What a crazy week! After driving to Rochester and back to pick up a new companion, Elder Frost, it has been a crazy week trying to get him used to the area--especially because I'm going to a different area until Wednesday today, so he had to know things well enough to fill up a few days on his own. To make it better, we are pretty much out of miles, so we've been on bikes in the biggest area in the mission. Regardless, have I got some stories to tell you!
First, let's just go with the coolest one. Justin has been investigating the church for about ten years now. His sister is a member, and was the first in the family to get baptized a while back, after getting married to who is now our branch mission leader. Now Justin's two other sisters and mom have also been baptized, as well as his wife, Tanya. Since I've been here, we've had three different baptismal dates set for him, and all have fallen through because of Word of Wisdom issues. The most recent date was set for this Saturday, but we hadn't met with him for over a week, so I was pretty much writing it off and getting ready to postpone it again. I texted him to see if he could meet, and he couldn't. Great. I asked him how a baptism on Saturday was looking, and here was his response: "Sat is not good cuz Savannah has her competition"--Of course...--"I was thinking about Fri. I was also thinking that Savannah could be baptized on the same day." Wait.... what!? Haha forever the plan had been that he would be baptized, and a few weeks later when he had the priesthood he'd baptize 8-year-old Savannah. We got to talking, and he was dead serious. Ha JUSTIN IS GETTING BAPTIZED THIS WEEK! After ten years of investigating! What the crap, I'm so stoked!
It's going to be an awesome program too. About half our branch is related to him, so both baptisms, two of the talks, and both confirmations are going to be by different members of the family. Then since they've been meeting with missionaries so long, all of the missionaries who are still around who have taught him (there are seven of us now) are coming down, giving both the prayers and one of the talks. It's going to be so awesome!
Haha so this is currently my Facebook profile picture out here.
Haha the same night he told us that he was getting baptized on Friday, he texted me and said, "nice facebook pic by the way! That's what did it for me, if you would have shown me that months ago i would already be a Mormon." Hahaha I think that made my whole day.
Haha it's super funny, though. We announced the baptism in Sacrament meeting yesterday, and when he did it, he said, "Well, I guess that means I'm committed now, doesn't it?" What I didn't realize is that he hadn't actually told his family yet... Haha when I talked to him last night, he was like, "Well, I figured everyone who I would need to tell would be there, so it would save me some trouble!" Haha his mom and sister weren't amused... hahaha.
On our car ride to Freedom, I told Elder Frost he was going to the best area in the whole mission, and we set a goal to have three baptisms this transfer. On Wednesday, we met with Alicia, who is good friends with Kelly Myers and is looking for a church that would be good to raise her family in. We had a really neat lesson with her, and she accepted a baptismal date for the middle of November. Of course, there's a lot of work to do between now and then, but she definitely absorbed what we told her about the Restoration very well. Her main question was about the differences between the LDS Church and the Methodist Church. Ha, quite an easy segway into the Restoration, no question! It'll be fun to watch her progress.
A week ago, we took Krissa, Matt, and Marcus to family home evening at the Owens' house. Like normal, the Owens kids were crazy, but they definitely will not ever allow you to feel like a stranger in their home haha. Since it was Elder Inkley's last time, they did "compliments" which is a tradition in their house. Everytime it's a missionary's first FHE, they all ask him one question that he has to answer, then he asks each person a question. For his last time, though, they do the same thing, only with a compliment. Krissa had a really hard time with it, because she'd grown so attached to Elder Inkley, and apparently almost considered not meeting with us anymore because she was worried about when other missionaries would leave, but I'll get to that more next story. Anways, Sister Owens gave a lesson about eternal families after compliments. Afterwards, we were all talking, and Matt said something that really caught my attention. Normally, he says something like, "I really don't want to talk about religion, because I've seen things that ahve really made me question things." Monday, he said, "Krissa can meet with the boys if she wants, but I'm not ready, yet." Haha I probably looked ridiculous because of how much I smiled at the new addition of the words ready and yet!
K, so Krissa. Like I said, she was nervous about meeting again, but she did anyways! We went over the whole Gospel of Jesus Christ, which covers faith, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. It was such an awesome lesson! She talked to us about how much better she's felt about everything since she'd started meeting with us. She said, "I guess... I guess it's reassuring to know that someone is out there who cares about all of us" (referring to God, if you missed that haha). We got to the point where we invited her to be baptized at the end of it, and she said she'd already been thinking and praying about it! She didn't say yes, but the fact that she's already praying about it is incredible!! If there is one person I want to see continue to progress, it would have to be Krissa! I have never seen someone grow such a strong testimony in such a short period of time. She's reading the Book of Mormon daily, praying about what she should do, and relying on her new-found knowledge that Jesus is her personal Savior in her daily life. It's so awesome to watch!
Now to blow your mind. As most, if not all, of you probably know, President Monson recently lowered the age to go on missions from 19 to 18 for men, and from 21 to 19 for women. Well, there has been a HUGE influx of people wanting to come out now. Unfortunately, the Church can't get enough visas for them all. So, in order to compensate, they are planning on creating about fifty new missions in the US, likely one in New York. (My best guess is the New York Buffalo Mission... meaning I don't know what mission I will be in by next year.) In our mission, alone, we currently have 46 Elders serving. By next year, we are expecting 96 MORE. In order to find room for them, my area is going to be split in two, my zone will be split in two, and missionaries are going to be packed into areas we've never put much attention to! As my zone leader, Elder Teichert, said, "We aren't part of God's Army; we're just the little militia holding off Satan until the real army comes!"
I love you, but I don't miss you!
Elder Bracken Allen