Elder Seth Garner and Private Michael Watts at Cake cutting
ceremony for graduation from the Marines!
Tue, 2 Sep 2014 12:08
I think that I can say I am at a good spot in my mission. Ever since I started, I know I have been blessed to see the hand of God work in the lives of many... But right now, I feel like it is more evident than ever! I cannot even describe the joy that I have because of the things I have seen and continue to see daily. I am trying to consecrate myself for this last big push, because I know that my time is running low. My life continues to change forever as I have been apart of the greatest work. And to think that God has privileged me to be apart of it? Holy smokes, I count my blessings everyday that I get to be His instrument!
Well, maybe some explanation of why I feel this way would be a help? I will recall a few miracles I have seen over these past days. Thursday the 28th we attended the MCRD cake cutting ceremony for the graduating Marines that the church hosts. Private Michael Watts was in attendance with his family, who are all not members. He hadn't told them of his experiences regarding church at the MCRD, and they were unaware of his baptism. As I stood there when he sprung the news on them right there at the ceremony, I was touched as Watts explained his story and bore his testimony to his family. He has an incredible conversion story that was able to touch the hearts of his family (especially his mother), who were grateful that he relied on God to get through such a rough situation. Watts didn't hesitate to share the story of the first vision either! Unfortunately, that was the last I saw of Watts and his family, but I know that he will be a great influence on those who are broken and need the power of the Atonement in their lives. That sweet eighteen year old kid has forever changed my life!
Over these past weeks I have been teaching another recruit at the MCRD, Recruit Winstead. When he came to our services awhile back, he immediately explained himself. He was a prayer leader for the Catholic church, which just means he was to lead the Catholics in his platoon in prayer at night and be a spiritual support for them. He asked if he could become an LDS prayer leader instead. Winstead explained that all his life he was raised Catholic, but knew deep down that there were things about the religion that weren't right and that there was something missing. He had found the LDS church just before leaving for boot camp, and said that as soon as he walked into the doors of the chapel, he felt what was missing at the Catholic church. He recognized the Spirit and knew that it was from God. He asked me when he could be baptized, we set the date, and he was baptized this last Sunday. I even had a similar situation this last Sunday with a new recruit, and overall there should be five young recruits entering into the waters of baptism this next Sunday.
Having the mission president and his family in your ward is a bit of a perk. Sister Schmitt invited a non-member over to dinner and had us teach her there. She is thirteen years old and has a very horrible family situation. There is no support at all and her family is not a good influence. Her name is Yamira and she has been living at a members home who took her in. We have been teaching her for about a week, and she has accepted the invitation to be baptized on the 27th of September. The Schmitts have been an incredible help, and they truly love and care for her. It is so cool how the standards of the gospel can help keep anybody safe from the harm that comes from the adversary.
Elder Garner at Anthony Merchison's Baptism
We had been teaching a fourteen year old boy, Anthony Merchison, who is one of the most smartest, sincere kids I know. He had been preparing to be baptized for quite some time, and he finally made it! It was crazy because we weren't in our area for that entire week, and didn't really know if he was going to get baptized that Saturday. While I was out of my area, I called him up, he said he was good to go, so I made a few more calls and got it all set up, then right when we got back, we got him baptized! Anthony is now the only member in his immediate family, but since his baptism, his parents have been to church twice, and Anthony has received the priesthood! Man, I love that kid!
Elder Garner at Kidaysha Cook's surprise baptism
President Schmitt gave us a call last Saturday morning, and asked us for some help. He had received word that there was a Marine who was a member of the church who had gone through the MCRD back in March, and had finished his training up North. His wife and family were coming into town to see him for a few days before he had to go back, and had requested permission for the wife to be baptized while they were in San Diego. The Marine had no idea that his wife had been meeting with missionaries and wanted to get baptized. President Schmitt asked us to piggy back off of a baptism in Santee, meet the family there, and get her baptized and confirmed... It was so cool to be apart of this families experience of the only nonmember in the family getting baptized, and what was even cooler was the Marine husband was totally overwhelmed by it! President Schmitt asked me to baptize her and Elder Myler to confirm her a member of the church. After that, they had to head home to Arizona while the Marine stayed in San Diego.
Last night we met a man named Josh Young. He was referred to us by the Spanish missionaries who contacted him. As soon as we met him, he whipped out his Book of Mormon and told us his story. While he was in jail for six years, he watched a program on KPBS about the Mormons and became interested. His rack mate happened to have a copy of the Book of Mormon and lent it to him. Josh decided to read a few pages that night, which soon turned into chapter after chapter, and over a span of three days, he had finished the book. At the very end of the book, he got on his hands and knees and told God that he wanted to follow his will, and asked that if the Book of Mormon was contrary to the Bible to let him know, so he could get on the right path. As soon as Josh prayed about it, he said that the Holy Ghost burned like fire inside of him, unlike anything he had ever felt. He had read the book three times after that, along with the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price. He has been out of jail for about two years now, is married and has a son. He knew more about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon than I did, and he said all he had to study were those three books! He said that he just didn't know what to do next or where to go. He also said that he didn't want to do anything luke warm, and wanted to be in it 100 percent. We invited he and his wife to take the lessons and to learn more, and you could tell that when we talked about the healing power of the Atonement, it meant something to Josh. I cannot wait to get back there and show him what he has been waiting for for a long time!
I have seen so many miracles over these past days... It is unreal how much God cares about ALL of His children, and how well people are prepared. Once again, I can't believe that I get to be apart of it! Our mission wide training exchanges are over, and we will be doing transfers and zone conferences this next month. I love my mission, and I love the Lord!