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“Each of us writes our own story…”

My Grandpa Garritson was baptized well into his adult life, early forties I believe. His story is humorous and filled with commitment.

Following his baptism earlier in the day, my grandfather arrived home and entered in the front door…He proceeded through the house and finally exited the back kitchen door and proceeded to dismantle his still! He had been proficient in producing his own homemade liquor for years.

He also put aside his tobacco. He never looked back. Each fall when he stacked the last bales of hay atop the hay-stack, he said he would sit atop the hay-stack and inhale the smell of the fresh cut hay. He could also smell ‘the memory,’ of tobacco. It had been he, and his brothers tradition to sit atop the hay-stack each fall and light up. He felt his brothers with him, and he could smell the tobacco. But it could never draw him in from the commitments he had made at baptism. These family stories strengthen our faith and draw us close to those who have gone before us.

Recently, a less-active young man, of 17, was informed his Baptism Records had indeed been lost. He would be required to receive the discussions and be baptized again to continue as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

I remember thinking, ‘this could be a challenge if he is offended.’ When He expressed some of his concerns and challenges, I shared my Grandfathers Story.

“You are writing your own story. It is one of unusual circumstances. It is up to you to live, and write your own Baptism Story. You will want to decide carefully what you want your story to look like for your posterity.”

He is a fine man. He has a good heart. He chose not to be offended or prideful. He chose rather to receive the discussions, and enter once again into the waters of Baptism. I was impressed by his words of wisdom for one so young to me. I can only paraphrase the thoughts he expressed to me.

“I have been baptized once. My baptism is not void. I have not been involved in sin and I the received the Gift of the Holy Ghost when I was baptized as a child. It is a mere formality of obedience and of record keeping.”

His story of having been baptized twice for the sake of poor record keeping on another’s part, will be one his posterity will be proud of.

“My Peace I Give Unto You, Not as the World Giveth, give I unto you… Let Not Your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid…”

We visited earlier this week with a Less-Active single mother and her two daughters, (11 and 7 years, the youngest is Autistic,). The mother works full-time, struggles with Agoraphobia and is sincerely striving to overcome her fears and take control of her life for the benefit of herself and her daughters.

We assured her of her Heavenly Father’s love for her, our love for her and our desire to sustain and support her as she makes this journey back into activity in the Church. We complimented her on her courage in facing her Agoraphobia and candor in sharing this painful condition with us.

We bore testimony that although we cannot escape these challenges in life; the Gospel, and Faith in our Savior Jesus Christ will strengthen us, and give us hope, in facing the challenges before us.

As we exited the apartment, the 11 year old daughter stepped to the side where her mother could not hear or see her outside the door, touching my hand she whispered so innocently, and with heart-felt emotions, “Thank you for talking to my mom and saying things that make her happy!”

Precious moments such as this, when we see the Spirit give hope and comfort in our brief visits, fills us with peace and gratitude. We are humbled to be vessels carrying the healing balm of the Gospel message to those who suffer. We look forward to continued visits with this sweet sister and her beautiful daughters.

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Aside

 

Keeping Sacred Records…

As we become more familiar with our area and those precious souls we have been asked to visit,

teach, and minister to, we are more conscious of the unique field in which we labor.

Behind almost every door, we find member or part member families and/or individuals, struggling

with the challenges of drugs, alcohol, debilitating depression and mental illness, suicide, parole, or

recently paroled. We are humbled as we witness the Spirit move before us, preparing each contact,

and even us, especially us, to address these challenges through Faith in Jesus Christ, and to invite

these to begin their journey back into fellowship in the Church; To offer our commitment to make

this journey with them.

As we visit with each other, at the end of the day, and at the end of the week to compile accurate

records of our visits, principals taught, progress made or ground lost, we are instructed by the

Spirit. We are led to the path we are to follow and the new direction to take to continue recovery of

these. We have come to understand more fully, the sacred nature, even the great eternal value of

these Teaching Records. In the very act of record keeping; the Spirit instructs and reveals the will

of the Lord concerning his precious children. When we choose not to keep records, or treat record

keeping lightly, we demonstrate our confidence not to be in God, but rather, in the arm of the flesh.

Less-Active Families 20,  Part-Member Families/Investigators 4,  Recent Converts 2,  First Time Visits (included above) 11,  Number of Contacts Attending Sacrament Mtg 23,  Number of Lessons Taught 17,  Referrals 1

Can we be trusted with the people God places in our path?

As Senior Missionaries, some of our first visits were to support The Sisters in teaching the Stop

Smoking Lessons to Daniel. Daniel had six months Parole left and the Sisters were handing him off

to us. This story is not about Daniel. It is not about us. It is about Daniels young friend.

