Baptisms

What a wonderful week! Recently, Heavenly Father has been pouring out miracles upon so many of our friends here! He has been giving our investigating friends such miraculous witnesses that are personal to them- witnesses that allow them to know that this is His church. For this post, I would just love to tell you all about a few of the recent converts we have been blessed to work with. I promise, by the end of this post, you will love them like we love them for who they are and for the decisions they have made.

Let’s start with Amanda. Amanda is a recent convert of about 4 months now. She is a part of the Trifecta (the perfect trio of recent converts- including Sarah and Mel also). Amanda met the missionaries on the street. Initially she thought they were really weird, and still does, but allowed them to come only because she was too nice to say no! That kindness led Amanda to feeling of the goodness of the Gospel and to making a life changing decision. For Amanda, it all happened very quickly! Only over a matter of weeks! She is a stalwart pioneer and does so much to help her friends and family to see and understand the goodness the Gospel offers. She is the member missionary of member missionaries.

And then there is Sarah. Sarah was met on the street outside of Tesco on a early March afternoon! She also thought the missionaries were very strange! But she allowed us to come and see her. Sarah quickly found the relevance of the Gospel in her life and was baptised in late March. As she has continued to learn and grow and keep her covenants, she has been blessed with added courage and strength. She is so much different than the first time we met her! And most importantly, she continues to learn and grow every day! Oh, and if you ever need an honest, straight forward answer, Sarah will give it to you.

And then there is Mel. Mel was introduced to the missionaries through Amanda! A fact is that after our first lesson, Mel NEVER wanted to see us again. She even declined a return visit! But over a short period of time real life miracles happened to her that could not be explained through any other way than the existence of a Father in Heaven who loved her. We soon saw her again and not too long after that Mel took the steps she knew she needed to take! Having been baptised for three weeks now, she is preparing to be a missionary next year! Miracle!

Kate and Kiri are just the most incredible Mother-Daughter duo. They met the missionaries at their doorstep and began to meet with them more regularly. They were baptised in March. As they progressed in the Gospel they faced and overcame EVERY challenge that could be thrown at them. I have never seen two people go through so much in such a short period of time. But they held hands, put their heads down, grit their teeth together, and pressed forward into the Saviour’s church! Fasting in faith was such a huge part of them receiving their witness! They are super and I know that no matter what trials they face, together they will overcome!

Next is Ken and Levie. These two are just saints. Levie is from the Philippines and Ken is from England and they are both simply incredible. Ken met missionaries on the street days after he prayed to find the true church. He nearly instantly recognised the missionaries as the Lord’s servants and received a witness through the power of the Holy Ghost that he had finally found what he was looking for. Levie, on the other hand, was not so quick to agree. As Levie was continually taught, it came to the point where she decided that she would not be baptised unless she felt that God told her to. Ken prayed with faith that God would provide his wife with the witness she needed so that he could be sealed in the temple with her and their little boy for all time and eternity. After a couple weeks of faithful prayer, Heavenly Father provided. Levie received a witness in the middle of the night, through a dream, that she would indeed be sealed in the temple to her family. She awoke crying and awoke Ken to tell him she wanted to be baptised. Ken was baptised three weeks ago and will have the privilege of baptising his wife this weekend.

Paul is one of the most faithful people I have ever met. He met missionaries on the street and was not very sure if he believed anything they said. Because he was kind, he agreed to meet with them again. After a couple lessons, Paul told the Elders that he just couldn’t believe it. They invited him to church and he accepted. He came to church and enjoyed it, but just couldn’t believe it. Later that day, however, Paul received an undeniable witness that God was real. Paul came to know in a very real way that what the missionaries taught was truth. He contacted the missionaries instantly, told them of his witness, and asked for baptism as soon as possible. He was baptised just days ago.

Can you see the miracles that we experience daily? Can you even begin to understand how much joy we feel when our good friends make good decisions that we know will bless them forever? More importantly, do you understand that these experiences with God are not limited to a select few? That you can receive your own witness just as soon as you sincerely and humbly ask? I hope that you do understand that! I hope that you do understand that these friends of ours have had their own experiences, wherefore they know! You can too!

I love you all!

