Friday, May 1, 2015

Love Changes Lives

Okay, this week has been simply fantastic.
First off, Amey got baptized this weekend! :') It was simply the most beautiful baptism I've ever been privileged to be a part of. I don't know if I've ever told you the full story, but Amey has been attending church for 6 years. She started coming not long after her husband died, and wanted to get baptized then - but her kinds insisted that she wait, because it was too big a decision to make so soon after her husbands death. But she always, always wanted it even though they never, never supported it. (With exception of her one daughter, Sarah, who lives with her.) Only a couple of months ago, her resolve strengthened and she decided now was the time. So this baptism day was a long time coming. :) She was so nervous. And when she came out of the water, she cried into her friends shirt for just a moment. She is so happy. And I am so proud of her. :)
She hasn't told her kids yet. She says her plan is to take them all out to a nice restaurant for dinner and tell them then after they order their food - "I was baptized on April 25th. And if any of you make a fuss about it or try to make me feel bad about it, then you are paying for your own meal."
Ha ha ha ha ha Amey just makes me laugh so hard! She is full of spunk. :)
Later that same day, we met up with our investigator Joe. We were helping him move because, sad news.... he is moving four miles away, which happens to be outside our mission boundaries. :( We've known it was coming for a while, and he requested that we still be the missionaries to teach him and that he'd still be able to attend the ward he's currently in. At least until after his baptism in June. This kind of decision requires a mission president's authorization, so we'd talked to him and received the sad verdict: We could not keep teaching Joe for that long if he lived in another mission. We needed to pass him off. (We sat on the kitchen floor and cried after hearing this.)
So, we told him this news as we were helping him move. Joe is stubborn and said "Absolutely not." We tried to explain it to him, but he was adamant that we had to be with him when he got baptized. Finally, he said "What if I got baptized before I move?"
Please note, he is moving in two weeks. So, the result of all this is that Joe is, in fact, getting baptized the day before Mothers Day. Right before his move is final. Cue jaw drop. We never saw that one coming. :D
So, as if all this good news wasn't enough, let me tell you one more really awesome thing: Do you remember Michael, our investigator who used to be a wee bit anti mormon? Here's the latest on him: He has completely changed since we met him four weeks ago. Our first meeting, he absolutely terrified us. (Stared at us through sunglasses and made no indication of how he felt the entire time we talked.) In the beginning, he seemed intent on disproving everything we taught him and he was adamant that he had no intention of changing his own beliefs.

But this last meeting we had, on Friday, he was no longer that way. We've developed a good relationship by now. He didn't argue with us once and we've come to learn that our beliefs are more similar than they are different. :) Even when we taught about the three kingdoms of glory, he explained how it was closer to his own personal beliefs than anything else he'd ever heard. It is the neatest thing, to see his change of heart. I love him with all my soul, what can I say? I hope I never get transferred from here, just so I can keep meeting with him. :)
So, last night we had a lesson with Joe (with his baptism date moved up so dramatically, we have to fit in the last of the lessons real quick!) and he asked us a question that everyone asks at one point in their lives: "Why does God allow innocent suffering? Why is life so unfair and difficult?"
It's a hard question to answer. It really is. I feel like I understand it, but to try to explain it proved near impossible. But as I was studying the story of Job this morning, I came across I quote I love and I will now proceed to share it with you:
"Is there not wisdom in His giving us trials that we might rise above them, responsibilites that we might acheive, work to harden our muscles, sorrows to try our souls? Are we not exposed to tempations to test our strength, sickness that we might learn patience, death that we might be immortalized and glorified?
"If all the sick for whom we pray were healed, if all the righteous were protected and the wicked destroyed, the whole program of the Father would be annulled and the basic priciple of the gospel - agency - would be ended. No man would have to live by faith!
"If joy and peace and rewards were instantaneously given the doer of good, there could be no evil - all would do good, but not because of the rightness of doing good. There would be no test of strength, no development of character, no growth of powers, no agency, only satanic controls.
"Should all our prayers be immediately answered according to our own desires and limited understanding, then there would be little to no suffering, sorrow, disappointment or even death, and if these were not there would also be no joy, success, resurrection, nor eternal life or godhood." - President Kimball
To me, this quote explained perfectly what I could not find the words for. God is a zealous protector of our agency, our right to choose our own destiny. His plan for us here is perfect, even when to us it seems unfair. The Atonement is here to right all wrongs. Because of that, we are enabled to grow beyond our current state. :)
I love the gospel, and the peace and understanding it brings. I love being here in Arizona, even when the forcast for the coming week is 102 degrees. :) Wouldn't trade it for anything. Although I admit I am grateful for such things as popsicles and ice cream.
I hope you all have a wonderful fantastic week. I love you more than anything. :)
Cheerfully, Sister Ball

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