This week has been so amazing!!!! There is so much I want to email you about and I probably wont even get to most of it because there is so much!
|Jazlyn is the one that got baptized:) She is the one in the blue skirt:):):):) The rest of them are her sister and her mom and the member family they are good friends with:):)|
First things first. Jazlyn was baptized on Saturday!!! It was so exciting! She asked us not to tell to many people about the baptism because she didn't want a whole lot of people there.. It was surprising pretty full though, and when the rest of the Ward found out the next day that she had gotten baptized many of them came up to us and told us they were disappointed they weren't able to go because they would have loved to come!! I thought that was super sweet of them, and I feel a little bad I didn't tell them about the baptism, but I also know she is a very shy person. Her nonmember family came and the Bishop and the Young Women's president and her family and the main member family that had been fellowshipping. Which doesn't sound like a lot, but when you put together all the extended families in those, then it was a full room (plus 6 missionaries and our Ward mission leader) oh and an investigator of the Elders. The best part was before the baptism when I was talking to her mom who we are also teaching, and she told us that when she gets baptized, the water had better be hot. I thought it was cool, because even if she isn't ready now, she can envision herself doing it sometime in the future!! It made me so happy! And then! Her mom's boyfriend is a less active that hasn't been to church in years and years and years, and since we have been teaching this family, he has been coming to church with them when he can, and he has joined us in most of our discussions, and of course was there at the baptism. Afterwards he thanked me for all that I have done for him and for Jazlyn and her family, and I told him it was completely worth it. And for him not to worry. That even though Jazlyn was baptized, and we have gone through all the discussions with them, we weren't going to forget him, and his own family. We have been, and will continue to work with this family for a while, and I loved seeing the steps that each of them are taking to be closer to Christ and each other. I love all of them so much!!!
Yesterday at church was also super awesome!! Mostly because the missionaries basically made up most of the program. All 6 of us spoke, and I played the organ. Yes Mother. I actually played the organ in church. This I think is the first time I have played the organ (or the piano for that matter) in Sacrament meeting.. It was super nerve wracking.. also don't think I really thought it through very much because I had to play the intermediate hymn right after I spoke, and of course I was crying and so I couldn't really see the music. Needless to say, that hymn wasn't the best, but the ward members thought it was very touching.. so at least there is that! I will be playing next Sunday as well. I don't know what the songs are yet though.. I will have to call the music person to find out today so that I can practice.. haha.
Three of the Elders were new to Albany so they each just bore their testimony to the ward. (One elder was replacing another, and the other two were opening an Elders car area here to help us with the vast amount of people we have to see) The other three of us spoke on the phrase "What would Jesus do?" I was surprised that no scriptures were repeated, and the thoughts were so different. Mine was a lot more focused on the Character of Christ, since before you can answer that question, you have to know who Christ is, and how He reacts to different situations. In a nutshell I said that when things get hard for us, many of us will ask why me? Why now? Why is it so hard? I need a break.. etc. We focus inward. We focus on ourselves. When Christ suffered, He focused outward. He focused on others. When He was being tempted in the wilderness (when He was fasting for 40 days) He did end up calling angels to Him, but not for Himself, instead He sent them to His cousin John who was suffering in prison. Later after He had just suffered the effects of the suffering in the Garden, and was very likely still feeling some of the after affects of it, and then on top of it, one of His closest companions betrays Him to the very people that seek His life, but when Peter cuts off the ear of the soldier who is trying to take Christ prisoner, His first thought is not, you deserved it, but rather to just reach out and heal Him. Because He could not stand to see the soldier suffer. How many of us could do that? How many of us will reach out to the people who hurt us, or whom we know intend us harm, and love them? All Christ has asked for us to do is love everyone. He never said we had to like them, but that we had to love them. Everyone in this world I am sure has felt at some moment in their life that they are utterly alone. Many times they seem to be the most alone in the middle of a huge crowd. We will all feel worthless, unworthy, and ashamed of who we are. We will each feel discouraged and down. I plead with you, just as I did the the ward here to never forget that if you ever feel like that, remember there is at least one person who loves you! That is Christ. He loves you unconditionally!!
He is always there ready to give you a hug when you need it. And if you can't remember that, and you need a more physically there person, you can know that I love you. I may not like you, but I will love you. One of the things I have been most grateful for in my mission, is the love that I have been able to feel for so many people! I know it would be ten times harder to love these people if I wasn't here on my mission, but I am so glad I have been able to learn to love them here. Many of my favorite people here are those who many look at and will walk across the street to avoid. I might have even done the same. There are many people who I see who others will tell me to stop seeing because they look scary, or they aren't worth my time.. I can tell you that everyone is worth my time. I wish I had more time to see all of them!! It is true that many people are scary looking, look rough or dangerous. Many times people who come to church have very large visible stains on their reputations and image. Visible or not, is it my place to judge? Nope. Its not. I love everyone. That is what I am supposed to do, and that is what I will try to do for the rest of my life. In no way am I perfect at it, and I don't think I will be perfect at it in this lifetime, but I can find as many people as I can to let them know how much I love them, and hopefully help change their life for the better. If they have no one else, they have me. I don't want anyone to be alone. Ever. It makes my heart hurt to much. However, I know that I am only one person. And I am in no way near as powerful or as awesome as our Savior Jesus Christ. He could do all this work if He wanted to all by Himself. But He has allowed me to be a teeny tiny part of it. So that I can feel His love for these people. I feel so blessed to be able to have that part, and I feel that responsibility weigh heavily on my shoulders. If He needs me to, I will continue to do this for the rest of my life. That's how much I love each and every one of you. I'm not sure I can convey my sincerity as well over email, but I really do believe this, and I have made this my life goal. I am excited to see where it leads me!
Anyway.. Then I cried, and shared some more stories, and the whole ward was crying too, and three or four came up to me after and said that talk was meant for them, and one person told me that it was General Authority status.. Which I thought was a very nice compliment. :) Not sure if it was that good, but maybe to him it was since it was so personal and it touched him greatly. At least that meant that the Spirit was there:) I really do love giving talks!
Oh! and then after church the best thing happened, this 10 year old girl came up to me and said "Excuse me, but I'm going to get baptized, and the Bishop said I needed to talk to you" It was the cutest thing ever.. Her dad is a member but has only been recently coming back to church. She decided she was going to get baptized, and later when we visited them, she asked if she could get baptized tomorrow, we told her she had to wait a little longer, so she immediately responded with "Ok, so I can get baptized in 2 days?" haha it made me think of me when I was younger and the things you would tell me when I thought 2 days was so long. Loved it. Turns out the Bishop had already talked to my companion about it, but since I didn't hear that conversation, I didn't know that it had gone on, and it had really surprised me when the little girl came up and told me she was going to get baptized but needed to talk with me first. So cute!
I love you lots! (sorry I had to leave out some of my week that I wanted to tell you, but this is a really long email already and now I am out of time). I hope you are having a wonderful week!!
Love your favorite child,
Sister Monica Walker
PS When does school/seminary start back up? The kids here start tomorrow..