November 18, 2017 Does the Lord give Birthday presents? I am not sure, but if He does – He gave one to President. This week we had lots of people get baptized and several of them were on his birthday.
My seat was perfect! I had the perfect angle. I could see Sy___ & Brother R____, the ward mission leader, in the baptismal font; as well as witness the expressions of those in the room. I couldn’t help but marvel as I thought about my experiences with so many in the room.
I had gotten to know Sy____ and her husband, J___ at a fireside held in our home. Her journey to God had started when she was young. Her mom was a single mom and worked a lot. Sy_____ had spent a lot of time at the home of her next door neighbor. For three years she had gone to church, but when she’d asked to get baptized her mom had not only said, “No”; but also, had moved them across town. As Sy____ explained her journey towards baptism she said, “I guess once you get a feel of the gospel, it doesn’t really go away. Wherever I lived, I knew where the Church was. When she and J___ had moved to Texas the church happened to be a couple of blocks away. She explained that she would often buy missionaries lunch because she knew they didn’t have much money. Two of her daughters went to seminary. One for 4 years and the other for 2. The one who had gone for 4 years was currently studying to become a priest in another religion. She told her mom that of all the classes she’d had on the New Testament, the one that was the most instructive had been her Seminary class. For two years she’d been in Bella Vista and hadn’t seen a missionary, so when one of the missionaries manning the family history booth approached her, she invited them to her home. The rest is history.
At our first visit to the Bella Vista ward, we met R____ Soon after, he would be called as the ward mission leader. With each interaction since, I’ve noticed his confidence and his countenance change. He has moved missionaries in and out of homes, given them rides, ideas, and best of all support. It seemed fitting that R___ would be the one supporting Sy____ as he placed her into the waters of baptism.
As Sy____ came out of the waters, she gasped for joy, looked toward Heaven, and smiled. As she climbed the steps from the font we could no longer see her, but we could hear her sobs as she hugged the Sisters waiting at the top of the stairs.
She was not the only one in the room crying. N____ – four days home from his mission to Logan, UT, had his finger to the side of his eye catching the tears before they streamed down his face. Two plus years earlier, N____ had come to district meeting as a guest of Elder St___. As he bore his testimony, I learned that he had not been that active in the Church for awhile, was contemplating a mission, and unbeknownst to him, had a great ability to gather people to the Lord. So I was not surprised as he sat there with his father who had gotten active since he’d gone on his mission, and a beautiful young women whose family had been baptized while she was in high school. She now lived in Fayetteville with her boy friend and 8 month old daughter. After the baptism she shared her number with me and asked that the missionaries come by and help her get going to church again.
“You are just going to love the women in our Relief Society,” Deb____ sincerely stated as she formally welcomed Sy___ into the Relief Society. Elder DeG_____, and Elder So____ had made those early contacts and every missionary since had visited her. Twice I had been on visits with different companionships of Sisters to Deb____s home. The first time she was not very far into her journey back into Church activity, and the second she had been reading the Book of Mormon but still not even close to the level I was currently witnessing.
As Bishop Hu____ gave the closing remarks, I knew I was watching the wonderfully miraculous transformation that occurs in all of us when we “put off the natural man” in an effort to become like Him. I knew that “more” is so much more than we first imagine, and that when one missionary baptizes, we all baptize!