Monday, June 27, 2011

Baptism in Craig!

Hello Mom, Dad, brothers, extended family and Friends,

This week has been good. We were able to visit more people because we were in town the whole week so that was good. The definite highlight of my week was M. C's baptism on Saturday. We were able to get the programs made and printed, we boiled enough water to heat up the font, and a large group of members were there to support M. C.

The baptism was beautiful though. Super strong spirit. We had 2 musical numbers, 2 talks, 2 hymns, the ordinance, and M. even built up the courage to bear her testimony. By far though my favorite part was witnessing the ordinance. I had the privilege of being one of the witnesses so I got to stand right at the top of the stairs. It was amazing as M. came out of the water she just had this look of amazement on her face. I wish I could have captured it with a photo,  but she was just beaming, her smile ran from ear to ear. And then came the deep gasp of air. That moment is the sweetest part. I remember when Sister Dance was talking about this little boy who's baptism she was at, and how when he came out of the water he just said "Wow!" I think the spiritual power that the Holy Spirit of Promise can bestow upon those participating in and witnessing a baptism by proper priesthood authority is amazing. It was a truly fantastic experience. Later on Sister K., M.'s mom, got up and bore her testimony of how she saw what M. had just experienced and then she testified of how she remembers just wanting to shout or sing and just let the joy burst from her heart (paraphrased).

We were also able to visit nearly all the people that we had planned on visiting this week although we were only able to teach a few of them. No worries though. Such is life in the Alaska bush. We will just keep working hard to find more people.

So yesterday I had an epiphany. I was laying in bed thinking about a lesson that we had with a very nice older lady named N.. I felt like I needed to ask her if she had ever read the book of Mormon. And she said no, so I asked her why not. Long story short, she was irritated with me asking, but I told her very straight that it is my duty to invite all to come unto Christ. Now I was freaking nervous at this point, because the last thing I wanted to do is anger some really nice person and get us banned from their house, but I kept going. I kept asking questions. I testified. And the Spirit helped her to stay calm.

It's not easy to be bold. One of the missionaries in our mission, Elder B., defined bold as follows. B is for blatant. O is for Obvious. L is for Love. D is for Direct.

Last night I was thinking back on some encounters that I have had on my mission. Some on airplanes, others in discussions with people just in passing. Many of which ended when the person began to become irritated and simply refused to talk about religion. I feel that many people become irritated about religion because they simply do not have a solid testimony and fear that any discussion may cause confusion or conflict within their beliefs and testimony.

I also remembered the flight to here from Anchorage... I sat next to 4 different people. I tried to talk to every one of them about the Gospel. One of them said "I really don't want to talk about religion and if you continue to I will become very upset." Once I moved past a grown woman's threat to throw a temper tantrum if we discussed the taboo topic of religion, I just had one question that continued to eat away at me.... Why! Why would someone be so opposed to hearing the beliefs of another that they would shut down their mind and harden their hearts towards a message without even trying it for themselves first? Honestly, it really still breaks my heart to see people reject the Gospel without first turning it over to God and letting Him answer them. It is frustrating. Thank goodness for the Spirit World! As I continued onward with my visits I began to remember the quote from Jeffrey R. Holland found in Preach My Gospel, page 185.

More important than speaking is listening. These people are not lifeless objects disguised as a baptismal statistic. They are children of God, our brothers and sisters, and they need what we have. Be genuine. Reach out sincerely. Ask these friends what matters most to them.  What do they cherish, and what do they hold dear? And then listen. If the setting is right, you might ask what their fears are, what they yearn for, or what they feel is missing in their lives. I promise you that something in what they say will highlight a truth of the gospel about which you can bear testimony and about which you can then offer more... If we listen with love, we won’t need to wonder what to say. It will be given to us—by the Spirit and by our friends”

So I just began to listen. And then I would testify with Boldness on whatever subjects they would bring up in our conversation. I love the part about asking them what their fears are, what do they yearn for, or what do they feel is missing in their lives.

So back to my epiphany. So as I lay in bed last night I was thinking, "Well did I say too much? Did I go too far?" And as I was thinking about it I recalled what happened to Nephi. Some of the times when he spoke with boldness... the people started raging on him! Sometimes the people's hearts were right and they accepted the message and were willing to change. Other times they just shut down. I just have to operate out of love and if they choose to reject the loving council of the Lord as delivered through a servant by the Spirit of Prophesy and Discernment, well that will allow the Lord's judgments to rest upon them. And most of the time it's just that they aren't the Lord's elect. The elect hear the voice of the Lord and harden not their hearts.

I think with C's talk he should talk about judging unrighteous who will or won't receive the Gospel. Also, forgiveness is a big part of judging. D&C 64.

Remember that righteous judgment is necessary, and along with agency, is a critical part of the Plan. Use lots of scriptures. Remember that love and trust are two separate and different things. One is conditional one is not.

Well I think that is pretty much all I can think of right now. My mind is on all the fish I'm going to catch today so we will see what happens.

I love you all! Miss ya!

Elder Britton Winterrose

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