Monday, March 27, 2017
Week 84 - March 27, 2017
What a thrilling week it was here in Phila.
It honestly was such a bittersweet week. Elder Andrus and I had our last Zone Conference together, and he told this remarkable story about an experience that he and I had serving together in South Phila as his testimony - it was very touching.
Our Mission President has to be the most incredible person I have ever met. I know I've mentioned that before but he honestly is simply amazing. He told this heart-wrenching story about how 1 of his 9 siblings drifted away from the church and then passed away about 6 months ago. He found out two months after he passed away about what happened, and that "two months later" was the day before our Zone Conference in Valley Forge. With nobody knowing what happened, the day before that conference, he got up and did his thing and did it so incredibly. Well, you could never even think anything was wrong. Didn't even mention it to my companion and me. He had been praying for the past three months now whether or not he should share this story and finally he decided he needed it. He got very emotional telling this story and in the end concluded with something along the lines of, "I tell this story not to bring you or your family grief or sorrow. I tell this because the message that you share is the ONLY thing that got me through Christmas. Your diligence in sharing this gospel has allowed my family (converts) to be together for time and all eternity. Don't take this gospel lightly, don't take your missions lightly. There are people who need saving, and I was one of them." I can't do justice to what he said, but it was absolutely inspiring.
To build off of the two incredible things that already took place this week, we had one of the most incredible baptisms I have ever been a part of - Meredith. She is 22 going to Temple University studying counseling. She has to be one of the most amazing people I have ever taught on my mission.
She spoke and bore her testimony at her baptism, and I haven't shed a tear in a really long time, but this week I did four times... gosh. Elder Andrus, my Mission President, Meredith, and then I'll tell the next one in a moment. Her parents were very against her joining the church and when her dad found out, he started calling her things and names one couldn't imagine! Her parents both came to the baptism (interestingly enough) and Elder Andrus and I took them on a tour of the Phila Temple grounds and the chapel across the street as well. We taught them the basic principles, etc. It was incredible. The baptismal service proceeding that couldn't have been more spiritual and at the end, the father accepted a Book of Mormon from his own daughter, and he actually came up to us privately after the meeting and told us how his views have changed and how he is thankful for what we have done for his daughter.
My last story really quick - try to keep this short. I'm sure many of you remember Robbie Scott, I baptized him in January of 2016. He passed away in September of 2016. His mother was diagnosed with cancer a few months before his death. We haven't seen her in about a year and a half. She finally got out of the hospital, she is about to start chemo, but last night we felt we needed to stop by her home as we just heard the news that she was back. She is this short, bigger, older, black lady - the sweetest person you'll ever meet, quite funny as well. We knocked on her door and walked in (as we typically do) and she being confined to her bed all day, shoots up from the bed, gets on her feet and bawling her eyes out, starts hugging us and thanking God for bringing us to her home. After some time of that, we sat back down and she told us more about what happened with Robbie and then said, "I thank God for Him bringing you hear to my home to teach my son. You two were the only ones who could do it. Because of you, my son has a chance at eternal salvation." It was a pretty remarkable experience. One I will never forget.
It is a pretty interesting feeling being across from someone in the same seat that you sat in and it's been a year and a half - things have changed so much. I just felt so different sitting there.
We had some pretty remarkable other things happen this week as well, but I''m not trying to write you a novel here, so I'll conclude with my testimony.
I share this exert from President Uchtdorf:
"As we increase in faith, we also must increase in faithfulness... There is nothing good unless you do it. You and I may speak most eloquently of spiritual things. We may impress people with our keen intellectual interpretation of religious topics. We may rhapsodize about religion and 'dream of [our] mansion above.' But if our faith does not change the way we live--if our beliefs do not influence our daily decisions--our religion is vain, and our faith, if not dead, is certainly not well and is in danger of eventually flatlining."
I am thankful for the good news which the gospel is and how it molds us from what we are into what we need to become.