This has been a week of unusual and rememberable experiences. It has been such a long time since I have been able to send home an email. Really it has only been a week but this week feels like it has covered such a long period of time. So much has happened!
The first thing that is on the front of my mind is the baptism of Stephen! It was so incredible. I am so grateful for the opportunity that I had to be a part of that miraculous event. We had a trial run baptism planned for Tuesday night, so at 7pm on Tuesday myself and Elder Kerby head over to his place to practice the baptism in the pool in his backyard.
We started with his baptismal interview and that went well so he was ready to be baptized for sure on Saturday as we had planned. We go into the pool at about 7:30 to start the practice and the first thing we notice is that it is a full moon! And we could also see Jupiter in the sky, so we all sit there in the pool amazed by the beautiful sky. Then we have to get Stephen into the pool so we construct the ramp and we get Stephen into the water. Once he is in the water he decides that it would be easier if he was standing so we stand him up out of the chair and we walk him all around the pool trying to find the easiest most comfortable way for him to put his head under water. After about an hour of trying this and that we end up sitting on the steps of the pool and finding that that was the most comfortable position for him. We start to practice the actual baptism part. Now, because of Stephens fear of water it was really hard for him to put his head under water. But after another half hour he gets pretty close. So we tell him because it's already almost 9:30, which is when we have to be in, and we had all been in the pool for an hour and a half we could just get it all the way on Saturday. Then Stephen said that the hardest part was getting in for him.
In that moment we felt prompted and asked him if he would like to do the actual baptism right now with just his mom, dad, girlfriend, and missionaries? He was very excited that was an option and said yes. He then proceeded to tell us that he was worried about doing it in front of a lot of people. So even though it was already 9:30 we called our mission president and he gave us permission to stay out late and baptize him that night. So we got our district leader on the phone and had him and his companion go and get white clothes for us. We called our bishop and got his permission to do the baptism and then we were all go! So, here we are, Stephen, his Dad, his caretaker, his girlfriend, and myself all in the pool at 10:05 at night waiting for white clothes to show up. The clothes got there and Stephen and I got dressed in white and he was baptized at 10:25pm on January 6th 2015.
It was nothing fancy. There was no service or talks or music, just the simple, beautiful ordinance of baptism. The spirit that we all felt in that moment was so incredibly strong that it cannot be described in words. I will forever remember that night. I am so very grateful that we were able to work everything out for Stephen and that he was able to be baptized. He was confirmed yesterday at church and is now officially a member of the church of Jesus Christ.
When I see people make commitments and covenants with God it helps me remember the importance of the work that is going on all around the world. I hope to someday see Stephen has a huge influence in the future of the church. He has so many incredible talents that I know Heavenly Father is going to put to great use. I have been built and inspired by Stephen, he and his family will forever have a place in my heart. I love them all so much!
Bad news to follow that wonderful experience is that they sent my companion home this week. The mission health department called our president and told him that my companion was making to many trips to the hospital and that he needed to go home and recover and then come back out later on if his recovery is quick. My hope is that he will come back out by February and be my companion for one more transfer. I am sad that he is gone. We were pretty close and we had a lot of really good talks as we were stuck inside together. Miss having a companion. Right now I am placed in a trio with another companionship. They are technically my new companions but because they and I both know it is only temporary until transfers we still have a separation when it comes to getting to know each other's wards. I love my new companions but Sunday was pretty rough going solo the entire time. But I made it through and here I am as happy as can be! I have been able to spend a lot of time with other elders in the zone. I feel as though I know all of them and they all know me. It's a wonderful feeling.