Can you believe that we're already in 2013?! It's crazy to think but it was 5 months since I reported to the MTC on the 31st December... isn't time just flying by?
We have been witnessing miracles occur here in Poquoson and, instead of trying to build suspense, I'll just say them first and then explain later... On the 30th December, we had TWO baptisms! Yes, the area that couldn't baptize had two baptisms in one day! If that isn't a miracle, I don't know what is!
So, let's start with the story of four! At the start of each year, each ward comes up with a ward mission plan which involves a goal for how many baptisms they will have that year. The thing is that, over the last three years, Poquoson hasn't baptized a single person and, at the start of the year, didn't look like it would either. However, our ward mission leader, Brother Lemmons and the missionaries felt very strongly that during 2012, the ward would baptize four people...
Well, in July, Brother George Veltri (a 70 year old man who had been investigating for a year) was baptized into the ward! Not only were the ward members surprised but so were the missionaries... A month after I arrived (on September 22nd to be exact), Sister Barbara Bruhn joined the church after waving down the missionaries riding by one day in the hope they could help her 19 year old son Seth before he joined the military! Recently, Elder Jensen and I began teaching Rhett Miller, a 14 year old boy from a less active family who wanted to join the church... Well, on the 30th December, Rhett became the newest member of the Poquoson ward! You may notice that only makes three people... This is where one of the most amazing experiences of my life comes in!
On Sunday 23rd December, Barbara, Seth and her boyfriend Kavin came to church! Seth had always been open but, everytime we brought up baptism, he just turned away and said 'I'm not ready yet...'. Well, as we sat in sacrament meeting, I felt the distinct impression to write on a post-it note 'how can we help you Seth?'. Not really thinking about it, I followed that prompting and handed it to Seth. He sat and thought for ten minutes and replied 'just keep coming round... we need you more than you think'. This sparked a thirty minute conversation that ended up with Seth asking if he could be baptized that weekend... the last weekend of 2012!
It was stressful BUT we made it happen! Everything just seemed to fall into place so that, at 4pm and 6pm respectively, Seth Ryan Bruhn and Rhett Xavier Miller were baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. By some miraculous turnaround, Poquoson had gone from baptizing no-one in three years to the promised four in 2012! I know this shows that God really knows His children and, even before they came in contact with the missionaries, He was preparing those four special people to join His church! I have to come to love each of them, especially Seth! He's only a few months older than me and is just like my friends back home... Heavenly Father has blessed me to know him and be able to have him as one of my best friends! Expect to hear much more about him :)
Another miracle this week was the chance to baptize LaMond Baird, one of the Pirmary children here! I love his family and he's like a little brother to me... I struggle to put into words how spiritual that experience was for me! To have the opportunity to baptize one of Heavenly Father's children was incredibly humbling and powerful - I have reaffirmed my testimony of baptism this week as a result! It really is the gate in which we enter into God's path!
This has been a great week because of my new companion, Elder Ovard! Man, do I love this kid! He is such a great guy and an example to me in so many ways... he's so funny yet spiritual! I feel honoured to be able to spend (at least) six weeks with him... we definitely were meant to be companions together :)
So, that's been my week in a nutshell... we've been busy! I gave seven blessings last week, was part of four confirmations (two of which I gave), was part of three baptisms (with the privilege of baptizing Seth and LaMond personally) and interviewed two people for baptism who are now members! I'm tired and often stressed but I love my job... we fasted for a white Christmas this month and, in this tiny area of Poquoson, that's exactly what we got and, hopefully, will continue to get (ps. Kavin has a baptism date for the 31st January!). I am grateful that God invites me into the process... I understand that I have nothing to do with these miracles expect being obedient and diligent enough to be the instrument in God's hands! I testify this is His work - He is in the vineyard with us!
Happy New Year,
Elder Pelham :)