Hi loved ones!
Wow, this week was amazing! Daniel is baptized and confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints! My heart has been so full. Sometimes it's almost too much to handle :)
I hardly even know what to say, so I'm glad I'll be talking to you all !
Anyways, Daniel's baptism and confirmation was legitimately a miracle. We met with him almost every day this week, which was so fun - the transformation that's happened in him is so obvious! He has been so excited and stalwart this whole week - no wavering from him! , it was the "final test"...there was a big storm brewing all day - and remember that church is 30 miles away! I was super hopeful all morning that the storm would hold out, but the air got thicker and thicker and people would ask us if the baptism was still happening and everything, and it started getting VERY stressful. We talked to him on the phone twice that day and he was so awesome. He was worried too but he let us assure him that everything would work out, and he was so funny - we were like, "Just think about the pioneers, trudging through the snow to be baptized!" and he was like, "well, I'm going to go work on my wagon now." in his cute little Venezuelan accent. It was probably the most stressful day of my mission haha - Sis. E. and I had knots in our stomach! I can't tell you what a relief it was when we got to the church building and there the elders were, filling up the font and printing off the programs (they were CHAMPS) and the sweet Einertson family was cleaning the building. The Slayton's came early with Daniel, and Elder and Sister Gneiting (whom Daniel met in Nauvoo) drove all the way from Nauvoo! Then Bishop showed up (we didn't know if he would be able to make it) and more and more people started coming. We thought that NO one would come with the weather and everything! (I'm telling you, I've never seen so many people throw such a hissy fit about the weather. Doesn't it snow often here? It's like they've never seen it before!) But no, the members were incredible and they CAME. I know that Heavenly Father held the storm off because it didn't hit until a few hours after it was supposed to, and everyone got there and back home again safely - it was so sweet how many people texted/called us to make sure we got home :) - including the Gneiting's, all the way back to Nauvoo. Bishop Bair also decided to confirm Daniel that night, which was SUCH a blessing because church got cancelled the next day, and Daniel will be in Nauvoo ! So many miracles.
About the actual baptismal service, it was incredible. The Spirit was so so powerful. We had to find backups for both prayers and for one talk, but everything worked out great. Sis Etherington and I played "Come Thou Fount" on violin/piano and it was really fun. Daniel looked so good and was so happy! Elder Gneiting baptized him and Bishop Bair confirmed him. While Daniel was getting dressed after the baptism, Sis. E and I taught the Restoration, which is what we're "supposed" to do in our mission, and that was really fun and a cool experience to teach in that kind of setting. My favorite part was the confirmation - it was sooo amazing.
It was fun meeting with Daniel last night and being able to talk about the baptismal service, because of course we couldn't talk to him a whole lot while there. We asked him what his favorite part was, and he said "the whole thing." It was amazing hearing him talk about it, because you can tell that he's so sincere and that it meant to much to him. Again, he's changed so much. He's going to Nauvoo to be with the Gneiting's and the other senior missionaries for Christmas, and everything is working out so wonderfully - Bishop and the youth and much of the ward will be there over the weekend, so if everything works out, Bishop will interview and ordain him in Nauvoo, and Daniel will be able to go to the temple! He is really excited about it all. Sister Etherington and I love him so much and are so grateful to Heavenly Father that He allows His very imperfect children to be a part of such miracles.
Well, that's the big news of the week. Other bits of news...
- We set (very tentative) baptismal dates with another lady! She is incredible. Her grandfather is a VERY well-renowned Community of Christ historian and would be very upset if she were to join the LDS Church, but she is willing to pray about it and be open to an answer. It was scary inviting her to a date, but Heavenly Father gave us the courage and the words we needed!
- We had another lesson with a lady we've been seeing and invited her to baptism as well! It was the worst baptismal invite I've extended haha. I was so nervous :P She didn't say yes by any stretch of the imagination, but she said she would read and pray, and we're going to spend Christmas evening with her :) We love her!
- We had a couple of encounters with Restorationists (break-off of RLDS). They are hard because they try to get us entangled in historical debates. NOT going to happen! I do NOT have a testimony of Church history - I have a testimony of the restored gospel!
- Church cancelled was a huge bummer, though I really couldn't complain after the huge miracle the night before. The Restoration and Community of Christ churches were cancelled too, or else we would have checked out one of those :)
- We had lots of ice rain, which was fun because we could "ice skate" everywhere! We also had lots of snow this weekend, which is beautiful (though today is SO cold!). night, Sis. E and I were super giddy and were sliding around and playing in the snow, and I totally fell but it was so fun :) We have so much fun together.
- Speaking of which, I can't believe how quickly this transfer is going! One of us will probably be transferred :( Sometimes I can't believe how blessed I've been here in lamoni with Sis. E. We are seriously like sisters now - we love each other so much and can just be ourselves, with all our weird quirks and everything, and we can tell when the other person is annoyed haha but that's why it's like we're sisters.
- We had a super awkward experience caroling at an assisted living facility haha! But, we met a lady who was cleaning out her mom's apartment (she passed away last week) and was pretty upset, and we offered her our help and she gladly took it. We will be helping her later today. I think we were meant to be there!
- Sis. E and I trained at district mtg on repentance and baptism. It was fun! I actually quite enjoy training, which always really scared me. And it was fun doing it with her.
Many members have given us treats and little cards and things for Christmas, which is so sweet. We are so blessed. It has been a Christmas to remember! I couldn't have asked for anything better. I am so excited to talk to you more! I am so grateful for Heavenly Father sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to come to this earth for us. There are no words. Merry Christmas everyone!!!