G'day brothers and sisters, family and friends!
This week I have truly been shown how merciful, understanding, and caring the Lord is. This week has also reminded me of just how important the Sacrament is, but the means by which I received this reminding was not through the typical spiritual experience while partaking of the bread and water. No, this experience came through being able to witness one of our brothers, MC, be received into the Lord's church through baptism by immersion and the laying on of hands for the receiving of the Holy Ghost. When I was able to see MC step into the water with President P, I could not help but feel overwhelming joy! The change that I saw take place in Mick was extraordinary! He used to be deep into drugs (crystal meth was a regular), he chain smoked, he got drunk whenever he could, and he wasn't shy about sleeping around with girls. He did the works, and he's not shy about talking about it -which is the only reason I'm mentioning it. To see him come full circle was incredible. He looks physically better, and he just has this elated glow about him. He's happier than he's ever been- President P, who has known M for three years, even said that the change that he has gone through is unreal. The Atonement is real, that is undeniable. No matter how far gone anyone is, the Atonement can and will work for them. M came straight out of Babylon, in fact Mick was probably living in the Red Light district of Babylon -if you catch my drift- and he STILL was able to turn it all around with the help of the Saviour. I've never seen such a solid recent convert! He bore his testimony shortly after the ordinance was preformed and my jaw dropped- the words he spoke sounded like those that might be spoken by a Church veteran of twenty years! He is going to be a solid Priesthood holder someday, and he understands exactly what that means. Shortly after he started down this path, we offered a blessing of healing for him to overcome his addictions, as his "flesh was [not yet] subject to the spirit", and after we rendered the blessing to him, he darn-well cold turkey-ed everything! I've never seen nor heard anything like it in all my young life! He comes to church in his nice, Italian-style suit, makes friends with all the members, and he is the most missionary-minded out of all of them (save for maybe the P's). He is an example of what true repentance is; he is an example of how powerful the Atonement is. Not only that, but by doing a complete 180, he has shown that the Father's hand of mercy truly is probably the farthest reaching out of any of them.
|Filling the font|
|Elder P preparing the font|
Well, the week of M's baptism, Elder P and I were wondering what we would do after he was baptized. With DJ fallen completely off the radar only after going hard-out on the drugs again, we weren't sure who we were going to teach next. Personal finding in this town is downright unsuccessful (even the locals say this is the hardest town in all of Australia, and I'm tempted to believe it), the members didn't have anyone else lined up, and we didn't have any referrals. We were really worried about what was going to happen in the area and what we were going to do next. At the baptism, however, Sister P brought two friends, who after the service, approached us and asked us if they could take the discussions. How on earth did that happen??? We baptize our only investigator, and suddenly, without much effort done on our own part -aside from praying fervently- two investigators fall out of the sky. The Lord understands that the missionary work in Broken Hill is HEAPS different compared to any other area, and He knows that we, Elder P and myself, will do everything in our own power first before calling upon Him to help us. This was the perfect example of the Lord making up the difference; with nowhere left to go, Elder P and I were very nervous about what would happen next, and then two new investigators come out of nowhere. They were the P's friends and one had heard things from the missionaries in the past (way in the past) but neither had come to the baptism with the intention of taking up the missionary discussions, and now they're both extremely keen. There is a Lord... and He loves us each and understands our own situations just as well as we do, if not more so, of this I have no doubt. The Lord is a Lord of miracles, no questions asked.
Aside from this miraculous week... there's not a lot to report. Sister D is going to cook us up a feast for Thanksgiving, which is going to be awesome; the Aussie's don't do Thanksgiving, so I was very surprised when she came to me specifically and asked me what my favourite dishes were from back home. Most of the time Aussie's smash America but every now and again you get one or two who actually appreciate Americans, and then -very rarely- you get those Mum Away from Home figures like Sister D and Sister G (who's actually like a grandma away from home) who will go out of their Australian way to tailor to a lonely-az American. Lovely people, really. Christmas is also creeping up, eh? And you know what that means- when December ends, I will have three more months before reaching the halfway point... time has been crawling up until now, and suddenly I feel this slight increase of adrenaline being pumped into my bloodstream- where has the time gone!? I'm almost halfway through (not really) and I've only baptized one person! Excuse me while I mentally freak out (I do this a lot, but I find that people get concerned when you physically freak out and display your discomfort in ways that others can visually see, so I keep it all in my head).
Oh yeah, we also go to shear sheep this week (well, we shore a little off of one sheep... it was hard) and we got to corral them up into their pens with a sheep dog! Now that part was fun! I have a video that I can't attach, but I'll keep it so we can go through them all when I get back.
I love you all heaps!
p.s. In the photos -we found these metal statues while we were out and about. We're not sure what they are or why they exist, but there were about eight of these statues. In the other photo, the sun was illuminating the baptismal font when we carried out the baptism- the photo was taken about an your beforehand. It made it look very celestial.
|I cannot look at this without tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat...|
and gratitude in my heart.