Quotes of the week:
“Look at me. I’m 53, and finally getting it right.” -Anne
“I felt something…like this happiness I can’t even explain. I want that all the time.”- Steph
That’s right, ladies and gentlemen…the Lord’s got not one, but TWO baptisms before January ends! Brockport is the Promised Land! Steph and Anne are getting baptized on the 20th and 27th, respectively.
Which reminds me…have I completely failed to tell you about Steph? That is a huge mistake on my part, because she is one of the smartest 18-year-olds I’ve ever seen in my life. She is majoring in Mechanical Engineering, and get this–a wrestler. And a super good one too. She has been friends with a girl in our ward, Monica, (great name!) and Monica has brought her to church for about 10 years…girls camp, the whole deal. Now, Steph is not only friends with Monica, but is best friends with the oldest priest in our ward, Corey. (Mom and Dad, you met Steph on Christmas. She let me use her iPad to call you guys!) Anyway, as of about three weeks ago, she hadn’t taken the discussions yet because she made sure she wanted to investigate for the right reasons. Which is the best sign to a missionary…we can always put our money on the Spirit. So we gave her time, and didn’t push a thing. We just made sure she knew we were normal people.
One day, we get a text from Corey saying that Steph is ready to take the discussions. The second week we started teaching her, she told us of a few spiritual experiences she’s had in the past, including one she had with Corey and his family. They were just simply driving in the car on the way to a movie, all joking and laughing with each other. She said, “I felt something…like this happines I can’t even explain. I want that all the time.” We offered to set a date for baptism, but wasn’t sure she was ready yet. She wanted to know it was true before she committed to something like this, because it is a huge commitment. The third week (last week), we again offered for a goal for baptism. We shot for late February, early March…but much to our surprise, she wants to get baptized before the semester starts! We had a lengthy talk about how big of a commitment this is, and in her own words she replied with this, “If anyone gets in my way [of baptism], I’m taking them down.” Well alrighty then! She chose January 20th, complete with who she wants to bring treats. We’re teaching her again tonight!
On to Anne. Yesterday, we got the greatest opportunity to teach her at the historical sites. We drove out with a woman in our ward, Sister Arrington, who apparently has known Anne for quite a few years. They told us that they spent an hour talking about the gospel just last week! Anne’s aunt is even one of our Relief Society teachers. That makes my job so much easier. Anyway, Anne came to church, announced in Relief Socitey her baptismal date, we took off to the sites after, and then another couple in our ward invited all three of us over for dinner. It was a long day for Anne, but a pretty nice spiritual one. We took her to the Joseph Smith Farm first where we showed her where Moroni appeared to Joseph, where he hid the plates, and most importantly, where Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ themselves appeared to him as a 14-year-old boy. We then went on to the Hill Cumorah to show her that, and of course the new Restoration video. During the video, Anne was sitting in between Sister Torres and I, and had her arms around both of us. At the end of the film, she wiped away tears and said, “Look at me. I’m 53, and finally getting it right.” I don’t think it’s fair that I’m getting taught way more than I could ever teach.
Both of these situations prove that member support and fellowshipping have everything to do with everything. And that the Spirit has everything to do with everything. And the Lord has everything to do with everything. How in the world am I at the perfect spot at the right time? The spirit prepares these people. It’s up to us to find them, teach them, and baptize them. We help them realize this happiness they have inside. Pre-mission, when I thought of missionaries “getting” baptisms, I thought it depended on how hard you worked and how much you put into them. As I’ve had friends serve, and especially myself getting the chance to serve, I’ve realized it’s just being at the right place at the right time. Of course we have to work hard, but nothing is about the missionary. We are simply the guides in bringing this kind of life to them.
Let me explain with a perfect quote from President Spencer W. Kimball: “Now is the moment in the timebale of the Lord to carry the gospel farther than it has ever been carried before. Many a person in this world is crying, knowingly and unknowingly, ‘Come over and help us.’ He might be your neighbor. She might be your friend. He might be a relative. She might be someone you met only yesterday. But we have what they need. Let us take new courage from our studies and pray, as did Peter, ‘And now, Lord…grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word.’ (Acts 4:29)”
That’s all I have for this week…but it is probably the biggest news of my mission yet. I have helped two of God’s children come to the knowledge of Him. But that doesn’t mean we get to kick our feet up and watch the show. The baptisms haven’t happened yet, and Satan is still working harder than ever to stop that from happening. We need to work harder than ever to make sure that Steph and Anne are both on the right track to becoming missionaries for themselves. I love being a full-time missionary myself, even though I do find myself counting the days until P-day sometimes! It is the best work to ever be involved in, and also the hardest. I’ll be the first to tell you that choosing to go on a mission will be the most challenging decision you’ll ever make in your life, but it will also be the very best. It’s not “the best two years” in the moment–it’s the best two years for your life. Even coming to New York, I feel as if I’ve hitched my wagon of luggage and have ran the opposite way my ancestors did…back into the battleground of the Restoration. I’m doing this to prove that the work they did almost 200 years ago was worth it, and I know they are the ones guiding me through this journey of ups and downs. That right there motivates me to work hard every single day.