Dad, Mom, Joel, Val, Lily, Violet, Derek, Lindsey, Nixon, Miles, Lorenzo, Paige, Nick, Merl-Erv, Hayley, George Glass, Rex, Nina & Dahlia:
Hurray for being a missionary in the Great Kentucky Louisville Mission in the Baptizing Lexington Zone in the Corbin Area! Hurray for housing the missionaries in the Nevada Las Vegas West Mission in the (Lakes Zone?) in the Lakes Area! This morning I read Elder Ballard's talk from Conference and he admonished us to all be member missionaries because us proselyting missionaries can't do it all on our own & housing the missionaries is a great way to help the cause. [This is in reaction to the news that some missionaries have temporarily moved in with us. It's always fun to have them around]
Who knew? Who knew that a teeny, tiny little town in the middle of a large country could make me so happy? Who knew? You can't even find the places I work in on a map most of the time. Luckily God doesn't need a map to know where to send His children to bring them the delicious fruit that Lehi and Alma had such a hard time describing. A fruit that is desirous above all other fruit. Who knew that my fruit would be waiting for me in Corbin, Kentucky? But it's here! Huzzah!
Jackie Logan FINALLY said a prayer out loud for us. He's been working with missionaries for almost six months now and the other day I asked him like I always do if he would pray, waiting for him to tell me to say it instead when he said, "Ok. Let's do this." And he offered a wonderful prayer! It was a small step for some, but a HUGE step for him!
This last weekend was the baptism and confirmation of Jackie Lee Sturgill. Steven Rodriguez baptized him and it was hilarious because beforehand we were worried about Jackie being too tall for the font and not being completely immersed. He told Steven that if he needed to he could shove him under for an extra couple seconds to do what it takes. And that's what Steven had to end up doing. Steven is a big, tall guy, but even he had to bend way down and put one of his hands on Jackie's chest and shove the top half of him down into the water. It was awesome. Steven and a guy named Jason Sizemore (both baptized within the last couple months) gave the talks and then Sister Ralph played for me and I sang "Come Follow Me". Then yesterday he was confirmed and given the Holy Ghost and a wonderful blessing telling him that Satan is going to try very hard to stop Jackie from accomplishing the many assignments that await him in the Lord's Kingdom but that the Lord would be watching over him to help and protect him. We need to find him a good, virtuous, LDS girl to marry. I think that will help him stay on the right path.
More good news: We set a date with Judy Jones for this Saturday! She's about a third of the way through the Doctrine & Covenants and has already read the Book of Mormon, an Ensign we gave her, the Gospel Principles Manual & basically anything else she can find online. We can't give her enough to read she goes through them so quickly. And she's sharing the gospel with people around her and she went from saying she didn't want to be asked to read or pray outloud in our missionary lessons to volunteering in Relief Society to pray and to read. She's so prepared it's crazy. She literally lives in a holler that is FOREVER out of the way of any place you'd ever imagine driving. I don't know how we would have ever found her if she hadn't found us. She's awesome. When she was a baby, her parents used to have her drink coffee and she's kept drinking it for 59 years. She went from 3 pots of coffee a day to none in a matter of weeks because she wanted to be baptized. The gospel literally changes people, first on the inside and then on the outside. We're excited for her baptism and then to see how soon afterwards she's called as Relief Society President. She's just so meant for this Gospel.
EVEN MORE GOOD NEWS! We set a date with Willard. It's making me cry just thinking about it. It was so awesome how it happened. Willard is still reading the Book of Mormon and sharing the gospel and keeping all of his commitments and everything. We had a wonderful lesson a week ago in church about the Priesthood and how the authority comes straight from Jesus Christ and he told me afterward, "You proved your point."
But he still insisted that the man who baptized him had the authority. We taught him every other part of the lessons that we had left this week and the last thing we had to teach him on Friday was baptism and confirmation. I started out by saying, "The only thing left we have to teach you is on your favorite subject..." He looked at me and gave me a face, bracing himself for another back and forth on priesthood. We had had him read 2 Nephi 31 the night before even though he read it a couple weeks ago (he's in Helaman right now) and told him we wanted to know what he learned from it when we came back that next day. When we got there he said, "I'm ready for the test."
I asked him what he learned and he said, "Baptism is the gate."
I asked him what he learned and he said, "Baptism is the gate."
"Did I pass?
" "Well, what else did you learn?"
"After you're baptized you'll get the Holy Ghost."
"Great. And then what do you have to do?"
"Keep being good."
"And that's what you two are helping me with."
