Sunday morning, once again. It comes so quickly. I’ve been considering what I wanted to write this week. There’s a couple things from our week I want to share and then I have a long life experience I want to get put down on paper. Bear with me.
Two Unbaptized Converts
This week we’ve had some very frustrating experiences. You all know the price Jim had to pay to join the church. He gave up EVERYTHING to be baptized and to serve his mission. He is uniquely qualified to teach investigators here that now are coming from cultures that make it almost impossible to join the church. It’s even more complicated than what Jim had to face because of the cultural context these kids are coming from. It’s so frustrating!!!
This week Jim has had the experience of continuing teaching two AMAZING people; a young Indian man and a young Malaysian woman. I’ve mentioned the young man before. He was born in Birmingham England to first generation Indian parents. I found out this week he’s only 19. If you met him you’d think he was in his mid-twenties. He’s handsome, brilliant (going to be a doctor), mature and deeply converted. He LOVES the Book of Mormon and every time we meet with him HE teaches US from the scriptures. He prays like he’s been a member for life. He’s converted and has borne his testimony many times to us.
In his Indian culture it’s an accepted tradition to follow the wishes of your father. This boy loves and honors his parents. Here’s the problem. His family is Hindu. He recognizes that if he joins the church his parents will be devastated and will, in all likelihood, make him drop out of one of the finest universities in the world, Imperial College, and be forced to move back to Birmingham to go to school there.
His parents come this coming week to help him move back home for the summer. He is hoping to tell them when they are here about his conversion and introduce them to the church and some of its members. He’s praying that he will, in some way, be able to persuade them of his sincerity and the validity of the church. But if he fails at convincing them I’m not sure he yet has the faith to defy his parents and be baptized.
The young woman from Malaysia had her baptism date set for yesterday. She’s a beautiful, articulate young woman, full of the light of the gospel, totally converted. If you met her you’d never believe she wasn’t already a member. We love her.
She shared with us that before she found the gospel she was a different person. Because of some betrayals in her family she was sent into a deep depression. Her life was full of darkness and despair and her trust was gone. Then the missionaries found her street tracking and taught her the glorious gospel plan. It brought light and life back to her. We have literally seen the power of the atonement heal her in front of our eyes.
This week Jim got a phone call from her. She was devastated and asked if she could meet Jim for some counsel. Jim went with the Elders to meet with her. She had just told her parents about her baptism the coming Saturday and bore testimony how the gospel had healed her. To her amazement her parents refused to accept her decision. They begged her to come home before she made that decision. They told her she had to wait the 40 days before she turned 21. Once again, in her culture you do not question but obey your parents.
After hearing her story and calming her down, your dad, the Elders and this young woman decided to fast and pray to know if she should go ahead and be baptized or honor her parents’ will.
After fasting 24 hours they gathered again. The young woman had talked to her parents once more and they promised her that, after being home and waiting the 40 days, if she still wanted to be baptized they would allow her to come back to London and be baptized here. Every one of them sitting there knew this was only a ploy to get her away from London and home so they could convince her to not join the church. But as they all talked together a peace came that she needed to abide by her parents’ wishes.
Before they closed their fast this beautiful, wonderful young woman bore a testimony. She told them she would go ahead and honor her parents’ wishes and wait 40 days but then promised Jim that there was nothing that was going to keep her from being baptized into Christ’s church. Still it’s very difficult to let her go. We will continue to pray for her and for her parents.
These marvelous youth; can you see the reason for our frustration?
This past Thursday we had a blood drive at our building that was held in the Cultural Hall and kitchen so I couldn’t make dinner for Institute. We ordered pizza for the night and Jim and I went on an outing to my new favorite place in London; Hampstead Heath. It’s a wild, woodsy park right in the middle of the city. But you would never dream you were near civilization. It’s gorgeous.
We went with Catherine Wilkinson. We want to adopt her. She’s 29, has a rugrat voice like our children and was raised in Sulihull, a suburb of Birmingham. She’s such a Birmy with lots of slang and phrases that are SO BRITISH! She cracks me up. We adore this girl. She took us on a hike that was literally breath taking. On the highest hill in the park you can look out over all of London. The park has several ponds of water, one designated for a women’s swimming hole, another for a man’s swimming hole and the last for both men and women. (It comes from old school English tradition. So funny!)
We ended up doing more talking than hiking but it was a wonderful day. I HAVE to get back there. It’s glorious! (Forget old buildings. Give me nature any day!)
Relief Society and Elders Quorum; Our Dating Discussion
Jim and I had an amazing experience last Sunday. Our Bishop’s last week is next Sunday. He’s had some strong feelings that he wanted to address some things with the kids before he left around standards, doctrine of marriage, and same gender attraction, just some light- weight conversation! He decided to take the Sunday school hour for him to teach. Then 3rd hour we would separate and Jim would teach the guys and I would teach the girls on dating.
Now you need to understand this is a mine field here in Britannia. It’s one of those discussions that are almost taboo in this ward. I think they’ve been so hounded and guilt-tripped on the need to date (because the majority don’t) that there’s a palpable resistance and push back about discussing it. This was no small assignment from the Bishop and we knew it.
Jim and I discussed it the week before any chance we got and then on Saturday sat down to make an outline of what we wanted to discuss. We recognized that it HAD to be a discussion, not us TELLING them. It was amazing how quickly it came together. The spirit was definitely directing us. We narrowed it down to four areas of discussion
1. The Doctrine of Marriage
2. What is your responsibility toward dating
3. What do YOU control
4. Red light, Yellow light, Green light
All these topics we adapted to those we were teaching so Jim’s focus was very different than mine
Bishop’s first hour went great and he was very candid. He’s a wise, gentle, righteous, intelligent man. What he taught led perfectly into what we had to discuss.
Before we started I prayed that I would leave my sisters with a deeper testimony of marriage and a greater degree of hope and desire to do all they could within their control. I will just say that is was pure magic! I felt the flow state I get into when I’m conducting a choir. It was electric and SO MUCH FUN. By time we were done there was an energy and a hopefulness I had not felt since being here about dating and marriage. Jim said he had the same experience.
I realized how grateful I was that we hadn’t done this before now. We have been here now long enough, have spent enough time with them individually, and shared enough love with them to earn their trust. It allowed them to be open enough to truly hear what we were saying without being defensive. I felt it was a very powerful experience for them and for us. Is there anything better than knowing you’ve been led and given voice by the Spirit? There’s nothing better to me!!!
MUSIC; My Heavenly Gift (Next blog)
Last week’s experience leading the discussion with our Relief Society and feeling “flow state” has made me reflect on where I’ve experienced that kind of energy the most in my life. Of course it’s been when I’m doing music, whether singing, teaching music and leading a choir or accompanying my kids singing. There’s nothing that puts me there like music. It’s made me realize I need to record some of the experiences I’ve had from my very beginning with music.
It’s going to be long so I’ll put in into a new blog and close this one for today.
Yesterday practically killed me knowing you are all together there in our house in Orem. Yet I’m so grateful that you love one another and that you CHOOSE to be together. Just take care of one another while we’re gone. That’s all I would ask of you. Know we miss you and adore you and pray for you every single day. Hug all those babies for their Maga and Baba.
I’ll keep working on my music blog. Loves