First of all Mom, Thanks for all the news! (I haven't read the rest of your letter yet). OH MY GOODNESS on all the marriages. Craziness. Congrats to Nancy! And welcome home to Ashley! Congratulations to Lacey and Jake and Becca! It's weird that that much time has already passed. I just realized the other day, that I have been out for 7 months! Which is getting close to halfway. Very weird.
We had a great week this week. On Wednesday, we discovered that the less active family we have been working with to get the son Andrew ready for baptism will actually count as a convert baptism because he turns 9 two days before his baptism. So we have a baptism this weekend! We were always planning on being there, because we've been working with him and his family, but because both of his parents are members (they just aren't super active and the dad is totally inactive) we figured it would be a primary baptism. Plus the ward kept going back and forth on what they were going to consider it and never told us for certain how it was all going to come together. But we are excited for him to get baptized on Friday and we hope we will be able to help the family stay active!
The greatest part of our week though, was Friday. We were on exchanges and I was serving with Sister Weber, while Sister Carlton went to Woodridge with Sister Stewart. We went to our appointment with Rick and when we followed up on how his reading of 2 Nephi 31 went, he said, "it made me want to get baptized" !!!!!!!!! Oh my goodness! This is exactly what we were hoping would happen! Right about then, he ended up having a question about authority, so we answered that question, and then I led that into a discussion about Faith so that we come back to the whole baptism thing. We had a great discussion about Faith as we read from the Bible Dictionary and then the member with us shared her conversion story of having to take those steps of faith even though she didn't know all the answers. She shared how as she has continued to keep the commandments, she has seen more and more that the decision she made was right and she has eventually gotten all of the answers she needed. It was really great. Then I looked Rick right in the eyes and asked, "So Rick, will you take this step of faith, and follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized by someone holding the Priesthood authority of God? We are holding a baptismal service on June 23rd. Will you prepare yourself to be baptized on that day?" He got this curious look as I said the date, looked at his calendar, and then asked how we came up with that particular day. We explained that we had prayed about it and just felt like that was a day he could be ready by. Then he told us that in Puerto Rico, where he is from, they have a holiday every summer. This year it falls on June 23rd. It is called "John the Baptist Day." He agreed to be baptized on June 23rd :) SO COOL! He is really excited about it and he feels that us choosing that date is another sign from God that he should in fact be baptized. Sister Carlton was so excited when exchanged back that night! We are really happy for him.
After Rick, we had an appointment with a woman named Brandi that we had tracted into a few days before. She LOVES family history and she has worked with the church familysearch.org website a LOT. Sister Weber and I had a great talk with her, getting to know her and about her family history. Then before we left, we quickly introduced the Book of Mormon and asked her if she would read from it and then if we could come back and talk to her more about it. She said she would and was quite excited about her "homework" :) The best part though, was when we were first talking about it. She mentioned how the Jews have the Old Testament, most Christians have the Old and New Testaments, and then the Mormons have the Old, New and Another Testament. And then she said, "What I don't get, is why hasn't anyone else picked up this book? Why haven't any other churches started using it?" Very good question Brandi. Very good question :) We would be thrilled to answer that for you when we come back.
So we were very happy with our investigator on date to be baptized and our new investigator for the week.
I am still absolutely loving working with Sister Carlton. She is fabulous and we work so well together! I enjoyed working with Sister Weber on Friday, but I really missed Sister Carlton while she was gone. I'm happy to have her back again.
Last night in 2nd ward we had a ward activity centered on missionary work. It was AWESOME! Brother Oscarson put together this whole program of speakers and videos from mormon.org etc, to talk about what it means to be a Mormon and how we live our lives according to the teachings of Jesus Christ because of that. Several youth spoke, and Courtney (one of our recent converts) and then the Bishop gave a great talk at the end about acting on the feelings that anyone may have had during the program which then led into the "Waiting on the Road to Damascus" mormon message. It was fabulous. (P.S. Mom, you should try to put the video on my blog right here if you can. That would be cool.) Waiting on the Road to Damascus - President Deiter F. Uchtdorf
I also forgot to tell you about this cool thing that happened last week! Last Sunday, we had a comparative religions class from the College of DuPage (CoD) come visit Sacrament meeting in 2nd ward, and then they stayed after for a question and answer session with us. We were able to get several members to stay with us to help answer questions and it went really well. We ended up giving them all a restoration pamphlet and we gave away about 6 copies of the Book of Mormon. We had a few with us, and passed them out for them to look at while we explained a little about what it was. We were hoping they would want to keep them. At the end, one lady handed hers back to Sister Carlton, and when she told her she could keep it, she said she didn't want it to be wasted, so she would just give it back. Two seats down, another lady had heard her, and jumped at the opportunity, reaching across and saying, "Well then can I have it??" It was exciting to see her so excited about it, and a few of the others holding their copies, gently fingering through as they pondered on the things they had just heard and felt. Then this week, we found out from one of our Bishopric members that someone else in the class had stayed after and asked him if he could get a copy of the Book of Mormon! It was really neat and I hope those who were touched - which I would say there were many who were - will get the chance to learn more about the church and will request the missionaries in their respective areas. That would be even better if they lived in ours :)
I think that's about all for the week. Healthwise: Saturday was a pretty yucky day, but yesterday was better and today is a good day too. I got my follow-up bloodwork on Friday, so hopefully we'll have those results back soon. Sister Bostrom (WML's wife in 3rd ward) also said she would ask one of the doctors she works for if she has any ideas what all this could be. She said this doctor is an excellent diognostician and that she would be willing to look into it for me, so I gave her a list of all my symptoms and we'll see if any new ideas come from that.
I love you! I miss you! (in a good way)
Love, Sister Ali