Two visits particularly stand out in our minds with Daniel. Both were attended by an 11 year old

Hispanic boy named Jesus. He wore a bright red baseball cap two sizes too large! He was delightful.

He would visit Daniel and play games. It was not difficult to see this boy found a safe haven with

Daniel.

Jesus was immediately drawn in by the lessons. We were reading the Isaiah scriptures found in

the Book of Mormon. He took his turn reading just as we three adults did. He asked questions.

He innocently expected answers. As Elder Ellis and Daniel took their turns reading and discussed

Isaiah, Jesus leaned over to me, (Sister Ellis), and whispered,

 “Are we going to pray again?”

“Yes, we will pray again at the very end.”

“Can I do it?” Jesus asked.

“Sure! Have you ever prayed before?”

“No.”

 “Does your family pray at dinner time together in your home?”

 “No. Can I do it?”

When we came to the close of our meeting Elder Ellis asked Daniel to call on someone to pray. Sister

Ellis explained Jesus desire to pray. Elder Ellis and Daniel went through much the same series of

questions. Daniel was very kind. Like a Father he asked Jesus,

“Do you need some help?”

“NO. I think I know how. I saw you do it.”

Elder Ellis briefly explained the process of prayer, he referred Jesus to the little box in our pamphlet

and placed it on the floor before Jesus as we knelt.

Without hesitation or awkwardness of any kind, Jesus began to pray. He needed no assistance. He

spoke as if he had been praying all of his young life.

– Please bless my mom and my brothers and keep my family safe

– Please keep us safe

– Please do not let any bad things happen to me

– Please do not let any bad people hurt me or my family

We were witness to a sacred conversation between a soul so innocent and pure, speaking with

absolute faith and confidence God, his father was listening.

Our meeting about five days later with Daniel and Jesus was very similar. We gave him one of our

cards and said,

“Jesus, give this to your mom and dad. Tell them we will come visit you in your home!”

As we closed the second visit with Jesus present, we had prepared to ask for his address, and the

name and phone of his parents. But as soon as he had our card he was out the door and down

the stairs and long gone. We were not concerned. We had seen him around and we knew we

could catch up with him the next few days. But as quickly as he had appeared in our lives, Jesus

disappeared.

Every couple of days we stopped to visit Daniel. Jesus no longer appeared at Daniels for visits.

Daniel no longer saw him among his friends playing around the complex. We wondered if the card

we had given, sent Jesus and his mom and dad ‘underground.’ Maybe he was in trouble and they

wanted him to have nothing to do with “Mormon Missionaries.”

As we continued to visit Daniel and watch for Jesus, we had grabbed two of our personal DVD’s

of “The Testaments.” We planned to present them each with one as a gift. We packed Jesus’

“Testaments” around for about three weeks. After attending our first Zone Training Conference, We

dropped the Sister Missionaries off at Calloway Apartment Complex. Sister Ellis was so concerned

about Jesus. “We have got to find Jesus. He was placed in our path and we let him get away! We

have let him down. Let’s begin praying we can find him.” We said a brief prayer after the sisters

climbed out of our Yukon, asking to be led to Jesus. We began pulling forward and had moved

forward only a few buildings when we saw children climbing out of a school bus! One wore a bright,

beautiful red ball cap… two sizes too large. “That has got to be Jesus!” Elder Ellis wasted no time

pulling forward and beside those two beautiful young men.

“Jesus! Where have you been hiding out! We have a gift for you and your family! Where do you

live? “

Later that day, we visited Jesus and his mother.

“Watch this Jesus! This really happened! It is about your people and Jesus Christ when he came to

visit your people here on this continent after He was crucified and resurrected. Share it with your

brothers and your mom and Dad. You will love it!” The boys watched it over and over again. They

watched it in Spanish with their father.

 We asked her to visit with her husband to have the lessons. She said she would. Elder Ellis felt

strongly that though the boys and the mother spoke excellent English as well as Spanish, as the

Father spoke Spanish proficiently, and English less, the Spanish Elders were who the Lord had

prepared this family to receive. Not only did the father agree to have the boys taught, we learned

the Father was a member, but had only been active for a short time following his own baptism in

Mexico a decade ago! We introduced the family to Elders Pittman and Kohler and the family fell in

love with them.

Yesterday, Jesus and his brother Joel were baptized! Today they were confirmed. Elder Ellis spoke

to Jesus and Joel’s father, “Thank you for allowing your sons to hear the gospel message and to

be baptized! I knew the first time I met you, you were a good man. I felt your strength. I felt the

goodness of your heart and the strength of your spirit, How blessed these young men are to have

you to guide them and protect them.” This has been an Awesome April for the Taylorsville North

Stake Missionaries!Sisters, then Seniors, then the Spanish Elders, working together… to gather…

these precious souls! We love the work! Blessings, Elder and Sister EllisImage