Happy Thanksgiving!!! It's so hard to imagine that this is my second Thanksgiving out in the field! I'm grateful that this time I won't have to deal with the snow in Idaho, but I'll also miss the delicious Thanksgiving dinner we had with our Stake President's family. At least we're going to have a Ward Thanksgiving Dinner here, but who knows what kind of food will show up :P It's going to be fun none the less!! :)
I'm so incredibly grateful for what a blessing serving as a missionary has been. Even though it's had many rocky times, my faith has been strengthened and I have such a strong testimony of endurance in faith and hope. I'm so grateful for each one of you and your loving support. Whenever I'm feeling down I remember how much my family loves me and it gives me comfort. Mom, Dad, Adam, Jake and Jordan, I love you.
I wanted to fill you in on all the details of Lin JieMei's miraculous conversion. She's the one who has cancer and is the mom of one of the Elders' recent converts. Three weeks ago I remember a bike ride when Sister Gibson and I were discussing her progression in the gospel. Her goal was November 12th, in two weeks from that time, which meant that she had to be ready for a baptismal interview in a few days. At that point in time Lin jiemei had been voicing a lot of concerns about keeping the commandments because of her circumstances and because of that we weren't able to teach her very fast since most of our time was spent resolving excuses. I have to admit I was a little frustrated with her attitude. Sister Gibson was expressing to me that she had a strong impression that we should do all we could to help her meet her November 12th goal and I remember turning to her and asking, "Just think about it logically for a second. Even if we DID finish teaching her everything, do you think she would really be spiritually prepared for baptism in a week? I don't want to get someone baptized who's not really prepared just for the sake of reaching a goal. She's still got a long way to go." She agreed that she wasn't where she needed to be at spiritually, but she couldn't deny the impression she had and still insisted that we needed to help her prepared.
I tried to humble myself and think of what we could do instead of what we couldn't. After all, this isn't a "logical" work, it's God's, and most of the time we don't know all the ways the Lord is working to make miraculous things happen. We thought about teaching her a lesson on spiritual revelation and how she should go to the Lord to help her understand how to apply the commandments to her particular situation. Personal revelation is meant to help God's children, "adapted to the circumstances in which His children are placed" (Preach My Gospel, ch.2). We thought of D&C 9 where the Lord teaches that we need to think it out in our own mind then ask Him if it be right. Then we move forward and He'll confirm or let us know if it's wrong through our feelings. Basically if she had an attitude of "how can I keep this commandment?" and then did all she could, she wouldn't have to worry about whether or not she could get baptized because of fear from not being able to keep the commandments due to any extenuating circumstances.
When we went to go teach her that lesson, it was completely inspired. By the end her heart was much softer and we didn't have to deal with as many excuses. Still, she had a long way to go in getting ready for her baptismal interview. We met with her every day that week trying to help her understand the doctrine and miraculously she accepted it all and was ready for an interview last Tuesday, before her possible chemotherapy on Wednesday. That was the big catch... if she had chemotherapy she would most likely be feeling to weak and sick to get baptized on Saturday, but there was the possibility she wouldn't be able to have chemo because her white blood cell count was too low. We never prayed that she wouldn't be able to have chemo, but we prayed that the Lord's will would be done, even though it'd be pretty miraculous if she could still reach her goal after getting chemo.
The morning of her baptismal interview came and it was such a humbling time for me. We found out that she needed a second interview and when she came out I could tell that the burden of sin was weighing on her. After the paperwork was done and the Elders left we asked her how she was doing. She said it's not very comfortable to finally face God with all the things you've done and confess her sins before one of His representatives. We shared our testimonies of the Atonement and read the story in Alma 36 when Alma is tormented with inexpressible pain from the sins he had committed, but that it was all replaced by joy and peace after he had repented. I had never felt the power of that story so strongly. We testified that sometimes the repentance process isn't very comfortable, but that the end would be so beautiful and joyful. Through baptism all this guilt and shame would be washed away. When we knelt down in prayer she pleaded with the Lord to help her body by healthy enough to get baptized. I was so touched by her sincerity, faith and desire to be healed both physically and spiritually by the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
All my love,