Saturday, September 28, 2013

From our July, 2013 Newsletter

Removing ourselves to the ‘Exceedingly High Mountain’

A very warm welcome to our new Mission Presidents and their families!

While studying scriptures to prepare for the sessions of the day I
was cross referencing and found myself inspired in 1 Nephi 10:1
where it refers to desiring, believing and pondering and being caught
Laoag Sunrise-Northern Luzon Island
into an ‘exceedingly high mountain’. I pondered that as I realized
every word in the scriptures can be literal and symbolic and I reflected
on how I get myself to a state of mind of being in the ‘exceeding high
mountain’. To be elevated to a level of great heights and feel confident
of our ability to remain at that great height led me to ponder and
liken this unto my experiences and how they can assist me in using the
spirit as I prepare for each session, representing the Lord for His missionaries.

Starting with what I know. My father adored me and I thought he
thought I could do anything, (maybe except read). It wasn’t until
about 15 years of age I realized my mother and brothers were just as
important to him as I was (a painful lesson for another time). This
made it so easy to understand a Heavenly Father who adored me and
would send His only son down even if I was the only one the atonement
would save. I had all brothers and they hung the
moon and still do! The three of them taught me ultimate passion for life, submissiveness to the Lord’s
will without complaint or fear, and the way to find joy in the journey. I felt they would do anything to
protect me and I would walk through fire for any one of them. Thus, a loving big brother, who died for
me made complete sense in my mind. A talented and amazing mother and an adoring eternal companion
taught me all of what it felt to be adored and loved. Life was not easy, loss of jobs, family members to
early taken from this world, dad not a member for years, and all working early in our lives-as now I look
back, what a blessing all that opposition proved to be.

Obedience and hard work, then hard play were important concepts in our home. We were taught the 3
levels of obedience and work, though I would say my folks never gave an indication the first level, obedience
out of fear-the telestial level, was ever acceptable. They began at the ‘terrestrial’ level of why we
should obey and work hard, out of a sense of duty and honor for who we were and our name, the ‘Mount’
name, it meant something. No higher compliment could I pay than in my heart and mind to make someone
a Mount Brother…the ‘exceeding high Mount’ if you will.

Then as we matured it was to become obedience out of a deep sense of love. When you feel completely adored and loved you will do anything for those you love, and offense isn’t part of the equation! This is the ‘exceeding high mountain’ to be obedient and work as hard as you can out of a sense of love. My favorite leader in the Book of Mormon is Pahoran! Even when Moroni unrighteously slammed him he took no offense, he felt more love for him which made him look only for the good. This kind of blind love to others faults is my goal!

Now as I take these things I know and liken them unto our here and now. Many of our missionaries have no such orientation. To feel completely loved and adored is often experienced as fear and an ongoing fight to feel Christ-like love while their only memories are filled with abuse, abandonment and hopelessness. As they may never be able to understand my world where those few men make everything ok, I most probably will never comprehend their past horrors. Instead of adoring and seeking out those men of the earth who a loving Father gives us to provide, protect and preside over us allowing us to feel safe and loved, they fear further victimiza-tion. So we are it, we may be the only, or at least the first time, they get to feel totally adored and loved. Whether they are the best or least productive missionary in the field, we are what our Father uses to help them recognize their amazing worth. Sometimes the spirit has whispered when the most challenging missionary speaks to me, you have no idea what a miracle it is they even got their papers in, quit judging and help them feel my love! How do we help them feel the Savior’s love with the few minutes we have with them? Each one is different but I know that as I immerse myself each morning in the scriptures and prepare for each ses-sion, I have the right to call upon the spirit to lead those sessions, and he does! When I first arrived, even with my husband at my side, I too was overwhelmed, and had thoughts of desperately wanting to run back home to my family that loved me. Then I went to a fireside and President Neilson was speaking, I looked at him and felt his love, he knows how to represent the Savior! We spoke after the fireside and that feeling like I was the only one in the world and he would do anything for me filled my heart, he knows the spirit! How my heart jumped for joy as he was announced as our Area President! Then I spent time with my mission presidents, one working through the night and as I stood outside a bathroom door and listened to him with all the love of our Savior help his young missionary remember how to shower, clothe and dress, after a psychotic break. Another President working all through the night and sitting in my office with his arm around a Pacific Islander, whom it took all night for him to help his missionary feel the Savior’s love. Tears rolled from each of our eyes, as the spirit of our Savior sat in my office disguised that day as a mission president. I could go on for pages about the many experiences I’ve had with you mission presidents, but suffice it to say, my brothers are here! I testify to you when your missionaries leave this MTC they have felt that love, working with President Beck and Raul V. your missionaries have been ministered to, not just had the administering of their MTC provided for them. As with President Neilson, I have seen them connect, laugh, eat and teach with tender hearts with all the love of a big brother. These mentioned names and the Mission Presidents of the Philippines are my ‘Mount’ broth-ers, for your work is out of love, you are here representing the Savior and it is you and your beautiful brides that bring to these missionaries the ‘exceeding high mountain’ as our hearts are knit together in love! I pledge to do all I can to be worthy of your great spirits and example! I love you and thank you.

