Monday, July 20, 2015

Amber's Baptism!

This is what exhaustion feels like.

I've been around quite a few companions in their last couple weeks, and they always express how tired they are. Or they get really, really sick, as if their body has given up. I already surpassed the really, really sick part. That was last month's problem. But I think the tiredness is kicking in. Maybe it was just a stressful week and all of this is just spilling over from that.

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." ;) But it's not defeat or surrender. I love this work. And I think that I would go into Anaphylactic Shock if we ever took time to just sit down and rest. So to work we go! Because the work is moving SO fast down here! Amber got baptized and confirmed this week!!!

Satan tried really hard to convince her she wasn't ready, that she wasn't worthy, or that she was making the wrong decision. He even made sure she got a flat tire on her way to church yesterday. But she's too strong. She wants too badly to change her life, and to prove to God that she wants to follow Him, so she didn't let that stop her. :) And after her baptism, it seemed like so many of her fears and doubts melted away. She seemed more confident, more understanding. And she was ecstatic about the choice that she had made. I have a good feeling that we will be friends with Amber forever. We've been there to help her through a countless number of issues, and to see her change, truly change, for the better has been remarkable.

Bishop Gillespie was able to baptize her, so the photos are kind of a scattered mash up of his kids and hers. So the blonde kids are his and the Hispanic ones are hers. :)

And Jayme is getting baptized this upcoming weekend! Then we've made plans to go to the Temple with both of them by the end of July, and we're so excited for that! The temple has such an unmistakable spirit inside of it, and to be able to take people there and show them how special it feels inside is one of many ways to help them verify the glory of the covenants they have made.

This week we were able to take a Recent Convert to the temple named Brother Arthurs. He's about 80 years old and the sweetest man I've met to date. He only has the stamina to do one baptism at a time, but that one baptism on behalf of his half brother had him grinning from ear to ear; I'd never seen him smile quite like that before.

I think I've only scratched the surface of the miracles we saw this week, they have become too numerous to express, but I've learned something about miracles in the past little while; they come to those who believe in miracles. Not just because you believe them and they appear, but because you're more aware that all that is given to us is, indeed, a miracle from our father in heaven. He loves us so much more than we can comprehend. And because of that, he actively involves himself in the details of our lives. If it's important to us, it's important to him. Be it work, school, or play, He's helping us call the shots.

The other day, one of the High Councilmen said, "You know what I don't like about you missionaries?" we laughed, because he's a pretty straightforward guy. "What's that?" "You guys use the word "miracles" way too loosely. You call every tiny thing a miracle!"

Naturally, whenever he's around, we poke fun at that comment. "Sister! I found my last Altoid! It's a miracle!"

But I've thought a lot about that comment, because he's right...and he's wrong. I am way more aware of God's hand in my life now than I ever was before my mission. I basically attributed everything to myself or to the people around me, but every good thing does indeed come from God. Maybe we used our agency well in order to earn it, but it was still God's doing that we received it at all. So I have redefined the word miracle, which I previously thought of as a marvelous, magical display of God's power, to now mean anything that happens in my life or in the life of others that could not possibly have happened without God's help. Which is pretty much everything. :)

This seemed to be an overarching theme in church yesterday. The talks were all centered around not just doing, but BEING. You can't teach children not to yell by yelling at them, or not to hit by spanking them. In that same regard, what we constantly think about, we will become. If we fill our lives with Christ and His teaching, the perfect example, the perfect leader, then we will truly be perfected in Him. You'll have to forgive me if my letters all sound incredibly redundant; it must be that spiritual progress and perfection are fascinations of mine, and so opportunities to learn about them are particularly encouraging for me.

In conclusion, one of the speakers shared Hebrews 12:6. "Whom the Lord loves, He chastens". And why wouldn't He?! Why wouldn't He give us opportunities to grow? When a parent corrects a child, it isn't to exercise unrighteous dominion, or to put down the child so it feels lower than them. It is because the parent knows that child can live up to a higher standard, and they can see, from experience, how tweaking the minor things can make a big difference in the overall outcome. I know that's why we're here; striving to perfect ourselves and be better each day so that we can feel God's love more abundantly in our lives.

I'm grateful for this knowledge, and I am grateful for all of you!
I hope you see the miracles in your lives every day.


Sister Best

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