Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Surprise! It's a Baptism!


Sorry my email is a little late today. The wonderful Haws family offered to give us free teeth cleanings this morning (Brother Haws has his own Dentistry practice) which was during our regularly scheduled email time. He said my teeth look beautiful. :)

This week turned out to be a little different than we had planned, but so much better!

We have been debating about what date would be best for our investigator Dane to be baptized for a few weeks now. We had originally set it for the 12th of October but last week we weren't sure if he was ready so we talked to him about pushing it back to the 19th. We had concerns about receiving ward support on the 19th because it is ward temple day and two of our ward missionaries will be taking out their own endowments on that day, meaning a large majority of our ward council and fellowshippers for Dane would not be in attendance. Ward fellowship is so vital for Dane and we really wanted to make sure he had the support of the ward at his baptism.

Jennifer, Dane her first convert, and Sister Cannon
We gave him a list of the baptismal requirements in D&C 20 and the baptismal interview questions and asked him to read them before our visit on Tuesday to see how he felt about them. When we had that visit he had studied each question and answered affirmatively to each one. He was so ready! We asked him when we would like to be baptized and he chose the 12th. After a lot of questions and concerns on our part over the past week we both felt great about that decision. So we called our district leader and scheduled the interview for that evening. By 7:00 that night he had passed his interview and we began planning a baptism for Saturday.

The rest of week was a whirlwind of phone calls and planning and meeting with Dane to continue to prepare him for the ordinance and give him support. When Saturday came both Hermana Cannon and I were giddy with excitement.

Pre-baptism excited faces!!
The service was absolutely beautiful. Robert, one of our ward missionaries, who will be heading out on his own mission to the Philippines in about three weeks, and who accompanied us on about 50-60% of our lessons with Dane was able to baptize Dane. They were both a little nervous but it went so well. I felt such an amazing rush of the spirit as Dane went under the water. I can't explain what a beautiful feeling it was.

Jennifer with two of the ward missionaries.

Sister Cannon, Jennifer, Dane and Robert
After the ordinance I was able to give a talk on the Gift of the Holy Ghost. This was another highlight for me. I felt the power of the Holy Ghost testifying through me as I bore my testimony to Dane and to a room full of investigators, fellow missionaries and ward members I have come to love. There is no greater feeling than knowing the words which you are testifying of are true and that the spirit is touching others' hearts through you.

I feel so blessed to have been part of the whole process with Dane. I not only got to be here for his baptism but I got to experience his whole conversion, from finding, teaching, growing to membership in the church. It was such a wonderful blessing and I'm so grateful Heavenly Father allowed me to be a part of it.

Sister Cannon & Jennifer with Andy
Our investigator Andy also had a major baptismal breakthrough this week. We haven't brought up baptism with Andy for a few weeks now because we were trying to address some of his more immediate concerns such as the Word of Wisdom. In the middle of our lesson this week, however, he suddenly brought it up and started talking about his desire to be baptized! We couldn't believe our ears. I remember just sitting and saying a prayer of thanks in my heart as he opened up to us. He still has some word of wisdom issues to work out as well as fear of change but he has a desire to be baptized which is a miracle! He was able to attend Dane's baptism and he told us that he experienced a feeling of happiness as Dane came out of the water. We explained to him that is the spirit! He asked us to give him two weeks to pray about it and Hermana Cannon explained to him exactly how to ask Heavenly Father if he should be baptized. I am confident he will receive his answers if he continues to display the faith he showed this week.

We also had continued miracles with one of our less active sisters, Toni, this week. We were able to teach her on Wednesday and then have her over to dinner on Thursday at the Relief Society President's home. She has a lot of questions and lot that she doesn't remember from her childhood growing up in the church but I am confident that she can find happiness in coming back to church. She has a lot of unhappiness and hard trials in her life right now but hopefully we can help her experience the atonement of Christ and see that He really can help her through those struggles. She came to church on Sunday and told us today that she felt herself smiling a real smile in Relief Society which she hasn't done in a long time. The sisters were so great to fellowship her and love her and I am so excited to see her life continue to change.

Hermana Cannon got sick this week and so part of Friday she spent sleeping while I planned for the baptism. She got kind of stressed about the whole last minute baptism thing. Luckily I like planning though so I was able to take over some of it so that she could rest.

Jennifer and Hermana T with their fingerprinting cards.

On Wednesday we ended up having to drive all the way to Santa Barbara to be fingerprinted again for our FBI clearance, which apparently they have to redo. In some ways this makes me excited thinking at least something is being done but if they have to reapply it could take a while. I'm trusting the Lord. I'm trusting the Lord. (That's what I have to repeat over and over again.

I am so grateful for the opportunity to be in Solvang. I have really felt my purpose here and I know I am here for a reason. While I have trust that the Lord will do what is best for me I am hoping that I will be able to continue working in this area for another transfer to continue to work with our wonderful investigators and ward, helping them and learning from them. I love the ward so much! We have such wonderful members who are so sweet to us. I don't even know how to thank them for all they do. It just makes me feel so happy to sit is sacrament meeting or see our dinner calendar and feel like I'm home and love them all so much. Unfortunately, this might be a sign I'm leaving. Each time we visit with some of our investigators I kind of get the feeling that I might have to accept that Hermana Cannon is going to take care of them. I hope they will all get baptized even if one or both of us leave. We have so many that are so close and it's hard to leave them all. I'll go where he wants me to go though haha.

Wow. I think I might be done a little early. I love you all SOOOO much! Thank you for all the love and support! You are the bestest family ever. :)

Love Jen

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