Your little sister,
Marcia French

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

What we do...

What do we do here in the Philippines?

We actually do quite a variety of things since we have been here. Marcia is busy counseling, teaching and searching for country resources to help our missionaries and members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints here in the Philippines. She either has the phone next to her ear or is talking with someone in her office. It is a job that is on call 24/7. It is not an easy task for her as she cares for the Lord's missionaries but the blessings have been tremendous.

My job is to support Marcia and am her faithful side-kick. One of the things that I do is put together a newsletter each month. This newsletter is then distributed to all the mission presidents and their wives and other leadership around the country. I am the nuts and bolts guy of the letter as I edit it, put in filler pieces, and pictures. Marcia puts together a monthly note that is addressed to the mission presidents to help them in working with their missionaries. Over the next few weeks I will post those notes on this blog to give people an idea as to what information Marcia is sharing. It is informative and worth sharing. For those of you who aren't dealing with LDS missionaries-substitute college student, teenager, aging parent, or yourself. There is application for you and your needs.

What follows is from November of 2012.



Happy Fall and Thanksgiving! 
Close your eyes and picture the beautiful colors, the crisp cool air, and enjoy these gorgeous Philippine Islands-see the best of both worlds.  I have chosen to take different concepts that are common among missionaries and share some insights on each.  This first month’s focus: homesickness and separation anxiety.  Please let me know if there are specific topics you would like me to address sooner than later.  This is not to give you the information and have you learn and implement, but rather to just give an overall insight on the topics.  I also have a great testimony of humor and feel it is vital to keep a reason to smile in our minds at all times. Thus I am adding a paraprosdokian each month.  As always it is such an honor to serve each of you… Mahal Kits!
Sister Marcia French LSCW, MSW, CPP
Philippine Area Mental Health Adviser

Picture by Sue Anderson

Homesickness often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.  It commonly comes as a surprise to the individual involved.  Usually there is an absence of social supports.  There is frequently a brief window of opportunity to intervene.
Characteristics of individuals prone to homesickness/separation anxiety:
· Low self-directedness
· A highly tentative approach to unfamiliar situations
· Rigidity
· A wishful thinking coping style —dwelling on the wonderful aspects of home
· When homesickness takes them by surprise they may say, “I didn’t come out on the mission for the right reasons,” or “I don’t have a testimony.”
· Normalizing the homesickness—letting the missionary know feeling homesick is pretty normal.
· Help him/her build new social connections.
· Help them see their situation in perspective—typically they can see only two alternatives:
(1) go home; or (2) live in an unendurable situation.
· Help them use distractions- focus attention on current things-their work and relationships in the mission field.
· Sometimes it helps for them to speak with their family on the phone with the family reassuring
      them of their support.  One AMHA uses the phone call once, another may use several calls
      reducing the frequency and phasing them out over time.
· Give the missionary permission to go through the problem rather than going out of it (ie. home).
· Shrink the problem down to size (works for people with disabilities too).  Missionary has 324 new things to adapt to, but has already gotten the list down to 210.  The things he has already faced are familiar now and don’t require getting anxious over again.
· Affirmations are helpful.  Do in first person—“I will go, I will do. . . .”
· Review promise of God to Joshua (Joshua 1:5-9, be not afraid, turn not to the right hand or the left).
· Medication can be helpful at times.
· Tell missionary, “I’m here to help you-you’re going to be fine. I’ll e-mail material to you and then  I’ll call and we’ll go through it together.”  Call two days later.
· Give specific assignments to get the focus off home and the past to the present.  Examples of             assignments are:  (1)  learn the names of the other missionaries in your district; (2)  learn the   names of your local Church leaders (Bishop, Branch President, etc.); (3)  check out local grocery store; (4)  check out location of local barber shop, etc., anything to focus on the present and help the local environment to become more familiar.

Approaches which are not helpful include:
· Telling missionary, “If you don’t like it you can go home,” which gives the missionary the message that all he or she needs to do is wait you out.  The missionary may sometimes view you as an obstacle in the way of getting what he or she wants, i.e.. going home.
· Imply to missionaries that there isn’t anything they can do about homesickness.
· Saying or doing something mean is like “upping the ante” for them if they want to go home.
· Missionaries who are homesick or have separation anxiety are in the same state of mind as someone  addicted to a substance.  All they can think of is getting that substance (in this case going home).
Interventionsometimes doing an “intervention,” like is done with alcoholics or substance abusers, is  useful.  Have multiple people present—the Branch President, the Relief Society President, the zone leaders, the missionary’s companion, the Elder’s Quorum President.  Each of these can describe when they have felt the same way in the past.  Each can discuss how they can help the missionary  feel better.  The Relief Society President can figure out who can invite the missionary to dinner, etc.  The leaders can devise ways to get the missionary involved in the community and focus on other  things than going home.

Catching problems early is best.  Do not hesitate to call me at any time with this or any other issue!