Things that South Carolina is full of:
1. Bugs. Oh my lanta, I have never killed so many bugs in my life! Sister Belyea is deathly afraid of them, so it’s fallen to me to be the official bug killer. The other day, I was at my desk, when I heard her scream like she’s being attacked! I run into the other room... turns out there’s a palmetto bug (basically a massive roach) in her bathroom. Funniest moment of my life :)
2. Very patriotic people. There are still fireworks going off every night, and it’s been 4 days since the 4th! It’s fantastic!
3. Southern Baptists. Have you ever heard a southern Baptist pray? Lemme tell you, the general LDS population could learn a thing or two from the Baptists. They know how to pray better than almost any member I've ever heard, because they have a real conversation with God.
This week was the most eventful week I’ve had so far on my mission. On Saturday, July 6th, I had my first Baptism! It was definitely an action-packed morning... pretty much everything that could have gone wrong, went wrong. We got to the church around 8:00 to fill the font and set everything up, to find out that we didn’t have any of the right keys to open the font control panel. We call the bishop, who had agreed to preside over the meeting and give the 'welcome to the ward!' talk, and he's running a 102 fever. We finally get the font going, and find spiders in the water (more bugs....) so we get to clean those up, and then we find out that we don’t have a single white jumpsuit that will come close to fitting Bryson, who's kind of a bigger guy. I know that the adversary was doing everything he could possibly think of to try to prevent this baptism from happening. Talk about discouraging.... poor Sister Belyea was near tears!
In trying to figure out what to do, Sister Belyea and I stole a moment to go say a quick prayer in the chapel. We basically just put it all in the Lord’s hands, and asked him to help us to figure it out. It wasn’t easy, but we problem solved, and eventually came up with a solution with the Lords help. Brother Jones, who the bishop sent to replace him in the program, sent his wife to goodwill to go find some white clothing that would fit. (I love goodwill! :)) The baptism started almost an hour late, but it was so worth it to see this man that we had come to know and love make sacred covenants with his Father in Heaven. I've never seen someone happier and more changed, than Bryson when he came out of that water. And his first words to us were "you're never going to convert me!" ;)
This week we also had an outlandish amount of meetings. We kicked off the week with Mission Leadership Council, where we received a lot of training on goal setting and planning. Did you know that in 1959, Yale did a study of their graduating class, and the goals they had made? Only 3% of that graduating class had clear, well defined goals for what they wanted to do with their degrees. Then, in 1979 they went and found the members of that graduating class, and found that the 3% with good goals had out-earned the other 97% combined! Now, that’s kind of a worldly thing to talk about at a missionary meeting, but if you apply it to missionary work, it’s an amazing concept. If we have a vision, set good goals, create and execute inspired plans, and stand accountable for what we do, we have the potential to bring so many more souls unto Christ! It’s super inspiring!
The next day, we had sisters conference, where we were pretty much put through finishing school ;) We learned about manners, modesty, nutrition, and how to effectively communicate with elders. The communications class was pretty funny. It was taught by the assistants to the president, and we could tell that they felt super awkward around all those sisters....
The 4th was Zone Training Meeting (ZTM) where sister Belyea and I got to teach training on unity. I think I'm finally starting to get over my fear of talking to people... Kind of. Hey Dad remember when you got that prompting that I needed to learn how to be a good public speaker? We were going to enroll in classes and learn how to do it? We should have acted better on that prompting... :) Teaching other missionaries is still one of the hardest parts of my assignment, but it helps that the Greenville zone is a lot smaller than Augusta :) This week is zone conference, where we will probably be teaching again... I feel like the zone is going to get sick of hearing from me!
Well, I hope y’all are having a great week, and sharing the gospel!
Have a blessed day, y’all!
p.s. have y’all seen the new church website? hasteningthework.lds.org. Go check it out! :D