When Hermana (Sister Alyssa) Pearson was handed an iPad six weeks into her mission she was humbled by the sense of trust that accompanied the ”sacred opportunity to hasten the work of salvation” with technology. She was among the first in a Spanish speaking mission that covers a large urban area to use iPads for direct proselytizing, social media contacting, planning, and personal gospel study. If you were to talk to Alyssa about using technology to do missionary work, you’ll sense that the missionary spirit is still present two months after coming home, and warm thoughts and tender feelings permeate her experiences with people and technology.
Alyssa’s iPad came with a few ground rules, such as committing to posting gospel-related topics only, and when communicating with investigators and members to have her companion’s eyes on her screen and likewise committing to watching her companion’s communications. The iPad came with pre-loaded apps, and when considering the mission rules, none were problematic when compared with the amazing benefits of having technology tools to aid missionary work.
The Area Book Planner, an app that missionaries use to plan, schedule and coordinate activities, and follow investigators, became one of Alyssa’s most used and favorite tools. She says, “It was a huge game-changer to be able to plan an entire week and see where appointments could fit or be moved by dragging and dropping without having to erase and rewrite.” It did not totally replace traditional planning when safety or sensitivity dictated otherwise, but organizing was far more effective and communication much easier with the Area Book. Alyssa found when she transferred to a new area, the mission president had already updated the online system. The moment she arrived in a new area she had access to ward members, leaders, maps, and information in LDS Tools that made getting around and doing missionary work very successful.
For Alyssa, using the Gospel Library app with all the tools for underlining, highlighting, notes, and tags greatly benefited her personal study. It became a valuable resource for creating individualized lessons for investigators by combining scriptures, multi-media, and the words of apostles and prophets with her own thoughts. While serving, Alyssa practiced many techniques for studying and increasing her personal knowledge and use of the scriptures. These lessons have stayed with her through syncing on LDS.org, and the same scripture marking and annotations flow down to her current mobile device. Near the end of her mission the “Duolingol” app was introduced for language study. The app provided interactive ways to learn Spanish through speech, games, puzzles, and activities.
Missionaries are encouraged to use media in their Facebook posts and teaching. Alyssa had many opportunities to witness the Spirit touch people profoundly through LDS media. She recalls going to a baptism with other missionaries and collectively deciding to contact everyone on a city bus while enroute, and share the “He is the Gift” video as many times as possible. She felt prompted to approach a “large, scary guy,” hesitated momentarily, and after whispering a silent prayer, sat in front of him and began talking. She watched as his attention was intensely focused on “He is the Gift” video and at the conclusion heard him say, “The world needs more of this!” She found sharing a message about the Savior at Christmas with a stranger a memorable one.
Alyssa says that such experiences helped her love people in a more Christ-like way and have a greater desire to share the goodness of the gospel with them. Immersion in a different language culture also strengthened her love for a “family that grew exponentially.” Alyssa expresses how using social media is “a different way to meet people in a place that is comfortable for them.” Technology helped her share messages that have the power to change lives for the better.
If you hesitate to use technology to share gospel messages online, Alyssa shared this thought: “The Lord has given us these amazing opportunities to share the gospel on social media and do His work in different ways. We shouldn’t be scared of it. We should trust the Lord and run with it.”