This week included some of the highest highs and some of the lowest lows of my mission. Monday was Brother Dubyk’s funeral. It was beautiful. We sang “Come, Come Ye Saints” together and I reflected on the special peace that can only come from knowing that your conscience is clean and you’re ready to meet God. This is a greater peace than that of physical safety. It was also wonderful to see the fellowship of the Saints afterward. There was so much love in that room. The chapel was filled up with all of the overflow open. That afternoon I started to feel a little nauseated but I kept moving forward. We ate a nice big dinner and some cotton candy ice cream. After dinner we had an awesome family home evening with a member family and a wonderful, totally golden investigator we’re teaching. They got along great and the kids became best friends by the end of it. By then I was feeling pretty sick to my stomach but we had a lot going on so I prayed extra hard and we taught a great lesson with another investigator.
By the time we got home, I was not ok. Like, really not ok. We had done all our laundry and so I put my bottom sheet on my bed and made Sister Anderson make the bed over me. I was so sick! I lost everything I ate all day, cotton candy ice cream and all. In the morning poor Sister Anderson had a similar ailment. We couldn’t even go to district meeting. The elders and sisters were so kind and brought us Gatorade, saltines, and a blessing. In the middle of the day, I said, “OK Sister Anderson. We need to go to urgent care.” and we got ourselves together like a pair of zombies and lumbered to the urgent care where they prescribed us some nice medicine. Poor Sister Anderson needed to transfer the very next day and was just packing so slowly and miserably. I was kind of helping her (not really). The next day we left bright and early to Columbia, MD with all of Sister Anderson’s things. We hugged everyone, sent Sister Nish home, and picked up Sister Feinga!!!! Poor thing, we went right home and back to bed. Thursday I was all back to normal and feeling pretty good though.
Sister Feinga is pretty amazing. She’s from Tonga but it’s cool how many similarities there are between our two hometowns. Sister Feinga: “Where I’m from is about 80% Mormon” Me: “Me too!” Sister Feinga: “The missionaries would cover whole stakes instead of individual wards.” Me: “Me too!” Sister Feinga: “The thing I miss the most about home is the sound of the ocean.” Not me. She’s a hard worker and always has something nice to say. She has adjusted to the area so quickly, I keep forgetting she just got here. On Thursday we introduced her to our relief society president, who has a brand new grandson! We wanted to share a spiritual thought with them but of course the teenage boys were occupied with this new “Pokemon Go” thing idk. Anyway because there was a brand new baby I shared a spiritual thought about the baby Jesus and asked what we could learn about the gospel from a baby. The brand-new father got a little weepy talking about the unconditional love he felt for his tiny son and then a few moments later one of the teenagers walked in. I told him, “We’re talking about Baby Jesus!” and the teen, not paying attention to anyone else, said, “I hatched him!” We all just giggled for days.
On Friday we had our big leadership meeting, including district leaders. Big old crew there, maybe 70 people. Dr. Jaccard, my buddy from years hence, gave a long and amazing presentation on pedagogy. My brain was growing the whole time. The ride home from these meetings is always, always weird and interesting. We all pile into a van early in the morning, to to a long long meeting, and then pile back in and drive home. This time around the elders (two zone leaders and three district leaders) somehow got really curious about childbirth. I was fielding questions from the backseat and the front seat simultaneously such as: “How long does the baby stay plugged in?” “Is human placenta pretty similar to horse placenta?” (from our resident farm boy) “Why do they always time contractions?” “It seems like people always want warm towels, what’s up with that?” and so forth. There was a much greater curiosity than I anticipated. One of our zone leaders has this great concern that he will need to deliver a baby in a remote circumstance because someone on his favorite show had to do that (keep in mind, this is a giant scary football kind of elder who only listens to Bruce R. McConkie talks and who gets in trouble for calling people to repentance) so he had me walk him through the entire childbirthing process. He did a great listening job and was clearly concentrating very intensely. “So, how important is the uterine massage?” “So she’ll be having contractions… how will we know they’re contractions?” “How similar is catching a baby to catching a football?” “What if it’s breech?” Then, perhaps related to all the birthing talk but also maybe more related to the windy West Virginia back roads, one of the elders said, “Bro, I need you to pull over so I can throw up.” We found a parking lot next to a truck stop that included an inexplicable hole in the wall barbecue place. Instead of throwing up, this elder lay in the grass for a while and then got a pulled pork sandwich.
This week also brought our favorite holiday, Pioneer Day! We had a big old cookout. Some of our investigators came and had a great time. We sang Pioneer songs in sacrament meeting. We were joined in said meeting by our wonderful new investigator. She had such a great time and her 4-year-old felt super comfortable and loved Primary. Later, she came to our BAPTISMAL SERVICE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Oh my goodness, it was magical. First of all, one of our investigators who was being baptized was so excited that she didn’t even want to go home, so she just hung around after church and helped us set up. We took us to lunch with some of our members and then her friend in the ward came by to help as well. She got dressed in her jumpsuit way early because she just couldn’t wait and all she wanted was to watch the font fill up 🙂 The service itself went beautifully. We wanted to emphasize the first principles and ordinances of the gospel, which are faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. We had our first speaker talk about faith and repentance, then the young women all sang “Heavenly Father Loves Me” :’) and then our other speaker talked about baptism and confirmation, then we sang “Press Forward, Saints” as our closing hymn to emphasize enduring to the end. One of our members made probably the most beautiful cake I’ve ever seen, giant and with raspberries all over. I also made a cake (in the dark because I got started to late) which we just finished. By the time we finally locked up the church that night, I was both happier than I’d ever been and feeling like I had just run a marathon. As soon as we planned we both passed out with the lights on. I was still flossing when I fell asleep. Oh the joy.
It’s wonderful! Baptism is wonderful! Try it out or share it with a friend! Then write to me about it, 841 Thomas Ct. #57, Winchester VA 22601
Love you beautiful beans,
PS: yes, one of our converts specifically chose the funky 70’s jumpsuit. Good choice 🙂