Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Rawlins Letter #17

Throwing ninja stars with some very awesome kids

This is the head of a mountain lion

I found the tooth in the midst of the rotting flesh and maggots (yuk!)

Helping at a member's food truck

The gas chamber at the Old Pen. Five people were executed here

G's guns...

After we painted a fence

I drew a prison themed comic where it will be on display at the Old Pen

Soaking my feet at Saratoga Hot Springs

Life is so good when we are living the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is extra special when you get to see others take steps toward acquiring the tools to find that happiness and that is exactly what this last week has been. Full of miracles and answered prayers.

S is coming to church regularly and loving it. We met with her twice this week and she shared with us some personal thoughts. She said, "You two have given me something priceless." We were all teary eyed as she went on to thank us for all we had taught her so far. We bore testimony of the fact that Heavenly Father sent us at this time because He knew she was ready for the gospel. I know He is the source of all the good we've been able to do here and especially with S. She also said, however, that the more we talk about baptism, the less she wants to do it. She explained that she talked to someone at church that waited 2 years to get baptized and "it might take me a little while...I might be a week or two." Haha, we were in shock! Sister Waite and I just looked at each other and smiled. We love meeting with S. She is enjoying and understanding the Book of Mormon more each time she reads it. 

C agreed to living the Word of Wisdom and isn't having any sort of problem with it. That guy's faith inspires me. He has read a chapter here and there of the Book of Mormon when we've invited him to, but we read a little bit from the beginning of the Book of Mormon together to get him started there. We talked about the importance of having questions and invited him to pray about whether or not it's true during church this Sunday (yesterday). Sister Waite and I have been praying non-stop and I even fasted Sunday for C to be able to feel and recognize his answer. Well, he told us Sunday after church that he'd gotten his answer a few days ago!!! I know that the Spirit testifies of truth to those who are sincerely seeking it.

T is just a joy to visit. We have so much fun with her and her family. It just feels like home over there. It could be the worst day ever and once their door opens, a smile automatically forms on my face. I've been officially invited to their family reunions from here on out. We have plans to get together at least once a year,  as well. Plans like that are helping me stay sane as my time as a full-time missionary comes to a close. They are so open to the Spirit and truly trying to do things that will bring the Spirit into their home more powerfully.

The D family is so kind. They always make us feel so welcome. Even when I try and fail miserably to speak Spanish, they are just so appreciative of our visits. During our last visit with them I pointed to Sister Waite and said, "Ella le gusta contar" instead of "Ella le gusta cantar". So, instead of liking to sing, we joke that Sister Waite likes to count now, haha! I also might have said, "Pues, que van hacer anoche?" which translates to: Well, what are you going to do last night? Yup, I need to study Spanish more. It's all resulted in some good laughs, though. 

G is doing well. It's so hard to get so far with someone and then leave. I mentioned that I was leaving in a week and he said something along the lines of, "You gotta go through 50 to get a good one, then they leave..." I told him I was going to keep in touch with his family, though. He said he'd take me and whoever came along to visit out shooting :) We helped him find mountain lion teeth in a pile of rotting flesh and maggots just yesterday! It's amazing how much service (especially something that repulsive) can open up opportunities to talk about the gospel.

I can't wait to write next week about our meeting with C and more about S, T, G and all the amazing active families in this area. The people in Rawlins are just fantastic.

Sister Rashauna Hoer

Monday, August 18, 2014

Rawlin's Letter #16

After helping a complete stranger haul some garbage :)

Beautiful Wyoming

At Martin's Cove

With Cindy Smiley at Martin's Cove

So, we found some things in the Relief Society closet and decided to 
decorate for our weekly missionary meeting :)

Before a service project

After the same service project :)

Seminoe Reservoir

After emailing last week, we met up with Tammy and Maliece to check out Seminoe Reservoir. It was really relaxing and just what I needed. It felt so nice to put my feet in the water, skip rocks, spend time with people I love, and roll down a steep, sandy hill. The drive and company was fantastic and I was introduced and treated to Kazoozles...a fantastic, fun, tangy treat that will now always remind me of the Morgan Family :) 

