Saturday, December 13, 2014

Staying Teachable

I've been reflecting back on all I learned in our trainings to prepare for this mission.  There was so much content that really was helpful.  Some of the most important lessons, however, were things I gleaned outside the planned curriculum.

One I hope never to forget came from watching one of our trainers handle a situation with grace and patience that could have been very frustrating.  

Another came from my own response when we were told on Wednesday that a half day of computer training had been scheduled for us on the the following day.   Originally, we were only supposed to have classes in Salt Lake for three days.  Part of that was based on information we had filled out ahead of time to let them know what our current skill levels were.   Some missionaries get computer training if they have little experience using systems.  Others get FamilySearch training so they will be well equipped to use the church's online family history program. 

Since both Elder Bennett and I have used computers extensively in our professions, and we just went through three weeks of focused training on FamilySearch and other tools at the Mesa Library, it had been determined we really did not need training in Salt Lake for those things.

For some reason, once we got here, someone along the food chain of planning decided to schedule us for a half day of computer training on Thursday after all.  I have to admit, initially I grumbled.   I thought it was going to be a bit of a waste of my time.  We have only a few days left in this country.  I had been looking forward to taking Thursday to do some other things.  I couldn't imagine what they were going to teach me in that half day that would be of value. 
However,  we have made a very conscious decision to be as obedient as possible throughout this mission, even if some of the things we are asked to do feel silly or not a good use of  our time.  So I took a deep breath and did my very best to open my heart and mind to learn whatever was there for me.

When we showed up at 8:00 AM on Thursday for the computer training, the first hour was watching a video of a talk given by a former mission president about the difference between genealogy and family history.   My grumbly self was REALLY ready to kick in then. While I was sure it was well intended, I could think of a lot of things I would rather be doing.

But I reminded myself about my commitment to stay open, to be as teachable as possible at every point throughout this training.  Rather than take the attitude that I had nothing to gain from this presentation, I said a silent prayer that I might be open to whatever it was that Heavenly Father wanted me to learn from this.  Then I quit fidgeting and really started paying attention.

And then the miracle came.  What previously had seemed like just one more talk in a long series of talks by various leaders that we had been listening to, shifted.   The presentation began to feel very much like a powerful message that was meant specifically for us that was absolutely relevant to the mission we will be serving.   Several of the things that were said in the presentation were wonderful.  But more than that, the feelings I got confirming the truth of what was being taught were so incredibly powerful that I could not help but weep.

Out of all the training we have received, both at the MTC in Provo and here during our sessions in Salt Lake, this talk brought everything together in a way that I knew would be essential for me as we teach people in New Zealand.  My understanding of my purpose on this entire mission transformed.   It was incredible.

After the video ended, we were each assigned to different trainers for a few hours of one-on-one mentoring.    My trainer was Sister Potter.   She determined pretty quickly that I knew how to use FamilySearch and was comfortable with the basic functions.   So she moved ahead to show me other things - key command short cuts, etc that really will help me be more effective in how I use these tools.  She also showed me some things specific to my own family tree in the program that were important for me to know.  I learned very valuable stuff that will help me in the days to come.

Sister Nelda Potter
Beyond that, we quickly developed a rapport that warmed my heart.  I was able to show her a thing or two - some that I had learned from my training in Mesa, some from how I have set up my various family history blogs.  We laughed together.  We shed some tears together. In that very short time we opened up to each other at a level that my heart was hungry for.   I found a friend that I hope to stay in touch with for a long, long time.

When I think that I might have skipped out on this training because I thought I already knew everything I needed to know about how to operate FamilySearch and use a computer, I am chagrined.  This experience serves as an important reminder to me how critical it is that I continue to recognize that no matter how experienced I may be in any area, there is always more to learn.  I want to stay humble, stay teachable, stay open to the spirit so that I can be a better servant in this mission.  I also see how my own life is more richly blessed when I put my own pride and ego aside and trust that the spirit will lead me where I need to be.

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