Elder Walker

Tired

What another great week! Every week I am more and more convinced that what I am doing is a good thing. I love seeing people change and seeing people grow and learn and accomplishing the things they have always wanted to accomplish! What a treat it is to be here in England! Recently, I have been having something strange happen to me. I have been feeling tired! For any of you who know me, you know that I am a very energetic person and that it is very unusual for me to be very tired. And so, it has been something of an annoyance to me to actually have feelings of fatigue. Whereas before I had to go to sleep just because I knew I should, I now go to sleep because I literally can not move come 10:30 pm! I have been wondering why I feel this way and asked my companion. He shared the following story with me. As you read it, I hope you come to feel and understand just how much these two years have meant and do still continue to mean to me in this foreign country I can now refer to as a home!
 
 
“As I jumped on board my flight from Miami to Salt Lake City, I paused for a moment to catch my breath. Seated near the front of the plane was an excited young man, probably 19, sitting with his parents. His hair was short and his clothes new and sharp. His suit was fitted perfectly and his black shoes still retained that store bought shine. His body was in good shape, his face clear, and his hands clean. In his eyes I could see a nervous look, and his movements were that of an actor on opening night.
He was obviously flying to Utah to become a missionary for the Mormon Church. I smiled as I walked by and took pride in belonging to this same Church where these young men and women voluntarily serve the Savior for two years. With this special feeling, I continued to the back where my seat was located.
As I sat in my seat, I looked to the right and to my surprise, saw another missionary sleeping in the window seat. His hair was also short, but that was the only similarity between the two. This one was obviously returning home, and I could tell at a glance what type of missionary he had been.
The fact that he was already asleep told me a lot. His entire body seemed to let out a big sigh. It looked as if this was the first time in two years he had even slept, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was. As I looked at his face, I could see the heavy bags under his eyes, the chapped lips, and the scarred and sunburned face caused by the fierce Florida sun.
His suit was tattered and worn. A few of the seams were coming apart, and I noticed that there were a couple of tears that had been hand-sewn with a very sloppy stitch.
I saw the nametag, crooked, scratched and bearing the name of the Church he represented, the engraving of which was almost all worn away. I saw the knee of his pants, worn and white, the result of many hours of humble prayer.
A tear came to my eye as I saw the things that really told me what kind of missionary he had been. I saw the marks that made this boy, a man. His feet – the two that had carried him from house to house, now lay there swollen and tired. They were covered by a pair of worn-out shoes. Many of the large scrapes and gouges had been filled in by the countless number of polishings. 
His books – laying across his lap were his scriptures, the word of God. Once new, these books which testify of Jesus Christ and His mission, were now torn, bent, and ragged from use.
His hands – those big, strong hands, which had been used to bless and teach, were now scarred and cut from knocking at doors.
Those were indeed the marks of that man. And as I looked at him, I saw the marks of another man, the Savior, as he was hanging on the cross for the sins of the world.
His feet – those that had once carried him throughout the land during his ministry, were now nailed to the cross.
His side – now pierced with a spear. Sealing his gospel, his testimony with his life.
His hands – the hands that had been used to ordain his servants and bless the sick were also scarred with the nails that were pounded to hang him on the cross.
Those were the marks of that great man.
As my mind returned to the missionary, my whole body seemed to swell with pride and joy, because I knew, by looking at him, that he had served his Master well.
My joy was so great, I felt like running to the front of the plane, grabbing that new, young missionary, and bringing him back to see what he can become, what he can do.
But would he see the things that I saw, could anyone see the things I saw? Or would he just see the outward appearance of that mighty elder, tired and worn out, almost dead.
As we landed, I reached over and tapped him to wake him up. As he awoke, it seemed like new life was entering his body. His whole frame just seemed to fill as he stood up, tall and proud. As he turned his face towards mine, I saw a light about his face that I had never seen before. I looked into his eyes. Those eyes, I will never forget those eyes. They were the eyes of a prophet, a leader, a follower, and a servant. They were the eyes of the Savior. No words were spoken. No words were needed.
As we unloaded, I stepped aside to let him go first. I watched as he walked, slow but steady, tired but strong. I followed him and found myself walking the way that he did. When I came through the doors, I saw this young man in the arms of his parents, and I couldn’t hold it any longer.
With tears streaming down my face, I watched these loving parents greet their son who had been away for a short time. And I wondered if our parents in Heaven would greet us the same way. Will they wrap their arms around us and welcome us home from our journey on earth? I believe they will. I just hope that I can be worthy enough to receive such praise, as I’m sure this missionary will.
I said a silent prayer, thanking the Lord for missionaries like this young man. I don’t think I will ever forget the joy and happiness he brought me that day.”
 