We had several miracles happen this week. I don't even know where to start. Great appointments and s'mores with D. S is reading the Book of Mormon and understanding it. She even invited herself to church. Tammy (who was just baptized about a month ago) was called to serve as the Young Woman Secretary. C is reading and still interested in learning more about the gospel. G let us share a message with him. W showed up to a Sunday fireside (she hasn't stepped foot into a church building in quite some time). Members are getting so involved. Tammy is coming to a lesson with us soon. She bore her testimony to S while we were at church, then S (who said she's never felt the Holy Spirit) said she might have felt it this Sunday. B showed up to the first hour of church. He was making his way toward the door and I said, "Hey, you're not leaving, are you?" He said he was...it was pretty obvious he was. But before he did, he came over smiling, shook my hand, and said, "Don't worry, you're winning." Which means that God is winning. So many hearts are being softened. We are just making progress with so many people and it gets harder and harder to think about leaving.

Cindy Smiley and her niece Denay took us to Martin's Cove today :) I love getting out in the middle of now where. No matter where it is.

Balance is the key to life. Brigham Young encouraged each day to try and get 8 hours of sleep, 8 hours of work, and 8 hours of recreation. Now that's a great balance 

Also, I encourage you to watch "The Hope of God's Light" on lds.org. It's different, but really neat. Find it here: https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2014-07-006-the-hope-of-gods-light?lang=eng

Sister Rashauna Hoer

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Rawlins Letter #15

A must see mailbox in Laramie, Wyoming

In Laramie for interviews (and a rummage through the thrift store...)

We had dinner from a member's food truck at the demolition derby,
and got to see a few minutes of the event...lucky us!

Miracle of the week: we've been doing service (helping with taxidermy) for a former investigator. We were sitting there scraping forms for him and I kept thinking of questions I could ask or ways I could bring up the gospel. Every time I thought I had something good I heard the Spirit say, "Just wait, let him bring it up." Every time. Talk about frustrating. It came time for us to leave, when he told us a good time to come back. We set up a time and I asked, "What are you going to teach us next time?" He laughed and said maybe next time we could teach him something and "it'd be nice to hear a few good words." We kept our cool till we got in the truck and just started squealing like little girls. It was exciting!

C is doing really well. We met him at the Alvey's again this week and taught the Plan of Salvation. Lessons with him are great. They are good discussions. He commented on how merciful the kingdoms of glory were and how that makes so much sense to him with a loving God. I tend to agree :)

Cindy Smiley came with us to visit S again. S is reading and really beginning to understand the scriptures. It's so neat to see!! When we first started visiting her, she had so many questions and really struggled to get herself to read. She had a hard time with the thee, thou, and thy's is what she told us. However, she is reading between each visit and really enjoyed church.

I had my "exit interview" with President Brown. It really hit me that I'm going home in a few weeks. I think I cried through the whole thing. The thought of going home is so bittersweet. Being a missionary is incredible. My family is incredible. I want both... Since then, though, I've been pretty good. Keep moving forward. Sister Waite has been such a huge support. I am so grateful for that girl.

Our ward mission leader, Brother Bobik and his family are incredible!! They are so much fun to be around and also so uplifting. Sister Waite and I have learned so much from them. From making meetings more efficient, to making guacamole...it's been great. He came out with us to an appointment with our Hispanic investigators and also came out yesterday to try to contact some people. We are so grateful for his and other member support here in Rawlins.

T shared a really neat experience with us about feeling the Holy Ghost. I love the spirit that is in their home. I love the spirit that she brings with her everywhere. We're planning on going geochaching later today with her and M :) We're pretty excited about that.

"Every day feels like a month, and every month feels like a day. " - Sis. Hannah May Waite. So true.

So, doing missionary work in a small town is the best thing since roller skates. People simply cannot avoid the missionaries. We've been trying to contact a less-active for a while, with no luck. We saw her walking last night and got to talk to her and ended up helping her with a few things. AND we have an appointment with her tonight. Life in Rawlins is great!!!

