I've got a lovely bunch of newsy bits, deedle-e-dee, here they are for you to read today...
If they didn't show up, there are supposed to be music notes at the beginning and end of that phrase.
Ok, so I got strep throat this last week. !GASP!! 8O (look at that as if it were a face) First time that I've been medically diagnosed with it. It's mostly gone now that I've been on amoxicilin (pardon the spelling) but I still have a few days to take the pills before it's suppose to be completely gone. It was an interesting feeling having the sensation of knives being slowly dragged along the sides of my throat. I didn't feel it much when I talked, just when I tried to swallow. In spite of that, I don't think I lost weight this week...
Francisco and Ivan's little brother Maxi was baptized last Saturday and confirmed yesterday. The stories there are funny too. On Saturday, city wide, the water was cut about mid-day because of extensions they were making to the water lines. But no one told the Elders. So we get to Luis's house to begin filling the font/pool for the baptism and find absolutely no water pressure. Awesome, what now? We had the possibility of the lake again, but by this time of year the water has dropped significantly in temperature. So all involved nixed that idea. So how do we find enough water? We thought about trying to head up higher out of town where all the houses have tanks of water and don't rely on the city for that precious resource, but that would take even longer, leaving the baptism for midnight or later. ... Ok, what gives? At about 5:45 God decided to smile on us for our efforts and probably took pity on two young missionaries who were sick and trying their best to to His will. The water turned back on and immediately we began to fill the font.
¡Phew! one problem solved. Now how do we make it hot... They have about a 30 liter tank for hot water. -.- So for the next 4 hours we were turning the water on and off trying to give it time to heat up in between al the while boiling pots and kettles of water to add. By 9:30ish, the water level was half way up my shin, just enough for Maxi, who is 9, to be submerged, so we began the service. An opening prayer, two minute talk by Elder Johnson, and 30 feet later, we enter the water. In doing so, I cut my white pants and knee open on the "staircase" for the font, though no one else knew it yet. I knelt down (ow) and he sat, the ordinance was performed and we stood up, I trying to hide my knee in the corner of the pool without anyone seeing. I wasn't sure if he had submerged completely, and after a few seconds, the witnesses told us to do it again. Once again on my knees (double ow), I performed the ordinance again, this time trying to make sure that he went completely under, and after two seconds or less, I was helping him out of the pool, wet and shivering (the water wasn't warm... though the lake would have been worse. Fail on heat.) By now, my white pants were showing that I had cut my knee. I'm sure you can imagine. Not a bad cut, but just enough that I had a flap I had to cut off while changing.
While I wa changing, Maxi and his family made a quick escape, leaving us to finish the service with Luis's family. We said a prayer and departed for the night.
Sunday rolls around and we decide that for the first time in a long time, we're going to actually go look for our investigators to bring them to church. We were under the impression, based on a phone conversation earlier in the week, that a man would be at Antonela's house to open it for us when we got there, so we went looking. An hour and a half later we arrive at the house, having met with closed and unresponsive doors on the way, only to find that the supposed man was not to be found. Another call to Antonela revealed a miscommunication between us. You see, we normally go and help her clean the house and prepare for the meetings around 11:00 or 12:00, so she thought we'd be there at that time for the man to open up and let us in and told him so. We thought he was staying at her house for the weekend and would open up for us. (Quick aside, Antonela was in Rio Grande because of some politics thing she had to do.) Well, that man was waiting for us at 11:00 and when we failed to show up (due to looking for investigators) he left, taking the keys with him.
We arrive together with the Branch Presidency member, his two sons, and two other local members at about 1:45, with 15 minutes to go before Sacrament meeting was supposed to start. Trying to figure out what to do so that Maxi could be confirmed and the sacrament could be ministered to these saints, I suggested we meet in a number of other places. Adjustments would have to be made (all of the meeting materials were inside the locked house) but at least we could still have the sacrament meeting in some other place. Trying to think of the growing, yet still weak faith of the newer members, the branch presidency counselor wanted to cancel the meeting for this week and just wait a week for the sacrament to be administered and the confirmation to take place. .... Um, no. These saints have been without the sacrament since the moment they got here to Tolhuin, have waited anxiously to participate once again, and now we want to cancel it, just because the normal place is locked?! I don't think so. One of the other members had already offered her house as a place to meet for the day, she having waited 20 years without the opportunity to renew her baptismal covenants, so that we could partake of the emblems of our Savior. Still, for the sake of the new members, the counselor wanted to postpone. We called President Gulbrandsen trying to figure out what to do. A young man would be going a full week without the privilege and blessing of the Holy Ghost, for crying out loud! With the help of President, we were able to convince all present to regroup at the house of the earlier mentioned sister and we went to get Maxi for the confirmation.
The meeting was irregular; a song and prayer, followed by the confirmation and administration of the sacrament, then another song and prayer; but the two most important things took place. A boy was able to receive the gift and blessing of the Holy Ghost, and 14 people were able to renew the covenants they had made to God and be cleansed once more.
President Gulbrandsen has taught us, many, many times, that there exist two things within us: Faith, or Excuses. We can either find a way to fulfill our commitments and covenants, or let circumstances and excuses get the better of us. When we have faith, excuses, no matter how good or reasonable they may be, can and will be overcome.
No matter what trial presents us, we need to exercise the faith to do that which will be of highest value to us in the eternities: keeping the commandments and fulfilling our covenants.
We will be facing many challenges this week, seeing as how snow will be coming soon, work and school schedules don't like to agree with our proselyting schedule, and other things. I'm sure that each of you, my dear family, also can think of the things that you need to do and the challenges you will face. But when we exercise our faith to fulfill the commitments, covenants, and promises we have made, putting God and His glory above all else, we will be blessed beyond our imaginings. "...and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of Hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it" (3 Nephi 24:10, italics added for emphasis). We will be blessed for our obedience to the commandments of God. He loves us and wants to give us "all that he hath." But unless we keep His commandments, "[we] have no promise," and lose the opportunity to receive those precious blessings and gifts of our loving Father in Heaven. Only through exercising our faith in Him can we witness these blessings and miracles. As Moroni teaches us "neither at any time hath any wrought miracles until after their faith" (Ether 12:18, italics added for emphasis).
Through our faith in Christ, and in His Atonement, we can repent and are healed. Through our faith in God, and in His power, we are saved and receive the strength to cary on. I know this is true. I know it with all my heart.
If this sounds like a talk, well, I might use it sometime, but I felt like I needed to share it with you. Perhaps it was meant more to strengthen myself by getting my own thoughts out in words. But again, I know it is true.
I love you all. My prayers and thoughts are with you and I anxiously await the chance to talk with you all in a few weeks.