Monday, June 30, 2014

Suit up and move out!

June 16, 2014

This morning, about 3 hours ago, we recieved a very nice call from one of the AP's to tell us that I will be leaving. New area - unknown. New comp - unknown. Number of bathrooms in new area - hopefully two. I'm kinda sad to be leaving, I had hoped to baptized someone in every area I serve in, but I'm looking forward to the next adventure. I've been feeling like I've done all I can in Cabot for a while now. I'm not sure how it feels to have that particular impression vindicated. Anywho, here's hoping that any letters you may have sent my way will arrive before Wednesday.

This past week has been a real roller-coaster of ups and downs. Monday was P-Day and we have started a tradition in my district of getting everyone + the nearby Bebe sisters to come to Cabot and we will just play games. The most popular one thus far is Werewolf, basically a supped up version of Mafia. There's nothing like building bonds of trust by playing a game where the sole point of the game is to accuse each other of murder and do the same in return. We have probably play a dozen games the past four or so weeks, and only in three of them did I survive past the first day, either getting killed by the werewolves or lynched by the townsfolk. Two of those three times I was the narrator, and thus incapable of dying. I will also have it known I was the werewolf only twice. ("I'm usually innocent guys; stop killing me off!" "Meh, let's kill him anyway." "Yeah, it's pretty much tradition." *sigh*)

The next day I was in Searcy on an exchange with the Zone Leaders. I was with Elder Daley, a tall black guy who has a dream to play professional basketball and will most likely succeed. He's really good at it. Anywho, while I was up there we visited a man who was preparing to be baptized sometime in the upcoming weeks. We arrived at his house and he told us after inviting us in that he has an abnormal growth in his belly, and is pretty sure it's cancer. He was debating putting off his baptism just in case he was baptized and then died from it before he was able to serve God in the Church like he would want to. He didn't want to be baptized and be unable to pay everybody the debt he think he owes them.

This was when I shared him what happened with J***. I told him how we had knocked on his door, how he had let us in, and how he had begun to change. I shared with him our perspective (missionary's) on things and how we were able to see the incredible amount of blessing that has come into J***'s life as he grew closer to God, and then how he started to slide back. I told him the cost that waiting on baptism had on J***, how it never happened for him and how he is now lo longer seeing the missionaries and has become miserable once again, turning back to the smoke and alcohol that drove him away from God and happiness in the first place.

I was able to share with this man the blessings J*** was so close to receiving but failed to obtain because he became scared and backed out at the last second. We did not want this to happen to to anyone, especially those we care about. I encouraged this man to pray about what he should do after reading from the scriptures, and should the answer be that he shouldn't wait then he should go and be baptized as soon as time would permit. He said he would do that. I honestly felt that the sole reason for my being in Searcy that day was to meet this man and be able to relate this story to him.

I found out the next day that he had taken my challenge to heart. He had read from the Bible for about 20 minutes and then walked outside onto his covered porch to pray. He closed his eyes, put his head on his Bible, and asked God to show him a sign of what he needed to do. After praying for a long while he looked up across the field next to his home. Blinking off in the distance, he spotted a lone firefly. This in and of itself isn't uncommon by any stretch of the imagination - they are super common around here - but what made it surprising was that it was raining that night, and fireflies do not come out in the rain. The insect flew closer and closer to him. Soon the firefly was hovering before him, blinking in the air. He held out his hand, and it settled itself down in the palm of his hand. He stared at it, trying to decide if it was his sign or not. While he was pondering hundreds of other fireflies appeared around him and begun to circle him. The one resting on his hand  took off, and all the others followed him. He took that as his sign to be baptized, was interviewed the next day and was baptized three days later on Saturday. 

Wednesday I was sick with the flu and stayed in bed all day. Bleegh!

Thursday I was still pretty sick, but had the Zone Conference so I just sucked it up and delt with it. I think I did terrible on the piano, but luckily the accompaniment is so fast of a song and has such some pretty awesome chords so that nobody except me and a few others noticed. On the plus side I have gotten incredibly good at making mistakes in just about any song, particularly hymns, sound like they were supposed to be there the whole time and sound good.

Friday and Saturday nothing spectacular happened except I still felt like crap. We taught a decent number of lessons and had some good conversations, especially when Elder Kimber was up here on exchanges from Lonoke, but really they were just typical days.

Sunday was cool. We had a super awesome discussion with T*** and J***, and their daughter, son, and random friend of their daughter who just happened to be over at the time. It worked out that Elder Matangi started talking with T*** and J*** and I started talking to the son, daughter, and friend. They were super into it and were asking me all of these questions about what happened after death.  I started explaining to them about the Spirit World, that place where we wait for a period of time before Christ comes again and we are resurrected. I showed them the story of Christ right after his return to life and his conversation with Mary. "Christ says that he couldn't be touched yet because he hadn't ascended to God yet," I told them, "but Christ's soul went somewhere. If it wasn't straight to God, then where did he go? Answer: the same place where every departed person will go and has gone; the Spirit World." We read Alma chapter 40 in the Book of Mormon, verses 11-13. We then started talking about the different degrees of glory, about the different places people go after Resurrection and Judgement. Together we read 1st Corinthians, chapter 15, verses 40-41. The son said, echoing the thoughts of the others, that he couldn't believe that other churches didn't teach any of this, especially because it made so much sense and was in the Bible. I was just thinking, I know right? It's crazy what happens when you follow a living prophet.

Meanwhile Elder Matangi was having an awesome experience teaching. During their conversation they mentioned that they have been reading and praying as a family, and they now know that the Book of Mormon is true. Elder Matangi mentioned that "the best part is after they are baptized and get older they can totally go to Africa or something and build churches and teach people there, just like we are doing, except in Africa." They totally freaked out asking how he knew. He was thoroughly confused and asked them what they were talking about. They said that T*** had always wanted to go to Africa and teach people about Jesus, and that J*** had been having dreams for about a week now about going someplace else and building up a church. T*** turned to J*** and said "We have to be baptized now. These guys are true." He replied "We've already been baptized though, remember?" "Yes, but we need to be baptized into their church." He then asked them if they believed that Joseph Smith was a prophet and if they were willing to live the word of Wisdom. They both very strongly said yes. I hope I'm nearby so I can see them when they are baptized, but we will see what happens.

I think that's everything. I'll let y'all know what my new address is in a bit. God loves you and so do I!

Elder Jayden Barker

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