Sister Rashauna Hoer

Monday, August 4, 2014

Rawlins Letter #14

From our Photo Scavenger Hunt

Stargazing one night...

We've truly been lead by the Spirit this week. We've been able to be at the right places at the right times and it's not because we know what we're doing. I feel like I learn things every day that make me feel like I've only been on a mission for about a month. It's because Heavenly Father knows us and all His children so well. He knows our needs and potential. He is helping us every step of the way to meet other's needs and help them realize their potential.

T is doing fantastic. We showed up at her house Tuesday morning (if we haven't seen her in a day or two it feels like forever, there is just the strangest draw to her that I can't quite explain). She opened the door, invited us in and said, "I was just thinking about you tow, wondering when I'd hear from you, and here you are." She has strengthened my testimony of the Spirit's guidance in so many ways.

The sisters we live with called a referral one morning. They ran into our room with the referral still on the phone and said, "Sister Hoer, this lady only speaks Spanish, will you make an appointment for us?" Somehow, I and this patient woman on the other end of the line communicated. I explained who we were and made an appointment for 4 o'clock that afternoon. The sisters got a member that spoke Spanish to go along with them and had a great lesson. It's cool to be able to help in that way. Made me want to study Spanish more.

We've been doing a photo scavenger hunt this week on top of a crazy work load. It has been so hard that Sister Waite and I feel like we can't keep up sometimes (not a complaint). Sisters Gregory and Swain (currently stationed in Berthoud, CO) emailed us a list of pictures to try and get and we sent them one in return. It's been so much fun and our investigators, less actives, and recent converts have been helping us, which is neat. It's cool to get involved in different ways. The best part about all of it is that this has been such a productive week! I really believe that Heavenly Father wants us to enjoy the little things in life. Even if we take a minute here and there to take a picture, I feel like he's blessed us in so many ways. People have seen us doing things, like dancing in a public place, that provided opportunities to contact them and do some inspired service.

We had an amazing lesson with C at the Alvey's house (I love the Alvey's). There are so many incredible families here. C has such a sincere desire to know what's right and to find what direction God wants him to take. It's inspiring. We laughed a lot and we felt the Spirit strong during that lesson. It was relaxed, it was natural. I think that's how the gospel feels. It just feels right.

Sunday was SO COOL!!! We almost had a whole row of people sitting with us. C came to church, Cindy Smiley gave S a ride, T and her daughter M were there. They ALL stayed for the whole time. I feel so blessed to serve here with such amazing people. I seriously feel like I have family in Rawlins. This ward feels like home.

Love and appreciate you all,
Sister Hoer

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Rawlins Letter #13

Gift from my nephew Taven Duffey

Necklace from R, cookies from Sister Grammer, and the shirt I designed

Running into M at Walmart was awesome!

Sleeping in the truck, under the stars

A little game of tick-tack-toe during lunch one day

A typical visit at the Smiley's home :)

R GOT BAPTIZED THIS WEEK. It was in Chicago, his new home where his immediate and new ward family was able to attend. He sent us pictures on Saturday that made me tear up a little bit.

Tuesday was transfer day. We put up a bunch of funny notes and signs for the new sister coming to Rawlins and then headed to Laramie to pick her up. We stopped by Walmart for a quick shopping trip and we were cruising through the isles when I hear, "Sister Hoer?" It was M!!!!!!!! The manager from Salvation Army when I was serving in Laramie. It was so good to see her and hear that she is in the young women's presidency. She seems so happy. She talked about how easy it was to give up things and change others once she knew the gospel was true. The spirit helps us become more Christ-like and the more like Him we become, the more happy we are. It's always cool to see that in action. We also stopped by Grandma T's for a quick visit and song. I don't think anyone has ever gotten me to sing so much in my life, but I can't say no to Grandma T. I actually enjoy singing out loud when she's around.

