Thanks for the wonderful email. That was very uplifting. You're the best.
And everything you said is TRUE.
I wondered what I was going to share with you this week, I thought of just sending my 'death letter' that I mailed to Pres, but I decided I will probably keep that for my homecoming talk ;)
Something amazing happened last night, one of the most pivotal moments on my mission, and I'm so blessed that it happened so soon before going home. I honestly don't even know where to start, there are so many significant details that happened to make all that worked out, work out. I guess I'll just start with this:
Imagine teaching the Catholic Pope. Someone who is so set in his ways about his beliefs. It would almost seem impossible. That is how it seemed with our neighbor, D. D is in her late 50's, she is VERY educated. She was an 'ordained minister'. She has the Bible memorized, has read it in multiple languages including Hebrew which she learned herself. She is a very logical thinker. She needs evidence. D has been in contact with the missionaries multiple times over the past 10 years.
When I arrived in New Brighton 3 months ago, I met D as we were with one of our other investigators. After that meeting, all that I heard from my companion was, "Supposedly, we 'don't teach D'... she is apparently too set in her ways, her heart is not opened for truth, she will never change."
Well, we'd go by often to do service or cook with her, she'd invite us for dinner, and then want to come to church with us off and on, and even President Firesides... She came to the one last month where Elder Carlson from the 70 spoke and did a question answer sesh... she loved that, and apparently after the meeting she went up to talk to him personally, and all she told us is that he invited her to do some specific assignments, and then he, along with President Forbes invited her to be baptized. Hmm... all these things eventually led her to decide that she really wanted to 'meet with the Mormon's again.' That was pretty exciting!
Every appointment with D was more of a.... 'D teaching us sesh' and we'd NEVER get to say anything, and if we did, she'd shoot it down. She openly believes in the trinity, does not believe Joseph Smith was a prophet, and the only part of the Book of Mormon that she believes are the chapters that quote Isaiah. We thought, 'Wow... those past sisters were right.. maybe she is too set in her ways.' And to be frank, I was pretty scared to teach her, because... I felt like she was a 'pastor Kim' in a way, and I remember how awful I felt when my testimony was shattered every five seconds, so to be honest, I wouldn't say very much.. But even with those thoughts in our minds and feelings we had, there was STILL something pushing us to continue to meet with her and serve her.
*insert beautifully significant details to show God's hand is completely in D's life*
After a series of events, we made an appointment with our investigator L who we haven't been able to see for over a month. We knocked on L's door, and she was gone to D's! We decided to pop over, and we shared a message with both of them. This was the only time I truly spoke up and shared a message. I read a little bit of 'You Matter to Him' by Dieter F. Uchdorf. At that moment I felt a VERY clear and distinct love for these two women. And that was a blessing! My comp and I have been PRAYING for the gift of charity. I was blessed to have a little taste of what Heavenly Father felt for His daughters. And then I testified. I honestly don't remember what I said, but the Spirit was there, and that was the first time that D did not say a WORD. She just listened. It was a MIRACLE! My comp and I had been trying to get investigators to come to the President's fireside that Sunday, and D has already been a thousand times, so we weren't planning on inviting her, but I blurted out that invite to her anyway... (which also did not come from me, because I was not planning to do that.)
*More significant details to make this all happen*
We got to President's fireside, and while Sister Smith and I were mixing and mingling with people before the meeting, the member that took D and us asked D when she is going to stop smoking. D just said "I don't know. But I think it is really insignificant to give up things JUST to be a member of your church." Welllllllllll... those recent converts who spoke last night (two of them specifically) spoke into each of us the importance of living the Word of Wisdom and how it has completely transformed their lives. D was balling. (Never had seen that.) After the meeting, she turned to me and whispered,
"If I happened to get baptized, they would have to record it so that you could see it at home."
"Wait, you're considering baptism???"
*Smirky smile* "I need to go talk to that guy" She pointed to a stake president. All I saw was him making very bold hand motions and her crying and smiling. He called us over and said that D wants to be baptized. WHAT?!?!??!?! 10 YEARS OF MISSIONARIES AND NOW IT HAS COME!!!!! We were WIGGING out. President Stacey said something to D like, "D, I promise you in the name of the Lord that as you truly make the changes necessary to be baptized, you WILL be granted the strength you need to give up this physical substances. There is not ONE thing in this world that Christ could not strengthen you for." D asked for a Priesthood blessing from Pres Stacey (which is also a miracle. In the 10 years of her studying with us, she has NEVER let anyone give her a blessing.)
We gathered in the many many sister missionaries who have taught D, and in a full room, D bore her sweet testimony. She expressed that last President Fireside she was asked to do some specific assignments from Elder Carlson, and she did them, and that the fireside that evening solidified and answered her questions. She openly expressed the Book of Mormon to be the word of God, and that Joseph Smith was truly a prophet of God. There was not a dry eye in that room. WOW.
President Stacey laid his hands on her head and pronounced the most beautiful blessing upon her I have ever heard. It was very sacred, so I won't share all of it, but I will share something that meant a lot to me. He said: "Sister D, The Lord wants you to know that every sister that is gathered around you in this room has fulfilled a promise that they made Heavenly Father in the pre-earth life, to come down, to find you, to comfort you, to teach you, and help you return to Him."
Wow... I am getting teary just writing this!! After the blessing when he left, all of us sisters had a little 'pre earth moment' I'd like to call it. :) I feel very very strongly that that is true. And the reason I do is because my first transfer in New Brighton while I was going through a rough time, I got a blessing, and in the blessing it said "Sister Beeson, your Heavenly Father wants you to know that last minute changes were made for you to be here in New Brighton to fulfill a very significant and important purpose." I know I'm here for D.
D asked when she could be baptized, and they said that the 29th of November would probably be the soonest. Wow!!! Amazing. We were all so happy. As the night went on, D took President Forbes aside, and they talked for a bit, and then I was able to find out that President Forbes changed her date from the 29th to the 25th... the DAY BEFORE I go home! All of the departing missionaries will be at D's baptism that night at 7pm.
Heavenly Father works miracles and wonders. I KNOW that this is the true church. The Spirit is REAL, and it works through people's hearts, even the ones that seem impossible to change; ESPECIALLY those ones. I am so so so blessed to be a part of this work, and am so blessed to have finished this sacred part of my life with a very big and unforgettable miracle.
I love you and will see you next week!
All my love,