We have had a weekend completely full of extremes. There have been so many blessings, and some of the hardest things I have ever experienced in my life. I want to start with the good.We had Jim's baptism this Saturday, and everything went amazing! There are pictures of us with The Jenson's, Brother Y (Jim's friend that referred him), and President Vellinga! President came all the way to St. Marys, the furthest area for him to travel to (it took him almost 4 hours to get to us) just for this baptism. He knows how hard we have been working. We were pretty excited to get that surprise call from him early Saturday morning. Jim had asked Sister Chapman and I both to contribute to the program. So Sister Chapman did a musical number called "This is the Christ," and it was amazing! I gave the talk on baptism. It was kind of funny, I made a reference to Isaiah 1:18 "though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow," and I had to tease Jim about how much he hated the snow, and how it was a way our Father in Heaven reminds us of our baptismal covenants. The best part of it was we had a freak snow storm right as the baptism started, and it just kept coming down! Everyone got a pretty good kick out of it. Brother Yule baptized him. So many people from his family and the branch came to give him support. We were happy to see Robyn and their soon to be baptized daughter, Heather. They came to show Heather what a baptism looked like. You could tell that they were really feeling the spirit during the whole event. While Jim and Brother Y were changing, Sister Chapman and I did a lesson on the restoration with a tie in to testimonies of Jesus Christ. It was so powerful! After the service was over, President briefly came to our apartment. He told us and the Jenson's his thoughts of the baptism. He said, "Perfect spirit and level of reverence. Perfect talks and presentations. Perfect baptism." I want you to know that President Vellinga doesn't throw the word perfect out there too often if ever. That baptism was amazing.
I have to tell you, though, the baptism was a blessing from our Father in Heaven. There was only so much we could handle, and something going wrong at the baptism would have been too much for us. On Thursday we visited Jill (52 years old). I think I told you all that she went in for surgery on Monday for surgery. She had just gotten home when we went over. There we met her brother, who is very active in the church, and seemed very grateful to us for helping her make the steps to come back and be better. We left pretty quick because Jill was really out of it. Early Friday morning we got a call from Josh, her 21-year-old son. Jill had passed away that morning. He didn't know who to call, so he called us. We were so close to Jill. We worked a lot with her. I have never seen someone make as much progress as her in coming back to church. I love Jill so much. That was the most heart wrenching news. We didn't know where to go so we called the branch president. That was a really tough day. We did everything we could to push forward, go to all of our lessons and prepare for Jim's baptism.
Needless to say, it was a tough weekend and a great weekend. We really love Jill a lot. The best bit of comfort we have is that Jill was making more progress in the church than she ever had in her whole life. She really wanted it. She had been reading the Book of Mormon, and asking deep questions every week in Gospel Principles. If she was on the right track here, she will continue on that same track. I am so grateful for our knowledge of the gospel, and our ability to do temple work. I know that Jill can still continue to progress. She will be able to go all the way to the top! :) This is why we are here. This is why missionaries come out. We are here to help people understand the plan of salvation, and give them every opportunity to live with our Father in Heaven again. I know that this is true. It is why I am here.
I love you all. I love my mission, no matter how hard it gets, I love it here.