HELLO!!!! Happy 4th of July!
So I am short on time, which is really tragic because this was very possibly the very best week of my mission! On Monday, right after emailing last week, we got the chapel to play volleyball and Chasidy called. She's the one who is 24, has a little 5 year old ADORABLE son named Arepa, has been investigating for four and a half years, and has been interviewed for baptism (now) four times. Remember how we told her to be like Oliver Cowdery and study it out in her mind, make her decision, and then pray for confirmation. Well, she texted on Monday asking if she could be baptized this Saturday! Of course we said yes!
So we had five days to organize the baptism. The whole week, Chasidy went through so many trials. We really worked to get her with members every day. She just kept praying and reading the scriptures and she made it through. We made the program, had to talk to every member of the mission presidency and the assistants twice to organize the baptismal interview (because of the change of mission president), and learned to fill the font from the Elders (Elder Fameitau's brother got sealed in the temple and they had permission to go so they weren't around to fill the font. They came just in time for the baptism.) We also worked hard to get the word out. It was also a hard week for us in some ways. Satan is so real and he was trying to stop this baptism for us in anyway he could.
So Chasidy is SO, SO, SO blessed to have so many people that love her. The Welcome Bay Ward is really like a family. When it was finally the time of the baptism, everything just worked out. The primary room was PACKED with wonderful, wonderful people who love Chasidy. Caroline even came and LOVED it. Brother Preston and Sister McCarthy spoke and did such amazing jobs. And I sang "How Great Thou Art." While I was up there singing and looking out over Chasidy and everyone who loves her so much I had to really, really fight to keep from crying while I sung. I put more emotion and love and conviction into a song than I ever have before, I'm sure. I sang my heart out with gratitude and love and joy that I just can't even describe at all. I just think about how we are all so imperfect and struggling, yet God loves us so, so, so, so much. I looked over and saw Sister Preston, who was just bawling and smiling at me (she is my mother in this area for sure). Then I looked at Kirsty's mom, Caroline, and Ryan (Kirsty had to work, but I thought of Kirsty) and how they are progressing so much and how Alan (Kirsty's dad) had taken half a day off work so that they could go to the temple visitor center again because Caroline "just felt like she needed to go to the temple again". They ended up staying for three hours talking to a senior couple there and kept talking about how "they just keep thinking about baptism". I saw the Solomons who are the absolutely the salt of the earth, who are converts who came from the roughest past and have changed their lives and are now the most humble and faithful servants of God. They do SO much service and missionary work, and even with family struggles and all kinds of struggles, they give so much. I saw Brother Anderson, a member of the bishopric, dressed in white, ready to baptize Chasidy. He came back to church himself around the time Chasidy started investigating the church. He reminds me a lot of my dad. I looked at all the YSA (Young Single Adults) who had piled in to support their new fellow YSA. Then I looked at Chasidy, wearing white, ready to embark on the best journey of her life. It was the best moment!
After her baptism, we all fed the homeless together! (See one of the pictures I sent). Yesterday was a typical CRAZY long Sunday with no time to study and only about 20 minutes to have dinner. But it was great. Chasidy is a different person now that she is baptized. She is happy and confident and strong. And she paid tithing for the first time! She is the most valiant spirit. I'm so proud of her. At the very end of testimony meeting she got up to bear her testimony. Man! I didn't know I had so much water in my head.
I feel like Ammon in Alma 26. I invite you all to read that entire chapter! That's how I feel. I think of all the hard days, all the early mornings, all of the exact obedience even when I didn't really want to, all the prayers and trusting God, all the pouring rain, all the companion idiosyncrasies, all the pressing forward and planning and fasting and studying and knocking on doors and mean people and cancelled appointments I've had in my mission. They are absolutely nothing compared to the miracles of this weekend!
Alma 26:16 "Therefore, let us glory, yea, we will glory in the Lord; yea, we will rejoice, for our joy is full; yea, we will praise our God forever. Behold, who can glory too much in the Lord? Yea, who can say too much of his great power, and of his mercy, and of his long-suffering towards to the children of men? Behold, I say unto you, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel."
And in verse 13 it talks about how thousands were "loosed from the pains of hell; and . . .brought to sing redeeming love, and this because of the power of word which is in us, therefore have we not great reason to rejoice?"
I am so grateful that God sent me here. He sent us the beautiful, perfect Book of Mormon. He sent us angels (physical and spiritual) to help us. He sent us each other to love, to help, to support. And he sent us ALL his Son, our Savior Jesus Christ.
I know He is real. I've felt his presence undeniably this week! I can't wait for more and more miracles.
Well, that's all folks! I have to go get ready for our district "America themed" extravaganza! I made pancakes for the occasion.
Arohanui forever and ever,
Sister Clarissa Johnson
Editorial note from Clarissa's mother. Fortunately, she captioned the baptism picture below by saying that she was the one in black. I was so glad she said that because I couldn't tell which one she was! :)