I got packages from the Davidsons, Duffeys, and Sister Grammer this week. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I use stuff every day that makes me think of you guys. So when I was back in Greeley, I designed a shirt that we submitted to be made. After a long wait, Sister Grammer sent me the final product. We each have one and several people have already asked how they can get one. Awesome!!!

We had some really cool lessons this week. We talked about service with less-actives and about the spirit. I got to do some community service by drawing for the Chamber of Commerce. Life is just pretty dang good these days. We had a ward Pioneer Day activity. We helped kids make paper hats for a while then tried our hand at stilts, sack races, and an unplanned water fight. We got completely soaked. S came and had a really good time. People kept her company the whole time. Members are great.

We got a phone call from T that night (the one night we didn't have a dinner appointment) and she tells us her and J are going to Pizza Hut and invites us to come along. That woman is inspired :) We got there late (which is normal for Sister Waite and I ... we're working on it). They had already ordered pizza for us: veggie for me and a bunch of other kinds for everyone else. We had the best time visiting and playing with J's kids. We shared one of my current favorite scriptures, Mosiah 15:9, and talked about justice and mercy. Even though we were in the middle of a busy restaurant, the spirit was present. That's just how meetings are with T.

Miracles are everywhere. Sister Waite and I feel so lucky to be a part of so many people's lives out here that allows us to see so many miracles. His hand truly is in our every day lives.

Oh, and Sister Waite and I slept int the bed of our truck last night just for fun. It was a clear night and the stars were beautiful.

Sister Rashauna Hoer

Friday, July 25, 2014

Rawlins Letter #12

An investigator's home that is actually more like a museum.

District Meeting -- our District Leader brought us awards -- I got poppers!

Doing service work at Frontier Prison.

Adorable Jillian's baptism -- she asked me to speak at it.

"Killing" Sister Zvirzdin -- meaning this was the last day of her mission :)

Our booth that we have in the park every Thursday during summer.

R came to visit Rawlins and took us to lunch! 

We found out late Saturday night that both Sister Waite and I get to stay here for the next 6 weeks! RAWLINS!!! I almost cried I was so happy The whole ward seems pretty happy about it, too :) Life is so great.

In fact, at the library this week Sister Waite was watching a video of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir with headphones on. She apparently was getting really into it because she broke into singing. "Sister Waite, what are you doing?" She answered innocently, "What did I do?" I was laughing so hard I couldn't even tell her for quite some time that the whole library just heard her sing part of "They, The Builders of the Nation.":)

This week has been awesome. T is doing great and continues to learn more and grow closer to Christ. It's the most amazing thing to be a part of. We're over there all the time. I feel like part of their family and I was thinking the other day, I am part of their family. We are all part of God's family. I love moments that help me see that fact more clearly. I don't think I've fully internalized it yet. It's tough to wrap my head around some things. 

Wanna hear something crazy? Sure you do. We had an appointment in Wamsutter (a tiny town 40 miles west of Rawlins) so we go to get on I-80 to find out the westbound part of the interstate is closed. Uh...plan B. We decided to take these dirt roads south of town and started heading west, not really having a clue where we were going, but it felt right. We also knew that the train tracks and the interstate both led to Wamsutter, so if we stayed in between the two, we'd be fine, right? Well, we 
were cruising along and hit this crazy bump...not good. We checked out the tires, everything seemed fine so we kept going. I couldn't stop thinking about it though. It made me feel sick, I just knew something was wrong. Eventually we found a place to get on the interstate, checked the truck again, still fine, so we kept going. We went all the way to Wamsutter, had a great appointment, drove 40 miles back to Rawlins, had a few appointments in town, and right as we were pulling up to our apartment, the low tire pressure light comes on...

We woke up the next morning and our back left tire was completely flat. Sister Waite and I knew it was from hitting the hole in the dirt road the day before, however Heavenly Father helped us get to all our appointments and make it safely home. We both just couldn't stop thinking about what a miracle it was. Then we changed a tire for companion study, ha-ha! Bonding time, right?

