First and foremost: Tristian was baptized and confirmed a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints! :) It has been such a gift to be a part of her journey, which is just starting! During the 55 days since meeting her, she has developed a relationship with Heavenly Father that wasn't really there before, and strengthened her faith in Jesus Christ to the point of Him being the source of real power to change and to have joy and peace in her life. She now knows her purpose in life and her direction has eternal perspective. Her language, thoughts, and actions reflect her knowledge that she is a daughter of God. And she is so happy!
Everything went smoothly, and many members from the ward came to support Tristian. A couple of her cousins came, too. It was a very nice, spiritual service. Tristian chose "Carry On" as the closing hymn, which, if you know it, is a very peculiar choice! :) She had heard it at church once and loved it! The baptism gave a lot for Samantha to think about, too. Yes, she came to Tristian's baptism! Last Monday we had met with her for the first time in a couple weeks- she told us she has read the Book of Mormon almost every day and has received a testimony of its truthfulness. We told her we'll need to meet with her more often to help her progress towards baptism, and she said she would try to get work off on Saturday to be able to come to Tristian's baptism. Then, throughout the week, she didn't respond to any of our texts or calls, so we didn't know if she was able to come. We were worried, so on Saturday morning we attempted to find the house her family is renovating to move into- I had never been to her actual house (we always meet at the library), but a couple weeks ago she took Sister Kirkham and I to see this second house. Anywho, I tried relying on my memory to find it, but we couldn't. Thankfully, she showed up at the baptism! Turns out her phone had run out of minutes, so she couldn't respond to us. :)
And it was meant to be that she couldn't! Here's the other half of the story- when Sister Evensen and I couldn't find Sam's house Saturday morning, we looked in the GPS to see if there was anyone nearby we could visit, since we had drove all that way. The first heart we clicked on was the Bosbys, a former investigator family. I had met the dad when I first arrived in Fairhope, but we hadn't been able to get a return appointment and had kind of forgotten about them. We knocked and the mom Tracy answered the door, excited to see us, and told us to come back that evening. We did; it was just us and Tracy, who told us that just that morning she had pleaded with Heavenly Father in prayer for guidance- we knocked on the door just hours later. She has such a strong desire to do what God wants her to do, to find peace and joy. She clung to everything we said and trusted us, which really made me feel the mantel of my calling as a representative of Jesus Christ- that's what she saw us as. At the end she prayed so sincerely. On Sunday she came to church and loved it.
Throughout this week, I have felt so strongly how much God loves His children. That is why He allows us to serve each other. What an incredibly joyful privelege it is to be a missionary. What did I do to deserve to be a part of these miracles? Of being God's small, weak instrument in helping bring His children peace and joy, and some day home to Him? We don't "deserve" anything- God gives us a taste of the joy that He has because He loves us. His perfect love is His pure motivation. What is our motivation? He wants us to serve each other, to love each other, to become like Him by becoming like His Son Jesus Christ a little bit more each day. Jesus Christ is our perfect example of how to return to live with God and receive all that He has. He lives! Carry on!