This was a great week. Sister (Name)’s baptism went really well. I was worried about all the multiple things that could have gone wrong, like possibly she didn't realize that she was going to be dunked in water or something like that. However, the Holy Ghost just came upon me and I felt at peace. I knew it would turn out all right. And it did. President and Sister Bishop got to come and attend, which was really a great experience. And even though the baptism was at a weird time (5:00 on Friday afternoon), lots of people were able to attend and welcome her to the branch. I love how the gospel unites and completes families. Brother (name) was so happy to have his wife baptized, and he was telling President Bishop and me that he really hopes to have his kids come back next. The Spirit was very strong during that service, and I am so happy I got to be a part of it.
I'd like to share two fun miracle stories for the week. One was a man we met on Thursday for the first time. He told us right at the start that the reason he wanted to meet with us was to see if we could help him understand if some things he'd been thinking about were right. I asked him what he meant, so he showed us some pictures that a friend had sent him. They were pictures of the universe, of galaxies and planets and billions of stars. He said, "Ever since seeing this I've been thinking that there must be a force or a Being who created all of this. It couldn't possibly have just come from nothing." We showed him Alma chapter 30, when Alma tells Korihor that all things are a sign that there is a God. He understood it right away. Throughout the lesson it became apparent that he is very well prepared. There were several times during the lesson that I got a big grin on my face so big I couldn't wipe it off, and I felt like jumping up and hugging the man. Everything he said was exactly the OPPOSITE of the frustrating things that people always say to us. He told us he has three kids because he feels families are the most important unit of society, and that if families fail, society will be destroyed. He said he feels real happiness does not come from money or big houses, and that people who ask him to design huge expensive houses are really still just as empty inside. He thinks it's impossible that there's more than one god and they're all equally good to worship, "Because if they're both different, how could they both be right?" We fasted for him this last weekend, so I am hoping we can help him and his family come to church and be baptized. He certainly belongs in our church! I'm not thinking of myself here, but I am hoping and praying as hard as I can that this is the family that is the answer to my prayers and fasting to be able to help a family be baptized. We'll see what happens.
The other miracle was last night. "Grampa (name)" is another of President Bishop's converts from so long ago, but he's been active ever since his baptism. His wife just got baptized at the start of this year, and his kids are all less active. We went to look for Grampa's son, but they weren't home. Our backup was a less-active we'd never met, also named Sister (name). We knocked on her door, but nobody was home. As we rode away, we saw Grampa (name) walking the other way, and decided to say hi to him before we left. When we told him who we were looking for, he said "No, that's wrong. Her house is over here, and she's home." He walked us over to the next street, and sure enough we found this Sister (name). Grampa (name) was willing to go in with us so that we could go in, and while Sister (name) was getting us drinks, Grampa (name) sat down and started offering us some peanuts which were on the table. I was a little confused as to why he was offering us somebody else's food...until I realized that she was his daughter. She seemed pretty nice, and she's willing to have us over another day. She said the main reason she doesn't come to church is because she likes to sleep late, so we'll see if we can help her and her sons turn that around and come to church with her parents. I'm so glad the Spirit guided us and Grampa (name) to be in exactly the right place at the right time for him to show us where his daughter lived; otherwise we might have gone home and never known she was just one street away.
Final story. On a missionary's last zone conference, he or she gives a short talk called a "reflection," which is supposed to be about his or her mission experience and testimony. Yes, darn it all, I had to give my reflection on Wednesday. I never thought my time would come, and it came so quickly. I had planned to share some experiences and testimony, and then share verses 4 and 5 of "How Firm a Foundation" and share about how Mom's passing was a big trial that the Lord helped me overcome. Then right before my turn, another sister who is also going home got up and shared the same thing. Complete with "How Firm a Foundation" and her mother passing away. Strange coincidence, but it all turned out well anyway. I'd encourage you all to read those verses, because they're the ones we don't sing very often (i.e. ever).
When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not thee o'erflow.
For I will be with thee, thy sorrows to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.
When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply.
The fire shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.
The Lord is with us in every trial. As we rely on him, no trial can hurt us. We will be made stronger and more perfect as a result, as long as we just trust him and hold on to the iron rod. I love you all so much. Sorry this letter was so long. Beware of eye strain from reading too much! Talk to you next week.