Sunday was pretty incredible. Saturday we spent some time staining a family's fence. Father is less-active and his wife is kind of an investigator (open to listening, but not super involved). We didn't talk about church at all (we have previously, but not this time) and they showed up at church!!! I love seeing whole families at church. I love service. I love that family. Two ward missionaries each brought investigators. H was in town and came to church with us and ended up singing a musical number in Sacrament Meeting, as well.

On top of all that, R, our investigator that moved to Chicago is getting baptized on the 26th!!! He was in town taking care of a few things before leaving for good and took us out to lunch at Anong's Thai Cuisine (my favorite place to eat here). It was so good to see him again. We are so excited for him. 

Sister Rashauna Hoer

Monday, July 14, 2014

Rawlins Letter #11

Sister Waite and I ...

Summerfest Outhouse Races: Cops vs Firefighters

The Dunk Tank (if you look closely you can see the ball I just threw...)

Yes, there is still snow in Wyoming! And I fell through at one point.

Summer in the Wyoming...snow!

Bowling on P-day

Retro Bowling Alley -- everyone in the place gets to see your overhead score.

T's baptism! I just love T and her family!

We talked to J (the cyclist) this week. Last we heard she was staying with another Mormon family in Rexburg, haha! She's so much fun to talk to. We love getting updates from her occasionally. It's so interesting to think about who I will probably keep in touch with. Some people are those I've spent 6 months with and others I've only known for about 6 hours. Just strange to think about. People come into our lives all the time for different reasons. 

We felt impressed to knock on a few doors one day. We did so and asked, "If you could ask God one question, what would it be?" A woman responded simply with one word, "Why?" She was obviously going through a hard time. She told us that she would listen, but wasn't in a place to really hear it right now, so we said alright and left her with a Plan of Salvation pamphlet. We talked a little longer about other things, but before we left I bore a simple testimony that she is not alone and that this information would help her. She teared up and answered, "I hope so." We'll see what happens, or maybe we won't, but I know she felt the Spirit. I pray that she felt a little more hopeful from our exchange.

Not a spiritual tidbit: We got to help out with the Summerfest on Saturday. Outhouse races and stuff like that. Hilarious. Someone (the woman's husband) paid for us to throw balls for a dunk tank where the woman we do service for (we LOVE her!) volunteered to be dunked. I got her 3 out of 5 times. We'll see if she let's us come back ;)  The day before, Sister Waite and I were planning and we were discussing someone we haven't been able to contact in a while. We both agreed and wrote down that we'd run into them at Summerfest. Well, guess who we ran into...Yup, our investigator who invited us to come over any time. We stopped by on Sunday evening and visited with them. Miracles!!!

T was baptized Saturday and confirmed Sunday. Her baptism was one of the most spiritually powerful ceremonies of my mission. It was so obvious how ready T was for the baptismal covenant. She was glowing. I love seeing people so happy. That kind of happiness only comes from the gospel. T's family is another family I plan on staying in touch with for a long time. I feel like part of their family. We were over there every day this week and we just loved every second of it. I love when people have questions when we teach, that usually means they have a sincere desire to not just know, but to understand. T always has good questions. We get stumped every now and then, but we are all learning together. 

One of our investigators that has really struggled with drinking has made some amazing progress this week. He was at church with his family (they are members). It is cool to see families all together at church. Preach My Gospel says: "Heaven is a continuation of the ideal home." I know that the ideal home is a Christ-centered home. Not a perfect home, but one where individuals are working together to become better. He is the source of true peace in this life.

And that's the update. Love you all.

Sister Rashauna Hoer

Monday, July 7, 2014

Rawlins Letter #10

Doing service work at the prision

Exploring on P-day

Finding a crazy wind tunnel

Meeting our new friend who is biking from Kentucky to Oregon

Finding a place to study (?) on P-day

With R at church

4th of July

A little disheveled after climbing down from the roof to watch fireworks

Our district wore red, white and blue for the entire week of July 4th

Very interesting week. I feel like I always say this but...it's been our best week yet in Rawlins!! We had several really neat spiritual experiences in lessons and a lot of member participation. It has been wonderful.

