YOKWE IN JOTA BAAMLE!!!! :D
We started out with having one final lesson with an investigator family we were teaching out in Palolo valley. We were sad because they were progressing very well and had even accepted the commitment to be baptized... but then we found out that they were moving to the mainland this week. So while we were saddened by their leaving us, I am sure that they will continue their study of the gospel over in Arkansas (aka "the new Marshall Island"). We were also blessed to be able to celebrate/cry with them and the member family they have been living with on Friday as we threw them a small sort of "farewell" party. It was fun but also sad and while we all enjoyed each other’s company for the night, we also knew that soon the day would end and with it so would their time with us here in Hawaii.
So while this week started out with a sort of sober celebration, it was definitely still chock-full of almost unimaginable miracles and all sorts of other craziness! To summarize basically everything into one sentence... nothing happened the way we expected it too! haha! A lot of our more regular appointments and people we tend to teach on a more consistent basis all seemed to fall through. But it's kind of funny because while we weren't able to teach a lot of the usual people we teach, we still managed to teach 25 total lessons this week!!! The mission standard of excellence is 20 a week!! It was definitely the most lessons I have EVER taught in one week on my mission! It was awesome! :)
Anyway, so to quickly expound on those lessons. We talked briefly with J's mother (the young boy who just got baptized last week) and we got a return appointment set up to teach their whole family this up-coming week so we're both SUPER excited about that!! The mom is a member and now so is J, but the dad and J's twin sister are still not members and we might also have another child who is "supposedly" a member but doesn't have any records that we may have to just 're-baptize' so that will be all sorts of fun! :) We're also teaching this new family that our Zone Leaders found while tracting and referred over to us. They are really a sweet family and the mother especially is very interested in the lessons and has been progressing well! Unfortunately we have had little contact and almost no progress with I this week after the whole lesson where he was confronted with the concept of what being baptized would really mean. We were able to play a really short game of basketball with him though when we ran into him down at the park by his house! It was fun and he is still just a SUPER awesome kid! :)
Anyway, so all of that however is really just scratching the surface of the miracles that happened this week. The main miracle that happened was definitely with A and E!! So I don't remember if I talked much about them before, but a really quick recap just in case I didn't. So after we finished a lesson with T and E (the two kids I got to baptize a couple of weeks ago) one of their good friends walked up to us and basically said "I want to get baptized too! Can you come and have lessons with me?" So of course we jumped on the opportunity and when we came back a couple of days later to talk with her again she said "oh, my cousin wants to get baptized too! Can you come teach both of us?" And they walked us down the road from T and E's building to theirs and we talked with their parents at least briefly and then we started to teach them about the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ!
The lessons were going great! Both of them were really invested in what we had to share but more importantly they were humble enough to act on what we invited them to do and I believe firmly that that action is what helped them to gain a testimony of the gospel more than anything else. With a knowledge and understand that belied their very young age, they both progressed rapidly and through many little miracles were to the point where we had set them with a date to be baptized about half way through this month of March. But then just when we thought things were going to work out exactly how we planned... well... they didn't! haha! They never do! :P
One day while visiting T and E, A came up to us and said "I'm sorry but I can't get baptized on the 19th because my family is moving to the mainland next Tuesday." We were heartbroken! It is sadly a very common trend here for people, especially the Marshallese people, to move on practically no more than a weeks notice. With the cost of living so high over here and so cheap in many places on the mainland they are all slowly migrating over there and because most of them hardly have a single earthly possession that is of any value, the process of packing up and moving is very fast and again seems to happen in a matter of days or weeks at most. Anyway, Elder Teerlink and I were talking about it later and we were both very disappointed but we agreed to just keep on teaching them what we could and hope that they would come in contact with Elders over there in Spokane. But then just this past Saturday, that all changed.
We were walking back to our car at about mid-afternoon, having had appointment after appointment after appointment fall through and having been turned away at almost every house we tried and quite literally our heads and our heads seemed to hang low. I got in the car and started to back up all the while praying and asking Heavenly Father to just guide us wherever we need to go and to do whatever it is He needs us to do, when I got the smallest impression simple to just "ask your companion." So I did. He thought about it for a second and just said, "Do you want to just go try and see A and E?" I was a little hesitant at first because we had had two different appointments fall through with them that same week and so I wasn't sure we could get in this time either but I figured it was worth a shot so we went over and started to just talk to them. The parents invited us in and actually fed us dinner while we taught their two little girls.
The lesson was going well but still we didn't think too much of it, until at the end, when both of us out of nowhere seemed to get the almost impossible impression from the Holy Ghost to simply ask if they could prepare to be baptized before A left for Spokane. They wanted to get baptized together because they are very close friends/cousins and so we "re-set" their baptism date for this past Sunday! The entire time while we were talking to them and to their parents about it and even with our Branch President and his councilors later I was trying to tell myself "what are you doing?" "This is crazy! That is too soon and they aren't ready" "they won't pull through and it will just make things worse in the end" "we should just cut our losses and go home." But of course, I knew deep down and the Spirit was never clearer, that all of that was not true! They were ready! They had done everything within their tiny little nine year old powers to prepare themselves faithfully for the covenant of baptism and the Lord knew that if they were not baptized together on that day that the family might never have a chance like that again. So we moved forward. Still a little unsure exactly on how all of this was going to work, we kept of working with them and within less than 24 hours we taught them the last two lessons, got clothes together, threw together a short program, gathered their families and a lot of the local branch members, and had one of the most spiritual and powerful baptism services I have ever attended. We held it just after church and again I cannot imagine any other way to describe the entire unfolding of events other than, truly MIRACULOUS!!
I love you all so very much and wish you the best of luck with everything that lies ahead for you this coming week! Be sure to keep an eye out for someone you can help or share the gospel with in this coming week! Kommol tata im bar lo eok!