Another week has flown by in the England London Mission. And it’s the greatest month ever (cough cough my birthday, Halloween, overdosing on candy…and read on for more great news because happy birthday Eli!)
Once again, I’ve learned so much this week. Ups and downs. Moments of, “I signed up to do this for 13 more months?” And moments of “Being a missionary is the greatest thing ever!” I have always loved rollercoasters, and I’m currently riding my favorite one. One big, awesome rollercoaster that Cedar Point can’t even compete with.
So for starters, London is legit. Monday included a crazy trip to Camden Town. It’s basically this huge market where everyone bargains. Try walking through this place with 10 missionaries. It was kinda funny looking. But anyways lessons learned in Camden Town: trying to give me a discount and calling it a “beautiful discount only for beautiful girls” won’t work on me, a t-shirt with a panda playing a ukulele in a Hawaiian shirt is too awesome to pass up, and Peruvian dream-catcher bracelets do not work (the guy who sold it to me was pretty cool though!)
For the rest of the actual missionary work part, it’s great. It always will be. Finding hasn’t gotten any easier, but I do get to meet awesome and very interesting people. I typically stop people by asking “What makes you happy?” And I was told twice this week that “Looking at you makes me happy.” So I guess the twenty pounds I’ve gained hasn’t done too much damage quite yet? Also, talking to people past dark on a Saturday night isn’t the greatest idea, but I’ve got some great stories! London never disappoints.
All weirdness aside, the people we are teaching are doing well! And on Sunday night, Alex Boye gave a devotional in the chapel! He came to London to baptize his mum. The evening was powerful and extremely uplifting. He was baptized when he was 16, was homeless, and now is a successful performer. Alex’s story was so moving and wow, this church is true my friends! It brings incredible amounts of joy and light!
Alex shared something one of the sister missionaries who taught him once said. She told him about sacrifice. She said she sacrificed her family, friends, car (I guess that was pretty important to her), education, job, hobbies, and boyfriend (which he said then she started to cry…) But then she said, “All the things I’ve left behind come nowhere close to the message I have to share with you. If all those things just disappeared, I know it would be ok because of Jesus Christ.”
This message is so important. If 74,079 missionaries are currently serving and sacrificing things the world views as being important, then don’t you think the message we have to share must be that much more important? It’s more important than anything else you could imagine because it is about Jesus Christ and it will bring you joy! So why not listen? Alex sure did after what that missionary had to say, and look where he is now.
My little bro knows about this joy as well because on Saturday, Eli will be getting baptized! He has sent me emails and videos just talking about his baptism. And so, I decided to study out baptism a bit this week and reflect on my baptism almost 12 years ago.
The Savior taught, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). Therefore, baptism is essential for our salvation.
Now, some people think our only goal as missionaries is to get people baptized. This isn’t true at all. Elder Russell M. Nelson said himself in the last General Conference, “That is why our missionaries leave their homes to preach His gospel. Their goal is not to increase the number of Church members. Rather, our missionaries teach and baptize to bring joy to the people of the world!”
Joy can be found through making covenants with our Heavenly Father, and baptism is the first covenant we make with Him. As we are baptized, we covenant to take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ, always remember Him, and keep His commandments. Because a covenant is a two-way promise with God, as we keep our baptismal covenant, God then promises the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost, a remission of our sins, and being spiritually reborn.
We are baptized exactly how Jesus Christ was baptized- by immersion. But the symbolism of baptism by immersion is also significant. The Apostle Paul taught that baptism is in similitude of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. “We are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).
Through modern day revelation through a prophet of God, we know that children can begin to choose for themselves to “be baptized for the remission of their sins when eight years old” (Doctrine & Covenants 68:27). This also goes in harmony with the Savior’s teaching, that little children do not need to be baptized until they are accountable. When Jesus spoke of little children, He said, “Of such is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:14).
In the Book of Mormon, Abinadi taught “little children also have eternal life” (Mosiah 15:25) and the prophet Mormon taught this doctrine to his son as well. He said, “Little children are whole, for they are not capable of committing sin. Behold I say unto you that this thing shall ye teach–repentance and baptism unto those who are accountable and capable of committing sin; yea, teach parents that they must repent and be baptized, and humble themselves as their little children, and they shall all be saved with their little children. Little children are alive in Christ, even from the foundation of the world” (Moroni 8).
No wonder why the Savior always teaches us to “cometh unto [Him] as a little child” (3 Nephi 9:22), and that “whosoever therefore shall humble himself as [a] little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:4). I wrote about this a few short weeks ago when reflecting on Sister Zeng’s humble child-like personality.
What’s so incredible is that a child who is only eight-years-old can understand the significance of baptism and making covenants. Mary R. Durham said, “At age eight, children can experience baptism. They learn about and make a covenant with God. Those they love surround them as they are immersed and come out of the font with a feeling of great joy. Then they receive the unspeakable gift of the Holy Ghost, a gift that may guide them constantly as they live for that blessing.”
After we “declare repentance and faith on the Savior, and [receive a] remission of sins by baptism,” then we are baptized “by fire, yea, even the Holy Ghost” (Doctrine & Covenants 19:31). In other words, after my brother is baptized, he will receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, thus being “born of water and of the Spirit.”
My father along with other priesthood holders, will lay their hands on Eli’s head and confirm him a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In doing so, he will also receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, which will now be his constant companion. Though he has been able to feel the Spirit throughout his life, he will now have the continual comfort, guidance, warning, and revelation from the Spirit.
In the end, it all comes down to what Alma teaches in Mosiah 18:10. “If this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?”
I am so proud of Eli for having the desire to follow Jesus Christ and be baptized. I am also thankful for this sacred ordinance we can all partake of. I can still remember my baptism. I felt so pure, clean, and happy! Thankfully, what I experienced when I was baptized can always be felt as Elder David A. Bednar taught.
He said, “Sometimes Latter-day Saints express the wish that they could be baptized again–and thereby become as clean and worthy as the day on which they received their first saving gospel ordinance. May I respectfully suggest that our Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son do not intend for us to experience such a feeling of spiritual renewal, refreshment, and restoration just once in our lives. The blessings of obtaining and always retaining a remission of our sins through gospel ordinances help us understand that baptism is a point of departure in our mortal spiritual journey; it is not a destination we should yearn to revisit over and over again.
“The ordinances of baptism by immersion, the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, and the sacrament are not isolated and discrete events; rather, they are elements in an interrelated and additive pattern of redemptive progress. Each successive ordinance elevates and enlarges our spiritual purpose, desire, and performance. The Father’s plan, the Savior’s Atonement, and the ordinances of the gospel provide the grace we need to press forward and progress line upon line and precept upon precept toward our eternal destiny.”
Whether we are eight or eighty-eight, we can all receive the blessings and joy given through baptism and the Holy Ghost. Always remember, there is always joy through following Christ! If you can, go attend Eli’s baptism on Saturday and give him a big hug for me.
LOVE YOU ALL
Sister Fuhriman 🙂