What an amazing week! This was one of the greatest weeks of my mission! We have really been blessed recently!
This week we had 3 great baptisms from mainland. One of them was an 8 year old girl, who's parents are non-members, but who has been faithfully attending church with her grandmother. She was really cute, and had great faith! The best part was that a huge part of the branch came down to support her baptism! I really love that branch, they are one of my favorite of the mainland branches, they are very faithful, come to support every baptism, and are at the temple often. They are the same branch that came down a few months ago for some baptisms. It was great to see them again, and even better was to see all 4 of the people who's baptisms I have been blessed to be involved in for that branch over the past 6 months or so. They are all doing great! The retention is amazing, they all attend the temple, they all come down to support people making those covenants that are so precious to them. There is something about those pioneers and faithful members in an oppressive society that we long time members just don't have. It is humbling to see them always treasure and act upon those principles and teachings that we have long since grown accustomed to and maybe forgotten. We sang the song I Know My Redeemer Lives as we waited for the girl to change clothes after her baptism, and wow I really felt the spirit and commitment from those members, they really do know! And all the recent converts that I have seen baptized came down, and are doing great! It makes me so happy to see them!
|Amazing branch attending 8 yr old's baptism!|
Then, the very next morning, we helped baptize a 92 year old women, which was quite the process. I did her baptismal interview, with some help from her daughter to translate, she only spoke some random dialect, which was similar-ish to Cantonese, but pretty hard to understand. She was quite hilarious in the interview, really cute, and she always said, of course I believe! I was amazed by her faith and desire, as well as her example, she grew up extremely poor, and was never educated, she can't read or write, and worked hard labor her whole life to provide for her children. She feels the Spirit from pictures of Christ, and knows that God watches after her and has blessed her family. The baptism was a process because she is wheelchair bound, and she didn't enjoy the water too much, but she happily bore her testimony afterwords! It was suprising how similar the 8 year old and 92 year old's testimonies were. Simple, but with conviction. I was really touched by these two baptisms, two people on completely opposite sides of the spectrum of life, one 8 year old girl, and one 92 year old women. But they are the exact same in God's eyes, and have the exact same potential and opportunity to receive the eternal blessings from God as they both entered the gate of baptism. It is amazing to see God preparing and giving opportunities to everyone to learn of Him.
|Mainland branch members and the cutest PoPo getting baptized|
|PoPo ready to enter the waters of baptism|
We went to the temple on Tuesday as well, which is always a pleasure. There is always so much clarity, peace of mind, and perspective gained in the temple. I had some promptings to work harder, not be idle or complacent, and to remember my missionary purpose! Good reminders, especially for this last quarter of the mission!
|District temple day!|
|Elders Stratford and Woolley at the temple|
Finally we had an amazing lesson on Saturday! There is a member in our branch Max, who is a recent convert of a few years, who's wife Livia is not yet a member. She attends church every week, believes in it all, yet has struggled to commit to being baptized. We brought them over to President and Sister Lam's apartment and taught a lesson with them, and it was absolutely amazing. President Lam is incredibly good at discerning the needs. After we invited her she brought up a few needs, and he began to share experiences and scriptures, and she kept saying, that's exactly my concern! And then he would resolve it. Amazing. Somehow, in the course of the lesson, she went from, I can't commit, to ok I guess I can set a date, to I want to tell everyone about the date we just set, they will all be so happy! It was amazing. She and Max were so happy and grateful after the date was set, and I caught a glimpse of their eternal potential, to be sealed together with their children in the temple. I am so happy and excited for her and their family, I have no doubt that she will make her baptismal goal! I learned a lot from President Lam in that lesson. He is an extremely loving, encouraging, bold, and spiritual teacher. I hope I can teach that well sometime in my life.
One of her concerns is something that I think all of us can relate to in some way or another, which is the feeling of not being good enough, which discourages us from committing to things, and causes us to hesitate and to doubt. I love what President Lam told her when she said, I don't think I am good enough to hold to what baptism is. He said none of us are. And on our own, none of us can do what He asks us to do. But we are not alone, and are never alone. God always qualifies whom he calls, and never calls us to do something we cannot do, because he knows and loves us. So He will always help and qualify us, as long as we trust Him and act on at least a particle of faith.
Something else I love that President Lam shared, he had a friend ask him how he could commit to sell his medical practice and retire to go serve full time for three years as a Mission President, and President Lam said, "I didn't make that commitment a year and a half ago when I was called, I made that commitment 21 years ago the day I was baptized."
God has qualified him ever since then to do all that he has been called to do.
I know that that is true because I see the same in myself, the times when I feel I am not good enough or have not done enough, I remember my identity as a child of God, and know that as I continue to act in faith, He qualifies me and magnifies my efforts. I am also committed to serving with all my heart, might, mind, and strength, and know that Christ's grace makes up all the difference, so we don't have to feel like we are not good enough! We are always worthy of being saved by the Shepherd simply because we are all His sheep!
I love the mission, and know that it is His. Thank you all for the love!
|Mother and Daughter baptsim|
|Elder Cornilles getting wrecked by Peter, the Wing Chun master|
|Us and Li Jiu, the happiest humblest man ever|
|Jason dying from the hottest level noodle soup|