Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A week of triumphs and tragedy

Alex opened up his letter from a couple of weeks ago by telling us all about a baptism that took place the Saturday before.  The person who was baptized was somebody that they had met through a referral from a relative that actually lives in Utah.  Alex told us all about the miraculous changes that this man made in his life to get from where he was previously, to becoming a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  In some of Alex's previous letters, he talked about several times over the last couple of months when they were teaching this man the gospel.  He described watching a life change right before his eyes and how it has actually been one of the more eye opening and spiritual events that he has experienced so far on his mission.  Of course Alex usually describes things in terms of sports and this is how he described this experience:
I remember Grandma pulling me aside one day and telling me that as good as it felt to win state [wrestling], baptizing someone on my mission would be a much better feeling, and she was soooooo right!!! Seeing [this man] change his life and be baptized was a way better feeling than winning state, I love it!!! I love being a missionary!
Alex spent most of his letter talking about the baptism and the Sacrament meeting the next day when they performed the confirmation.  He talked about the strong feeling of the spirit that came over everybody that participated and also talked about the great testimonies that were given following the confirmation.  This baptism was definitely the highlight of Alex's week if not his whole mission.  Like I have already mentioned several times in this blog, every week for Alex just seems to get better and better.  Alex is really looking forward to seeing more of the people that they are currently teaching, be baptized.  Several of them are already attending church regularly and have really felt the spirit.  Alex has really enjoyed serving for the last several months in Manhattan and really hopes to be able to stay there for several more months.  He really loves the Ward, the people and the members of the church there.    

In his letter this week, Alex told us about an incident that happened to another missionary that nobody ever wants to hear about.  Fortunately the accident did not cause any permanent damage but it was still very scary.  Alex told us about how one of the missionaries in a nearby companionship and stopped suddenly on his bike which caused the bike to go end over end.  Unfortunately, so did the Elder who was riding the bike and the first thing to break his fall was his face.  Alex and his companion were in the middle of a teaching appointment at the time.  Alex said that in the middle of the lesson they got an urgent text message to go to the hospital as quickly as possible.  When they got there they found this Elder a bit beaten up and bloody.  Since his face hit the pavement first, it knocked one of this teeth loose which he ended up have to have pulled later.  Alex told us that they had to take turns sitting with the injured missionary while he healed for the next few days and that luckily all of the hospital tests turned up negative.  It is a scary thing when something like this happens and fortunately in this case it appears that the Elder will be OK after his wounds heal up a bit more. 

Alex and his companion had a great experience at church the other day.  Not too long after Alex arrived in his mission, one of his companions introduced him to the guitar.  Alex has always had a musical background but guitar wasn't this primary instrument.  Well since then, no matter who his companion has been, they always seem to spend some of their time teaching through music.  Alex has taught himself how to play the guitar and both he and his companion sing hymns.  This time Alex and his companion were invited to play and sing for the primary children.  Alex told us that it was a real blast and that he really loves the primary kids in his Ward.  He told us that they sang a version of "Angels We Have Heard On High" and as they reached the end of the verse, all of the primary kids started singing along with them.  Then after they finished singing to the primary, they decided to go into the nursery to sing to all of the little kids as well.  The nursery kids didn't sing along with them like the older primary kids did, but Alex said that while they were singing, all of the little kids were very quite and really seemed to enjoy the music. 

Ah, but here is the real kicker.  After playing and singing for the primary kids, Alex and his companion were invited to sing a duet in Sacrament meeting next week.  One thing that Alex did inherit from his mother is a musical talent.  However, that musical talent only extends to playing musical instruments.  His talents seem to stop abruptly when it comes to actual singing.  So needless to say, Alex is a bit nervous about having to sing in front of everybody in Sacrament meeting.  His last statement to us was that maybe he would try to recruit a few more people to help them out and maybe a quartet could drowned out a lack of talent.  But hey, you have to give Alex points for trying.  How many of you would actually have the guts to stand up in church and sing in front of 300 people.  I told Alex that he needs to find a member of his Ward who would be willing to describe to us truthfully how it went.  We would really like to hear about it.

So to finish out his letter, Alex told us a story that no mother of a missionary ever wants to hear.  At least not until years after the missionary returns home.  For some of us who have served missions, this story is really no big deal, but to the mother of a missionary, she can only imagine the worst.  Alex told us about how they were traveling to Witchita one day and got stuck in a huge traffic jam.  This traffic jam was so bad that apparently the highway was nothing more than a parking lot and it went on for so long that people started turning around and going back to where they came from.  To Alex and his companion this traffic jam just presented them with yet another opportunity to spread the gospel.  So they hopped out of their car and started talking to truckers that were stuck in the same jam.  How they would do this was by climbing up on to the running board of the truck and then talk to the trucker through the side window.  Here you might think to yourself, so what is the big deal?  Sounds like a pretty good idea.  Well this is where the mother of a missionary starts to cringe.  Alex told us that since many of the cars were turning around, everytime a car would whiz by, they had to press themselves up against the truck just to keep from getting hit.  Now of course every mother remembers teaching and warning their kids about the dangers of playing in traffic.  Well guess what, you all forgot to teach them about how equally dangerous it is to teach the gospel in traffic as well.  So let that be a lesson to you!! ;-)

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