 
If being tired is the price to be paid to serve in the way this man did, then I am gratefully exhausted and hope to continue to be so! Sorry its so long, but I just hope you felt something of how I feel as you read this story! I love you all!
 
Elder Walker

 

Experience and Faith

Here is this week’s post!
 
Hello everyone! As you might be expecting, I am doing well! Having a great day! Happy, healthy, and excited! So pretty much, not much too new since last week. Since last week; however, I have grown in one attribute in particular, in faith. Why? Because recently I have had an experience that builds faith. And so, going off of that, I want to talk about faith. Exactly what it is, how you gain faith, and why it is so important to each of us. First, faith is something we all have. When I refer to faith, I don’t refer to the kind of blind belief that so many call faith. I am speaking of belief based on experience. The kind of belief that can and should lead to knowledge. For instance, we each believe that the Sun will rise tomorrow because it has risen every single day of our life. That kind of faith is based on experience and because experience has shown that the Sun rises every day, we would each say with no hesitation, “I know the Sun will rise tomorrow.” In a similar way, we can have faith to know that God lives as we experience what He offers. And so to gain that faith, we must act. It is just that simple. With that background of understanding how faith is gained and how faith is understood, I want to tell you all a story!
 
On the 28th of April, just a couple weeks ago, my companions and I met a man named Paul. Paul was your average mechanic living a humble life in a humble abode. We spoke to him on the street and set up an appointment to come teach him. Nearly a week later, we went to teach Paul. As we taught him, he expressed his inability to believe what we believe. He said he just could not do it. And so, we explained that faith can be gained, but that it requires action to receive evidence. He accepted and so we set up another appointment to see him. Nearly another week later (a few days ago) we went to teach Paul again. He started the lesson by expressing his opinion of why we were not correct. We listened then simply invited him to pray, to read, and to attend church. We promised that if he would, God would answer him in a personal and real way. He accepted. The next day he came to church, and then we went to teach him in the evening. In between, something miraculous happened to Paul. In short, he received a definite answer from God that what we say is true. The manner he received an answer was very special, and sacred. His immediate desire as a result was to be baptised and he will have that opportunity on the 24th of May! Paul’s answer increased and reaffirmed my faith that if we will just act, any of us can receive our own personal answer.
 
I hope you all know that I know that this church I represent is true! It is real! And you have the opportunity to find out for yourself! Take advantage!
 
Elder Walker

 

Love and Unity

Hello!

What a crazy couple weeks it has been! So many miracles and so many great things have happened these past weeks! I have learned so much! I will share my favorite lesson of the last couple weeks, but first a story. The past Saturday I was privileged to travel back to my first area, Telford. Living in Telford from August 2012 to February 2013 changed my life forever. There I learned how to truly love and care for others. There I experienced miracle after miracle and came to understand in a very real sense that I was doing the work of the Lord. And so, understandably, I was very very excited to be going back there to witness the baptism of 11 year old Ellis, someone I had taught 18 months earlier. When I arrived I felt pure joy in greeting those wonderful families and people I love so much. It truly was a joyous occasion! As the baptismal service began, progressed, then came to an end, the time came for the final speaker. As he spoke and welcomed Ellis into his new extended family, he looked at him and said, “You have many friends in the church, don’t you?” Instantly, ALL of the primary children turned around and looked directly at him. I could feel the pressure on Ellis from all of these little ones! As if Ellis had a choice, he nodded an innocent yes.

Now what is the lesson learned in this? For me it is one of unity and love. Those little ones looked back and beamed at Ellis not out of a selfish desire to force him into submission, but out a genuine interest in his feelings of acceptance. Are we as genuinely concerned for the feelings of those we love or are we too caught up in our own problems? As we seek to focus more on our friend’s problems than on our own, we will find greater happiness and we will find that our problems will be made light. “When we are in the service of our fellow beings, we are only in the service of our God.” As we serve others we serve God. Though no amount of service to God will ever pay Him back, it can help us to have that sense of belonging and acceptance that we all yearn to have. Having experienced for myself the blessings of service over these past 21 months, I highly recommend finding someone to help to overcome our own challenges. I know, it seems like a counter-productive thing to do, but I promise, it works!

In other news, I got a new companion! Elder Jonothan DiPeri from Mesa, Arizona! If you remember, I served with him from March to June of last year! In fact, I was his first companion! And now, we have the privilege of serving together for another little while. We are really excited to work hard and to see just as many if not more miracles than we did together the first time! I will keep you all updated! Love you all!

Elder Walker