December 5, 2010
It’s December. Fair Dinkum! And it’s hot! But what worries me more is the sun, since Australia has pretty much zero ozone layer. Before we go out walking for too long I put on heaps of sunblock. The sun really bites you. The odd thing is that I’m used to Christmas being that busy part of the year where you’re finishing up school or work before the holidays and trying to get all your shopping in. It’s hectic. Here, the kids are getting ready for summer break. People are slowing down. The AC is on, the mozzies are about, locusts are clouding up the sky, the barbies are on (barbecues, not dolls), and yet you still have decorations of snowflakes and evergreen trees. Santa still rides a sleigh pulled by reindeer. They also have him in summer clothing and that, but I haven’t seen much of it yet.
Some members have given us ties for Christmas that have a flashing red light and bleep some Christmas tunes when you squeeze it. We were walking around with them at church while the ties wished everybody a wordless Merry Christmas. That’s pretty neat!
We also performed our Christmas Pageant again–twice! And as luck would have it, we had a thunderstorm on our heels. On Thursday we had to rush it inside the chapel about halfway through. Elder Bartle’s wet robes bleeded into his white shirt. Now it’s pink. Haha! But the show still went great. President Lifferth came up to see it, which the branch loved. We also had an investigator, Michael, come to the show on Friday. At the end of the show, his eyes were a little red. When I asked him how he liked it, he reverently said, “I really enjoyed that. I actually enjoyed that more than I thought I would, not to be rude. I just felt relaxed. That was great.” That was the spirit. He was happy the whole rest of the night. We’re really excited to talk to him more about that later.
On Tuesday, I once again drove all the way down to Melbourne for leadership training. The way it works now is that since the missions are so big and President doesn’t have time to hold a conference for every single zone very often, he holds one conference with all the leadership once a month in the city, which the leaders then relay to their districts. That gives district leaders a major responsibility.
One more little story before I go… We were doorknocking yesterday, and at one door, this guy opens the door and says, “Hello! How are you? Would you like a drink? Would you like to come inside where it’s cool? Come on in! I’ll go put on a shirt! Jan, a couple of the Mormon boys are here, I’m getting them some mint water!” I’ve learned on my mission to always accept offered kindness, but this never happens. At first I wondered if this was some Bible bashing trap, but we could tell he was a genuine guy. The mint water was delicious. Just soak mint leaves in filtered water, mm! I asked him why he was so nice, he said he respects what we do, and there’s no reason to be rude to good people trying to do good things. Not that he was interested, of course. We saw their Christmas tree, so we simply inquired about their beliefs. They said they were Christian, not a particular type. The man, Peter, said sometimes his faith wavers. I asked why. He said there is so much confusion these days, so many denominations, people saying “I’m right, you’re wrong,” etc. “Have you heard the story of Joseph Smith?” I asked. They then insisted they weren’t interested, and I said, “Well no, the reason I ask is because the reason why we are here is because of that question, which he wondered as well.” We then explained he was called as a Prophet just like the old times, and the Book of Mormon is the proof. We gave it to them as a gift, thanking them for their kindness. No preaching, just an invitation. It was great. I told him when his faith wavers, just try reading the Book of Mormon. He agreed. So that was a great experience.
Even if he doesn’t read the book, I was comforted to know that there are mature people who are kind enough to offer drinks to folks like us who are usually misunderstood. What great people.
So, I’d like to wish everybody a happy winter as I drink my lemonade and slather the sunblock on. I’m going to try to keep my brain from cooking in the heat. I love all of you!
-Elder Scott Baker