Monday, May 24, 2010
Ft. Myers Week 4
Who said a mountain can't be moved with faith in these days?! Even if we have to get out our shovels, a mountain can be moved!!! And it has! I haven't had the time to explain too much about Johnsi, but, I can breathe a sigh of relief now because he was baptized on Saturday and confirmed on Sunday. So here I go trying to express in words one of the most tear jerking, heart throbbing, and most exhilarating experiences ever all at the same time, through email nonetheless! :-) Written words really don't do it justice, but I'll try!
Everything was going really great with Johnsi. He is the 15 year old that came from a rough background with gangs and well, just a rough up bringing, but he has had the sincere desire to change and I have never seen anyone change as much as he has in the last weeks that we have been teaching him. Well, we never seemed to be able to cross paths with his mom no matter how hard we have tried in the last weeks. Obviously, because he is 15, he needs his mothers permission to be baptized. Well, we had only talked to her briefly. She works until 10 at night and leaves before Johnsi gets up, so he hardly sees her at all, and had only briefly told her about church. We called her on Friday and we had a really good conversation. It took some convincing, but she said she has noticed a real change in Johnsi, for the better. He doesn't have his anger anymore, and she sees him reading his "book" at night and she knows it is good for him. She doesn't believe we are true, but she said she would support her son if he really wanted to do it. She said I can't stop him. So Friday we left the paper she would have to sign with Johnsi so she would sign it that night.
Can I just say that Saturday was a blast? Sister Baum and I took two of the young women from the branch out with us ALL day! Oh it was so much fun! We taught, tracted and went to the polga! (flea market). We got double the work done and it was great! It was a blessing that those girls were with us for what awaited us next. We went to Johnsi's to pick up the paper that gave permission. Well, he said, she didn't sign it. So, we all sat down outside, his friend was with him, and we said a prayer and it got very serious real quick. He wouldn't really look at us, he didn't seem like the same Johnsi that we knew. We couldn't figure it out. I guess he had talked to his mom the night before, but when he talked to her he said he was a little scared, (SATAN!!!!!!!! I really don't like Satan!) Because Johnsi was a little hesitant she wouldn't sign it. So after an hour of testifying, talking, crying, sharing experiences the day was slipping away and the time was quickly coming for his baptism. Sister Baum would talk, then in my heart I would be praying my heart out, then we would switch. We knew that if we left him, there wouldn't be a chance he would get baptized. After talking a bit more, I shared 1 Nephi 7 that I have talked about a lot on my mission. It is about how Nephi was bound with strong cords. I related that to Johnsi and said he was like Nephi.
We asked him to go in his room, that we would time him, and he had to pray for at least 12 minutes and read by himself and ask God if he should be baptized and ask if this fear was from God. So he did, but he was still scared. So, Sister Baum and one of the girls went and got some chicken wings and Little Caesar's Hot and Ready pizzas and we sat and watched the movie, “The Prophet of the Restoration” with him. His eyes were glued to the TV. He was truly moved as he saw the sacrifice of so many saints and the prophet giving his life. After the movie, Sister Baum and I went outside with Johnsi by ourselves, and had a real heart-to-heart with him. He started saying all the things like, “I'm not ready,” “I can't do this,” “what if my family hates me” and on and on... I tried to hold it in, but I just couldn't. I couldn't help but think of one of the loneliest nights I have ever had was the night of my baptism. Sitting in the corner of a couch holding back tears as I thought about the people that I loved the most weren't at my baptism. I was worried about all of the loneliness and unknown things that would occur later. Finally, I stood and bore testimony, in the name of Jesus Christ that this was true. That John didn't need to have a sign to know, that he didn't need to know Jesus Christ like Joseph Smith did because we were sent here from Jesus Christ. I knelt down in front of him, tears rushing down my face, and I shared with him one of the most treasured experiences of my life. A dream that I had two nights before my baptism. I looked up at him and told him that in my dream, I was a homeless person sitting on the ground under a freeway overpass. Next to me was a person who had scriptures on their lap as we sat around a fire. There was a light in the distance that glistened on the wet pavement. I had absolutely nothing of worldly possessions, except the scriptures that I had in my own lap, but I felt happy. I really felt true happiness.
I told Johnsi that the person next to me, let their scriptures get too close to the fire, and the pages darkened and could not be read. This person handed the scriptures to me, and I wiped the pages clean so they could see them and read them. I told Johnsi that since having that dream I was willing to give up everything for the gospel because I knew I would still be happy. I said other things, some of which I feel like I should not say, but the spirit was very strong. I told him to stand up , dust of his shoes, and put his trust in the Lord.
I realized that his ride would be here in 30 minutes and we still needed his mom to sign the paper. Thankfully Johnsi said, “alright.” I said, “Thank you,” and he went in , got changed real quick, and all of us walked to the restaurant that his mom works at. As we waited outside we were praying our guts out. Not two minutes later he walked out, with the paper in his hand, signed by his mom. I couldn't believe it! I was awe struck by what just happened! A mountain was moved, I tell you what!!! When he told us his mom signed it I jumped 10 feet in the air and just started running around. I have never felt joy like that in my life! They all laughed! Oh I wanted so badly to run and give him a hug!!! We barely got back in time for his ride! Satan was running the stop lights too! He was doing everything he could to stop this baptism from happening! Oh my, I can't do this justice! Our mouths were wide open with awe when we got in the car. We couldn't believe that happened! Well, this is the Lords work. As we walked back to his house, I had a nice conversation with the Lord. If my mission ended in that moment I would be so happy and feel complete. Kneeling in front of Johnsi and being able to share my experience with him, made every bit of the loneliness and unknown things I had to deal with in my own life worth it. It was a very special experience I will never forget for the rest of my life!
Well, I had the privilege in speaking in church yesterday! So fun! I think my Spanish has gotten a little better since the MTC. Maybe a little. I was given the topic of what we can do to return to live with Heavenly father! Wow! That's a big one. I didn't prepare anything, but as I approached the pulpit, I just felt like I needed to testify of the Book of Mormon. It is the way!
Love you all!