These next two letters bring back some great memories of my first baptism. Fortunately, I got a taste of what a true conversion looks like very early in my mission. It was obviously life-changing to go through that conversion myself in the months leading up to my arrival in the UK, but to watch it happen in others took my faith to an entirely new level. It makes it even more real for yourself to see others experiencing it.
I’m writing this at 65mph riding to Nottingham for a Zone Conference [a gathering of about 20% of the missionaries in my mission], so if it’s messy, sorry. Yesterday was beyond comprehension. Last night, we got my first commitment to baptism! He’s getting baptized Sunday after church, because he leaves for Turkey on Monday. He knows as much as I do about the Gospel, and he’s only been investigating for 4 months. There’s no word for this sort of person but "elect." We get along great, too.
We all felt so good last night. The Spirit was so strong. We couldn’t teach him anything – he knew it all already. It’s just blowing us away. 3 or 4 weeks ago, he was smoking 3 or 4 packs a day and drinking at pubs every night. Gave both up. On his own, just like that. An inactive that hangs around with us did the same. It’s so incredible to watch these people change their lives. I feel so happy for them, and their happiness with themselves glows from them.
This one’s gotta be shortish, I’m afraid. I’m not even supposed to be writing cause it’s not P-day. But P-days are too busy for letters (no, I’m not playing around). Especially when you’re teaching 2 people on your "day off." Oh, I got a bike. 80 pounds – used mountain bike. Not bad.
On this side of the fence, I can see how important dinner appointments are to missionaries. This is an order: have the missionaries over for dinner!!
I hope I can remember everything else that I wanted to tell you for next time.
Love and miss you all. Take care, Elder Chris
Mom, Dad, sis’s & poor old Tig, [our cat that was just diagnosed with cancer] (10/23/89)
Guess what? 1 down, 59,840,000 to go. We baptized Bob yesterday. First, the bishop was going to baptize, but he (the bishop) wouldn’t have that. So, Elder B made me get my feet wet. Teaching him was a joy. He was teaching us, really, because he already knew everything in the discussions. We spent half the time talking about the subjects in the form of tangents in every direction. He accepted everything immediately. It was incredible. I’d ask him "any questions?" He’d always answer "No, not at all. It’s all right there." Every time.
We became great friends. We got permission to go with him to the Solihull Distribution Center, and he took us (with little choice in the matter) on unofficial side trips to Shakespeare’s birthplace and Warwick Castle. 5 hours of … um… proselyting time? no… sightseeing? I’ve decided it would be cheaper, more relaxing, and just as enjoyable to stay in England when you pick me up.
Anyway, Bob’s incredible. He loves children, is charitable, humble, Christian. He’s giving us all this stuff – 8 NY Steaks, 4 boxes of Mac and Cheese, 6 six-packs of American pop, admission to Warwick Castle… he places no value on material things. He just gives, gives, gives. And it makes him so happy. Now, if only he could get out of the service and get married (he’s the guy that armed the planes and dispatched the weapons for the US raid on Libya, incidentally).
Baptizing was great. It didn’t matter to me who did it, in fact I wanted the bishop to do it because he might be coming back here after 2.5 years in Turkey. But when it was between Elder B and I, and he wanted me to do it, I didn’t really refuse. Was I nervous. It all went so fast though, I hardly had time to think about doing something wrong. Although I almost went into a baptismal prayer for the dead. Oops. I felt afterwards not proud or important, but humble and privileged.
Now, I feel like a mother. I’ve just given re-birth to a son of God and now he’s going out into the big bad world. I want to go with him and protect him from all the things I know he’ll be up against. Strange feeling, when I realized that’s what it is. I can really identify with you and Dad and how you felt now. Your pride seems to be swallowed up in a selfless concern for the other. Neat.
Hyrum Smith (yes, he’s related) came to our Zone Conference. He’s vice-president of Franklin and a friend of our Mission President. Powerful speaker. He showed us a control model I felt is nothing short of inspired:
Model moves from left to right across the top, then feeds back along the bottom row…
|Human Needs||Belief Window||Rules||Behavior Patterns|
(# is a function of age)
|"dogs are mean"||"if dog barks, run"||"run"||"get away"|
|Yes? Then it’s a good principle.||<———————–<————————- does it meet the needs?|
Run a few things thru it and use it. It’s incredible, though more powerful if he presents it, I’m sure.
A few other quotes: "If the results of your behavior do not meet your needs, there is an incorrect principle on your belief window." And from Spencer W Kimball "Sin is the result of deep and unmet needs."
Gotta go, love you all, Elder Chris
My companion grabbed my letter at this point and provided the following PS:
Your son’s doing great. He’s a fab guy and a great missionary.
Love from Elder B