Monday, July 30, 2012
This week was very exciting with the baptism of Bonnie! The service was held Friday evening and was a very uplifting service (as they all usually are). Sister Maas and Brother Winters both gave powerful talks on baptism and the Holy Ghost, and after the ordinance we were privileged with a musical number by Sister Randell and Sister Neville (who Elder Bills and I taught when I was here last year). I performed the baptism and did it just the way she asked me to - dunked her hard and fast! Bonnie admitted to us the day before the baptism that she has a fear of water and that if anything happened to cause me to have to baptize her a second time (her foot or hair or something was not submerged), she wasn't sure if she could handle going under a second time. We assured her that everything would work out and it would be okay. In my mind I was thinking, this is a great thing to tell someone who has never baptized anyone before. Great. About 30 minutes before the service, we practiced (as we had earlier that week) and our Relief Society President, Sister Dayton, suggested that I step on her toes to make sure that she didn't float up. I visualized myself stepping on her toes and then falling over or something crazy. But Bonnie really liked that idea. Great. So the last talk is given and Bonnie and I are excused to lead everyone to the baptismal font, my companion and her husband following closely behind (he's the man in the picture). We got in there, the water was a perfect temperature and height, I raised my arm, said the prayer, and dunked her. She went down hard and fast - none of this graceful, movie-worthy baptism. This was the real deal. But she went all the way under and it worked! She got a little bit of water up her nose, but felt very happy and energized. We had a good turn-out from the ward and lots of cookies afterwards.
We picked up a new investigator this week - her name is Haileigh (said like Hailey). She is 16 and is dating one of the young men in our ward. We have taught her twice now and she is doing well. We're trying to make sure she wants to learn for herself (not her boyfriend) which you see a lot as missionaries. It will be difficult to develop your own testimony if the intentions are in the right place. But she's a very nice, sweet girl and seems to have a desire for your own spiritual welfare. We will hopefully be meeting with her mother in the next week or so to make sure it's okay to continue teaching. Yesterday we had lunch together and then taught about who Jesus Christ is. We watched the short-film, Find Faith in Christ.
We also had a great lesson with Keith this week - someone whose been working on getting back into the church. He was baptized in his early teens and, now in his 30's, is relearning a lot of the doctrine of the church. He's been doing amazing though - he's come to church the last two weeks, he's been reading and praying almost every day, and yesterday when we went over, I swear his eyes looked lighter. There was a glow or light in his eyes that wasn't there two months ago and I pointed out to him how the Spirit was with him. You could see it in his eyes. I've been told that before (that the eyes are the window to the soul) and that people have a glow, but I've never really seen it until Keith yesterday. There's not only an emotional and spiritual change that he's experiencing, but a literal, physical change. Anyways, I'm just so excited for him and all the changes he's been making to become worthy for the Spirit and the temple. He's such a great great guy and we love him.
I got a text this week from Elder Hansen (who is serving up in Cleveland now) telling me that he was with some of the Single Adults in Cleveland and that Erica was there! She went to the temple to perform temple baptisms that day and when I asked him how she felt, he said that it was an extremely spiritual experience and it made her day; she can't believe this is a reality. :) That made me happy - to hear that she is doing well and is progressing in the gospel. I also got a letter this week from the Vermillion family which I was ecstatic to receive (I taught them in Findlay and they were baptized in February of 2011)! They are doing really well and are planning on going to the temple to be sealed as a family this September! Oh, how I wish I could be there with them! I guess we'll see what happens, but I am very, very happy for them. Missions are so great!
Saturday, the Canton Ward had a ward party - a Pioneer Picnic to celebrate pioneer day (which was last week). Afterwards, Elder Montgomery and I drove over to a part-member, less-active family's house who we haven't been able to get a hold of for a long time. We pulled up, prayed, and when we got out of the car we saw them getting into their van and begin to pull-out of the driveway. We walked up and waited at the end and when they saw us, the husband (a member) came out and was very friendly and told us that they were on their way to watch the fireworks that the Football Hall of Fame puts on to officially begin Hall of Fame Week. He asked us if we wanted to come with them and I felt like we really needed to go, so we said yes! We followed-them to downtown Canton to a big parking lot they go to every year to watch the fireworks from. We parked and as we were walking to a better spot to sit, we saw the Hornings - a large family in our ward and one of my favorites! They had invited us to come there with them that night but we declined, and when they saw us they motioned us over to them. So we and this part-member family all went over and sat near them. I was dumbfounded how perfectly orchestrated the whole night turned out to be. There were children and grandchildren who were the same ages as the family we had arrived with, and immediate fellowship took place. The wife of the family we were with's parents and sister showed up and we got to talk with them all night until the fireworks came on. It was a great show and the whole experience was a perfect opportunity to have time to really get to know the family. They are really nice and said we could come over to their house sometime to talk more - we will be calling them today. They are strong in their faith and know very little about our church. So we'll see what happens. I just thought the whole night was so cool - we showed up at the perfect time, he had to have felt prompted to invite us to come with them (how easily could he have said, We're actually just heading out now, why don't you call us and we can set something up?), and then members of the church are sitting in the exact spot we were heading towards. It was one of those moments that makes you go, God is in control!
I only have 8 Sunday's left here in Ohio, but whose counting? (actually, I am. But not counting for the sake of a count-down, counting because it freaks me out!!!). I can't believe how fast time goes by now! I am grateful for the countless opportunities and blessings that I have receive here on my mission. I know these last months will go by fast, but I'm ready to work my tail off until the sun goes down on September 25th. Because it's all true and it's all worth it. Hope everyone has an awesome week and it's not too hot wherever you're at!
Love, Elder Dransfield