So, this was a good week! It was a very stressful week, but it ended with a baptism, which makes it completely worth it. Our cute little family got baptized! It was beautiful. There was a great turn out from the ward, and the chapel was filled at the baptism. We had a few moments of panic, like [the mother] didn't show up until exactly 5:00 (when the meeting was supposed to start) because they were delayed 30 minutes trying to get her elderly mother into the car, and when her brother, who was the one performing the baptisms, didn't show up until 5:10. It worked out great though and it was awesome. The little girl in the family, age 8, was so excited to get baptized that when she walked back to enter the font, she started jumping up and down and squealing. :D So CUTE! It was truly beautiful to see them enter into the covenant of baptism. Having grown up as a member of the church, I don't think I fully realized the sacredness of baptism, but I'm starting to learn more about how our Heavenly Father feels about those who enter into that covenant. It's the beginning of a life dedicated to following the example of Jesus Christ, and it was so amazing to see the [family] dressed in white, ready to start on their path toward returning to live with their Heavenly Father.
It's amazing to me how much you can love people that you've barely met. Like Derek said, it's usually hard for me to let people get close to me, or to let myself get close to them. I'm a "slow mover" when it comes to relationships, but I really feel like the Lord has been merciful with me in letting me feel love for the people here in my mission. We started teaching the [family] just a little over a month ago, but I feel like I've known them my whole life, and when they got baptized, I thought my heart might explode because I felt so much love for them. And even as I type this I'm astounded at how much I feel for them, and how happy I am that they've chosen to make covenants with their Heavenly Father. It blows my mind to think how happy He is for them, and how much love He has--perfect love--for this little family, and for all of us. I think that's the part of my testimony that has grown the most since being called as a missionary--that God really is our loving Heavenly Father. In Preach My Gospel, "God is our loving Heavenly Father" is the first heading of the first lesson, and I can see why. If we understand that God loves us and is literally our Father, then the gospel means so much more. The doctrine of Christ--faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end--means so much more, as does the Atonement, and the Plan of Salvation, and each of the commandments we've been given.
Like Derek's companionship, our companionship is now back to the finding stage. As the [family] progressed, most of our other investigators stopped progressing. Finding is very tough, and sometimes we feel like we've exhausted all of our resources. We were on a sort of missionary high with the [family,] and now we're getting back to the "dirty work" of being a missionary. Like Derek said, sometimes it's hard to talk to everybody, but that's the way the Lord has told us to do the work, so that's what we have to do. It's frustrating and sad to see people choose to say no to the gospel, especially after they've felt the Spirit and know that it's a good thing, but all we can do is invite and invite and invite. Sometimes we have days when we have 3 solid hours of tracting in our schedule, the thought of which almost makes me want to throw in the towel, but I've realized in the past week that a lot of it has to do with attitude, humility, and faith. When I look at tracting and other forms of finding as an opportunity to tell people about the love that their Savior has for them, rather than as a 3 hour block of cold hands and awkward conversations, it's a lot easier to see the miracles that happen when we put forth an honest effort to do the work the way the Lord has asked us to do it.
In other news, I finished the Book of Mormon again this week, and--like always--my testimony of this book has grown ten fold. I am kicking myself for all of the nights before my mission when I decided I was too tired to read my scriptures, or that I had too much homework or whatever. That's one habit I am promising I will keep-- to read and study the Book of Mormon daily!
Sunday, January 22, 2012
A Baptism Times 3
January 16 letter