Another awesome week here in Fort Walton Beach!
Tuesday to Wednesday midday was companionship exchanges with the Sister Training Leaders (they're over all the Sisters in our zone) who live in Crestview 45 minutes away. I got to go to Crestview with Sister Cook, who is super sweet! My goal for the exchange was learning to ask more effective questions in lessons, and I learned a lot! It was fun to be with a different companion for a little bit, but I was glad to get back to Sister Stephens who understands my quirks. :) When I returned to Fort Walton, Sister Stephens said that she and the other sister had visited Rod! Yay! We had thought he'd fallen off the face of the earth! We hadn't seen him since the first week I arrived, and she said he's all the way in 2 Nephi in the Book of Mormon, and he still wants to get baptized- he just has to wait until summer's over so he won't work on Sundays any more and can come to church. And even though he's in 2 Nephi, he's been struggling to read every day. But he said the best time to read is in the morning before work. Sister Stephens said we'd text him every morning to remind him- so he said okay, text me at 5:30 am. Haha! So every day this week, we've been waking up at 5:30 to text him, then go back to sleep. He says he's been reading every day, so at least it's working! :)
On Thursday we had dinner with the Davis family. The husband and wife are both from Utah and they have such sweet kids. They made tostadas for dinner- one of my favorite meals we had often at home- and then after we shared a message about missionary work, they invited me to play a song on their violin! It felt like home away from home!
That evening we had a lesson with Roderick and Akeria. We asked them if they were excited to get baptized on Saturday, and Akeria sure was, but Roderick just shrugged and half smiled. So we asked, "Why aren't you excited, Roderick?" "I don't know..." We asked if he felt like he understood everything, and he said yes, but finally he said that he didn't feel ready to get baptized. It was the sweetest thing he could have said. So we went through the baptism requirements again, and he passed all of them, and realized he actually was ready. Then he felt good about it! It was so awesome! And the Spirit was really strong during that lesson, probably because it was so focused on their needs. I love those kids so much. Also, Sister Stephens and the sister on the exchange with her started teaching Roderick and Akeria's parents! They seem to be really interested in learning more, she said.
On Friday, they were both interviewed by Elder Simpson who's the District Leader. Everybody tells him he looks like Justin Bieber, because he does, so we told Akeria and Roderick to tell him, too- and Akeria called him Elder Bieber. :) Saturday morning was the baptism! It went awesome! Sister Stephens and I made about 60 pancakes before hand, because the kids love pancakes! Roy baptized them, their Mom was there, the Elders talked about eternal families, Sister Stephens and I sang, and a ton of people were there! Including our mission President Smith and his wife! They were there for missionary interviews, which were later that day. Roderick and Akeria both said they felt really good and happy. It was such a neat experience!
After the baptism we had interviews with President Smith. He's awesome and so kind! And Sister Smith is so sweet! Then the roadshow happened! We had to do it twice, though, because the sound wasn't working the first time. It was fun, but boy am I glad it's over. :)
Yesterday Leslie came to church!!! He came! Sister Stephens sat with him and Jim and Vicky, while I was on Roderick and Akeria duty. Mom, thanks for putting up with me in sacrament meeting for all those years! Kids can be a struggle at church sometimes. They were confirmed members of the church and received the gift of the Holy Ghost! Yay!
Yesterday evening, we went to Danielle's house (she was baptized several months ago) to talk about the importance of having a calling in the church. She doesn't have one yet, but we talked about how God qualifies those he calls. And then Brother Moeller knocked on the door- he's the second councilor in the bishopbric- and he was there to give Danielle her calling as visiting teaching coordinator! It was perfect timing if I've ever seen it!
This week I've been thinking about how our purpose here on earth is to learn, grow, and have experiences to prepare to return to God's presence, which all happen through living the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We're commanded to become even as Jesus Christ is, to develop the characteristics He has, such as kindness, diligence, patience, charity, etc. Sometimes it can be overwhelming to think about all the Christlike attributes we need to develop- but it's crucial to remember that Christ will help us to become like Him as we pray to develop those attributes and conscientiously work on developing them- one at a time. If we don't know where to start, we can pray and ask, "What lack I yet?" The Holy Ghost will let us know what we need to start on, even if it's something small. The rich young man in the New Testament asked Christ that question, but he wasn't willing to act on the answer he got, so he didn't change. God knows what will help us at this moment to become more like His Son- we just need to ask, trust Him, and act. Then we will be able to recognize more of Christ in ourselves. It's just as important that we recognize the strengths and gifts we already have so that we have the courage to improve. Love y'all!
They were baptized by their Grandfather (center)
Roderick and Akeria with the Sisters
The kids at their baptism, with their Mother and Grandfather
With the Mission President and his wife.
They were baptized by their Grandfather (center)
Pancakes for the baptism!
The road show!
Costumes for the roadshow