Tuesday, July 1, 2014

"Je ne vois plus des barrieres pour mon baptême...Le seul question est, "quand?"" (I don't see anymore barriers to my baptism...the only question is, "when?")

So... I was going along having a normal week in Arras, and then BAM.  Miracle.  Let me elaborate..
Meet Phillipe.  A fifty-something French man.  Reminds me a lot of Dad, actually.  Just in the way he talks (similar sense of humor, really friendly, likes DISCUSSION etc.) and in his interests (lots of PROJECTS, works with renewable energy etc.)  Well, about twenty-two years ago he and his wife Aline met the Mormon missionaries.  Aline instantly knew that the Book of Mormon was true and was baptized.  Phillipe wasn't so sure.  Over the years they had their fair share of trials, and Aline fell away from the church (still had a testimony, just wasn't active).  Missionaries came and went.  When Soeur Tupai and I started to visit them, we thought, "Oh wow, this is going to take awhile."  But we continued visiting them every week.  Small and simple things, people.  Little by little things started to change.  They started praying together, coming to church and growing in faith.  Their faces literally started to get brighter and brighter as the spirit entered into their home.  Then about a month and a half ago, Aline called us and told us that Phillipe wanted to get baptized!  She was shocked. (so were we)  "You know that means you'll have to pay tithing, and have a calling, and go to church every week, right?" she asked.  "I know," he replied, "that's what I want!"  She asked us to pretend that we didn't know that he wanted to get baptized, but to try to lead the conversation there in the next lesson.  Well, it was the first lesson that Soeur Liabeuf and I had together, the very day that I picked her up in Paris.  We talked about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and I invited Phillipe to get baptized.  He got really serious and said, "Every pair of missionaries that has ever taught us has asked me to get baptized, and every time I've said no...but I've been really thinking about it and...I think that it's time... that I get baptised..."  Wow.  The spirit was so strong that night, but when I tried to suggest a date...he got really nervous and said he wasn't ready for that. 
So for the past month we've been hoping and praying that his desire would continue to grow and he wouldn't wait another 22 years to actually get in the font. Then, this last Wednesday, we went to their house for our weekly rendez-vous and only Aline was there... Phillipe had to help his brother move that night.  I was a little disappointed.  Right after the opening prayer, however Phillipe walked through the door.  He sat down and they started talking about how their home teacher, frere Vienne and his family had come over last Sunday and that they had had a GREAT discussion about ordinances, baptism and the priesthood.  I felt impressed to ask Phillipe how he was feeling about baptism lately.  He said, "Well, I don't see anymore barriers to my baptism.. the only question now is, "when?"" (I was freaking out inside, but stayed super cool, like I did this every day of my mission...haha).  I told him, "Frankly, you are ready now, you can get baptised whenever you want."  He replied, "well the month of May seems good to me...my birthday is in May..." It took me a minute to realize he was joking...my heart stopped for a second there, haha.  Then he asked, "well, Soeur Hilton, when do you think I should get baptized...how about right before you leave?  When is the next transfer?  If it's next week I don't know though..."  I told him it was on Wednesday July 9th.  Aline said, "okay, well how about Saturday the 5th?" I was shocked when Phillipe said "why not!" (that's THIS SATURDAY)  I stayed super calm and missionary-like, pulled out a baptismal calendar and we started getting all the details taken care of.  PHILLIPE WASN'T EVEN SUPPOSED TO BE AT THE LESSON AND NOW HE'S GETTING BAPTIZED NEXT SATURDAY.  Seriously, it all flowed so simply and naturally.  Miracles are just that, simple, clear, yet at the same time unbelievable.  This is truly the Lord's work.  I got kind of emotional at the end when Phillipe's only question was "what about my children?" (their kids have made some serious mistakes).  "I want to have an eternal family, what can I do for them?"  I testified that his decision to be baptized and the unity between him and Aline because of it, will only bless their family and that the only thing they can do is to be examples, have faith, and PRAY, "implorez le Seigneur" I said.  Aline said, "yeah, prayer really works Phillipe, do you realize how much I prayed for you over the years?"  wow, what a moment.  Haha, they drove us home and I could tell that this was one of the best day's of Aline's life...she was keeping it together really well, but she immediately started make calls while we were driving.  Soeur Neville started crying on the phone and the Bishop was ecstatic.  Seriously one of the best days of my mission.  And it was my mom's birthday!  Happy birthday Mom!
Other than that, this week has been amazing.  We made three new friends (Ginette, Sandrine and Carole) and taught a ton of lessons.  We invited Murielle and Estelle to get baptised, they were very open, but are going to take time to think about it.  I can be patient... as long as they don't take 20 years!  haha.  But really, those two are progressing rapidly, so receptive...they are beginning to feel the spirit more and more.
Arras is EXPLODING right now.  Thank you blue fire.  This is going to be an awesome week, we will meet the new mission president, there is a ward BBQ, and Phillipe is getting baptized.  Most glorious week six ever, is about to go down.
Well, I love you all so much.  Keep praying for the work!  Prayer can do miracles:)
Soeur Hilton

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