Sunday, October 28, 2012
Jairam finally was given the Gift of the Holy Ghost yesterday! (Last week he came late to sacrament meeting so it was delayed a week.) Bishop Petersen confirmed him and his blessing talked about doing family history work, receiving Temple ordinances, serving as a priesthood holder, and doing work for his ancestors and blessing his posterity. He was glowing with happiness. We took him to a member family's house for dinner. It was happy.
Another miracle a church... a lady came for the first time with her daughter, and when I started talking to her she said that her husband is an inactive member. She decided to come for the first time yesterday. It was great! Her name is Cheri. I really hope we can teach her. I felt a lot of love for her and her family instantly upon meeting her. She seemed to really like Sunday School, which was about modern-day prophets. She participated and kept nodding her head. It would be so exciting if we could teach her and help her husband come back as well.
And other investigators continue to do well and make us proud... Julius, Lao, and others.
I have been sick for a little bit of this week, but feeling better and I hope that this week we will see lots of miracles. I am very grateful to be a missionary.
Sunday, October 21, 2012
This week's highlight was Jairam's baptism! We got to the church about an hour before his baptism was to start, and we sat down to talk about what he would say in his testimony. Usually people here just share how they met the missionaries, or their testimony/why they decided to be baptized, or some other short feelings. It's always great. Jairam's English isn't perfect so he wanted to run through it with us beforehand, which he did.
It was clear he had been deeply pondering what he would say. He compared himself to a lost sheep who had strayed from the flock and had become lost, but that he had heard the voice of his Shepherd, his Redeemer, calling him back. He said he heard the Savior's "voice" speak strongly to him when he came to this church. He felt the Spirit of God. He shared a scripture from Psalms, and another from 1 Nephi. He is so great. It was a powerful experience for me to be there at his baptism and to see how strongly he felt about this decision. This may sound funny, but in a way it felt like I was getting baptized.
He will be a strength to the church here, and later also when he is in India again. (I am also excited to have contributed, in a small way, to the Church in India... but it's nothing I did. It's all God, and Jairam's correct choices.) He is a pioneer!
Also, something cool: Julius has been in China for a business trip this week, and his plane back left on Saturday night and got in on Sunday morning... and he decided on his own to COME TO SACRAMENT MEETING! What a champion he is! It's exciting to get back to teaching him this week.
I know that the Gospel is true, and that God lives and loves us. Our Savior is always in tune with us--the only question is whether we are tuned in to be able to hear His voice, to hear the Spirit of God as it whispers to us. I am so grateful that the Gospel was restored and is available to us today.
Sunday, October 14, 2012
The big thing for this week, again, is Julius! We had a wonderful lesson with him--we taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ lesson (faith, repentance, baptism, gift of the Holy Ghost). God's Spirit was there! We were all alert and focused and felt warm and happy. We talked about how faith in Christ leads us to repent, and that a final and essential step in repentance is making a covenant with God, meaning baptism. We testified of how all the guilt of his past could be completely washed away and he could become a new person. We read from 2 Nephi 31 about how Christ set the perfect example by being baptized, and when Julius read that, he said humbly, "Even He humbled Himself and was obedient." The Spirit was so strong, and I nudged Sister Ballantyne as a green light, after which she invited him to follow Christ by being baptized. He quickly said yes, and then smiled. "I think that is the right decision for me. It's been a while. It's about time," he said, referencing that he felt it had been too long since he felt his life was devoted to God. He is really excited.
Also, he came to as many sessions of Conference as he could (three) and then told us afterwards that he "really felt the Spirit during those messages." That is amazing because he was able to recognize that he was feeling the Spirit and even articulated it to us. He had been having a hard time recognizing the Spirit when it was so obvious to us that he was feeling it... but he is resolving his own concerns. He has been reading the Book of Mormon and finding for himself the answers to his questions. He is awesome.
Also! He told us at that same lesson, "This week has been my first week without coffee." We haven't taught him the Word of Wisdom yet, but at church the previous Sunday he'd heard it mentioned that we don't drink coffee. He said, "I chose to try that out." He was really addicted but has began brushing his teeth every time he wants to drink coffee. Here, you know someone is doing well when they follow the Word of Wisdom without being nagged or even told! :)
The amazing thing about Julius is that he is not someone who was humble from the beginning. He's not someone who, after the first lesson, I knew was going to progress and "make it." Sometimes you know early on, but with him, I didn't. He is an educated man, a scientist, and he is choosing to humble himself before God. His entire countenance is changed from how it was when we first met him.
Conference was truly touching and inspiring. I took a lot of notes, and wish I had time to write about what stood out to me... maybe in later emails. We were blessed to have Zone Conference this week as well as General Conference, and I felt I was given exactly what I needed. I know that God speaks to us through a prophet. Without a doubt, Thomas S. Monson has been called of God to be God's mouthpiece. He speaks to us though him. God knows us personally and loves us.