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Chris's baptism

Hello all:

Not a lot of time-- we got a really late start on things this P-Day, and the library is packed! But that's OK because there's not a whole lot of stuff to report. Zone Conference was great-- we had a great training on "burying our weapons of rebellion" and dedicating ourselves to being worthy of the miracles God wants to give us. I've realized that over the past few months, my "greenie fire" has been slowly petering out. I'm still pretty obedient and work a lot, but my inner enthusiasm has decreased a bit. I made a commitment to never let that happen again-- I've done OK at maintaining the zeal that I had going into the MTC, and I don't plan to lose it now! I love my mission, and I love being a missionary-- it is by far the best things in the world I could be doing right now, and I believe there are still some people out there that are waiting for me and my companion to find them.

Also, here's the picture of the baptism a few weeks ago. Chris is doing well, and is starting to sound more and more like a Mormon. =) He already has set a goal to perform baptisms for the dead next month, and will be ordained to the Priesthood soon. I've never seen a ward jump so quickly into the transition from us to the members-- that's the great benefit of having many solid fellowshippers-- when the investigator has friends in the ward at baptisms, then his conversion won't expire with our transfer. I hope more and more members can get involved in helping recent converts-- they really need the friendship and help.

Well, gotta go-- hope y'all have a fantastic week!

Elder Watkins
Colorado Denver South Mission
999 E. Tufts Av.
Cherry Hills Village, CO 80113

Hello all:

Hope everyone enjoyed general conference! I really liked a lot the talks that were given. As usual, the Priesthood Session was marvelous. How wonderful it is to hear the words of the modern Prophets and Apostles! I especially liked Elder Bednar's talk on revelation. Anyone who feels they don't receive answers to prayers should read that talk again, and again, and again.

This week, I wish to relate an experience from last April's General Conference-- one year ago. In mid-March, Elder Andersen and I were tracting, and making a special effort to apply prayer and revelation to finding where the Lord would have us go. We selected an area we called "the boot." We only had 45 minutes or so before an appointment in the area. When we'd tied up our bikes at the top of the street, I jokingly remarked to my companion, "Now which way should we go--right or left? Now think hard-- someone's salvation may be at stake!" We headed to the right. Nothing special, we thought.

Then we met Courtney. She was sitting outside drinking some hot chocolate, wearing a robe. She actually looked kinda sick (as we would later find out, she was fasting). We had a great discussion with her, teaching the principles of the Restoration. But at the end, she said, "I'm sorry boys, but I don't think I'll be interested in hearing more." She went on to explain that she had gone on a religious search when in her 20s after the Spirit had whispered during a service at her church that her church wasn't Christ's. After searching almost all the religions, and receiving a spiritual prompting each time that each one was not His, she concluded that Christ's true church must have fallen from the earth due to wickedness and pride, and that hopefully one day God would bring it back before the Second Coming. "You see boys," she said, " I don't just choose a church to attend-- I can receive personal revelation from the Spirit of God Himself!"

Well, as one can imagine, we were pretty excited, and begged her to apply that same test she's given to every other church, to ours. She declined, but accepted a pamphlet. That Sunday, she changed her mind, and tried to attend Sacrament Meeting, but got lost trying to find the chapel. She called us, and we invited her to the Sunday morning session the week following.

She arrived, saying very little-- just curt and polite. We sat down, and the session began. The opening prayer was offered, and we started to hear sniffles. By the time the Tabernacle Choir had finished the first verse of "Jesus, Once of Humble Birth," Courtney was bawling. Elder Andersen and I brought the tissues, and exchanged glances, "Well, she's either a nutcase, or the Spirit's really working on her."

When the session ended, she turned to us and said, "I apologize for breaking down like that at the beginning. It's just that... that was the first time I've ever felt the Spirit in a Church building before." After long pause, she continued, "Boys, when I came I was scripting out how I would politely decline your invitation to even attend another Mormon meeting, but... after this... I think I want to know more about your Church."

So we taught her. She came to Church again. After Sacrament Meeting, she remarked "Good thing I went to yourl Conference thing first, because this is the most boring Church service I've ever attended!..." and then quietly added, "but the Spirit's here, too."

She loved what we shared with her-- she gobbled up what we said like we elders gobble up pizza. She wanted everything, and she wanted it now. A million questions tends to slow down the lessons, but it's great because you know the investigator's sincere. We wasted no time in asking her to pray about the Book of Mormon and the Church. She seemed hesitant, and finally said she didn't want to. We were completely confused. "Courtney," we asked, "after all your experience in personal revelation and learning truth from God, how can you not believe that if you ask God in faith, He will let you know?"

She responded, "Every time I've asked that question in other churches, I've received a no, and I like this Church. I don't want to receive another no." Being more bold than I would ever feel comfortable, I responded, "Courtney, if God tells you this, too, is a false Church, you need to know. But we know that it is the Church of God, and that if you have faith, He will let you know that as well."

Reluctantly, she agreed. When she came to Church the next Sunday, she was beaming. She had asked. After reading but a chapter of the Book of Mormon, she knelt and asked our Father in Heaven, "is the Book of Mormon your word given through Joseph Smith, a true prophet?" From her head to her heels, she felt the warm confirmation of the Spirit of God whisper a wonderful "Yes," the first "yes" of her life.

Three days later, she set a baptismal date. A few days after that, we received a prompting that we needed to call her because she was reading anti. I shrugged off the prompting. When we went over for the next lesson, she had indeed been reading. 3 hours at Barnes & Nobles, and two anti books. When she told us, we cringed, fearing the worst. W began our mental preparation for her questions about polygamy, exaltation, the priesthood, and other junk people are always throwing at us. What we heard was not what I expected, though.

She said that as she read those books, she felt an awful darkness and sickening feeling come over her, which didn't leave for quite a while. She said that, as a law student, the arguments against the Church were nonsensical and trivial. Plus, not one of the authors and contributors ever invited the reader to pray and ask God concerning the validity of his work. One of the fondest memories of my mission is Courtney proudly declaring, "I have asked of God, and I have received and answer, and all the books in the world cannot take that away!"

She was baptized on April 20th.

Yes, a mission is hard, but it's the people like that who make you feel it's all worth it. It feels so great to be part of someone's walk towards Christ. it is awesome to see people make sacred covenants to follow the Savior. I love this work, and I love everyone here. I know that this work is true. I know that God is in it. I don't see His hand in it all the time, but on a few occasions, I can see both hands.