Monday, May 18, 2015

The Work is Progressing!‏

It's amazing how much love a person can feel for somebody else. Especially someone they've only known for 12 weeks! This week was full of such immense amounts of joy produced by miracles and sacred moments, I don't even know where to start! Yes I do. We'll start with the absolute best part of the week: Ivan's baptism. It was so special. Ivan has quite a colorful past, so to see the transition he has made in order to go through with the decision to be baptized is a miracle in and of itself. The program was perfect, and it turned out to be a very sacred hour and a half. We had an opening hymn, like normal, a prayer, then a talk by the old Ward Mission Leader about baptism. After that, Ivan's nonmember brother performed a musical number on his guitar and sang, "Amazing Grace." THAT was awesome. Following the musical number, Ivan was baptized. It took a minute though because the man that baptized him is in a wheelchair, so they had to help him into the font, get them both situated, and then open the doors so everyone could witness it. It was incredibly powerful. I felt the Spirit so strongly, as did everybody else in the room! While they were changing back into their dry clothes, Sister Depew and I taught the Restoration. There were more nonmembers at the baptism than members, so I wasn't as nervous as I usually am (except that President and Sister Taylor were there, so that was kinda nerve-racking). We taught it the best I ever have before, and the Spirit flooded the room even more! When Ivan and JC got back, the old Bishop gave a great talk on the Holy Ghost, then they did something that wasn't in the program: Ivan's mom, Lydia, who was baptized last year, got up and bore her testimony, followed by Ivan himself! You have to understand, this was a HUGE shock to us because he had originally said he didn't want very many people to know about his baptism or come to it, but he testimony he bore was a good 10 minute sermon! He had written it all down and told everybody about his experience. It was beautiful and totally made me cry. For the closing song, Sister Petersen and I played a piano/violin duet of "O My Father," and then we had a closing prayer. It was the perfect program. Ivan is such a wonderful man, and I am so blessed to have been given the opportunity to be a part of his journey. 
I will remember that baptism for the rest of my life in full detail. The Spirit was so present, I could almost see it. Later in the week, I was talking to Sister Taylor on the phone, and she told me that a man had come up to her and President after her baptism and said, "I have been thinking about this for a long time now. I've been coming to this Ward on and off [even though he lives in Yacolt] for a couple years, and I can't deny the good feelings I have when I come. I've been holding back, maybe waiting for something, but after tonight... I'm ready." He gave them his address and phone number, and now the missionaries up in his area are teaching him. :') It is the same man who came to chili cook off when I first got here and he won! Haha he is a wonderful man, and I am so excited to see what happens with him and his conversion. The other big blessing that I won't ever forget that came after the baptism was Ivan's expression of gratitude toward me. He knew I was being transferred, and he is an artist, so after his baptism he gave me this:
Isn't that amazing??? He told me not to tell people he drew it for me, but how could I not? The devil/angel on the top corner is supposed to be him, and he told me that I am represented as an angel who thought of him and decided it was time for him, a fallen angel, to be saved (or something like that, I can't really remember his exact words, I was too entranced with the picture). I have never had someone give me such a tangible offer of their gratitude for me like that before. It felt amazing. :) I wish I could give back somehow, but for now, I think this (baptism) is enough to last for a while. The next step will be going through the temple, and I will definitely be coming back up here to see him accomplish that. 

Unfortunately, I had to say goodbye to the Columbia Ward the day before the baptism, so my heart was extra tender anyway. That Ward has all been so good to me, and I care about those people so much! The good news is, I should be going back there on May 30th for another baptism. :) Woo Hoo! It was difficult to say goodbye, but what was worse is that we didn't have the time to say goodbye to everyone... But I'm grateful that I was able to say goodbye to the few that I did get to say goodbye to. Saying goodbye to my companion was hard too. I love her dearly! 
"Heidi and her kids, Maisie, Millie and Magnus (the sleeping one on her back)!"
"My Nordstrom's!  They run the ARP meeting in Troutdale every Wednesday night."
"Gary and Shelby, and their cute daughter Wednesday!  Yep.  She's named after the Adam's Family."
"We were in a trio for a day or two because Sister Petersen's companion, Sister Jarvis, finished her mission and went home.  It was fun to be with the both of them!"
What a wonderful Ward. I will miss it for sure. The good news is, my new Ward is wonderful too! I am now in the Mint Valley Ward with my dearest Sister Lammi, and I am very happy here so far. :) Going to transfers was hard for a minute, but it was fun seeing people at the transfer meeting that I hadn't seen in a while! And now I am here living in an apartment for the first time on my mission with the Spanish Hermanas, smelling the lovely smell of the Longview paper mill, becoming a part of this great Ward that is progressing so well! There is so much work to be done here, we have scheduled appointments for every hour of almost every day this week! I've said it before, and I'll say it again: there is nothing better than being busy teaching the gospel. Busy is best! And busy we are! 
"My homegirl De Leon!!!"
"Elder King and I at transfers.  How fun that we are mission family now! :) PG Viking Might!"
"Reunited at last!"
"We didn't realize that we got dressed like SpongeBob and Patrick until we were already at  church ... Haha! But it fits because Lammi LOVES that show!  :P"
I couldn't be happier or more excited to be here. This area is on fire, and I get to feed the flames with one of my best friends. :) This is her last transfer, and it is my second to last transfer, so we both have the motivation to work hard and find those of God's children who are ready for and seeking the Gospel! Sister Lammi is wonderful, and we are good at teaching with each other, so the excitement and desire to teach just grows and grows! I love this Ward so far and I love the work that is happening here. I can't wait to see what Longview has in store for me, and what God has in store for His children here. And I can't wait to tell you about it too! I love you and will talk to you next week! 

Love Always,

Sister Nicole Guilott

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