From: Jessica McKay <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Ponds and Promptings
Date: May 6, 2013 9:48:09 AM MDT
The Spirit is working miracles once again in Andover.
Tuesday night I got a phone call from Sahar. Sahar is a super star investigator–probably the most solid I will ever have. She has been waiting two years until her 18th birthday so that she can be baptized and is finally reaching adulthood on the 16th of May. Her baptism is planned for June 1. It is to be expected that she would want her baptism to be perfect, especially because she has been waiting two very long years for it to happen.
Sahar is a very unique person and didn’t want to be baptized in just the regular, traditional baptismal font. There is a small lake just south of Derby called Bigg’s Lake and she desperately had her heart set on that location for her special day. Well, I’m a new missionary, and I had never even heard of anyone being baptized in a pond–except for the pioneers (and Jesus in a river, obviously). All of the bishops and other missionaries we talked to seemed to think it was ok, so I just went with the flow and figured it would be fine, as long as it was done under the proper priesthood authority. Thus, for the last month we have been planning on having Sahar’s baptism at Bigg’s Lake.
This phone call I received on Tuesday presented another detail to consider about the baptism. Because she’d be baptized outside and so many people from out of town would be attending, Sahar wanted to be confirmed right there at the pond following the baptism. Convert confirmations are supposed to be held in sacrament meeting under the direction of the bishop of the ward. I knew this, but I wasn’t positive about all of the reasons, so I told her I could ask our zone leaders. I called them and they referred me to the mission president, because it was his call on whether or not circumstances were extenuous enough to change this policy. So I called President Keyes.
As I was explaining the situation and reasons to wanting to have the confirmation at the baptism, he stopped me right after I said where she was going to be baptized. “Sister McKay, we don’t baptize in ponds.” I was speechless. I hadn’t even called to ask about the location, because I had figured it would be fine, and here I was, talking to the mission president, as all of Sahar’s plans were being washed away in the same pond she wanted to be baptized in. President continued, “We don’t baptize in ponds, or rivers, or lakes, because we don’t have control over anything people put in them. In addition to that, the weather is always unexpected, she could step on a sharp stick or glass…” and he continued to give me many reasons for this decision. He reminded me that we have been given beautiful baptismal fonts in the church buildings that give us the ability to control the temperature of the water and a better atmosphere to invite the spirit because it has less distractions and we can play church hymns on the pianos. He also taught me the reasons for having the confirmations in sacrament meeting on the Sunday following the baptism and cleared up any misunderstandings that I had. I was so unsure how I would tell Sahar, and I expressed this to him. He said that just that very day he was able to escort a young man through the temple who, just a year previously, had planned on having his baptism in a river behind his house. The sister missionaries who taught him had had a very similar experience to mine and President Keyes had told them the same thing he was telling me. The young man, though disappointed, still believed that Joseph Smith was a prophet, the Book of Mormon was true, and that Christ’s church was this church, so he accepted the counsel from the mission president and was baptized in the font in the church building. It was amazing that that same day I called the mission president, he had gone through the temple with this young man who sounded so much like Sahar.
That gave me a lot of comfort in planning how to break this news to Sahar, because I knew that she had a very firm testimony in the restored gospel and that she would be able to accept this…eventually. I was still very worried about how I would tell her. We had an appointment with her two days later, so my companions and I made a conscious effort to pray to our Father in Heaven for guidance about telling her every opportunity we had.
Thursday came; we told her. The Spirit had prompted me how to tell her the evening before and I followed those instructions as I spoke to Sahar about her testimony, the truth of the gospel, and testified that the Spirit would fill her so full at her baptism and confirmation that the occasion would be more perfect that she could imagine. Of course she was disappointed, but she was able to accept this news because she could feel the truth of what I had said.
Two days later, President Keyes called me on the phone. I had been thinking about and praying for Sahar since the last time we had talked. He told me that he had been thinking about both of us. He asked me to pass on a message that he was very proud of Sahar for her faith, testimony, and decision to be baptized, and so was Heavenly Father. He said he knew her baptism would be a wonderful experience and that he was grateful for her humble acceptance to change her plans. He also said some very comforting words to me that I needed to hear as a new trainer of two missionaries. As I was talking to the mission president, I felt that I should call Sahar after we were done talking. We hung up the phone and I finished studying with my companions. I again felt the prompting, “You need to call Sahar right now.” So I did.
She picked up the phone on the 3rd ring. We talked. I told her what the mission president had said and that I thought it was amazing that even though he is so incredibly busy, he took the time to call and express his gratitude and pleasure about her baptism. I told her that I knew the Lord was mindful of her situation and her Heavenly Father loves her more than she could imagine. She thanked me and said she needed to hear this at the time and we ended the call.
The next day in sacrament meeting, Sahar got up to bear her testimony. She spoke beautifully. She spoke from her heart. She talked about how her long awaited baptism was finally approaching but that she was being tried left and right as it came closer. “But,” she said, “No matter what trial comes, I still know that I need this gospel and that I cannot turn away from it because it is exactly what I need in my life. Heavenly Father is mindful of me and he answers my prayers. I got a phone call yesterday that came just minutes after I had prayed to God for comfort. This phone call told me exactly what I needed to hear and from it I know that God always answers our prayers. He knew I needed that and because of it I am sure that he will continue to take care of me.”
I too, just like Sahar, know that Heavenly Father answers our prayers. We may not understand why things happen the way they do, but He is aware of our situations in life. I am so grateful that I followed the prompting I received to call Sahar the minute I did. I am so grateful that the mission president followed the prompting he received to call me the minute he did. Furthermore, I am so grateful that Sahar had the faith to pray for help so that we could all witness this beautiful miracle as a manifestation that God truly does love and care for His children.
The Spirit works in many ways. I felt the still small voice in my mind as I was told to call Sahar. In church during fast and testimony meeting, I was not planning to bear my testimony, but I suddenly felt a huge pounding in my heart as it started to beat faster and faster, telling me I needed to stand and speak at the pulpit. So I bore a simple testimony of the restoration and of the Savior and His atonement. Afterwards, I felt a wonderful peace come over me telling me that I had done well and did exactly what the Lord wanted me to do. I also felt the spirit and got goosebumps as many members of the ward bore testimony of truths of the gospel. So there you have it, the Holy Ghost allowing me to feel its presence in four different ways, depending on what the purpose was. Pretty neat.
Our little family companionship is doing very well. I love my sister missionaries 🙂 They are doing so well, and so am I. I’m doing my best to be a good example to them as someone who strives to represent her calling as a missionary in every occasion. It’s difficult sometimes, but I know the Lord is blessing me because training a missionary is such a sacred responsibility. Who knows how many lives we are influencing as a companionship now and in the future?
I love you all! Hoorah for Zion!
(A lovely night of tracting and contacting. Wouldn’t you let us in? )
(Sister Beuchert, Sister Me, Sister Stewart, Sister Prevatte (A recent convert in our ward)