sorry I missed you guys last week! the librarys were closed for the east holiday so we did not get a chance to email! but it has been a great couple of weeks! I dont have heaps of time but I want to tell you about a few of our investigators that were baptised last week!
… so there have not been many baptisms here for several years, but my first week here, two of our investigators received baptism, and we have a few more coming up soon! It is a marvellous blessing to be the missionary present in an area when people make this step. No matter how much you have been involved in teaching them, you have a special love for the people whom you witness their baptism. Stephanie Sedgwick and Daniel Camplin have quite a story behind their conversion! Ill give you a few details so you have somewhat of an idea. Stephanie actually began investigating the church about a year ago after her grandfather passed away. He was a member of the church and had a close relationship with one of the counsellors in our bishopric. I suppose the seed was planted for quite a while, but one of the missionaries named Elder (I know, funny right?) was asked to talk about the plan of salvation at the funeral and she began investigating soon after that. Daniel is her boyfriend and they were living together at the time so he sat in on the discussions and became interested as well. Over the next several months they had the faith to move into separate apartments, both quit smoking, and make significant changes in their lifestyles in order to qualify and prepare for baptism. they come from a pretty alternative lifestyle. Especially Dan who has massively long dread locks and is covered in tattoos. I guess he had never revealed this to the missionaries, but after his baptism, in order to express how much his conversion has meant to him, he pulled Elder Pito and I aside and explained that one year ago he was a drug dealing gangster! About as off tracks as a guy could get! Shucks! He admits that if someone had told him that in a year’s time he would be a Mormon that he would not have believed it! Both he and Stephanie are perhaps some of the greatest examples of repentance I have ever come across. From the minute I met them I could tell how much they Love the Gospel. They have certainly experienced not only a mighty change of heart, but a complete transformation of life through the saviour and the Holy Spirit which has touched their hearts and filled their souls. I was infinitely impressed as they bore their testimony to their many friends whom they invited to their baptism service how they knew the gospel to be true, they knew this was Gods church restored and led today by His Prophet.
Hmm, what else, we taught primary sharing time! It was fun, being Easter (Happy Easter by the way) we taught about the atonement and the story of the book of Mormon using an A4 piece of paper that you fold a special way and tear once to produce 3 crosses, and then rearrange the pieces to spell “Love” and “Life”. It’s a cool object lesson, Ill show you one day.
We saw a cool miracle yesterday. After a lesson we were returning to our car and heard a voice call out “ are you Mormons?” we said yes we are!, she sighed a breath of relief and said good! I have been trying to find you for ages. I will make a long story short. She is a member Has not been to church in years because she is elderly and confined to a home. She used to have missionaries visit and bring the sacrament but moved s few years ago and lost contact with the ward! IT was just one of those times the Lord placed us in the right place at the right moment to answer the prayers of one of his children. What an honour it is to be the answer to someone’s prayer. It is like being on direct assignment from Heavenly father.
There much more to tell, but I think I will finish this week’s letter with one of the sweetest stories I have ever heard… There is an older widowed sister in out ward named Norma Tyson. She Loves missionaries! She used to work in the mission office years ago and I guess it started then, but she has a skirt made of ties that missionaries have given her, and is now working on a missionary tie quilt! Haha. She is also a ward missionary and was helping us set up and prepare for the baptism service on Saturday and we got to talking. She told us the story of how she met her late husband, and about the night he passed away. They were actually only married for 8 years before he dies, but she speaks of Him as if they were together forever, I could tell that she was still madly in love with him, even after so many years. This alone taught me so much about how I plan to feel for my future wife. Anyway, I wont be able to recount the story as good as she can, obviously, but she said that she met brother Tyson first when going to visit a relative in a nursing home or something. This was when she was in her 50s. She went every week for a long time, so she became very well acquainted with many of the residents, in particular, brother Tyson. Even after her relative died she continued to visit him every week. He, in an advanced age and in a wheelchair, and her, near 60, never having been married, I don’t think flirtation was much in the picture here, they were just good friends. But one day he said “Norma, go get my wallet from over there on the table” after she retrieved it, he told her there was a few hundred dollars in there that he wanted her to take and pick out an engagement ring! She was startled and swiftly replied “I can’t marry you”. Why not? Came his response. She said”Well, I am a Mormon!” “What is that?” he replied. Haha. She explained and he said, oh that alright, ill be one too! Haha. She insisted that she could not marry him, but he asked her to think about it, she said that she would do better than that, she would pray about it. She prayed every day for a week and the answer came consistently… yes. I asked her how she knew the answer was yes and she smiled and said you just know 🙂 So, despite brother Tyson’s daughter’s disapproval they were soon married, and a few months later, he joined the church. Later, of course they were sealed in the temple. She told us many stories about their time together, on made me laugh.. He was asked once to speak in sacrament meeting, and after sister Tyson helping him all week to prepare, and a bit of special manuvering to accommodate his wheel chair handicap he took the microphone and said “there once was a man who asked his wife what she would like for her birthday, she said anything will do dear, so long as there are diamonds in it. When the day came she opened her gift to find a deck of cards. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen” hahahaha. Obviously the congregation was hysterical and Norma was embarrassed. Haha, but to show his character, ill tell you another story. As a background, brother Tyson loved the church, but he made up in his mind two objections, first, he thought that holding FHE was silly when you do not have any children, and despite sister Tyson’s repeated suggestion he refused to ever have FHE. Also, he would not sing he said it was painful to hear himself sing. But, in a 1994 General conference there were two talks that stood out to him on highlighted the importance of holding family home evening every week, no matter if you are single or in a large family, another spoke about the importance of singing the hymns, so the very next day, Monday evening, Brother Tyson announced that they would have family home evening! And to Norma’s surprise, he insisted on opening with a hymn! Apparently when he was converted to something you could not shake it from him. He loved FHE, and before closing he suggested that they sing a closing hymn. Apparently that whole week it was all he would talk about with people, how they had FHE and he planned to teach the next lesson. When Saturday evening came sister Tyson was helping him into bed, and I may forget some of the details, but in essence, he took her in his arms and told her that the past 8 years were the happiest he ever had. Sister Tyson protested that surely his earlier life when he was raising his daughters and was not confined to a wheelchair must have been more pleasant. But he took her hand and said gently, no, you see, its more than just that I love you, you brought the gospel into my life, and I am going to be with you forever. Not long after that she got up to get something and when she returned he had passed through the veil. What a miracle that their last words they shared were of love and a testimony of eternal love… As I heard this sweet grandmother like figure tell me this story it touched me deeply, I learned something about Love that day, my faith and hope in eternal marriage were magnified beyond anything I had ever felt. I marvel at Gods Love, and how he directs his children for good. In any case, this is a very sweet story I think is worth remembering.
THanks so much. I love you guys a lot.
Love, Elder Faulkner