Well this week has been one of the best weeks of my entire mission. When I look back over the last 21 months, there are certain events that stand out above the rest. This week contains one of those events. Don't worry though, I’ll wait till the end to address that! However, there were numerous other things that happened this week that were just tender mercies from the lord. I hope that I can do this email justice.
All right, let's begin.
Early this last week, we received a text from some missionaries on the other side of the mission that would make any missionary rejoice. They informed us that a guy from Ghana randomly showed up at their ward last Sunday who was taught by missionaries in Singapore and was "about to get baptized." Answer to our prayers. The next day we cruised cross-country. Upon arriving at the address given to us by the missionaries, we heard a voice yell "Elders!" We turn around to find two men from Ghana with ice cream cones in hand and huge smiles on their faces. That was the first time we saw Samuel and Eric. We started to chat and made our way to a nearby chapel to talk about the gospel. As we began to talk, it was evident that these two men were prepared by the Lord from an early age for this very moment. I have never met anyone so ready to receive the gospel. They had met the missionaries a week before flying to the Philippines. The missionaries taught them three times and they had already started reading the book of Mormon. Samuel began to share how he had already gained knowledge that the book of Mormon is true. A quick story about our 2nd meeting with Samuel will really show how prepared he really is. We decided to share with Samuel about the Word of Wisdom. Upon concluding the lesson we committed him to live the word of wisdom. He responded, "of course. When I get home, I'll throw out all the coffee we bought yesterday." Miracle.
The next amazing event happened last Thursday. We had a super busy morning with numerous meetings and choir practice. Right after our final meeting concluded, I received a call. The Canadian man on the line excitedly greeted me and explained that he just arrived in the Philippines. He's a member of the church, but has been inactive for about a decade. He explained that he drove by one of the chapels earlier that day and decided that he wants to come back to church. Later that night, Elder Avila and I visited him and had a great discussion. We learned about his life and quickly discovered his new found drive to return to church. He came to church yesterday, sat down next to me and exclaimed,” I am so happy that I decided to come back to church."
All right, you're probably thinking, "there couldn't possibly be anything else that happened last week as good as those last two experiences." Just like my boy Brad Paisley says, when you think it can't possibly get any better, it does. Last week, I receive a text (never in my mission have I received such amazing texts and calls) from the zone leaders in Bonifacio. They excitedly told me that Jenna, the wife of Edmar, my favorite family ever, is getting baptized. That news alone made me the happiest man alive. Luckily, there was more. Then continued to say, "Jenna has requested that you come back to the ward so you can be the one to baptize her." At this point I was on top of the world. I was so stinkin' excited. I immediately texted president Ostler and asked permission. He responded, "It would be wonderful if you could be the one to baptize her. Last Saturday, we made our way to Bonifacio. As we approached the chapel, memories came flooding back to my mind. When we walked in the chapel, I was greeted with smiles and pictures by some of the ward members. It was a joyful reunion. Jenna had not yet arrived so I went to change into my baptismal clothing and then waited for her arrival. A little while later, a crowd walked into the building. At the back of the crowd I see Jenna stand on her tippy toes with a huge smile on her face frantically waiving hi. In her other hand was the hand of MJ, her young daughter. It was one of the most tender moments of my entire mission. I cannot express how happy I was at that moment. Unfortunately, Edmar is working abroad right now so he wasn't able to make it. I then began to realize that the crowd that she was with was her entire family, none of which were members. It was amazing.
The baptism was one of the most memorable baptisms I have ever attended. The first speaker of the baptism was Princess, our last baptism before I transferred. She spoke with confidence and clarity about the importance of baptism. The actual ordinance was picture perfect. The look on Jenna's face as she came out of the water is unforgettable. I will never forget that beautiful day. That's a memory I will cherish throughout my life. How great is full time missionary service.
I guess you can say that it was a pretty good week. It's one of those weeks that make every hardship and every trial worth it. I love being a missionary for the church of Jesus Christ of latter day saints. I love you all so much. Have a wonderful week.