I am loving the wedding shots! Thanks for including my little baby face! And yes, Dad, I think that the new "missionary on a stick" will catch on. :D
This has been a good week. It started off with Zone Conference on Tuesday. Three zones were present at the meeting from 9 am to 5 pm. This included Elder Stoker from my first MTC district who got his visa several months before I did. It was also very cool because my MTC companion, Elder Findley, arrived from his short stay at the Sao Paulo MTC. It made me remember the day 4 months ago when I arrived during a zone conference. It was great to be able to greet him at such a precariously and emotionally exciting time for him. It is strange to think that I have already been here 4 months and that I am quickly coming up on my year mark. It seems that every night I have a nightmare in which I have finished my mission and already gotten home and then I start having a post-mission crisis. Yikes! Anyway, I am working on making all of the moments here very good. At the zone conference, I also got a very wonderful piece of home in the form of some peanut butter, Fluff, Nutella, cake mix, Lucky Charms, and a letter. Thanks bunches family! I am enjoying ever moment of my homey treats. I forgot how much I like a good old Fluffernutter!
At the zone conference we also talked about baptism, obviously. Baptism is essential to our purpose as missionaries. I understand this. What leaves a bitter taste in my mouth is the reaction some missionaries have to the push to baptize. As I have been thinking about baptism, I have learned that we can have two results from baptism, or any other covenant. We can baptize unto life or we can baptize unto death. The covenant of baptism is a glorious thing that can bring many blessings into our lives. However, this heightened level of blessings also brings a heightened level of responsibility. If we do no fulfill these responsibilities, the covenant will not be a blessing unto us. As missionaries, we have a greater sense of awareness than those we are teaching. We can percieve if they are aptly prepared to enter into such a holy covenant. We need to be aware always lest we baptize someone to their condemnation. In our lives, we need to make sure that we prepare properly for covenants and then fulfill them so that we can be filled with the light and life of Christ.
It has been very exciting for me these last few weeks as my companion and I have been baptizing several people. I never saw this sort of conversion before in my mission. We are looking forward to 4 more baptisms this coming week. It is truly amazing (insert "true and amazing" ditty here) to see the power of the HOly Ghost working in the lives of others. People can change! People can be cleansed from lives of sin and false doctrine. THey can receive the everlasting light of Christ unto life. What a blessing. Last Sunday I was faced with a difficult experience when we encountered a drunk investigator who unashamedly told us all of the things that he has done in his life that he hasn't told us about. I was heart broken. I felt like sitting down on the ground and giving up. We have done so much to try to help this man, and he has so much in his life that needs to be purged from him. This was a big shock to me and I prayed that I would be able to have the faith to help him, that I would be able to have the faith believe that he was in the reach of the Atoning power of Christ. I have been studying this whole week about repentance and the power of the Atonement. I am beginning to have more and more faith in the power of Christ's ability to change us. Faith will manifest itself in the unwearying efforts we make to rescue those under the stain of sin. Let us labor with our might. I have been trying to apply this scripture this past week. Mormon 9:28
"Be wise in the days of your probation; strip yourselves of all uncleanness; ask not, that ye may consume it on your lusts, but ask with a firmness unshaken, that ye will yield to no temptation, but that ye will serve the true and living God."
If we do not ask God in vain, but ask things of Him with a firmness unshaken to do what is right, He will grant strength unto us to do whatsoever is expedient in Him. I love you all. I will be thinking of Mom today as her birthday will be this week. Happy Birthday, MOM! I love you and I hope that you get my letter soon. You all are the best! I know that the power of Christ can redeem us from this "frail existence" and lift us to a more "exalted sphere."
Love, Elder Parker Ayer