May 16, 2010
Hello family and friends!
Sorry I didn’t have an email last week, the Mother’s Day schedule of phone calls took up quite a bit of time, so sacrifices had to be made. But, I am still alive, and the work here in Springvale is also still very much alive. At this point, I have finished my second transfer (each transfer being six weeks), so things are about to change once again.
My companion, Elder Petty, is leaving, and so is Elder Peek.
Elder Vaiho and I will be staying here in Springvale. Elder Peek is quite torn about it, because he has been here for all 2 1/2 months of his time in Australia and really loves this ward. His first converts are here, and they are wonderful people. We don’t yet know where they are going, they’ll find out tomorrow. That’s just how it works. I’m also a bit sad that I won’t be seeing Elder Peek every day, but I was lucky to have been given my time in the first place by President Lindley, and it was a lot of fun. He’ll soon be able to see what the rest of Australia is like. Springvale isn’t quite like your average Australia, because it’s full of people from Asia for some reason. I remember the differences between Springvale and Berwick, and they’re quite different. So I’m excited for him. He adds a lot of joy to the wards because he is so outgoing and comic. The ward is going to miss him, so that leaves big shoes for Elder Vaiho and I to fill.
Elder Petty is a bit bummed because we found a couple really great people in the past few weeks, not to mention Ellen Blake’s baptism this Saturday! Now I have to put together the program myself! That’s going to be tough. Elder Peek has been my contact/liaison for the ward. It will be very tricky.
The mission is losing 10 Elders and gaining 4, so some areas will need to be closed down. Springvale has been divided into East and West, so it is likely to become just one area for 2 Elders, probably me and Elder Vaiho. That will give us a lot of work to do, because both of us have lots of investigators and Springvale is thick with potentials. It will also be much more quiet with only two Elders in the flat. I suppose that’s the whole point of transfers though; keeping things new and fresh.
So, what has happened this week?
Ellen has been investigating the church for about 8 months now, so her baptism has the entire ward excited. It’s funny, because she has attended church for some time, her sisters are members, she has her own Triple (Book of Mormon, D&C, Pearl of Great Price) which is all marked up, she attends Institute, and she is dating a returned missionary. It really has only been a matter of time. But, Elder Petty and I were privileged to teach her about the importance of baptism, which is making the promise with God to follow him and strive to be like him, and then strengthen her along the way to making that choice. Her concern has been her mother who is an active Methodist who is a bit cold towards the Church. But, in understanding the role of the Spirit testifying, she was able to stand up for herself to make this choice. We saw her at church yesterday, and she was looking so excited. She has family coming to perform musical numbers, speak, and her Uncle will be baptizing her, so it will be an amazing experience.
Last week on our way towards an appointment, Elder Petty and I were walking down Springvale Road. When you’re walking, there’s always the episodes where you see somebody coming towards you on the sidewalk, and you have to decide how you’re going to talk to them. This person was a young adult, scruffy, a bit of ragged clothes, smoking, earrings, and a general appearance of a person who would blow us off without a second thought. “We’re going to talk to this guy,” I said. “Yeah, I guess we have to,” said Elder Petty. So we talked to him.
“Hi, how are you today?”
“Doing pretty good, yourselves?”
“Alright, we’re fine. Where you heading off to?”
“Oh, I’m just on my way to a job interview. What about you guys, what are you doing?”
We don’t get that question very often. Normally folks are defensive, repulsed, or confused. We told him who we were, what we do, and engaged him a bit. He talked a bit about his religious history of being raised Catholic, but losing his way a bit and having to go through a lot. After we offered to teach him, he was immediately accepting. Despite his intimidating appearance, he was actually a really friendly, easygoing, open-minded person. So we got his information and saw him on Saturday.
On Saturday, we spent time getting to know a bit of his past, family life, but also a lot of small talk. But once we got the TV powered off and started talking about the Holy Ghost, the Spirit was immediately present. We talked for a long time, teaching about the nature of God and His plan, how understanding and coming closer to Him has blessed us, and how we do so through study and prayer. We introduced the Book of Mormon, and read passages about the Atonement and feeling a forgiveness of things we do wrong, like Alma 36. He had said, “I just feel like the last 10 years of my life have been a downward spiral.” I asked if he feels guilty about the mistakes he’s made. He said, “Definitely. All the time.” And then Elder Petty said, “Well, John, would you like to begin your upward spiral?” “…Yeah, I would.” So we left him
the Book of Mormon to read with selected passages, and I’ll be following up with him tomorrow. As we left that day, he continued walking with us down the footpath as we headed for the bus stop, continuing to talk to us. It was as if he wasn’t sure he could let go. He’s so friendly and humble, and I knew he could feel the Spirit and wanted to be as close to it as possible for as long as possible. I can’t wait to see where the Gospel takes him.
Also, Anthony is doing better than ever. He cracks jokes all the time, bounces off to class with anticipation, and is devotedly following the things we teach. I’m so proud of him.
Well, time is up for today. I miss you all, but I love the work I get to do here. Remember to keep in touch and tell me how you are doing so I know you haven’t fallen off the face of the Earth. I pray for you. I love you!
-Elder Scott Baker