Monday, April 11, 2016

A Special Baptism

Participating, observing, or helping in any small way with someone getting baptized into the Lord's church is such a joyful experience.  It is so wonderful that we could experience this at the end of our mission with our great friend, Tony.

We feel that Tony's conversion to the gospel can be compared to an anaolgy that we heard recently of grains of rice being put on one side of a scale.  Each little grain of rice added to one side of the scale is like small experiences with the Holy Spirit that people feel as they investigate the gospel.  Those grains of rice grow in weight very slowly.  But then finally the rice (or experiences with the Spirit) add up and the scale tips to the other side.  Joy, peace and hope are felt as conversion occurs through the Spirit of the Holy Ghost.

We have been privileged to be part of the last grains of rice being put on the scale in Tony's conversion to the gospel.  We feel that one of the major tipping points on the scale for Tony was his mom, Viola.  She went to the temple last September to be sealed in eternal marriage to her husband who has been deceased for 50 years.  She came home with a certificate from the temple that was displayed in her living room.  Many of her family who are not members of our church commented on it.  When we asked Tony what he thought of his mom performing this ordinance in the temple he said, "Mom, I think it is so wonderful that you did this for you and dad".

A few weeks later Tony stopped Elders Simmons and Gille on the street and wanted to talk with them more about the gospel.  Tony had been taught lessons from other sets of elders in the past, but he had many interpretations of his own about the scriptures and he wasn't really that ready to be taught.  But....maybe a few grains of rice were added to the scale!

More grains of rice were added on a summer evening when we were present with the elders as they taught a lesson to Tony.  We were seated at an outside table at the McDonalds in East Liberty.  Five of us sat at the table and enjoyed ice cream on this warm evening and then the elders taught the lesson.  It was the first time Elder Simmons had led a discussion and he bore a powerful testimony involving his grandmother's testimony.  The Spirit was strongly felt as we bowed our heads to say a closing prayer. Then an unusual thing happened---we saw a shadow and felt a person standing right beside us!  It was a woman who had felt the Spirit, came to listen to our prayer, and asked us to say another prayer with her for a friend who had been in a serious accident.

Even more grains were added during the following months as Tony's heart began to soften and sets of elders came and went as they were transferred to other areas.  Tony already had a good knowledge of the scriptures, but as he learned the simple truths of the restoration over again it seemed that the pieces of the puzzle began to come together in his mind.  We think he also felt the love of a father he never knew from Elder Butler's hugs!!

Anyway, what a joyous day it was on April 9th when Tony entered the waters of baptism.  Elder Butler was especially pleased when Tony asked him to  perform this ordinance.  President and Sister Johnson were able to attend the baptism.  Brother Pope gave a talk on baptism and I (Sister Butler) gave a talk on the Holy Ghost.

On Sunday Tony was "confirmed" a member of the church and given the gift of the Holy Ghost to be his constant companion as he remains worthy and keeps the commandments.  He also received the Aaronic priesthood and bore his testimony.  He told everyone how grateful he was for the friendship and fellowship he has felt in the ward and offered his service to anyone in need.

      We are so excited for all that the restored gospel of Jesus Christ will mean in Tony's life!

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