I hope everyone is doing well back home! I certainly have some great news to share! This was really an amazing week of my mission! and also, a bit of sad news as well.
First off, the Woden Ward had another baptism this week! A young man named Ma Biao (Aaron) was baptised on wednesday. He is from China, with no christian background at all. I was very blessed to be able to perform that ordinance. Aarron is actually the first man that I have ever personally baptized on my mission, which was a very special experience because I was able to see him immediately after the performance of the baptism in the mens changing room and talk with him about how he felt. When baptising a girl or when your companion performs the ordinance you do not see them until several minutes later, so It was really something special, he got quite emotional and I think it confused him a bit, he said he felt wonderful, but he did not completely understand what he was feeling, and it did confuse him a bit! It was a confirming testimony to me, that his baptism was sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, and that Heavenly Father was pleased with Him. He may not have known, but I knew, that what he felt was the Holy Ghost telling him in his heart, that He was clean, he had followed he truth and it had set him free.
It was also very instructive to me about what baptism really is, it is a first step, or as Nephi described: a gate opening to a path that leads to eternal life. It is not knowledge or experience that qualifies us to be baptised, it is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance, and a desire to remain faithful to the end. While we taught Aaron everything he needed to know before he was baptised, He is only now begining on that path. The Gift of the Holy Ghost is quite new to Him! While he has been led and guided to this point through the whisperings of the Holy Ghost, it is certainly something that He may not be used to, He must press forward with steadfastness, and if He does, he will have eternal life… As I thought more personally, I have had that wonderful and essential gift for over 12 years, and I suppose, that I too, at times, am still a bit confused, I still dont completely understand, I too am still spiritually immature.
What I think Aaron was feeling that day was a kind of language that Heavenly Father uses to communicate with us, it is something that is far more personal, more powerful, and more lasting than words that we hear, it is something that is felt. I cannot adequately describe this spiritual language, but to those of you who have lived worthy of your baptismal covenant, you know what I am describing, Heavenly Father guides us in our heart and in our mind, he uses a variety of methods and means to do this, but in the end it requires faith to act on these promptings or impressions, and then we see afterward that it was Heavenly father talking to us. Now, this language at first is difficult to understand, to the “spiritually immature” this can be confused, But the answers about how to understand it is in the scriptures. Sanctify yourselves and you shall be taught from on high(somewhere in D&C 84or88). All things that invite and entice to do good or to serve god or to love him are inspired of God (Moroni7).
Now, to the World, being “led by the spirit” may seem silly, people may even think you are crazy or deceived, or that the fruits of the spirit are just coincidence, but I stand with Paul when he said “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” (1 corinthians 1:18) The same is true of the spirit.. to those who are lost inn the mist of darkness of this world, He is foolishness, but to us who are led by him daily to find happiness, we know of his truth. I know the Holy Ghost is a reality, I know it beacuse he works through me, I have come to recognize his voice, and somewhat to understand the language I described above, through Him I have at countless times known where to go, what to do, and what to say to find miracles, or to be the answer to someones prayer. There is no greater Honor to me as a missionary, than to know that Heavenly father has inspired me to be an answer to someones silent prayer.
Now saying all this, I always have cause to worry, A new convert can very easily get lost, because he does not understand this voice, a new convert is spiritually immature, but I am comforted by the fact that there are wonderful members in Woden, especially those who helped us teach and fellowship him, to help him on this journey, that Have walked that same path, and know the way to go. I thank them so much, and I trust them to Help Aaron to grow in the gospel.
A Second Note, I had a wonderful opportunity this weekend to go to the Sydney Temple! It had been quite a while since I had been! But thats not all that made this trip special, I was asked to be an escort for a good Friend of mine named Michael Klenka, as He received His own Endowment. Mike was baptized about Two Years ago, the first in His family! Not Long after His Sister Ashleigh also made the decision to be baptised, which was later followed by their brother Nathan and both Parents. In one month Michael Will be leaving on a mission to Adelaide! This family has come to be very special to me, and this will be an experience I will not forget. All of them are wonderful examples to me of Disciples of Christ. Seeing their family, now sealed in the temple, and michael going on a mission has taught me the true spirit of missionary work, It has given me more purpose and drive for what I do, and hope that all those I teach and meet will one day also accept the gospel, remain true, and have the blessings of an Eternal family as the Klenkas now do! Now of Course I was not the missionary to baptise this family, I did not know them two years ago, but it is sweet to hear their experiences of how the Gospel has saved their family, brought them happiness that they could have no other way, and shaped them into the wonderful people they are today. I am so greatful that I was able to be here in Canberra, and that I was priviledged to be with them, as Michael received his endowment in preparation for his missionary service, and life.
I have come to love everyone that I have served as a missionary, but have found that there is really just a handful of people that I feel the Lord really always intended for me to meet, that there is a reason I came to this mission at this time, or a specific area at a specific time, and it was to meet these people! Among these people, there is no common theme, some have been investigators, some members, some I found tracting or on the street, and others found me! I have not always recognized them right away, but as I have come to know them I have grown a special connection and love for them. But it was for these people that I have prepared to come on a mission, I never know when Ill find these people! so it keeps me going, these people I feel like, in a way, I have always known them, that I have a duty to serve them, they have defined my mission more than anything else, so thats why I want to work as hard as I can, and why I need to be led by the spirit, beacuse no sacrifice would be too great than to find those who the Lord has prepared me specifically to meet. They have invited me to come unto christ, and be a better man than I once was. I share this because I do feel this way for this family, and I am so blessed to have known them and witnessed their conversion to the gospel.
Now the sad news, I was not lucky enough to serve another transfer in Woden. I cannot believe I was only there 3 months, it has been months marked with incredible blessings, contsnt miracles, and precious memories. I am quite sad to leave, the wierd thing is that I am still in Canberra! Haha. I was asked by President Howes to be the Zone Leader here, so I am now serving in the north side of canberra, called ginninderra ward. while it is so close, it will be completely different! OUr area here covers two university campuses, and the city center. Most of our investigators are Chinese students! wow, its just like my first area in Sydney! Back to the City! Ill have to tell you more about it next week! But It has definitely eased the normal sting of transfers to know that I will still be able to attend my investigators baptisms and see my old area regularly for trade-offs and other occassions. Im so sad to leave woden, in so many ways it has been my favorite area, but I suppose there is not a better area I could have gone to 🙂 so I am quite happy 🙂
Love you Guys Heaps.