Wow! Elder Rose and I set baptismal dates with four of our investigators this week. It was truly a miracle. Let me tell you about these people. The first and probably most miraculous one was a great man named Ivan James who is originally from the Caribbean. He is a very quiet, professional kind of person – Elder Rose says, “He has class.” His wife Pearlie is an active member, and he has been attending church with her almost every week for a while now. They have two teenage foster children to whom they are great parents. The missionaries have been teaching Ivan for several months now and although he had read from the Book of Mormon and prayed he had not received an answer to his prayer. The missionaries set a date with him by which he would try to obtain an answer about the truth of the Church, and the lesson this week (my first lesson with him) was the first since the deadline. Before the lesson we spoke for a while about the James’ children and how they have to exercise a lot of patience with them when they do things wrong. When we followed up on Ivan’s search for an answer, he admitted that he hadn’t been reading or praying as he should have. Guided by the Spirit, Elder Rose showed Ivan how Heavenly Father must feel the same way towards him as he feels towards his sons when they don’t do what they should. It was a great spiritual moment, and I sensed that it helped Ivan feel even more humble than he was before. As we began teaching about baptism, Ivan asked us where we perform baptisms and if we baptize only at certain times of the year. We explained that we had a couple of baptismal services coming up, one on July 11th and one on August 1st, and Elder Rose boldly invited Ivan to be baptized on the 1st! Ivan very calmly accepted. Wow! We continued teaching and promised Ivan tons of blessings for being baptized. Something Elder Durkin told me when we were serving together is that you always want your investigators to tell you they want to be baptized rather than you bringing it up and challenging them – when they do that, you know they’re really committed. I really feel that Ivan asked about baptism because he already had felt and decided that he wanted to be baptized, and I can tell that he is committed to it. It’s so exciting to watch him making that commitment, especially because he will make such a strong member.
Later that day we set another August 1st baptismal date with an investigator named Andy Winterbottom. When we first taught him after street contacting him, he talked a lot about the Bible and we didn’t have great hope for his baptismal potential. But then on the second lesson he’d read from the Book of Mormon and really enjoyed it (he read Mosiah 1-4 and described it as “The Song of Benjamin”). We read from 2 Nephi 2 and he was enlightened by the Spirit as he realized that God knew Adam and Eve would partake of the fruit and built his plan around it. He got really excited about it and kept on telling us that the Book of Mormon had “opened his eyes.” He came to stake conference on Sunday, riding the bus himself, and when we taught him he was very willing to be baptized and even explained to us how his previous Church of England baptism was not really valid. We explained that he needed to be worthy to be baptized and read from 1 Corinthians 3 about how our bodies are temples. When we asked him what things he thought he needed to stop taking into his body he said “Coffee” right away and made plans with us that he would gradually replace drinking coffee with drinking orange juice. Another committed investigator! I really like Andy and am really excited to see him get baptized. He’s in Germany all week on holiday but said he will ring us as soon as he gets back.
We also set dates with a new investigator named Bethel Egbuna who got on the church website and requested to go through our training program and become a missionary (!) and an investigator named Aviline Mouga who is from Cameroon (French-speaking) and has 4 children aged 8, 6, 4, and 2. Through a miracle, the ward was able to provide a lift for Aviline and her whole family to come to church!
Thank you as always for your consistency in letter writing! I also enjoy the various updates from extended family, etc. (although your letters are usually the highlight). I will definitely take Ruth up on her offer of a guided tour of Israel. : ) I just got the letter with the note from Peter Olson in it. I haven’t read through it fully yet, but I noticed it mentions Darin Brinley. I’d forgotten he went to Tokyo. Between those two and Scott Bullock, who left for the MTC on Saturday to go eventually to Tokyo, I now know three people in that mission. Kind of cool.
I have to go now but I love you all. I feel like I’m living the dream right now!