We also met J. She is riding her bike from Kentucky to Oregon, so you can imagine that I was immediately drawn to her. Well her knee had been bugging her so she decided to take a day off in Rawlins. (What a coincidence...haha, NOT!) We met around lunch time and she ended up spending the rest of the day with us. (Yup, we just happened to have ridden our bikes that day.) So we rode to a service project at the art shop where J painted a little bit, we set her up with a free tour of the old penitentiary while we went to some appointments, we enjoyed dinner together, and talked about the gospel on and off the entire day. It was tough saying goodbye to her. We all just got very attached to each other. Sister Waite hid a picture of Jesus in J's pack and we told her about the gospel library app to access the scriptures, specifically the Book of Mormon.

The next day she continued on her trip heading North. She called us that night and told us the coolest story. She was biking and trying to decide whether to stay in a town she was coming up on or to continue another 20 miles to Sweetwater Campground. She said a little prayer, telling us that God had led her to the right places so far along her journey, and she trusted Him to do so now. She got to the first possible place and started talking to a man. She asked about Sweetwater. He responded with, "Oh, it's just a bunch of Mormons up there." She told us when she heard that, she immediately knew it was an answer to her prayer and thought, "that's where I need to go." Two days ago she didn't know anything about us or our faith, and now she is biking an extra 20 miles to be around members of the church. She told us they are taking great care of her and she'd already received a couple of jello cups, haha, typical :) and that she "found Jesus" (the pass along card Sister Waite hid). I couldn't have been happier. We plan on keeping in touch.

R is incredible. He left today for Chicago and will be getting baptized there where his family and new ward family can attend. We all thought that was for the best. I made him promise to send me a picture of his baptism :) I can't tell you how much I've enjoyed getting to know that extremely intelligent and humble man. I've learned so much from him in such a short amount of time. He is truly seeking all the knowledge he can about the gospel. He basically taught us why commandments are so important. He has a solid testimony. He found an article that he shared with us this week (written by a person not of our faith). Check it out at the end of my letter.

T is doing really well.  Two more lessons this week and on track for her baptism this Saturday!!! After we get done emailing today, we're headed over to her place to spend time with her :)  She has quite a few less-active family members that she is including in the program. It's really neat. It's going to be so good for the whole family.

Fourth of July was really fun. We went hiking for our morning work out and did our studies in the mountains. We were invited to three different barbeques. We ate at one, enjoyed dessert at another, and then just played hide and go seek instead of eating anything at the last one. We had to be home at our normal time and fireworks didn't start until 10 pm....that was a bummer. Sister Waite and I got home and when we heard them start to go off, we decided we just had to see them. I helped Sister Waite up the first part of the tree near our house. We were cracking up as she stepped on my shoulder to get up the last part and then turned to help me get up. We continued up the limb that goes closest to our house. Hanging on this branch with our arms, we could stretch our legs toward the house and just barely make it. We sat up there and enjoyed the limited view of fireworks through a tiny break in the trees. We stargazed for a little while after they ended and then headed back down the tree in the dark...still wearing skirts...What an adventure!

Sunday was a day of miracles. We contacted two referrals. The first one had been looking for a Book of Mormon for over a year now. We were able to bring him one and teach him a little more about it. His friend spoke primarily Spanish (and English was definitely a second language for him, as well) so I said a prayer in Spanish! I felt the Spirit, so I'm just hoping it made sense. It was simple, but simple can be the most powerful sometimes, right? Anyway, he talked to us about seeing the Salt Lake Temple and wanting to go there, but he wants to be able to go and say he is Mormon. Haha, okay..."So, you want to get baptized first?" He had a huge smile on his face and said, "Yes." Wow. The next person we contacted was a girl that just graduated from high school. At first she told us she was a different religion and not really interested, but she was nice enough to let us in and talk for a little bit. As we continued asking questions and try to get to know her, she expressed her concerns about the faith she grew up in, how she actually doesn't agree with most of it, and how she is looking elsewhere for truth. We shared a few things about the restoration of the gospel and Plan of Salvation. We left her with a Book of Mormon and she can't wait for us to come back.

