Monday, December 3, 2012

Brenda's baptism

           This week was definitely an eventful one. Monday through Thursday were really slow. It seemed like we didn’t really get anything accomplished. We had a couple lessons but overall it just seemed a little slow. Friday we were just lucky enough to get to go to ZLC for another 6 hour meeting. It was actually really good. Something that stuck out to me was something President Clark told us. A missionary that came out on his mission the same time as me flew home this weekend. He has had a very hard mission and I can’t even count the things that have happened to him. This story could have been a sad one about another missionary getting sent home early. But what was said next was the thing that I really liked hearing. This missionary going home doesn’t really have anything to go home to. So President Clark helped him get into BYU Idaho and Elder Ditto who was the AP when I first got out on my mission is driving to the airport to pick him up. He is going to pretty much take care of him. He is moving in with Elder Ditto and 2 other missionaries who recently went home. The reason I thought this was so cool was because I’m sure there are a ton of missionaries who when they go home off of their missions are so glad that they don’t have to deal with the problem missionaries anymore. But these 3 missionaries have taken their calling to the next level and are taking care of and loving people long past their 2 years. It makes me hope that I am willing to do the things that they are doing when I get home.

The rest of ZLC was really normal. We went through and figured out how many baptisms are 100% going to go through this month. When we figured that all out we were set to end the year with 360 baptisms and our goal the entire year has been 365. As you can guess our mission is very fervently praying and working to try to find 5 more people to bring to this gospel before the year is over.

            The best/most stressful/craziest part of the week this week was Brenda's baptism. We were planning on going to pick her up and drive her to the church at 11:30. But of course baptisms can’t run smoothly or it would just be too easy. There were some complications and Brenda wasn’t quite ready to go until 1:00. We flew to the church and tried to get everything ready as fast as we could. One of the things we were trying to figure out was how to baptize her. Brenda is in a wheelchair and can take a few steps but can’t walk very well. So our original plan was to have her walk down into the font and then sit in a chair and she would just get leaned back out of the chair. What a missionary plans very rarely actually works so of course this one didn’t. When Elder Williams tried to dip her under she went maybe half way and it just wasn’t working. So we had Elder Vaka jump in the font and him and Elder Williams were just going to dunk her like normal. Things got even more complicated because Brenda is afraid of going all the way under the water so she was freaking out a little bit. Even though she had 2 6 foot 4 huge elders in there helping her she was afraid of going under the water and them not being able to pick her up out of it. This baptism was a good example of Satan fighting up until the very last second to try to get her to back out. When she finally got a little more prepared they dunked her and it went perfectly.

Personally my favorite part was right after she came out of the water. Lots of Brenda’s friends and family where there to watch her and they aren’t members so they don’t really know much about our church. I spent the first little bit of her in the water telling them they all had to put their cameras away, but it was great when she came out of the water because they all just started cheering and clapping. Not your normal baptism but it worked. When Brenda stood up and wiped her face off she looked out and just yelled "I did it!!" It definitely wasn’t your average baptism but it works. As the bishop was trying to get everyone to go back into the relief society room I walked past a lady in our ward who said "I’m going to stay and enjoy the Spirit that’s right here." Even though it was definitely a weird one, the Spirit was still strong and everyone in the room that day knew that Brenda made the right decision.

            Talking to Brenda after her baptism, compared to before, is like two different people. I had the opportunity to give her the gift of the Holy Ghost in sacrament meeting and she was just beaming. In just 24 hours she has gone from reading and praying and going to church because she knew she was supposed to, to doing all of those things because she LOVES to. She called us this morning and had a bunch of questions about a chapter she was reading. I got to talk to her for about 20 minutes and answer some of her questions and afterwards she just got so excited and was saying how much she loves reading now and how amazing it is to learn all of this new stuff from the scriptures. Seeing the effort and love she puts into reading and praying now makes me want to be better. We should all love doing those things as much as she does.

            Something else I have learned this week is to appreciate the simple things we know in this church. In Sunday School this week when we taught Brenda about baptisms for the dead she almost fell out of her chair she was so excited to hear she could get her dad baptized. Simple truths I have been lucky enough to have for my entire life are just blowing her mind because they are so amazing to her. I am so thankful for the opportunity that I have had to see these changes in her and in so many others.

With transfer calls coming up this next week I have a lot of different emotions than I thought I would. Me and Elder Loveless were talking last night about how we have been kinda excited to leave our areas ever since we got to them. We just haven’t really clicked in them like we did in our last areas. But over the last week or two Fairview and O’Fallon (Elder Loveless' area) things have just exploded and great things have happened. So now that the time when both of us have a good chance to get transferred is here we aren’t as excited as we thought we were going to be. But wherever I go I know that’s where God needs me. If it’s out in the middle of nowhere or in the middle of the city I know I won’t be sent anywhere without a good reason. I will let you all know what happens next week.

And I have to close by congratulating McKay Hansen on his mission call. I have no idea if he is reading this or not, but that is so cool that you are going to Uruguay! It’s about time we get you out of our country. America can only handle you for so long. I hope all those weird Spanish movies I watched you make paid off so you can go and speak it now. You’re going to be an amazing missionary.

I am so thankful for the opportunity that I have to serve a mission and I am so thankful for all of my friends who are making the same great decision. I am blessed beyond belief with amazing friends both back home and out here in the field and I am thankful for the knowledge that I have that these friendships last more than just this lifetime.

Elder Banks

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