Tuesday, March 18, 2014

As a Companionship, Sister Woods and I have had the goal of helping as many Zones as possible achieve the Standard of Excellence (one baptism per month) in April. To do this, we called all of the Zone Leaders and offered our presence and support if it was needed in their Zone Trainings. I would like to share some success stories we had from this initiative. 

We were very impressed with the Lincoln Zone Training. They split their Zone into groups and did workshops to help each companionship, and helped everyone realize that the Standard of Excellence was achievable. We heard from Elder Solomon and Elder Haws that their Zone was so inspired after the training, that their missionaries went out and set four baptismal dates that same afternoon! As Sister Training Leaders, Sister Woods and I enjoy working with Elder Solomon and Elder Haws because of their work ethic and dedication. It is so refreshing to work with Elders that use us and help us fulfill our purpose as well as aiding them in accomplishing their own.

This week in our Area we did a Church Tour with a student named Jacob. First off, Sister Woods and I both think that Jacob look and acts VERY European. We sometimes joke with him and ask him if he is sure he is from a little town in Wisconsin. He acts, dresses and even eats European! Anyways, he is a delight to teach. Surprisingly, he was actually Anti-Mormon last semester, but over the past two months his heart has been softened towards the LDS Church. We met him last week, and this Saturdaywe took Jacob on a Church Tour. We recalled your promise that stated if we read 3 Nephi 11 in front of the baptismal font that our investigators would commit to baptism. Jacob has been so prepared by the Lord, and we felt confident in moving forward and inviting him to be baptized. We took Jacob around, and ended in the Relief Society Room. We sat down in front of the Font, and started to talk about Baptism. Jacob had previously posed a question asking which teachings of Christ were found in the Book of Mormon. We lead with that into 3 Nephi 11, and talked of when Christ visited the Americas. Half-way through the chapter, the Fellow-shipper paused and bore his testimony to Jacob of the truthfulness of the Church and the Restored Gospel. At the end of the chapter, we talked about the Gift of the Holy Ghost and how that is different from the Power of the Holy Ghost. Sister Woods and I told Jacob that we wanted him to have the Gift of the Holy Ghost before he went back to Wisconsin for the Summer, and asked him if he wanted it too. He was quiet for a moment or two, and then said yes, he did want that. We then invited him to follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized, and he said yes to the 29th of March! Little did we know, but that chapter in the Book of Mormon answered some questions that he had in his mind that Jacob was a bit hesitant to ask. We are so excited for Jacob and his progression to follow our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.

This Sunday we had a baptism in our Family Stake with a sixteen-year old girl named Halle. She is positively a delight, and so many people love her. Yesterday went very smoothly, until about fifteen minutes before the baptism. We had sixty chairs set up, but people kept on coming and coming! We found out that quite a bit of her family, Mother's co-workers, Mother's boyfriend's co-workers, Halle's friends from School and Rodeo practice were going to come in addition to people in the Ward! Soon we realized it would be about 120 people! We started to haul in more chairs from other classrooms, and soon the room was full to the brim with chairs, people, crying children, etc. We also had Jacob and another investigator named Ayeli there with friends, so we were trying to squeeze them in there too. We reached a point where if one more person came we would have to meet in the Chapel and only go to this room for the actual ordinance of baptism! We were nervously watching the door, waiting for that one more person to walk in, but thankfully everyone had arrived and the baptism started on time. It was a beautiful service, and it was so sweet.

 Halle was very close to a family in the Ward called the Swindimen's, and she had the Dad baptize her. Brother Swindimen started saying the prayer, "Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ....." but then paused. I could not see his face since I was in the back, and I was afraid that he had forgotten it! He then said, with great emotion and tears streaming down his face, "I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen." Halle went under the water, and when she came out she gave Brother Swindimen a hug. It was such a beautiful and touching moment to see Brother Swindimen baptize Halle, who he loved just like his own daughter after so many years of trying to help her find the truth.

 Moments like this make life worth it. It makes those trials and hardships in life worth going through in order to realize what life is truly all about- Love. God's love for us, and our love for each other. That is why Adam and Eve needed to Fall from God's presence. They needed to partake of the forbidden fruit to understand happiness and sadness. We need to have trials so that we can appreciate the good times and have joy with one another. Our scripture that we are reciting for the next three months is in 2 Nephi 2. "Adam fell that men might be, and men are that they might have joy. And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time that he may redeem the children of men from the fall. And because of that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon." I do not know if I truly appreciated the choices and agency I was given growing up until I went to places where others did not have that. Some are limited my mental health, others are kept away from the truth, even though they so desperately want it, but because of obstinate and oppressive leaders, or even parents- they cannot choose for themselves. I have seen the blessings come to those that do choose the correct path and get on the right course. I have seen the joy come into their lives.  This makes all of the hard days, the sickness, the doors slammed in our faces, the yelling, the crude comments, vulgar terms and sometimes even violence worth it when I see the Gospel change someone's life. My mission is worth all that I have and am giving up. In reflection, those things I am "missing out on" do not even seem worth it in the long run because of what I can do to help others. I love my Mission, and I love Idaho. I really, really, really do not want to leave Rexburg. I have grown so much and felt so fulfilled by helping out the people in Rexburg, Sunnydell, Lyman and Archer.

I feel blessed to serve on Campus. The longer I am here in Rexburg, I feel that I needed to be called here for the BYU-Idaho students, and Sister Woods was meant to be here for the Rexburg South Stake. We both fulfill our purposes in bringing souls to Christ, and have gained such lasting connections with so many great people. Another reason why I say I feel that I am for the BYU-Idaho Students is because quite a few of them will be leaving for the Spring Semester, and did not really know what they were going to do when they returned home. I told them that I would be returning to Nauvoo and would have time each day to teach investigators over the phone and online. After they heard that, they were excited and asked if they could continue the lessons, new member lessons, or even just get an occasional spiritual thought from me while I was there. Of course I said yes, and I feel so blessed to be able to aid the Lord in His work.

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