To start off, there is a scripture that perfectly fits for this week. In fact, it was on the cover of Joe's baptism program on Saturday, as it is his favorite scripture…
1 Nephi 1:20 reads "But behold, I Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom He hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance."
I'll tell more about how this scripture fit this week, so keep that in mind for now...
This week was eventful. First, I have to share some of the most downright funny experiences from this week. In fact, Sister Nielson and I are already laughing right now thinking about it, so I'll try to get through it and explain them as best as I can. :)
On Wednesday night, Sister Nielson and I went with our Branch Mission leader and one of our recent converts Dave for his first time to do baptisms at the temple. However, in order to go, we needed an adult female chaperone to come with us since we'd be with two men. Before we knew it, we arrived at a family's home to pick up Caitlyn to be our chaperone. She's 32 and has Downs Syndrome, and is by far bold and hilarious.
For example, in the car on the way to pick up Dave..."Yes! I know Dave! I just need to get his number!" As soon as we picked him up (6'6"-ish Dave in his 60s or 70s) she was dead silent, but later on asked if he has any sons...
The temple trip was very memorable. Sister Nielson and I just did confirmations, as well as helped Caitlyn out. First of all, we were not sure what was going to happen because last time Sister Nielson went with her, as soon as the baptism was finished, she started swimming in the water! Never have I heard of anyone doing that! This time, she did not want someone she did not know to baptize her, but then she said, "Fine, I'll give you a try" to the man who was going to do the baptism.
After the Priesthood holder instructed her how to bend her knees to help her (and she's done baptisms many times before), he began doing the proxy. As he was reciting the words, there went Caitlyn, slowly bending her knees and leaning back. She was trying to baptize herself! He would gently use his hands to bring her back up. This happened several times as mine and Sister Nielson's faces turned bright red as we held in laughter. We had to step out for a moment to contain ourselves. We felt bad afterwards, but we all enjoyed Caitlyn's company. After she was baptized for a few names, she exclaimed, "Let's do that again!" As soon as Dave went, we met in the chapel, where Caitlyn began singing, and then a lady joined in with her, and soon enough we were all joined in as Caitlyn led us. The spirit was very strong at that time.
Silence. Dead silence. Jaws hanging. Oh man...I believe Sister Nielson slapped her hand to her mouth as I was sitting there, honestly not knowing what to say. Haha :) The best that I could come up with was, "Well, we don't have to talk about it if it makes you uncomfortable."
Goodness, can you believe that happened?! Haha! :)
To be honest, I know the Lord knew he could provide these experiences, along with many others, for me to get a good laugh this week. After Sister Packard's message on Tuesday that Grandma was dying, then getting permission to call you, Mom, then struggling to say my last goodbyes to Grandma over the phone, I had to accept all that was taking place. At first I felt torn, but I was so thankful to be able to thank her for everything. Her support, her cards and letters sent, her acts of sacrifice, spunk, drive, humor, encouragement, faithfulness, determination, perseverance, and love have helped me become who I am today. I see a lot of her in myself, and I still look up to all that she ever has been and still is, as she will always be one of my eternal best friends and someone I hope to become more like. I know she was facing a lot of pain and suffering, so it was not fair for her to go through that any longer. I know that she, her sisters, and Grandpa must have had a joyous reunion in Paradise. :)
A large tender mercy took place the following morning. The lesson we taught our investigator Grace the morning after Grandma passed in the middle of the night was about what happens to us after we die, what Paradise is like, and how angels continue to spread the gospel, including How angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost (2 Nephi 31:3). She had been waiting for this lesson since she was very close to her grandpa who passed away a while ago, but it most certainly was what I needed as well at the time. We taught about and discussed the peace and comfort the Plan of Salvation/Happiness brings and allows us to gain eternal perspective, and how we are all striving to live as eternal families in the Celestial Kingdom. It was most certainly the perfect lesson for that morning, and I've never taught the Plan of Salvation focusing that much on angels before.
On Saturday, I had the sweet opportunity to attend the baptism for Joe, who Sister Patterson and I helped teach, out in Weston. There was a family from this Branch that was heading to Boston, so they were kind enough to offer a ride to get us there. There was also a family from Weston 1st who had friends in Plymouth, so they offered to bring us back. When Sister Nielson and I arrived at the Weston chapel, I couldn't help but feel every ounce of giddiness and joy! When we came in, we were greeted by our previous companions--our dear Sister Patterson and Sister Slater! We saw more ward members come in who I have missed as well. I was so happy for Joe and his family and could once again feel their pure, meek, loving spirit fill the room.
I wasn't sure if I would share this experience as I hardly ever share them to many people, but I feel that it's alright this time. At Joe's baptism, as we all sang I am a Child of God, about halfway through the song, I could feel Grandma's presence right next to me. It was unexpected, and when I looked at my watch as it read 2:10 pm (12:10 pm Utah time) I realized her funeral had either just ended or she may have left it to spend this moment together. At that point, I lost it and the tears came.
I felt her stay when Sister Patterson spoke on Baptism, as I remember her having great respect for Sister Patterson, and she admired her words. She stood beside me as Joe entered the baptism waters and was immersed, and then walked beside me as we all left the room. I am not sure how much longer she stayed afterwards, but I could feel her rejoicing with me at that very moment. I couldn't believe she may have left her very own funeral to join me at this moment. I fought tears the entire time (haha poor Grandma) but I could feel she wanted me to know she was there, and wanted to see someone I taught and celebrate this moment together. It was a very sacred and special experience I will never forget.
The remainder of the baptism was incredible. Joe's wife sang a couple of beautiful solos with one of their daughters. As Joe was welcomed into the ward, I could see how much support he had--even his new home teachers sat by him. He was also confirmed right then and there since his work schedule does not allow him to attend church many Sundays.
I'll now go back to Nephi's words..."But behold, I Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom He hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance." This week, the Lord has most certainly delivered me from some sorrow carried, as He's graciously shown a few tender mercies through humor, love, and feeling my grandma near.
There's been a remaining feeling of peace that's stayed with me. It took some courage to keep going at first, but I know it's what she and the Lord would want me to do. The work here is going well and we have another busy week lined up. I know I've said this countless times but I truly am grateful to be here to spread the knowledge and fullness of Christ's everlasting gospel. I'm grateful to have the Book of Mormon to turn to and learn from and to have a living prophet, Thomas S. Monson, here on the earth to guide us. I'm thankful to know how families can be together for all eternity and for the joy that comes through this entire wonderful gospel.
Keep your head held high and remember who you are. Continue to count your blessings and know how much you are loved.