April 25, 2010
Hello my family and friends,
How is everybody? This has been a varied week. Difficult, eye-opening, and insightful. Let’s see how I can describe it.
Elder (Kieren, not Tom) Petty is my companion, from Queensland Australia. He’s been out I think 16 months, so he’s quite experienced. I need his experience, because I’m still pretty new to the area and haven’t seen how best to work in an area that was not left in the greatest shape from previous Elders and not having a clear understanding of the population, ward, and history. Most of our work has been in re-organizing the area book to see which former investigators we can visit, and also finishing up the preparations for Anthony’s baptism. Numberwise we really didn’t do a lot, but this organization hopefully will spot us for a great week this week. Oh, and I also had my first baptism of my mission yesterday. Is that exciting or what?
I remember Dad telling me during a baptism of a convert in Belmont to do a better job of organizing it than they did. Well let me tell you, organizing a baptism is really hard! You have to make programs, so you have to make time to go to the library, wrestle with Microsoft, and print it out so you can later make copies at the chapel. But you also have to enlist the help of members, so hopefully they will answer the phone and hopefully it’s not too rude to ask for them to prepare a talk (assuming the investigator doens’t pull any surprises and cancels/pushes the date back), maybe ask them to bring food, provide clothing, etc. After being at church only once, this is very hard to do. Ideally the ward mission leader can help, but communicating with him is sometimes tricky. I can’t go into details of how, but it just is. If you can wrestle all the elements together for a strong service, it’s very powerful for the members and the converts, and makes the missionaries look really good, which encourages the members to help them and feed them more (important things!). If we mess up and put things together sloppily, it makes us look really really bad. Luckily, we did a good job. probably a B. Oh, and Elder Peek and I thought it was funny that we both performed our first baptisms on the same day. He baptized an Indian couple, Gagandeep and Novleen Rehel. It was really cool.
Anthony said the baptism made him feel 30 years younger. He had such a wide smile on his face. We’ll be working with him more to re-teach him things and keep him on track to continue in the church. Hopefully hometeachers will step up soon, and Anthony will receive a calling as well. Unfortunately, because the baptism was on Sunday after church, he won’t get confirmed until next week. Still, it’s great. It’s awesome that something like this really happened, I had never seen myself capable of bringing somebody to the full gospel until now. Wow.
We also worked with somebody named Ellen Blake. Ellen has an RM boyfriend, attends church, conference, and even institute. She has a trio, takes notes in it, and her sisters are all members. The missionaries have been working with her family almost for 6 years, probably more. I was told by President Lindley and several others to start teaching her, that she was ready. We finally got the chance last Tuesday, and had an amazing lesson. She felt the Spirit so strongly, it squeezed the tears out of her. She said she wanted to be baptized! We just haven’t yet set a definite date yet, she wanted to talk to her mom first. That should come this week.
Another thing we did this week was a deep cleaning of the flat. Honestly, our flat probably hadn’t been cleaned in over
6 months. Elder Petty was scraping the dead grass and dirt off the brick backyard, Elder Peek was vacuuming every corner, and I spent three hours with a heavy duty sponge scraping off all the gunk in the kitchen. After that day, I felt so much more at peace as I came home, but we still have more work to do in the bathrooms, and the floor always needs another vacuum. I had a pretty good appreciation of mom before I left, but now that respect has gone up tenfold, especially considering how other Elders tend not to pick up after themselves. I probably get a little twitch in my eye every time I see a plate not cleared or food not put away. Mom, I love you!
Living with Elder Peek is just so much fun. Don’t worry, we still get our work done, but it is great to have him to joke with. A couple nights ago we read Alma 51, where Teancum slays Amalickiah, in the most dramatic ways possible. You really find creative ways to have fun on your mission.
I’m sorry I haven’t yet sent pictures, it’s just difficult to get all the necessary components together to arrange it, and there were a few more things I wanted to document before sending it off. I will try to bring that closer today.
Things are going really well. I think I say that every week, but it’s true. I feel good. The mission is good. You really don’t get the chance to work like this at any other time in your life. Once, due to poor planning, I accidentally went into public to pick up some quick food while still in exercise clothes, and I felt so strange. Blending in makes you, well, blend in. I wanted to talk to the lady next to me, see how she was doing, what she was up to for the day, and if she would be interested in the gospel, but without my proper clothes on, and especially my nametag, that was just not an option. I thought to myself, “Yeah, I’m not ready to go back yet.” So that’s how it goes. I’m excited to see where this role takes me next.
I love you all. Keep sending your letters of encouragement, they make a strong difference when times do get tough. Thank you.
Elder Scott Baker