"Except that you weren't baptized by someone holding the priesthood of God."
"Willie Perkins is a good man and he told me that he had the authority to do what he did."
...So then we explained again how we got the priesthood in our church. He insisted that Willie had it. He said that Willie must have gotten it from someone in our church. I told him he hadn't. He said, "How do you know that?"
"Because he isn't a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and only baptized, worthy men who have been baptized specifically into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are given the priesthood."
"Really? You have to be baptized into your church to get it?"
"Well, he must have been baptized into your church then."
We explained that even if he was, if he's preaching in a different church it doesn't count. "The credit card is denied." He laughed at that, but didn't consent that we were right.
Then, something told me to go back to the order that was taught in 2 Nephi. I remembered that when he was baptized he had a big sin that he was committing that he hadn't repented for. This past week he has finally corrected all that he can to be right with the Lord. We went over the baptismal questions and he answered them all correctly and then I asked him if when he was baptized Willie Perkins required him to repent. Willard said he hadn't. I explained to him that the steps the Book of Mormon teaches us are Faith, then repentance, THEN baptism and the Holy Ghost. He had skipped a step. If Willie had the priesthood and had done the baptism correctly, Willard would have had to repent BEFORE baptism. Willard looked at me and said, "You could be right about that." Then he paused for a couple seconds and looked at me and said, "Actually, I know you're right about that. I was just told that you're right."
"...You were told by... the Spirit?"
Sister Ralph and I looked at each other. We didn't know what to do. We've asked him so many times to be baptized that we had stopped asking the last couple visits. Finally, I said, "Willard, will you be baptized by someone holding the priesthood authority of God?"
"Yes. I think I need to be, don't I?"
At that point Sister Ralph had to take over because I was crying and trying to hold back sobs. That day and that lesson with Willard are what I've been preparing for and praying for for a very long time. How beautiful and blessed I am to have been able to witness the Spirit testify to my sweet friend, Willard. I don't know how to describe the "deliciousness" of that moment. It is more desireable than anything I've ever experienced.
Willard is set to be baptized on July 9. We'll have three weekends in a row of baptisms! We tried to consolidate but none of them could do them on the other days and none of them wanted to wait. There's a reason why the missionaries call Corbin the Promised Land! Of course, things in Willards life went downhill as soon as he committed and he's having calamities in his life right now, but his spirits are still up. He told us yesterday, "I was reading in Helaman about the darkness and then the fire that encircled Lehi and Nephi and I could have sworn my heart was about to jump out of my chest. The Spirit was so strong. I wish you could have been there to feel what I felt as I read that!"
Sister Ralph and I are glad we weren't there. We're glad he's having personal testimony-building experiences with the Book of Mormon. Yesterday as he called us his angels he told us that he loved us but that he was doing this for himself and not for us. Hurray! Just weeks before he told us if we really wanted him to that he'd get baptized, but that he would only be doing it for us. NOW he gets it. He's doing this for himself. He asked me why other people don't listen to our message. "It doesn't make sense! They've had a bite of the candy bar and set it back down. If they'd listen to you, they could have the WHOLE candy bar!" Haha. Being a missionary is so wonderful. The Lord lets you witness miracles on a mission! You don't perform them, but if you follow the spirit, He'll let you witness them! Hurray!
Other things have happened this week, but they don't really matter after that wonderful story, do they? All is well in Corbin. All is well!
I love you all and I hope that you enjoy the church history tour. I'm SO jealous! Sister Correia sent me some pamphlets of all the sites she's working and it looks like so much fun. She bore her testimony to me and I don't know how, but she's gotten an even STRONGER testimony now. She's so happy! So am I! Everyone should serve a mission! Look for her and for Sister Barrus when you're out there in New York!
Extra Blessings: Grandpa Rex, Sister Correia, Brother and Sister J, Anne Dastrup and her soon-to-be Hubbs. [and I'm sure she just accidentally overlooked my huge handwritten letter in her package and Rex and Nina's emails -- had to throw those in to save face since this is the second week in a row it's happened. I was beginning to get a little embarrassed. Fortunately we already enjoy all kinds of "Extra Blessings' by just hearing from her each week!! :o) ]
Word of the Week: "Spoll't" the American English translation is "spoiled". ALL children out here are spoll't, according to their parents. And most of them actually are spoll't. A good time can be spoll't by rain. A good night's sleep can be spoll't by a billion, itchy bug bites.
I love you all! Read your scriptures and pray and you'll always be on the right track! The Church is TRUE! Share it!
Love- Sis Nelson