Sounds like you had an interesting week...Welcome to Missionary Work/life! I smiled really big as I read your letter, as I was doing the same thing that you all were doing. We had two baptisms on the 14th! Each hold an interesting story of how it all came to be.
Our first baptism was for Amanda. She is a single mother of two young kids (3 years old and 4 months). She wanted to have the blessings of the Gospel in her life. She started meeting with the missionaries and accepted the invitation to be baptized on the first day. She went to church twice but did not make it the third time so we had to move the baptism date to the 14th. She came to church for the 3rd time! Whew...but then we realized that the missionaries never taught her the Word of Wisdom and the commandments so we tried to set up a lesson but she was so busy the first half of the week. So...we taught her over the phone. We got the time and everything set....then she got a fever! "Oh my goodness!" I thought! Then Elder Smith started to doubt that this baptism would happen and started to feel discouraged as this will be the first baptism he has had in the 4 transfers that he has been here. One thing after another kept coming up. She made it to her baptism interview and all went well! Now we started to see that it really was happening. Saturday morning came and her baptism was set for. We were very busy that morning. I went on splits with our Ward Mission Leader, who is blind, to teach a recent convert. As you can imagine a deaf missionary and a blind Ward Mission Leader... it was a very interesting lesson but really cool at the same time. In the middle of the lesson Brother Panter's phone got a text from Elder Smith, who was filling the font for the baptism, and the phone read to him saying, "The water is cold and the water heater is not working right." A typical missionary nightmare was becoming a reality. After the lesson we went over to help set up for the baptism and figure things out. We had the Church facilities manager come and inspect the water heater but he could not find the problem so that baptism was really cold. Then Amanda came and we opened up the baptismal clothes closet and found that none would fit her. Luckily, she brought her own white stuff just in case. We then realized that almost all the clothes were super dusty as they have not used them in a while....which is really sad. The bishop arrived to baptize her and they got into the water and they both looked at us and said "It is very refreshing!" Amanda started to shiver and they both got out rather quickly after the baptism. I guess we were just trying to make it a very memorable experience. :)
Our second baptism was for Ben. The bishop that did the first baptism drained all the water out as he forgot that we told him to leave it full. Ben's baptism was set for. So, we quickly ran to grab some lunch and then we spent a few hours slowly filling the font with hot water...but that did not last long until it just came out cold. came and the chapel was filled with people there to support Ben. This is the 2nd time I have ever seen the chapel be filled like this. It was amazing! We had our Assistant to the President Elders, President Banks (counselor in the mission presidency), Elder Keller (Mission Presidency Secretary) and Sister Winn our Mission office secretary all there to watch the baptism. We had a table full of Restoration Pamphlets and Book of Mormons. We shared the 1st lesson during the changing time and invited everyone to take a pamphlet home with them or share it. By the end of the baptism we left with 1/3 of what we brought. It was so cool! We had many non-members, less actives and members come and show support. It was a neat experience. Ben's baptism was also...cold. Yesterday we talked to our High Councilor over missionary work and asked him to talk with the stake about fixing the water heater and also updating the baptismal clothes wardrobe. We have 3 baptisms on the 28th and 2 on ! Lets hope the water is warm for those baptisms. :)
I learned a lot this past week about faith, trust and prayer. I was struggling with being patient with myself and my hearing...again. I just simply wanted everything to sound right and perfect...but it was not. Last Saturday during one of my "moments" I was praying for someone who just might understand me to be placed in my path to help me. Seeing Kimball on Thursday and giving me a blessing was the greatest day so far that week. In the blessing I realized that Heavenly Father answered my prayer in a very real way. It was such a tender experience and to see just how much Heavenly Father cares for each of us. How amazing is prayer and faith! I love this gospel and the blessings it brings. Kimball's voice sounds just like Dad's and during the blessing I was constantly being reminded that I will be okay. My physical ears may have issues but my spiritual ears won't...as long as I keep doing the things that will allow me to hear my Savior's voice---I will be okay. Heavenly Father must be really patient with me as He has to remind me more than once. :) Elder Smith also got really interested in what Kimball does. The 3-D printing blew our minds away! He gave us a 3-D printed grande! He was the happiest Elder alive for the rest of the day and could not stop telling people all about it.
It was also good preparation for the following day. On Thursday night I got a phone call from President asking for my help with another Emergency Transfer. I asked who it was for and what he had in mind. He said the name of one of our elders in our zone who has only been in the field for about 3 weeks. He goes on to say that we needed him to be at the office the following day at It is so true! Some new missionaries have no idea that we actually live by Preach My Gospel and the White Handbook. Dad, my advice for you as the bishop of these future missionaries....PLEASE get them interacting with the missionaries, go on exchanges, go to transfer meetings, ask the missionaries if the the youth can help with Zone Meetings or District Meetings (More ideal when they are not in school). Does the stake do Mission Preparation classes?for his father to pick him up. My heart sank. Friday came and we picked him up, went to Cafe Rio and then to the office. We got to the office and Sister Eberhardt asked me "Do you know why he is going home?" I said "I am not sure...I don't think he even knows why." The office staff and I just wanted to shake him and say "You can do this...keep holding on." But, he kept repeating to me "I came out too fast and this is not what I expected it to be like." That brought up many more questions of "What did you expect a mission to be like?" I am seeing a theme of these new missionaries who have no clue what a mission really is all about. We are here to "Invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end." Some do not understand that we have to do hard work to invite and help others through faith, repenting and baptism! just like what Colton said "nothing worth doing is easy."
Anyway, after the father picked up this Elder, President came up to us and said "Are you busy this afternoon?" We responded nothing set until the mission Christmas fireside which starts at . He said "Would you take two more elders to the airport if Sister Banks does not get back in time?" Elder Smith and I looked at each other "Two more elders???" When they came down to the office I was sick to my stomach when I saw this one elder. I was his first Zone Leader when he came to Wyoming. He was on his 3rd transfer. I about cried and tried to make the best of it. It was really hard. Sister Banks came back in time so we did not have to drive them to the airport. I helped load up their suitcase and gave a hug goodbye. I will never forget the look of this Elder when he saw me. The Mission Christmas fireside came and his trainer, who I was also his Zone Leader at one point, came up to me and said "Do you know?" I nodded and tears about fell down his face. It was a bittersweet day. At the end of the fireside Sister Eberhardt had me sign "Silent Night" in ASL. Everyone sang along as I signed. Familiar faces all in front of me. Memories of good and hard times flooded through my mind. We have all gone through so much. I have been the Zone Leader for half of the missionaries in the chapel during my time. Then all the zone leaders were to help give out individual gifts from the Eberhardts to each missionary. I picked up three bags that had the names of the Elders that had left earlier that day. Sister Eberhardt and I almost cried as we moved them to a different room. "Brokenhearted I started climbing" once again.
Last night I got a referral for another part-member family who has some deafness in the family and they sign. The father texted me and asked if we could come over tonight for dinner. He goes on to say, "I want to help my children more and become active again in the church." I then found out that the mother is not a member. The Lord really does work in mighty ways. After all, He is "Mighty to Save...".
I love my Savior and my gift to Him this Christmas is a White Christmas, having people dressed in white for baptism and the temple. I did this last year and it was the greatest gift EVER!
From my heart to yours,