Most people would be appauled if I just told them that I kind of swam in a baptismal font without detailed explanation -- so I'll do just that.
Firstly -- Thank you for the prayers!! Although we continued to face adversity in Stretch being baptised last week we made it happen!! There is no joy that competes with the sheer gladness that comes with seeing somebody worthily make covenants with our loving Father in Heaven! It makes me so happy to have the opportunity to observe as others are filled with truth, light, and happiness when they come to learn for themselves that they have a living Saviour, a watchful and loving Father in Heaven, and that they have an opporutinity to follow them and prepare to meet them while they are here on Earth!
So on Sunday, Strech was (FINALLY) baptised! ( I say "finally" because he introduced a large majortiy of the young members of the church to the gospel before he was baptised! Due to disapproval from his father and other circumstances he has been an active investigator in the branch for more than 2 years!!) But his baptism, just as his process to being baptised, was not without trial.
(I have no idea what this pose is but I think it really brings out the personality of Strech and me hahaha!)
Elder Sixaba and I starting filling the font after sacrament meeting to be ready to baptise Stretch after the last block of church; when we went to check on the filling of the font we did not see exactly what we were expecting... The font was full, sure, but the water was a deep shade of brown. And not like.. kinda brown. But BROWN -- so much so that we literally could not see the steps leading into the font. So we are just standing there baffled and confused when we realise that we have one hour to drain this entire font, fill it up again, and be ready for a baptism in a short 60 minutes.
Remember a couples months back when I said we basically made Fast and Furious 8?? Well yesterday we could have filmed Fast and Furious 9!! We jumped into the car and FLEW home to get a pair of shorts and a tee shirt for Elder Sixaba to get into the font to start draining the water. Once we get back to the church, Elder Sixaba has changed, and we've unplugged the drain in the font we realise that it's going to take AT LEAST 60 minutes to drain! So we initiate Def Con 1. I roll up my pants, tuck in my tie, and cuff my sleeves and got in ( rolling everything up didn't make much of a difference).
Imagine this: Two missionaries -- one still in his church clothes, wading around in a baptismal font filled with what looks like sewage, desperately trying to empty the font by using a bucket and an empty garbage can to take water from the font and dumping it out the window... It's probably more hilarious than it already sounds... Fortunately I thought ahead and got a picture.. hahaha!
(Elder Sixaba and I about halfway finished emptying the font!)
Stretch's baptism was really the focus of our whole week and definitely the highlight of it! However it has also been really awesome to work with Siyanda Khoza, a member in the branch, and help him prepare to serve his own mission! He started his mission papers about two weeks ago and has been relentlessly working with us to prepare himself for full-time missionary service! The best part is that this is not a unique case -- the majority of the young men in our branch will spend an entire day working with us to share the gospel and prepare themselves to physically take upon themselves name of our Saviour! Siyanda is the first to open his papers, but I have faith the others will soon follow his example!
Newcastle boys >>>> (These are the guys that literally hold up Newcastle Branch! Each one of them has converted in the past few years!)
I was reading in 1 Nephi 16 today and realised that Satan knows when we are discouraged, tired, and lonely; he knows when to strike with lies, doubts, and temptation; likewise, we have to recognise when we are vulnerable and at that point we must cling to our faith, look towards the Lord, and actively fight to stay on the strait and narrow -- even when the adversary is breathing down our necks.
I also spend a considerable amount of time pondering the situation of Nephi's family after he broke his bow and returned home with no food; my thoughts are the following:
Do we too murmur against the Lord when keeping His commandments gets tough?
Is our faith only as deep as our satisfaction in Earthy means?
Enduring faith in the key to enduring peace, love, and happiness. We receive personal revelation, (including guidance), blessings, and the Holy Spirit according to our to our faith and dilgence in following the Lord! The greater the desire -- the greater will be the endowment of blessings.
As usual, I love missionary work! I love South Africa! And I love the Lord! This week an investigator asked us about tattoos -- Elder Sixaba responded saying that we are only allowed to have one; confused, I looked to him and before I could recant what was said he followed his comment with "The only tattoo we are allowed to have in a name on our heart -- the name of Jesus Christ." I love the comparison that he made between a permanent decision to our personal discipleship! After all, our personal discipleship should be a permanent decision!!
I am incredibly grateful to bear the name of Jesus Christ on my chest each day and I am even more proud to report that His name is indeed "tatooed" on my heart forever.
(I have spoken a few times about Smanga, Strech's little brother, he's kind of going through the same thing as Stretch right now when it comes to him being baptised.. But we are not losing faith!!)