I honestly don't really know where to start with this one, other than this week was literally the hardest week of my mission. I cannot express how grateful I am for a new week!
So last monday, right after we got done emailing, the Hernandez family txted us and informed us that they no longer wanted to investigate the church or be baptized. They had spent the weekend with their family over in Athens, and their family convinced them that they shouldn't be baptized. They feel they shouldn't abandon their family traditions or religion (catholic). But I know they fear the rejection they would get from their family if they did convert. The way it sounded, they really didn't want to stop investigating, but their family pressured them into it. It's so sad to see how Satan knows exactly how to hold one back from their potential and salvation, by hitting them where it would affect them most, their family. We really want to try and visit them one last time, just to say that we tried and did all that we could. We want to try and bring a hispanic couple who are from the spanish branch and are converts to the church so they can share their story and provide encouragement. So hopefully we can do that this week, I miss the Hernandez family already so much!!:(
So we've been trying to pick ourselves up all week since then. We went home and immediately said a prayer of gratitude to Heavenly Father for the experiences we've had with the Hernandez, and also for blessing us with the investigators we are working with. We told ourselves to look up,we had 2 more baptisms to look forward to.... or so we thought.
We moved forward by preparing everything for Nikki's baptism. We had her interview and everything went great. Well friday morning in the middle of our personal study we recieved a txt from Nikki, explaining that she sadly had to cancel her baptism. I was the first to read it and look at the phone, and immediately i wanted to just crawl into a hole and cry. My heart was just crushed! Why was this all happening at once?! Well she explained to us that she had this long intervention with her mom and grandma the night before and had told them that she was going to be baptized. Well i feared she was keeping this secret from them, knowing she had a baptist background. She told us she didn't know of the 'formalities in the baptist church' and she was going to meet with the elders in the baptist church starting sunday. (we had our recent convert april who was a baptist tell us there are no elders for the baptist church):P. She thanked us for teaching her so much and the love we've shown towards her, but that she would keep in contact with us. I cried... and i prayed from the bottom of my heart all day friday. I seriously began to question if i had any motivation in me to move forward. I was tired, emotionally, spiritually, i was just exhausted, To be honest i almost wanted to give up... but we didn't.
Well we still didn't feel right in just leaving it at that, but we had no idea how to approach all this. We finally decided to have our bishop's wife, Amy carter, to come with us and we would just drop in and try to discuss with Nikki what these 'formalities' were. Before we knocked on her door, SIster Carter suggested that each of us take turns saying a prayer, which gave us each a peace of mind and comfort, and moreover courage! We were a little fearful for what would happen, but knew that we needed to do this. SIster Carter, took our hands and said, 'I just want you SIsters to know that no matter what happens, i'm grateful to spend time with ya'll and you are still great missionaries!" ha well that did help a little!! So when we knocked on her door, she answered really fast surprisingly, but she was in the middle of a conference call for work. So we left her a little note saying to just call us when she had time and we could sit down with her and talk, and that we love her:) So we went to at nearby bench and sat down, and she soon txted us. AGain, she said she feels our love and appreciates all we've done for her, but she's going through too much change and she needs to slow things down. So we just invited her to watch the womens broadcast online after she was done with work and let us know what her thoughts were. She said she would, so i hope she's really pondering and praying about things. I fasted with so much heart and prayer for her and the hernandez yesterday. We are now leaving everything in God's hands, and know that he has a plan.
We had a good long therapy session with Sister Carter afterwards, and we learned a great important lesson. I know the Lord is hastening His work. To often, i tend to think that means more and more people are going to be baptized. But little do we know of what God's plan really is. What i've experienced on my mission i will never forget. I will never forget the power of the spirit and how i felt when i was teaching these people. I will never forget nor doubt the love i felt for these people and for this gospel as i taught and shared with them simple truths of God's plan. WE must never measure success in the baptisms or think that our purpose as missionaries is to baptize. The Lord clearly states that he has called us to declare and proclaim his gospel. As disciples of christ we are to preach His gospel. My pupose is to teach, and to invite. I cannot control their agency and whether or not they want to enter the waters of baptism. And if they do, what a blessing that is to them and for me to be a part of that. Baptism is only the first step we take into eternal life. The Lord wants to hasten his work by having a more choice and converted people in His church. He has more servants, or missionaries, out there in the world becoming more converted to His gospel, and he'll do whatever it takes. My whole mission has been a conversion process, our life is conversion process. I'm learning on my mission how to become perfect in Christ, and truly what that means. Salvation is not easy, it wasn't easy for him, it shoudln't be easy for us. We have to go through some kind of gethsemane in order to come closer to Him. I am grateful for the chance and opportunity everyday to preach His gospel, and to know myself that it is true, without a shadow of a doubt. I love to teach, and to treasure up the words of Christ. And I cannot tell you how excited i am to be a member missionary when i get home:) That's also part of the hastening,, so there will be more RM who will do missionary work in their home areas. God is a smart guy.
I love you all so very much. ANd i thank you for your prayers and support. I hope you all are striving to gain a testimony of this gospel yourself and to share it with others.
On a fun note.. i was asked to give the quote at district meeting on tuesday and I quoted The Living Christ haha.. took up about 7 minutes. Hey they challenged us i n the womens conference to memorize it and sister george and i already have! I extend the challenge to ya'll:)
I hope everyone of you enjoy conference. I'm looking forward to every second of it:) I know there is something in there to uplift SIster George and I! Take lots of good notes!