A Mission Tour is when a General Authority, usually a Seventy, "tours" the mission. By that, it means he meets with half the mission one day, half the mission another day, and meets with the Missionary Leadership Council(ZLs, APs, and STLs) one day to discuss missionary work in the mission as a whole. He talks about how the mission is doing, shares some important doctrine/direction from the First Presidency, and then does a short Q&A session at the end. Corona, Riverside and Lake Elsinore met with him on Friday at the Mission Office building. We arrived around 8:30, said hello to some of the missionaries who were already there and then Elder Beck and I went to rehearse our musical number. (You can listen to what we played here: https://www.lds.org/music/library/instrumental-music?lang=eng. Go down to "Sunshine Hymn Medley".) Then we studied for a bit in the pews until everybody arrived. When Elder Hamula came in, we all stood and then we each had the opportunity to go and shake his and his wife's hand. After that the meeting started.
Let me say, it was nothing like what I was expecting. I was thinking that we would probably all get rebuked for something or other because I had heard stories about previous mission tours. They happen about once a year, so I had heard about two from Elder Camper, but it was nothing like that at all.
We started out with a short presentation from the APs showing statistics about the key indicators we track, showing how we've been doing since July and discussing trends and how to fix them. After that President and Sister Mullen each gave short messages about some of the talks that we had been assigned to read ahead of time. Next it was time for our musical number (Elder Beck and me). It wasn't perfect, but it went MUCH better than the last musical number we did at the Christmas Conference. Then Sister Hamula shared some comments about missionary work - how it blesses the lives of the families, as well as what it was like when her husband was mission president in the Washington D.C. mission about 20 years ago. She was really, really funny and energetic so that helped to ease my nerves about what they'd be like. Finally Elder Hamula started speaking, and it was amazing to listen to him because he just taught whatever he felt like needed to be said. He told us he planned to talk about revelation for about 2 minutes, and instead he spent 30 minutes. The main topic of his discussion was about what it means to teach the doctrines. He said that the only way to answer the "Why, What, and How" questions of the Gospel is through pure doctrine. So he used the example of "Why are we here?", and talked about how through the doctrine of the Plan of Salvation we can answer that question. He said that if we try to answer questions without using doctrine things become less clear for people. He also talked a lot about repentance, which was really interesting. So many people focus on baptism, baptism, baptism, but he shared some scriptures that show that we are to exercise faith unto repentance and then be baptized unto repentance. It shows how important it really is, and then after that he talked about exactly what repentance is and how we repent and how the sacrament plays into it.
On the topic of repentance, he talked about how in the original Hebrew text, there are two words that are translated to repentance in English. One that means sorrow or regret, like in Genesis when it says "it repented God that he had made man". He didn't think he needed to repent of creating man, he just felt sorrow. The other meaning of the word, is to turn. And this is the one he focused on. All repentance is, when you boil things down, is turning yourself towards the Lord, making sure you have an eye single to the glory of God, as we recite in D&C 4. I immediately thought of the stories of Lot pitching his tent toward Sodom, and subsequently his wife turning back toward Sodom and being turned into a pillar of salt. I really like that definition of the word repentance because it really helps us understand that "repentance does not always mean making big changes. Often it simply requires an increased commitment to live according to God's will." That quote is from the Gospel of Jesus Christ pamphlet. I just thought that was really cool, and also now you know the dinner message that I'll be sharing with people for the next month or so.
During the Q&A we were open to ask any question, doctrinal or not. Some people had some interesting questions about what happens to people who have been sealed and then get divorced, what about their kids, etc? There were also some interesting ones about how we should do certain things as missionaries and other things about the life and miracles of Jesus Christ. Some of the more intense questions he basically had to say "I don't know, and I'm not sure if any man knows or needs to know." I thought it was really funny because he prefaced the Q&A session by saying "This is not for those senseless, non-doctrinal questions such as 'Where is Kolob?' and 'Did Adam have a navel?'" That was mostly funny because one of Elder Walker's favorite things to joke about it whether or not Adam had a belly button and he'd joked about asking Elder Hamula that.
So that's the mission tour in a nutshell - a very large nutshell.