Sunday, March 2, 2014

For behold, I have refined thee, I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.

Hello  :-)

It's been a miraculous week!  Yes, Jim was baptized!!  His story is amazing and with his permission, I get to share it with you! 

Jim is so sweet and soft spoken.  He was a high school band teacher for most of his life and also owned a flower shop.  He was in an abusive marriage for 51 years, which truly hurt his confidence and ability to trust.  Without saying more, it's safe to say Jim has had a trying life.  Through it all though, he remained unconditional and kept his faith in the Savior.  Jim was taught starting in May 2013, almost a year.  He's had baptismal dates in the past, been taught everything at least twice, and has come to church for the last 8 months straight.  He was an eternal investigator.  After my first time meeting and having a lesson with him I literally cried because I was so frustrated.  How could we ever get through to this lonely, sad man?  After a couple weeks of reflection (not teaching him) we prayed and felt that we should try again.  So, a few lessons later we felt a strong impression to set a date with him.  He had told us his concerns before and just wasn't ready.  But the impression was so strong that Sister Larsen and I knew that we had to follow it.  So...we straight-up asked him.  He was a little shocked at first and said "how about a maybe."  We went back and forth for a while and finally he just said "I know that I need to be baptized.  Okay.  Feb 22 it is." and then signed Sister Larsen’s planner.  We walked out of that lesson with tears of joy! 

After setting a baptism date, there was a mighty change in Jim.  He was glowing!  I can honestly say I've never seen Jim smile and laugh so much!  He was a different man.  He told us during one lesson "well girls, the night that I set my baptism date, I had a feeling come over me of just peace and love.  I slept so well!  I can tell that He is happy with me!" What a doll.  There were a few bumps in the road but Jim was baptized this past Saturday!  Sister Larsen and I, dressed in all white, held his precious little dog Annie on the steps of the font per President Tilleman’s request.  Magical is the only word I can literally think of to describe it.  It was the happiest day of my mission thus far.

Watching Jim go from a pained and bitter life to one full of joy and love was incredible.  Jim truly went through the refiner's fire.  We cannot go through that fire with pride in our hearts.  Heavenly Father can only mold us when we become humble enough to accept His will.  Just as it says in Matthew 5:5 "Blessed are the meek; for they shall inherit the earth."  Jim is an example to me of how making Christ our focus and making Him our rock will get us through anything.  We will all have trials, big and small, but it's through faith in the Fathers plan and humility in accepting His will, not our own, that we will be able to overcome those obstacles and make it through the refiner's fire. 

Remember that Christ never forgets us.  He is our only Shepherd.  1 Nephi 21:15-15 "...Yea, they may forget yet will I not forget thee, O house of Israel...  Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands." Although we might not always remember Christ during our trials and afflictions, He will ALWAYS remember us.  He knows every pain and every joy you've ever felt.  The nail prints in His perfect hands are the constant reminder of the sacrifice He made for us in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross.  I know that baptism is the only way we can truly repent of our sins and show our loving Father in Heaven that we are willing to follow His commandments.  What a blessing that Jim, who is 74 yrs old, now has been cleansed of his sins, has the gift of the Holy Ghost, and can live with God again.  It is never to late to change.

I am humbled for the opportunity and privilege to be out here serving His children.  I am especially grateful to teach those here in Canada who are descendants of the Lamanites.  Many times in the gospel it teaches that it is through the mouth of the gentiles the House of Israel will be nourished by the good word of God.  What a blessing and a miracle it was to be called Vancouver, Canada, and specifically Osoyoos.  Jesus is the Christ, the Redeemer and Savior of the world.  He ministered not only to His sheep in Jerusalem, but to His other sheep here in the Americas.  The Lord's work is growing and the lyrics "I believe in Christ, so come what may" give great comfort during this hastening.  Thank you for all your love and support! 

xoxo, A

Us, Jim, and his dog "Annie"
Getting ready...
We got to hold "Annie' near the water.

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