Thursday, December 12, 2013

December 9 Letter

Hello everyone!!

Sorry I'm a day late. About 6:18 Monday morning, my p-day really, really tanked. (Luckily it only woke me up 12 minutes early.) The whole ward has been sick... so it was only a matter of time until it got passed on to the missionaries. So I was in the bathroom all day yesterday, and now Elder Semadeni has been sick all last night! It's too bad, though! Last year I managed to avoid sickness despite teaching people with the flu, strep throat, and even TB! But alas... this year I wasn't so lucky.

Anyways, what a week it has been! I guess the easiest explanation would just be a picture!

Stephen got baptized Sunday!! Like I said last week, I expected we would be postponing it. It's been a while since he was able to make it to church, and although he had very legitimate reasons for not making it, I expected he would push it back a week or two at least. But, we went over there on Tuesday and asked him about it, and he said that he had actually been planning on it, but after praying about it, he felt that he needed to follow through with it this week. Oooookay then! Not going to argue with an answer like that! So, we went ahead with it all!

It was great, because a lot of times (pretty much every one of my baptisms, actually...) the person getting baptized really doesn't care much about who is on the program. But Stephen was quite different! He made a list of everyone who played an important role in "his journey" as he kept calling it, and then ranked them in order. He then had me rank which parts of the program were the most important, so he could match them up. Haha it ended up being a really cool program!

First, Guo Jian gave a talk on baptism. I don't know how much I have said about Guo Jian in the past, but he is a convert of about seven months who is here doing his post-doc work from mainland China. He is probably the best member missionary I've ever met, and is the one who introduced us to Jerry and Andrea a while back. When we called him to ask if he would give the talk, he kind of awkwardly suggested, "How about I say a prayer." Haha, but after a little talking, he agreed to giving a talk, and he rocked it! He got up and started talking about when he met missionaries the first time. He was in NYC in Chinatown, and a missionary walked up to him and said, in perfect Chinese, "Do you know Jesus Christ?" which Guo Jian said he knew a little. The missionary then asked, "Do you know the Book of Mormon?" Guo Jian said he had been going through a hard time then, being away from home and all, and having someone so happy come up to him speaking Chinese so invitingly really enticed him. He went on to explain what it was like to meet with the missionaries. We were all kind of wondering if he was going to talk about baptism at all, or just kind of ramble on for a while, but he all of the sudden pulled the smoothest transition by saying all of that only lead him up to "the divine gate which leads to the divine path." He then quoted the scripture (I don't remember which of the Gospels he used) about how only those who lose their life will find it. Essentially the point he got to was that everything leading up to his baptism was great, but it was at his baptism that everything changed and he had fully dedicated himself to the gospel of Jesus Christ. I kept glancing back, and I'm pretty sure everyone in the room was smiling from ear to ear.

Then Brother Finley gave a talk on the Gift of the Holy Ghost, which was really good. He has been really helpful in teaching Stephen, because they are very similar in their understanding of religion. But, even cooler than his talk, he is working on his masters degree in music education, and is ridiculously good on his violin. So, on Saturday he just up and compiled an awesome medley of hymns. It was very cool!

Then of course we had the baptism. Haha we found out the hard way that if you turn the hot water on all of the way, the water goes too fast for the water heater to heat it... so Stephen was baptized in 60 degree water. Ha it worked out just dandy, though. What was really funny was he was going to bear his testimony after his baptism. When we asked him to do that, we meant after we were changed and all, but I guess he didn't understand that. So he sat in the water trying to get his bearings after being dunked backwards in cold water. Finally I was able to explain that we could change first haha. 

But, his testimony was great! He talked all about us knocking on his door and how as he was explaining his beliefs, we essentially told him that he was right about all of it and that that was exactly what we teach. He went on to talk about how much he loves the Book of Mormon and how in a lot of ways he has felt a lot like Joseph Smith where he has gone from religion to religion to religion, and nothing quite seemed to line up. 

It was also great, because while we were changing, Hayden, one of his two twin boys who are eight came in, asking why he did that. "Because I'm supposed to!" said Stephen. "And you are too!" I then pointed out in a few weeks, Stephen could be the one baptizing them. Stephen then pointed out to Hayden, "And we need to get your mom here!" Hopefully we can get that all rolling here pretty soon! That would be sweet!

Well, after that... I don't know if there's much I could say that would be very interesting. Haha I guess I'll say on Sunday we went to help Andrea with her research paper. She is really good with English (she is getting her masters degree in teaching English as a second language) but really struggles taking what she has read in English, processing it in her head, putting her analysis on paper in English, AND typing it. So we had her hand write it all, then we went and typed it for her. I miss being in a school library the week before finals! It was kind of refreshing!! 

Our next few weeks are going to be really weird, though. More than half of the people we are working with, whether they are members or not, are students, and a huge chunk of them are going home for Chirstmas break. So our next little while is going to be really weird haha. 

Well, since I have my camera today, I'll send some older pictures as well. 

The first one is all of us at Palmyra. It goes: Jerry, Andrea, Sister Su, me, Elder Holmes, then Guo Jian. Hahaha Jerry and Andrea aren't nearly so stern as they look in every single picture I've taken with them haha.

The second is the Sacred Grove, Winter style.

The third is Elder Holmes and me frolicking in the Joseph Smith Farm.

The fourth is me being a griffin.

The next handful are from a pday trip to Niagara Falls about a month or so ago. I don't remember if I ever sent pictures of it, so if I have, forgive me!

Well, I love you, but I don't miss you! Elder Allen says he loves you too! (There's another Elder Allen who I am on exchanges with right now. We don't think we're really related... but it's possible.)

Elder Allen

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