My Dearest Family and Most Beloved Friends,
This Monday morning has been simply awesome! It is about 65 or 70 degrees outside at 10:15 a.m. and it will only get about 10 or 15 degrees hotter today. It rained 2 nights ago! It was Elder Flakes 2nd rainstorm in Arizona and it was at 9:45 p.m. We heard the rain, jumped out of bed, and played in it till about 10:30! It wasn't even raining very hard but just rain in general makes me giddy. :p
I don't really know where to start with my week! Have definitely had some ups and downs. I guess I will start with Roger. Roger was our 2nd convert baptism. He is in his 50's, black and only has 2 teeth. He is a "recovering addict" of over 30 years of smoking and drinking and only had 1 cigarette in 3 months! He is such a stud and I love him so much! He unfortunately wanted to go back to Las Vegas where he lived for 30 years. His 3 daughters and 1 son lives there. He would work back with the same Taxi company he worked for 15 years. Last Saturday he told us he was leaving and on Wednesday, he was gone. We went with him to the airport. Our Ward Mission Leader drove us all there. On our way however, we realized we were leaving our area but not our Zone and we didn't tell our District Leader or Zone Leaders we were leaving our area... We got to the airport and Brother Swegle (Our WML) asked us to help him get his bags checked then help him to security. When we walked in and walked to the front desk. Suddenly, we hear in a deep voice "Elders! What are you doing here??" To our surprise.... It was President Killpack, our Mission President and his wife. With showing as little nervousness in my voice as I could, I explained Roger was heading home and we wanted to see him off. President and Sister Killpack came to Rogers Baptism so they knew who he was. Roger went in to hug President and I almost stopped him but I didn't think I could. You see... President doesn't hug anybody... and so I didn't want Roger to get rejected like most of the missionaries in the mission have been. But President stretched out his arms and gave him a hug, WITH BOTH ARMS!!! As did Sister Killpack!! As soon as that happened, I knew we were off the hook with any trouble we could have been in. But it taught me a very valuable lesson, it's better to ask for permission than it is for forgiveness! Anyways, we helped Roger gets his bags checked then we walked him to security. We hugged it out for probably 2 minutes before we left. There were no tears shed but I am definitely going to miss him! When he goes through the Temple, if he comes back down here then that means that Elder Hickenlooper and I could go through with him! That would be such an awesome experience!
We had a member drop us on Thursday. That has never happened to me. He is a less-active that was baptized only 11 months ago. We have been going over to visit him on and off for the past 2 months. His name is Senator H (it makes me think of Star Wars for some reason...). So we walk in on Thursday and he invites us in. Once we sit down, he says, "I am going to be completely honest with you guys. I have never felt a spiritual sensation about your church and I don't believe in Mormonism. I don't believe in Christ and I don't know if I even believe in God." We talked to him about Faith to which he responded, "You can't have faith in something that you cant see." (Which is TOTALLY False! There are at least 3 places in the Book Of Mormon that say that Faith is to hope for things which are not seen, which are true). After only 5 minutes, he said he had to get going but he still wanted us to be friends. Maybe that is all he needs right now is a friend, not a religion.
But on a happier note, that family (Ben, Amanda and their 3 little girls) came to church yesterday! When we talked to the girls about how they liked it afterwards, they said they loved it and wanted to come back again! They made a lot of new friends and had so much fun! Ben is a less-active already and he said that it was good to come back to what he grew up doing. Amanda is our investigator and she looked relieved after church. When I asked why she responded with this, "Ben and I were talking about Baptism. He told me that we had to be abstinent for a year before I could get baptized. But in Relief Society, we were talking about the Temple and Temple Marriages. When I asked if non-members could get married there, they said no but that everyone had the opportunity to get Baptized if that is what they desired." She said she did but didn't know if she could be abstinent for a year. They explained that they could have a civil marriage at the church, get baptized, and in a year they could get sealed in the Temple. She was so happy that she ran out and told Ben that he was wrong and she could get baptized! We also explained that if Ben stopped smoking as well, that he could be the one to baptize her. She loved that! I am so excited to see this family come into the church. It was truly a miracle that the Lord put them into our path. I have such a strong testimony that this is the Lord's work and He has asked me to be His representative and help people come unto Him.
I have been struggling a little this week with a simple-ish question. In the 4th Article of Faith, it states "We believe the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are, first, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; Second, repentance; Third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; And fourth, the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost." I believe that all of that is true. My question was when we repent, isn't that receiving a remission of our sins? So why does it say that we have to be baptized to receive a remission of our sins? I prayed about it last night and I got an answer pretty much right after I asked it. The answer I got was that yes, repentance is receiving a remission of our sins, but only of those that we have repented of. You can only repent of sins that you remember. Obviously we have sins that we don't remember so we can't really "repent" of those. That is where baptism and the sacrament come into play. When we are baptized, if he have the right intentions in our heart (and Heavenly Father knows if we do or not) then baptism/the sacrament is our way of saying we are sorry for the sins that we forgot about and that we will try our hardest to do better from now on. So that remission of sins referred to with "baptism" are those things that we cant specifically remember but we know that we have sinned so we are forgiven, on conditions of our hearts sincere desires.
I can't believe that in 8 days, I will have been out for 5 months! At the end of this transfer, I will be out just about 6 months! That is 1/4 of the way done with my mission! On December 12 is when I turn 6 months old. That means I will only have 13 days after that till I get to Skype or call you guys! And only 17 days till I turn 21!! I am thinking I want to get an Arizona License on my birthday so that It will be sideways instead of up and down. And how cool would it be to have a license with me holding up my missionary name-tag!? Tell me what you think about that and I will make a decision later. :)
I love you all so much! Thank you for the emails! I hope all goes well at home and everyone is safe. I LOVE YOU ALL SO MUCH!!!!
Much love from the greatest Son, Brother, and Friend you could ask for,