Sunday, May 25, 2014

A Baptism in Virginia

On Monday evening we went to the home of a young Navy family and provided our family home evening on obedience.  This is a family in which she is a member and he is not.  But he has been investigating the church for many months.  We have come very close to them.  Our lesson went well, and there was a nice spirit.  We talked for a few minutes after and then I asked him if he would like to be baptized before they transferred away from here next month.  He said yes!  We talked about possible dates and we mentioned there was a baptism this Friday.  He said that would be good.  We are so excited for him and happy for the family.  We love this family a lot, and we know that this will be a wonderful thing for them.  They will find much joy and support for their young family.  Our experience with them has been a wonderful evolution.  At first, of course, we visited them because we are missionaries and that is our job.  But we quickly came to find out that we had much in common, and we really hit it off.  In a short time we came to love this family and we really enjoy seeing them.  Then their son was born, and they asked me to give him his formal blessing, which brought us even closer.  We know that our friendship with them will always be a highlight of our mission.  We told them that when they get sealed in the temple in a year that we will be there to support them.
On this Wednesday we first attended a “Para Chapel” meeting.  This is a meeting held by the head chaplain with all of the various lay leaders that volunteer on the base.  It was an interesting meeting.  A few of the protestants looked at us sort of funny, like what are you doing here.  But the chaplains and everyone else were very welcoming.  All of the folks at the meeting are working hard to help the marines and their families. 
We learned a lot about different activities on the base and are going to try to help out with some of them. We are going to try to use returned missionaries as translators for wives that come with the foreign officers that come to Quantico for training and do not speak English- something that has been a problem for the Marines in the past.  We then did our routine shift at Navy Marine Corps Relief Society, which is always rewarding. We helped out several marines in financial crises.  We then were going to take dinner to one of our marine wives, whose husband is gone for training for 3 months.  But she told us about free dinner at Chick-fil-A for all military personnel because it is Armed Forces Appreciation week.  So we met her and her children there for a free dinner. Chick-Fil-A even included retired military, so we ate free, too.  It was a bit crowded, but in their usual customer service way Chick-fil-A did a magnificent job of handling the crowds.  We were very impressed.  They had ropes strung outside for forming lines and there were about twenty junior ROTC marines directing traffic, controlling the crowds, throwing away trash, etc. The employees were super friendly and kept thanking people for their military service.  It was magnificent.  I love Chik-fil-A. We will sure miss it when we leave Virginia. 

We thought Thursday was going to be a slow day, but as usual something came up.  We were teaching two sisters a nice, quiet familijby history lesson in our apartment when I got a call from two young agitated elders.  One of them had a doctor’s appointment all the way down in Richmond in just a few hours.  They had arranged to get a ride from someone, but that person backed out at the last minute due to illness.  They had called several others with no luck, so they called me in a panic because the one elder really needed to get to the doctor.  So I spent several hours on the road driving them to the doctor, waiting through the appointment, and driving them home in the rain. The companion of the young elder that was seeing the doctor was so interesting. He has an amazing memory and is well read, so it was fun to talk to him about a wide variety of topics. The elder had a good appointment with his doctor and we finally hit the road home.  It was about a 200 mile round trip.  Such are the days of being a senior missionary, and I am very happy to do it.  It was fun to talk to both of  these young men and get to know them better.  And the one that saw his doctor was very happy that he made it to his appointment and got the medicine he needs.  We also had two sisters over for dinner, which was great fun.  We always love to have the young missionaries over for dinner as they are all great young people that are enjoyable to talk with.  It is such a pleasure to be with young people that are kind and respectful, that appreciate the efforts made to help them, and that have excellent goals and plans for their lives.  It makes the future seem bright.

Today, Friday, will definitely be one of the highlight days of our mission.  I (Dan) got to baptize the young Navy guy I mentioned above.  We visited him and his wife the first week of our mission.  We quickly became very close to this young family.  We had a lot in common – she is from Washington State, he loves horses, they both love dogs, and he is in the Navy.   At the time we first met them the wife, a church member, had been less active for some time.  But she was pregnant with their first child and was feeling the need to get back to church.  Thus her husband  became interested.  He was taught for many months by both young sisters and elders, but kept saying he wasn't ready to be baptized.  We participated in several of these lessons, and visited many times on our own as well.  We took them out to dinner, took dinner into their home, and took them to a baptism.  Early this week after we taught them a family home evening lesson Steve agreed to be baptized.  Tonight was the baptism service, and it was wonderful.  He was excited and confident.  She  was happy and grinning the whole time.  A large group of ward members showed up.  The talks were excellent and the Holy Spirit was felt by all.  The baptism itself was smooth, and at the end of the service he bore a simple, sweet testimony.  He said that every time they started talking about church that someone would show up knocking at their door – the young elders, the sisters, the Couches, the hometeachers, the bishop, etc.  He said he knew that all of these folks were sent by God to encourage him to join the church.  Afterwards we had excellent refreshments of white cake and chocolate brownies, supplied by us.  It was such a joy to be involved in this momentous occasion for this young family.  We feel so blessed and joyful to have been a small part of it.  Just to help one person into the church such that their family will feel the blessings and joy we have – it is just an amazing feeling. (D&C 18:15)

Saturday morning found us up quite early.  Late last night the ward’s Young Men’s President called us and was quite worried.  There was an early morning youth temple trip today and someone had cancelled out at the last minute.  He needed two more chaperons.  We said okay, so got up early and planned to leave for the Washington DC temple at 6am.  At about 5:55am he called and said two sets of parents had unexpectedly showed up so he did not need us to help with the youth temple trip.  Since we were already up, dressed and ready to go we went to the temple anyway and went through a regular session, which was very nice.  We had been talking for some time about going to the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) library so Lezlie could do some genealogy work there.  So we headed into downtown DC, found what we thought was a perfect parking spot right across the street, and ventured into the DAR library.  It was a beautiful historic building (see pictures) with tons of family history information.  Lezlie found a lot of data about her Virginia ancestors, and I even found some facts about my Connecticut Hurd ancestors.  But when I went back to the car there was a $25 parking ticket on the windshield.  The meter stated “No Meter Fees collected on Saturday.”  A parking meter policeman happened to be nearby.  He said that some of the stickers saying “Parking Meter Fees Required on Saturday” had worn off, but he had to ticket the cars anyway.  He explained how I could protest the ticket.  So I took pictures of the meter, my car, the library, etc.  After returning  home I wrote a long, lawyerly letter explaining why the ticket should be rescinded.  Stay tuned, we will have to wait and see what happens between me and the Wash DC parking police.   Except for the ticket it was a great day at the temple and the DAR library.  

Our Sunday was wonderful, highlighted by the confirmation of the young man I baptized last night.  I got to do the confirmation.  He was once again humble and excited.   The blessing came out well, not due to me of course.  He thanked me and I said just thank your Heavenly Father.  The ward gave him such a great welcome today.  Everyone was gathered around him and congratulating him and his wife.  It was wonderful to see.  Then shortly after Sacrament meeting we gathered in the bishop's office and his home teacher ordained him as a Priest in the Aaronic Priesthood.  He received a very nice blessing there too, and was smiling big as he shook everyone’s hand.  Part of his blessing was that he was just at the beginning of his journey in the gospel, but that he would always find loving and supporting friends that would help him along.  We felt like right now we are some of those friends.  It will be sad to see them move in a month.  But it has been absolutely wonderful to get to know them.  We feel so blessed to know them and to have been a part of their journey.  

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