This past week has been one of the most emotionally stressful weeks of my mission. Let me fill you in on it day by day with Tyler's conversion:
- Sunday (5 June) He came to church and we had his baptism announced for Saturday (11 June) at 4PM. At church we told him we would come by on Tuesday to finalize any questions and prepare his program then have his interview on Thursday. That night is when we had the fireside that I told you about last week.
- Tuesday - When we went to our appointment Tyler seemed to be heavily weighed down and not as bright with his testimony as he usually had been. We talked with him to find out that he didn't think he was going to be ready for baptism on Saturday and that he needed to prepare himself more. He said he felt bad because he felt like he was going to let everyone down especially because we had announced it at church and people were planning on attending but of course we knew this wasn't the real problem but was a cover-up issue. After questions and testimony we came to find out that he hadn't really prayed yet on his own and sincerely asked if this was true. We invited him to pray right when we left and promised him that he would receive yet another witness that this is all true. Keep in mind that Tyler knew that this was true and we knew it the problem was that he didn't know that he knew. He told us that he didn't want to give up on Saturday but that he would probably need to push it a week so he would feel more prepared. We asked him if we could come by the next day for a follow-up visit; he accepted.
- Wednesday - Had a great lesson with Tyler! He prayed and he prayed hard. The closest experience I can relate him to would be Enos when he said, "and my soul hungered; and I kneeled down before my Maker, and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication for mine own soul." He had an interesting experience when he explained to us that he felt this feeling of burdens relieved from his shoulders. Now that I think about it we gave him a promise some 5 months ago that no matter what challenges or concerns we might have, the Savior and His teachings - the gospel, will help him. That's cool, the Holy Ghost just taught me right now that the answer to his prayer was a promise fulfilled. Interesting; I need to write this down.
We talked some more and at this point he was still a bit unsure for Saturday but we promised him that if he went on with the baptismal interview he would know if we was ready or not based on what the Spirit tells him. We explained the role of the Elder that would be interviewing him as a representative of Jesus Christ and if the Elder said he was ready then it would be like the Lord telling him he was ready. He asked to have the interview so he could see for himself if what we promised him was real.
- Thursday - The baptism interview. We met Tyler at the church and he went in for what usually is a 10 to 15 minute interview but this interview went for 50 minutes! When he came out he looked to Elder Owens and me and said, "looks like I'll be getting baptized on Saturday at 2:00."
- Friday - Went to his house to put together the program. He explained to us that this whole time his family hasn't been supportive in any way which we had no idea about. He said that every day he experiences a new opposition like his friends not wanting to hang out with him because he doesn't drink anymore or his girlfriend who he's dated for 10 years gets mad at him because he's changing. Tyler explained to us that the opposition has only strengthened his testimony because he knows the gospel is true. He was telling us how frustrating it is that people don't think we can change but are the same person always. Tyler shared his testimony to us that change is possible and not only did it happen to him but that he's happy with the man he is becoming. This was one of the best moments of my mission to hear him testify of the change the gospel brings and that it is possible.
- Saturday - the day of his baptism. Tyler showed up to the church all alone with no family support. I was surprised to see him by himself because I was expecting at least his girlfriend there but not a single person showed. He had the support of his new ward family there and that meant a lot to him. The baptism was fantastic; Elder Owens baptized him. Tyler shared with us his testimony when he came out and talked about how much he felt the Spirit and how great he felt. When everything was done we hugged him and the crowed left so we started cleaning up, after 5 minutes Tyler came back when it was just Elder Owens and me and told us that he had to come back and thank us for the gospel we have brought into his life, hugged us then left again. This is the power of change, the power to heal, and especially the power of God. I testify that these past few months of my life have made me the most happy than any other time in my life; I have a fullness of joy.
- Sunday - I had the wonderful opportunity to confirm Tyler a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and give him the gift of the Holy Ghost. This event was powerful and emotional for me to be voice for Tyler to receive the gift that he so needed and worked for. How great is my calling!
Words in an e-mail don't adequately explain the feelings in my heart nor the emotions that my spirit feels. This is what I imagine heaven to feel like all the time.
We had another extremely awesome experience Monday night when we met with Linden. Linden moved here about 18 months ago from Montana from a divorce. He found a lady from Blackfoot who happens to be a young women's president in her ward. She has taught him the gospel and shared her testimony with him to the point where he became interested in the gospel. His girlfriend Heather took him to the visitors' center where Linden requested us to come see him. When we had our first lesson Monday and invited him to be baptized to which accepted. At our appointment Thursday he told us that he wasn't doing any of this for Heather but for himself because he believes the church to be true. Can you say GOLDEN??? He's preparing himself to be baptized on 9 July (Patrick Welch's birthday).
All is going well. I love what I'm doing. I love this area. I love the IPM!
Peace and Love,
Elder Tyson Rigby Walker