Heavenly Father really loves us. So many little things are evidence of this love every day to me. That doesn't mean that everything always goes right, but there's always more than enough good to carry me through. I'm convinced being grateful helps us notice all these little things.

Love you!
Sister Rashauna Hoer

Article mentioned above, written by someone of another faith:

One religious group shows consistent growth year by year and decade by decade. Mormons keep growing their church. Why? I propose six reasons.

1. Mormons have bigger families.

This is the easiest and simplest explanation. But it's far from the entire story. In fact, if family size were determinative, then many churches in America would be growing at a rate that exceeded general population growth. After all, the birth rate of religious families generally exceeds that of nonreligious families. Instead, church after church shrinks or remains basically steady in spite of the higher birth rate. Mormons start with a bigger baseline family, but then they tend to hold on to their kids while many other religions often do not.

2. Mormons have lower divorce rates. 

While regular church-going evangelicals divorce less often than secular couples, Mormon-marrying Mormons have the lowest divorce rate of any major religious group. Families that stay together are more likely to pray together. Few experiences are more demoralizing to a young Christian than seeing his parents destroy their own marriage and destroy their own kids' childhoods in a blaze of selfishness, lust, and pride. 

3. Mormons share their faith.

Who hasn't met a Mormon missionary? My wife used to debate them at the doorstep, but we made many new Mormon friends and now welcome them into our home, offer them rides in the rain, and generally get to know young people who experience a very different young adult rite of passage than your typical evangelical. A Mormon mission is a sacrifice—a deep sacrifice. Evangelism not only wins converts, it also strengthens the faith of the evangelist. 

4. Mormons are "orthodox."

No evangelical can call Mormons "orthodox" in terms of the Apostles' Creed and biblical canon. But they are orthodox within their own, distinct faith tradition. In other words, members of a Mormon church tend to know and believe their faith. Go to a typical evangelical church and you'll often find very wide theological divergence. Nationally, 84 million people self-report as evangelicals, but of that number only 19 million according to Barna actually have orthodox evangelical beliefs. In other words, the evangelical church must improve in transmitting even the most basic elements of the Christian faith from generation to generation. 

5. Mormon leaders ask a lot of their members.

I'm always amazed at the level of church involvement of Mormons compared to evangelicals. From giving, to service, to teaching, to raw number of hours in the church building, Mormons are simply doing more. To some evangelical critics, you'd think we lose members because we're so demanding. But compared to the Mormon experience, evangelical churches are a carnival ride of short services, low accountability, and rare church discipline. If you're a faithful Mormon, you're not living a 95 percent secular life like so many evangelicals. At least in this regard, Mormons are truly countercultural. 

6. Mormons are less selfish.

Add up points one through five, and you get to the sum. Too many of us evangelicals have forgotten the fundamental paradox of Scripture—you won't gain your life until you lose your life. We ask our kids to lose just a little life to gain . . . what, exactly? If Christianity isn't worth losing everything, is it worth only losing some things? And if it's not worth losing everything, why is it worth losing anything? 
Big families, intact families, years-long missions, faithfulness to church teaching, and a lifetime of service add up to a sustainable, Christ-honoring counterculture. By contrast many of our churches will prove to be ashes and dust—unable to resist a culture that relentlessly demonizes even the small remaining differences between evangelicals and atheists. 
As a member of another Christian denomination in America, I've got my theological differences with the LDS church. But if we evangelicals don't believe we have anything to learn from our Mormon friends, then we're foolish. Our churches will not grow by conforming, by shedding the last remaining distinctions between Christians and the secular world. That route is well-traveled by the imploding mainline denominations. Instead of asking less of our families and youth, let's ask more by the grace of God and the power of the Spirit. Instead of giving less, let's give more. Instead of believing we're unique theological snowflakes capable of discerning truth on our own, let's teach church doctrine early and well. And let's not be afraid of church discipline. 
What are the core lessons for the church? Conform and die. Resist and live.
David French is an attorney, author, and blogger at Patheos.