seats to be giant recliners – like the ultimate in movie theaters or the first class section of a big airplane.  Wow!  We found seats all in the same area – another miracle.  And after a little while, we were able to go down to get our stuff put together.

The ride was absolutely fabulous.  The kids had a grand time going to the dining car (which we could not afford) or to the “recreation room” at the other end of the train.  Our nine-year old son was then into balloon tying (and was excellent at it) and he went up and down the train making balloon creations for young and old).

The train went 72 MPH in the daytime and 90 at night.  And we had to spend a night on the train.  We wished that we had known that the A/C would be blasting full blast or we would have planned and packed better so as to have blankets with us for the ride.  We drove through New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas City and then got off at Fort Madison, Iowa – located up-river about 15 miles from Nauvoo.

It was then that we really wished that we had our big family van.  We had to rent a car and could not afford to rent a big van.  So, we rented a little car.  And somehow we got all eleven of us in the car.  (We left our collection of stuff at the train station – with the promise that we would be back for it soon.  And we then didn’t even know how we would get back for the stuff.  But, we were like Nephi and “went forth with faith”.  We drove in our squished condition to Keokuk, Iowa (because from my Nauvoo mission experience), I wanted to enter Nauvoo from the South.  We went to a fast food joint to eat.  Some folks there – maybe store employees – were shocked as our large crowd came pouring out of the car and into the store.  We were afraid that they were going to report us to authorities or something for child abuse or whatever.  So, we quickly got our food and headed out – across the river and up-river to Nauvoo the beautiful.

We drove to the campground where we were to stay.  This campground – owned then by the RLDS church and rented to our church – had places for RV’s, tents, etc.  We had saved up enough money to rent a single cabin – with bunk beds – for our crowd.  The place also had a dining hall.  It was much like a Scout camp or similar.

We checked in and got our assigned cabin.  We then walked around looking for someone who might have a truck and who could help us.  We knew absolutely no one.  But, we found a couple of trucks and talked to the folks.  It was instant connection – just as it was with everyone in the pageant – and the guys – new friends and brothers – were more than willing to assist us.  (Yet another major tender mercy of the Lord.)

So, I left my wife and most of the kids at the campground and I headed off with my new friends back to Ft. Madison.  We loaded all of the stuff into their vehicles and returned back to Nauvoo.

We got all of the stuff to the cabin and began to take inventory.  To our shock and horror, our main large trunk – that had most of our accessory items (which we had so painstaking worked to but and accumulate) was “missing in action”.  We did not know what to do.  We knelt and prayed as a family.

I went to a pay phone – and after getting a large supply of quarters – began to make phone calls to the train company and everyone else to try to locate our trunk.  I was on the phone literally for about two hours through this process.  With the passage of time, I learned that our trunk had not made it off of our original Indian contract bus that we had taken from Phoenix to Flagstaff.  But, it gets better (or worse) …  The trunk was not discovered by the bus line and it remained on the bus.  And after our departure, it remained on the bus undiscovered and was touring all over Arizona – and had been for three days.

The folks (with my calls) finally located the trunk out in the middle of no-where Arizona somewhere.  They then made the necessary arrangements to get the trunk back to Flagstaff and onto the train.  So, we had to wait another three or four days for it to catch up with us.  Luckily we were just in show practices at that time and didn’t yet need the costume items.

So, can you see the Lord’s hand in all of this?  We certainly did … and with grateful hearts, we gave thanks to the Lord for all of his many tender mercies in our behalf.  We were ready to hit it with the show!

 

ELDER BALLARD SPEAKS ON MISSION PREPARATION

By Kevin V. Hunt

Recently I had the great opportunity to attend a special broadcast especially for parents of youth living in the Phoenix Metropolitan Area.  This momentous occasion originated from a Queen Creek, Arizona chapel but was broadcast to the 53 stakes of the Phoenix area.  Elder M. Russell Ballard, as a Senior Apostle, presided at the conference.  With him was Elder Ronald A. Rasband.  The format of the meeting was centered around questions that had been submitted previously by parents in the area.

Elder Rasband monitored the meeting.  In doing so, he first had Elder Ballard speak to introduce the objectives and format of the meeting.   elder-m-russell-ballardElder Ballard stated that he had been a General Authority for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for 41 years.  Elder Rasband noted that Elder Ballard had been an Apostle for 31 of his 41 years as General Authority.  He commended Elder Ballard for his many years of involvement with the missionary work in the Church.  He noted too, that Elder Ballard had directed and managed the creation of   the “Preach My Gospel” book.  He then invited Elder Ballard to address the subject of missionary preparation for the parents gathered.

Elder Ballard said, “Missionary preparation … that starts very early.  He discussed other ideas for missionary preparation for parents:

Develop a spirit of missionary service in the family.  Just say, “This is what we do in our _____ family.

Know the friends of your children

Youth need a job to earn some of their mission money.  Youth need to learn to work – to do their laundry, to clean their rooms, and to be responsible for their own territory in the home and to be responsible for themselves.

Encourage your children to read The Book of Mormon completely.  As a mission president Elder Ballard said that as he visited with each incoming missionary, he asked them if they had read the complete Book of Mormon from cover to cover and was surprised at how many had not.  He counseled his missionaries and parents at the meeting, “[You] need to be able to testify to me [the parent] of the truthfulness of The Book.  This is a real key to effective missionary preparation,” he said.

Sit with the children whom you want to be missionaries and ask them to bear testimony to you as to who Jesus Christ really is.  They have to have this ability.  It gives them a “running start” on the mission.

Help the children to become great teachers – to be able to cut through the media and entertainment.

Have copies of “Preach My Gospel” for the children.  This book was written to your missionaries – to your sons and daughters!  Parents and children should read “Preach My Gospel” together.

Get into their minds the worth of one soul.  Teach them about Gethsemane – wherein Christ endured and suffered for each individual.  Getting a testimony of Christ and his suffering will bring a love of Christ into the lives of the youth.  Teach them the value of one missionary going to one son or daughter of God.

He concluded by saying, “Pretty simple and they’re simple steps.”

He finished his remarks and began to leave the podium. Then he thought again and returned to the podium and emphatically said again, “START EARLY!”

What great lessons for parents relative to their training of their sons and daughters for missionary service.

As Elder Rasband returned to the podium, he took an audience question about young women serving missions.  The mother – and Elder Rasband reiterated that it is a Priesthood Responsibility for the young men to serve.  Then Elder Rasband said, “And the young women HAVE THE INVITATION TO SERVE.”