Tuesday, July 1, 2008

July 1, 2008 -- First Baptism

As you can tell from the subject line, I had my first baptism on Sunday! (My first on my mission, that is--I didn't forget about [my sister] Rachel.) His name is Jairo Sanchez and he is a 53 year old man from Colombia. He was already planning on getting baptized before I came to the area, so I had very little to do with his decision, but he said he didn't care who baptized him and my companions decided to give me the experience! It was one of the happiest days of my life. After I baptized him and we were out of the font, he turned around and looked at the water for a few seconds. Then he turned to me and said "Que Dios nos bendiga por toda la vida." (May God bless us for all of our lives.) Then, in broken English, he said, "Today I start a new life. I go to God." A few minutes later, he asked me, "Como se dice bautismo en Ingles?" I answered and then he said, "Thank you for baptism me." Later, he told me that he is saving the underwear he wore in the font as a memory of the special day. Needless to day, Jairo is an incredible person and it was a wonderful day. In my call, it tells me that "Greater happiness and more joy than you have yet
experienced await you..." I believe I experienced some of that last Sunday. Such great happiness and joy only come from helping people come unto Christ through faith, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.

Church was also wonderful last Sunday. Our branch here is much smaller than the Lugonia branch [in Redlands], but it was much larger than usual because we had 7 investigators come! (11 if you count children under 8.) It was wonderful. Seeing the people we have been working so hard to help there in the church building was a wonderful feeling and helped give me perspective.

I love my area. We live in Fairway Apartments, which is the 3rd largest apartment complex in Utah. It is huge! We hardly ever leave our complex--almost all of our investigators live within the same apartments. I wish I had time to describe each of the people we are teaching, but I don't. Suffice it to say that I love them all and love teaching them.

Mom, to answer your question, we are not allowed to eat with members unless an investigator or less active is also there. (Although that rule might be changing soon.) Occasionally we are fed by investigators, but usually we provide for oursleves. We are on a tight budget, so I am learning a lot about what is and isn't worth buying. I do miss the 3 times a day, free, all you can eat MTC food, and I miss your cooking even more, but I'm not going hungry and can't complain. In fact, my companions are pretty good cooks themeselves.

As for the 4th [of July], we are having a normal day until 5 PM, when we are going to a stake center for a "lock down." The lock down, which lasts until 9, will be for missionaries to spend time with each other, and we even get to watch an approved movie. I'm excited, but honestly I would rather use that time to study or teach, but it is what President Laney said we should do.

Yesterday I went on an exchange with Elder Fieldson, who is also a "Visa Waiter" like me. He got here 3 weeks before I did, so he is pretty new too. At first I was really nervous, and thought my zone leaders (my companions) were crazy for putting the two greenie gringos together for a day, but it turned out to be wonderful. I learned a lot in just a few hours, and we did some good work, and found some wonderful people to teach.

This is a somewhat random thought, but I have developed a love for Polynesian people. They are so generous, especially to the missionaries. We had to run a booth at the Taylorsville day fair and there was a booth of Navajo bread run by a Tongan family right next to us. They insisted on feeding every missionary who worked at the booth (which over the course of three days was quite a few) for free. I talked to the brother who ran the stand and he said business wasn't too hot, but "as long as we feed the missionaries, this booth has served its purpose." I know God will bless him and his family for their generosity.

Speaking of genrosity, I think that when I get to Mexico I'll think that the Utah missionaries are spoiled. Here there are constantly people waving at you, you often get people offering rides, there are several restaurants where missionaries eat for free, and sometimes people even offer you money. I love it here, not because of all the free stuff, but because of the missionaries I work with and the people I teach. I am excited to go to Mexico, but I will be sad when I have
to leave Salt Lake.

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