Another great week! This week we had a baptism on the post, Brother Hart. I was not able to witness the baptism because I was in charge of teaching the gospel principles class. After the sacrament meeting, all of the non-members and their battle buddies gather at the front of the room and last week we had about 20 members and 40 nonmembers. I was assigned by the assistants to teach the class. The interesting part is that while the investigator class is being taught at the front of the chapel, priesthood meeting is taking place at the back of the room. Two people are speaking at the exact same time. I gathered all of those who were to be attending the investigator class at the front of the room. As I began the class, I realized that I would not be able to have much participation from the class because if I asked anyone to read or to answer a question, the rest of the class would not be able to hear with everything else that was taking place in the chapel. So, instead of a normal discussion, I decided to preach. :) It probably was really entertaining to watch me in front of this large group. I decided that I would teach about AGENGY. I decided to use the examples of Jesus Christ and Joseph Smith. Christ used his agency to: 1) be baptized and 2) complete the atonement. Both of these were fulfilling the will of the Father. I then transitioned to Joseph Smith seeking to do the will of the Father, but not knowing what that was. At the end of the class, I invited all to be baptized. I did a horrible job. I was planning to say, "Raise your hand if you are ready to take the next step by following the example of Jesus Christ by being baptized by one holding the priesthood authority of God." As I got to the "next step" three soldiers shot their hands right up! I was expecting the invitation to be fully extended and then it wouldn't have surprised me if a second or two went by before someone would have raised their hand, but when they started to raise their hands before the commitment was fully extended, I was completely shocked!!! :) I then invited all those who wanted to learn more about the church to raise their hands. There was only a few who did not raise their hands to the second commitment. It was overwhelming to see all of these individuals searching for more truth in their lives. At one point in my preaching, I thought of Dan Jones. :D I know I am not him, but standing above the class beneath me and crying repentance to all was quite the experience. I have written letters to all those who are preparing to be baptized next week and hopefully they will all show up!
Another really cool experience was when a soldier, who I had taught the week before, came up to me today and asked if I would personally teach him next week. He said, "I hope you are not teaching the group lesson, I would like to speak to you personally because I feel you can help me out. I'm trying to follow Christ, but I'm just not sure what my next step should be." :) He has very high potential to be baptized two weeks from now.
Another random thing, as I was welcoming the soldiers, a lady stopped and said, "you were in my seminary class two years ago." This completely caught me off guard, but sure enough it was Heather. She was in my seminary class my senior year. It's a small world.
OK on to another great story that took place here in Camden. Two weeks ago the ward had a fish fry. After the fish fry, they had a softball game. We had some investigators at the fish fry, but none of them stayed for the softball game. The ward really wanted us to stay, even play in the softball game, but because we did not have anyone there we decided to leave. As we were out tracting, we met a lady and introduced her to the Book of Mormon. The lady responded, "I already know about that book, my neighbor across the street gave it to me." This really puzzled Elder Taylor and me because we have no record of a member living on that street. We knocked on the door, but nobody answered. We decided to go back this past Monday and we met Annette. Anette told us that she used to be affiliated with the Mormon church and she wanted us to come back by. Elder Taylor went back by with Elder Garcia while on exchange. While there, Elder Taylor found out that Anette is not a member. Anette asked why we had decided to park in front of her house and knock on her door on Monday. They told her about the neighbor, but the funny thing is that Anette had given her neighbor a Jehovah Witness book that she didn't want anymore!!! The Lord has his hand in all things. Because we did not waste our time and just watch a softball game, through a chain of events we met Anette. Anette is at such a point that she is ready for the gospel. She has been reading the Book of Mormon and loves it. She is so excited to come to church on Sunday. We are going back by on Wednesday to teach the Plan of Salvation.
I hope all is well back at home. I love each of you!