October 31, 2016
So, ummmm, baptisms are the best
LISA GOT BAPTIZED ON SATURDAY!!! The end.
Just kidding! That is the most exciting thing that happened this past week, but it is by no means the only thing. But oh my goodness it was SO GREAT to see her get baptized and confirmed this weekend! One of the cutest miracles was that Sister James, our mission president's wife, was able to come to the confirmation. Lisa had met President and Sister James a few times before and just loves them (not a surprise, they are some of the sweetest people I know) and hoped they could come to her baptism. They weren't able to, due to their crazy busy schedules, but Sister James was able to be there on Sunday when Lisa got confirmed. They waved to each other as Lisa walked up to the front and it was just the cutest thing <3 Anyway, Lisa's baptism was AMAZING! She was just so excited and the Spirit was there so strongly! There was a great turnout from the ward ( please please PLEASE go to baptisms in your ward. Especially when it is a convert baptism. It doesn't matter if you have never met them. Just go. Seriously. It will mean so much to the person getting baptized to see how many people are there and supporting them.) and it was so sweet to see how many people already love Lisa. This ward is the best! Yes, I know I say that about all of my wards, but that is because I keep getting put in the best wards.
OH! LAURA! Laura is an investigator sisters have been working with since about May. She has had a baptismal date a few times, but there were always some issues getting in her way. Long story short, those issues have now all been dealt with and she is making incredible progress! She has always struggled with reading in general, so reading the Book of Mormon (or any scriptures) was hard for her. But recently she has been reading every single day (and reading more than just the one verse we asked her to) and she has been understanding it! It has been miraculous to see how much the Holy Ghost is able to help her. She has been living God's commandments and she is being blessed for it. We were kind of at a point with her where she needed to keep her commitments or we were going to stop teaching her. Obviously we were hoping for the former option. Something finally clicked for her and she started keeping her commitments! Her whole attitude has changed and I can see things are making sense to her! I have loved teaching Laura and being forced to adjust my own perceptions and opinions. There have been times where I didn't think she understood what we were teaching at all or that she didn't care, but I am so grateful to be wrong. She doesn't understand things the way I do or even the way I think she should, but she does understand. Heavenly Father knows her and what she needs so much more than I do. He knows how to teach her and what will help the gospel make sense to her. I am so grateful that the Holy Ghost is the one that teaches her, not me. If it had been all up to me, I would never have been able to teach her the way she needed to be taught. Teaching her has been such a blessing to me. Oh yeah, she's getting baptized on November 12th. Sorry I didn't mention that earlier :)
So Drina (the miracle investigator from last week) said something that struck me. We had another lesson with her this past week and we ended up explaining how we came to be here in Durham. We told her that an Apostle of the Lord assigned each of us to the North Carolina Raleigh Mission and that President James prayed and felt we needed to be here in Durham 2. As we told her that this is what we do all day, every day, she was so impressed. She was amazed that we are making such "huge" sacrifices to give up work, school, and our normal lives for 18 months. It seemed strange to me while she spoke and I couldn't figure out why until I was talking to Sister Ruske later that night. I realized that I don't see my mission as a sacrifice, not even a little bit. I have seen too many miracles and grown too much to see these 18 months as a sacrifice. What I get to do every single day is worth far more than anything I left behind. Yes, of course there are days when I miss home and all the people I love, but sharing the gospel that I love so much brings me more joy than anything else I have found. Seeing people like Lisa find the truth and knowing that Heavenly Father prepared them is worth it. So no, my mission is not a sacrifice, it is the greatest blessing I have ever been given. Yes, there things that I have had to give up or put on hold, but those things will never be more important than my brothers and sisters.
Oh, another small miracle. This one I will probably never see the end result of. We got to a lesson early and had about 20 minutes to tract. So we prayed that we would be able to find someone to teach and help them feel the Spirit. No one was home in the building that we felt we should knock (except for a lady who spoke Spanish. In my very limited Spanish and her equally small amount of English, we figured out that she is already meeting with the Hermanas), until one man walked out of the apartment. So of course we started talking to him and asked him who he knew that we could teach. It turns out that he didn't live there, he was just the repairman. He lives in Cary and is meeting with the elders there! We talked to him about the Atonement and bore our testimonies to him. He told us that he has been meeting with the elders for a while and we asked him if he had ever thought about getting baptized. He told us "I think that's where I'm headed, it feels like the next step". We invited him to pray about the Book of Mormon and to know if he should be baptized. I wish I could see the look on those elders faces when this man comes to them and tells them he wants to be baptized. Even though we didn't find a new investigator, I know that we were supposed to meet and talk to this man.
Moral of this email: miracles happen when you share the gospel. "The thing which will be of most worth unto you will be to declare repentance unto this people, that you may bring souls unto me, that you may rest with them in the kingdom of my Father. " (D&C 15:6) I testify that this gospel is the greatest blessing that we could ever receive. Sharing it is not a burden, it is the greatest source of joy. Sharing the gospel is not being pushy or rude, it is loving your brothers and sisters enough to invite them to come back home with you. Our home is not here, it is with our Father in Heaven who loves each of us so much that He sent His Son, our perfect older brother, to suffer and die for us. Something will be required of you, something you will have to leave behind or change, but at the end of the day, we are promised to be blessed far more than we can begin to imagine.