Man, this week was great. The best part was definitely seeing Camron and Cameille get baptized (or as it is properly said here in Tennessee, "babtahzd"). I have said it before and I'll say it again: that family has come so far and has been so changed by the atonement of Christ. It's been truly beautiful to see. The service went well and had a good turnout, and the Spirit was really strong there. Elder Frederick baptized Camron and their grandpa baptized Cameille, and Elder Frederick and I confirmed them the next day in sacrament meeting and gave them the Gift of the Holy Ghost. Their mom and grandparents were all emotional afterwards and it was obvious how grateful they are for the Gospel in their lives. I've probably mentioned this before, but their mom, Crystal, was pretty much off the deep end and wanted nothing to do with the Church or really with God for the last 15 years. Now she is back of her own free will, and she tells us all the time just how much happier and more at peace she is. She never knew what she was missing until she finally gave in and came back. She is so grateful her kids have made the decision to be baptized. She didn't push them at all, but she sure wanted them to have the joy she's just rediscovered. And she sure wants to be with them forever.
Anyway. I could talk about them a lot. It was a good weekend. :)
Also this week, we had a really neat experience doing service. We got a call last week out of the blue from a lady named Ann saying that she needed urgent help moving, and someone had referred her to us, and would we be able to help? It was going to be on Thursday, and we were kind of busy that day, but we agreed to help for a little while and we asked Elder Merrill and Elder Nelson if they could help too. At first they told us they couldn't because they were busy, but then all their appointments cancelled the day before, so they were able to come. And while we were there helping, all of our appointments for the evening called us and cancelled as well. It worked out so that all 4 of us were able to stay and help her for the whole afternoon and evening, which was needed because she had a lot of stuff and not much help besides us. She's been going through a really rough patch - her father, mother, brother, and fiancée all passed away within the last 3 years.
Well, out of the blue, Ann showed up at church on Sunday! She came to the other ward instead of ours, but luckily Elder Merrill and Elder Nelson spotted her and sat with her. They talked with her and answered some of her questions. She is easily as golden as Marvin, the ridiculously golden guy we taught last week. She said she felt something completely different at our church that she's never felt anywhere else - this warm and welcoming feeling. She cried when she learned about how people can accept Christ even after they die, and she is really interested in the Book of Mormon. And we found out that she had been praying, a lot, for the Lord to send someone to help her move, and then miraculously both our and the other Elders' appointments all fell through that day and we were able to stay and help. She came to church partly just because she was impressed with how we treated her - she said we treated her like we were her brothers.
The Gospel is amazing. And what with everything happening here in the area right now, and back home, I feel that perhaps the most hopeful doctrine of the Gospel is that because of Jesus Christ, we can be clean and pure and live with our families forever. What greater blessing can we ask for? What higher cause can we live for? Let's choose to live for that. Doing so will bring a peace and comfort and reassurance into our hearts that nothing else can bring. Jesus Christ has the power to heal any soul, any family, any life, and to bring us all back to our Heavenly Father, to dwell with Him and with our families forever. That's His job. Our job is to let Him. And His Spirit can uplift us and fill our hearts with faith and reassurance to face any trial or challenge, if we will let Him in. The choice is ours. Start where you are. No one is too far from the love of Jesus Christ to improve. I promise that greater joy than we can even comprehend is ahead of us as we press towards the tree of life, holding fast to the word of God, as Crystal and her family have discovered. Christ is offering us eternal joy with our families; what else matters?
Remember to listen to the Spirit's voice. His voice builds us up and encourages us to try harder and be better. His voice tells us we can do it. The devil's counterfeit tells us we ought to be better, but we never will be, and we are worthless and can never do it and should just give up. Be careful which voice you listen to.
I love you all! I hope you are as excited for General Conference as I am! Make yourselves a great week!
Elder Alex Swindler
1-2) Baptism pics :) (From the left: Sister Crosby, Brother Crosby, Cameille, Camron, Elder Frederick, Elder Me, Crystal)
3) Poor Elder Frederick
4) The Eccumenical Storehouse crew this week (it's like a Christian food pantry, but for furniture and houseware. Sorta like DI back in Utah. We volunteer there a lot). From the left: Brother Newport, Elder Nelson, Elder Merrill, me, Elder Frederick
5) Camron made a spaceship out of chairs
6) 40000 miles!