We invited our Ethiopian refugee investigators to George and Maria Batis's baptism on Saturday. 2 of them came - TD, and Keeflay. I got a little uneasy as Maria was baptized. She went face-first into the water, got her face and hair wet, and then came back up, gasping for air and trying to walk out of the font. She didn't realize she didn't go all the way under the water.
But it must have been a good experience for the Ethiopians. While eating cookies afterward, TD asked, "When can I be baptized?"
Also on Saturday, I realized I had not done something I always wanted to do as a missionary. That is what is sometimes referred to as "soapboxing." Luckily there was the local "Art and Wine Festival" going on at Santa Clara. There they have live music, lots of booths set up, and lots of people (many at different points of becoming drunk). We walked to the most crowded place with the most foot-traffic, carrying a milk crate and a sack of 16 copies of the Book of Mormon. I set the crate upside-down just off of the path, grabbed 2 or 3 books, and hopped onto the crate.
My original plan was to begin teaching about the Restoration until a few people began listening. Just like the first missionaries sent to Europe used to do on the street. No go. My voice wasn't loud enough to be heard for long over all the noise of the crowd. So I changed my approach to yelling:
"FREE BOOK! Jesus Christ teaches in America! FREE BOOK!"
Pretty effective if you can believe it. In about 10 minutes all 16 copies of the Book of Mormon were given away.
My favorite part was when a cop came up to us, and said "I'm sorry guys, but you can't sell those things here."
"Can we give them away?"
"Well, yeah, but you should probably, uh..."
Elder Bell offered, "Would you like a copy?"
"Oh, no, no," the cop said and walked away quickly.
-No unhallowed hand can stop this work-
Yesterday we had what is called the "Outgoing Missionary Fireside." It's the fireside for the missionaries going home, and especially for their converts and investigators. Making 150 to 200 phone calls telling people about it paid off with about 40 of the people I've met out here show up. About 300 total people came. I hope Dad is okay with me telling lots of people about his conversion story. I shared it with this group.
Basically this week has been awesome. I'm really excited to come home. Mostly to see Weston and Kaylee. I haven't updated my pictures of them, so I still imagine them a year and a half younger than they are. I'll probably be freaked out when I see them.
I love you guys. I was planning on bringing everyone back some food from In-and-Out Burger, but I heard there's one in Utah Valley now. Any other requests?
The Church is true. I hope no one has forgotten that. It took 2 years of having nothing to think about but the gospel for me to realize that. I love the people here, a lot because I've seen how the Spirit has worked in their hearts, inspiring them to become better, love others, be filled with hope and happiness, and last of all - to buy us missionaries food.
Seriously though, we get fed a lot. It's like as soon as someone's testimony grows, they get a sudden urge to buy food for the missionaries. Yet another evidence of the truth of this work. If anyone out there is contemplating going on a mission, I want you to know that it pays off. You see the lives of those you love become so much better as they learn to make changes to bring their lives in closer harmony with the Savior's teachings. Plus, the same thing happens to you without you even knowing it. Do it.