While we're gone, the elders in our area will be hard at work, teaching....OUR investigator! It just so happens that this Saturday is Lance's baptism, and we'll be out half the week! He's learned well, and did a great job during his practice-run baptismal interview. In Sunday school yesterday he gave a really touching testimony of how the gospel has blessed his life. He was pretty great already when we met him, but even so, there's a very real and very positive difference about him that's occurred over the past few weeks. He knows this is what he wants. He's ready for this. We are over-the-moon excited that we have been blessed with the opportunity to teach him. We've made preparations for participants in the service, programs, refreshments, baptismal font maintenance, everything. Tovereni has been indispensable, writing out a long list of people we need to invite and checking it twice. Lance knows that baptism is just a stepping stone (albeit a vital one) to a lifetime of living true to the gospel. "Don't worry" he's assured us several times, "I'm going to be at church every single week. Don't worry about me." Even on a Sunday when he admitted that it was really hard to get out of bed, there he was, dressed up nicely, and ready to participate in church. We agree with our ward mission leader that he will be a really great member.
Training a new missionary has helped me to rejoice in all the little successes around me, and in the lives of members and investigators. The 12-week training program highlights a particular topic and skill set each week, and we set daily, weekly, and monthly goals to make sure that we both are as on top of our game as we can possibly be. Contacting BINGO has turned out to be a great success for both of us (although Sisar Mendenhall's contacting skills are starting to put mine to shame), and we've talked about how we can possibly apply the principles of goal setting and accountability from that little game to other activities that we may find ourselves to be weak in. One step at a time, getting us further and further on the path towards our goals, and success on our missions. She's so brave the way she takes on more challenges every week. She's a pro at Finnish texting, and she's taking phone calls without my needing to say a word. She launched into a straight-from-Preach-My-Gospel door teach the other night, when a nasty cold kept me from being of much use. Missionary work is so rewarding when companions can set goals as a team, and help each other reach their individual goals. This is something that, if I keep in mind past my mission, can bless me for the rest of my life.
We've also been faced with many instances of people who are so prepared in their own way, but who are afraid to take the next step forward. Busy schedules, family concerns, waiting for a sign, reluctance to change a behavior, fear of commitment, etc. keep these people stranded halfway out into the water, a bit past the shore, but not progressing forward onto the next stepping stone. If only they could see the great treasure that awaits them safely on the other side, if only they would face their fears and take that leap of faith forward! In many cases, all we can do is love them, give them their space, and pray that they'll be more prepared for the full journey another time. I thank my Heavenly Father every day for people like Lance, Joy, Jamie, and others who have been prepared to take those steps essential to reaching their fullest potential in this life, and to preparing for a future life with their Father in Heaven.
As you think of where you are at this point in your life, what is the next step? I've learned, as a soon-to-be-return-missionary, that it's okay to think about the next step, if it helps you set worthy goals and make the most of your current position in life. What small steps can you take to come closer to your life goals, and to fulfilling your specific role in Heavenly Father's plan? I'm thankful for the opportunity to partake of the sacrament each week, and to ponder, evaluate, and make plans to keep moving forward on the good path. I'm thankful for the example of a Savior who has given me a model of how I can do so in all phases of my life.