October 14, 2013

Letter to Parents from President Leavitt

                                                                                                                   6 October 2013

Dear Parents,

It continues to be a very busy and exciting time in the mission field. Since I updated you last time we have had two increases to our mission complement to accommodate the flood of missionaries entering the mission field. Our sisters complement now stands at 52 (last year it was at 10)  with our elders at 66 and just this week our allowed seniors complement has been increased to 25 couples.

This is allowing us to implement an approach where most units will have a set of elders, a set of sisters and and a senior couple. Senior missionaries are in short supply but the brethren have indicated that they will allow the mission presidents to "recruit" people they know as senior missionaries to their mission. These individuals go through the standard application process and their call is made by a member of the Twelve but in almost all cases their desire to serve where they are recruited to will be honored.

This will be a great blessing to Canadian couples who often are concerned about medical coverage. Missionaries coming from other parts of Canada are covered by the Nova Scotia medical system at no cost. All units where seniors serve have excellent medical facilities.

None of our US senior couples have had any issues with the medical system.

If you know of anyone that you feel could serve I would appreciate you letting me know their name and phone number and I will contact them personally to discuss the opportunity.

Our concert series continues to pick up momentum and is doing good things for raising the profile of the Church in our area. We have just held benefit concerts in Fredericton New Brunswick, Montague PEI and Carboneer Newfoundland. In these concerts we partnered with the local Food Banks and and we have had over 450 people attend of which over 250 were non members. They love the missionaries. We will be holding one in a week in the Halifax area in which we have partnered with the IWK Children's Hospital. The missionaries are also going to do a short performance at the Children's Hospital itself. Information and clips from these performances are available on our Youtube channel Canada Halifax Mission and by liking our facebook page "Mormons of Atlantic Canada".

We have been successful in arranging for the BYU-I symphonetta to tour the mission in the spring of 2014 and they will be performing in about eight different cities. We have arranged for them to perform in two concert halls as well as in various ward buildings. Arrangements are being made for them to potentially have a joint concert with the PEI Children's Choir in an historic Catholic basilica in Charlottetown, PEI. We see this as a significant opportunity to promote the good name of the Church in our area.

We continue to make a strong effort to train and teach the ever-increasing number of new missionaries and they are becoming skilled teachers and finders. I travel to each of their apartments once every three months, look in their closets, under their beds, in their fridges, lie on their beds and have time to talk to them about the work and how they are doing. They are generally doing very well. Our current emphasis is on going back to basics- daily exercise, mastering the four fundamental lessons, talking to everyone, being warm, genuine and friendly, setting realistic goals and planning.

In addition to personal visits to their apartments, I have been using Skpye and conduct regular interviews with each of the missionaries that way. The interviews are just about as good as being there and it allows me to stay in touch without as much travel. (my regular in-person visits are over 4,000 km and take 7,  16 hour days to accomplish). The current schedule is that I have one in-person interview and one Skype  interview each quarter.

The missionaries also now have webcams and we have made arrangements for them to have access to the various clerks office and family history center computers.Missionaries are using Skype to cut down the long distances and allow more time for active missionary work. For example we had our first baptism where the investigator who was living on a small island,  was taught many of the lessons over Skype.

Our missionaries are embracing the instruction in the recent missionary broadcast and are doing as the Prophet asked- Members, Leaders and Missionaries working as one in the great Work of Salvation. We have made a small video presentation about "the new vision of the Work of Salvation" and the missionaries are visiting all the homes of the members to show and discuss this with them.

We love our missionaries. I hear from them every week and personally respond to every letter. They are working hard, exercising, in some cases losing weight and generally doing all that is asked of them. Of course there are ups and downs. It would not be life if it wasn't that way.

I love hearing from you from time to time and I don't want you to think you are a bother. It takes very little time to respond to your emails and I firmly believe the best result is achieved as we work together to lead and teach these wonderful young people.

Regarding Christmas this year we have decided to take the following approach.

Last year parents and friends have sent parcels to the mission office and we then took them to the Christmas Zone Conference for distribution. In addition, at the same Zone Conference, Sister Leavitt and I provided a small Christmas loot bag, a personal letter for each missionary and a picture album of all the missionaries serving at year end. The missionaries themselves had a white elephant gift auction at the same time. Of course we have a turkey dinner and a fun talent show.

We will take the same approach this year with the exception that we would ask that you send any parcels directly to your missionaries. The mail service in Canada is very good and I feel that sending the packages to the mission office and then having us forward them on adds an unnecessary step and causes delays. If parcels are sent to the mission office we will of course do our best to deliver them in a timely manner. Christmas packages would need to be mailed by mid November to ensure that they get here on time.

Missionaries will be allowed to phone or Skype home on Christmas Day. The calls should be simple and kept under 1 hour and should be for immediate family members only. Including boyfriends, girlfriends, other friends and extended relatives is strongly discouraged. We usually get requests for calls at different times and days but would prefer that you stick to Christmas Day. You can make these arrangements directly with your missionary through your weekly e-mail letters.

Again thank you for your significant sacrifices to allow your missionaries to serve. It is a great time to be involved in the Work of Salvation.

Warmest personal regards

President Leavitt

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