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Baptism and Thumb Rings

September 24, 2013

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Hola!

 Ok, we’re going to start with a funny moment this week because we actually have one that is funny even if you weren’t there. 😉  And I remembered it!  So, it’s Sunday evening and Sister Jorgensen and I are tracting home from our dinner appointment.  We’re waving to cars and having a good time and talking and laughing.  We come to the bridge that we drive across every day, but this time we’re walking so we can see that there’s no water underneath, just railroad tracks.  We had been talking about trains earlier that day and how there seem to be a lot of trains here in the Kansas City area. Sister Jorgensen says, “I think there are a lot of trains because it’s a railroad.”  😉   She meant to say something after the word “railroad” but she just stopped.

 And, drum roll please!  Mercedes Davis was baptized on September 21, 2013!  (That’s another one of those best days on my mission.)  The Book of Mormon Book Club sang “Nearer My God To Thee” a cappella and it turned out pretty good.  Mercedes’ brother, Darian Emmett, performed the ordinance.  Mercedes bore her testimony afterwards and it was powerful.  One of her friend’s friends gave her a hard time about “becoming Mormon.”  He told her that black people were supposed to be Baptist and then said, “You know you’re black, right?”  She defended the faith!  She said that she’d never defended anything so hard before.  And my other favorite line from her testimony (yes, I wrote it down) was, “The things I want have changed into the things I need. I hope, no, I know my testimony will keep growing stronger.”  She is so valiant!  And I love her so much!  We had a barbecue at the Emmetts’ afterwards and it felt like family in a big way.  Sidenote–I’ll send a picture, but the jumpsuit Mercedes had to wear is the epitome of 70s glory.  She moonwalked in it in the bathroom before the baptism and called it her “Austin Powers outfit.”  It was the best we could find… She’s a good sport.

 Our appointment with the Burchs put us on cloud nine.  Lisa quit smoking!  She quit about a month ago and just hadn’t told us yet!  What?!?!  =)  We taught the plan of salvation, trying to emphasize what we need to do in this life to “prepare to meet God.” And Lisa took over and started talking about baptism and temple ordinances and being sealed someday.  She looked at John when she talked about being sealed in the temple.  Thinking back on that moment is kind of a heart melter for me.  They’ll get there.  And Sister Jorgensen and I will be there with them.  And it will be the best day ever.  Also, big new–they agreed to come to stake conference with us!  These people haven’t been to church in 20 years (ish) and they agreed to come to conference with us!  When we got back in the car after the appointment, we both just laughed with grateful delight and then we sang “Now Let Us Rejoice” and said grateful prayers about that for the rest of the day.  And then Sunday came and they couldn’t come.  Why do people need to have plumbing emergencies on the Sabbath?  Some guy was supposed to come and install a toilet and he was LATE. So they couldn’t come.  But, they both called us and texted us and left messages.  We were on shift so we couldn’t get to our phone.  When Sister Jorgensen told me the news, I just about cried.  Missionary work takes you on all the ups and downs.  The ups are worth the downs.  And Christ takes the brunt of the downs and lifts us up into the ups.  Kind of like when you’re a little kid and you play the wave jumping game–my aunt Roz used to lift me up over the waves at the beach.  Christ lifts us up so we don’t sink when the big waves come crashing, and He lifts us up when we’re already up so we can start to see joy the way He does.

 Ok, here’s the story with the thumb rings.  Long story short: I don’t have one anymore.  We had zone conference last Wednesday and we talked about some of the adjustments to missionary standards.  We don’t wear backpacks anymore, just sidebags for elders and sisters.  President Keyes says he doesn’t know why that’s just what the Church said.  And we don’t have thumb rings.  I have worn my CTR ring on my left thumb for the past 3 years.  I got it my freshman year of college with two of my friends–Karee and Natalie–and we all wore them on our left thumbs.  I was sitting by Sister Moody at zone conference when Sister Keyes read the thing about the thumb rings and Sister Moody had one on, too.  Both of us immediately took our rings off our thumbs and moved them to our middle fingers.  It was one of those moments where I was asked to do something I don’t understand, but I could do it.  I wasn’t even miffed.  I can honestly say that I love and trust my mission president.  I’m not a rebel, but sometimes my heart has rebellious tendencies.  That Christ would “rescue a soul so rebellious and proud as mine” truly is wonderful to me.  And that He would soften my heart to a point where I love to obey even when it means changing things I don’t understand.  President Keyes told us that one of the foremost concerns in where a missionary is called to serve is who their mission president would be.  A month ago, I would have smiled and nodded and inwardly said, “Yeah right.” But now, I get it.  Sort of.  I’m learning obedience and love and trust in a way that I haven’t before.  It feels good.  In a soul stretching way.

 Also, thanks for the letters this week, y’all!  I feel like this was the week for awesome missionary pump-up letters from people I really look up to.  Thank you!  I’ve been studying strength in the Book of Mormon and finding that it’s always given from one person to another, from God to someone–strength and power aren’t things you just wake up and have–they are gifts.  Thank you for giving me your strength and support.  I love you, people!  And I’m sorry I was a dork and forgot to send the emails I typed up last week.  I don’t have a good explanation for that, just general dorkiness. 😉  Well-intended dorkiness, rest assured. 😉

 The work goes on!  I’m happy and healthy and well and loving the chance to be here serving.  We watched a Mormon message by President Eyring called “Choose This Day” and part of it keeps ringing in my ears, “The temptation will be to believe you will return again to serve—someday.” But I won’t.  This is it.  And transfers are this next week so if I get transferred, this is my last week EVER as a full time missionary serving in the Liberty 1st ward.  I’d love to stay here for another 6 weeks, especially to see John and Lisa come back to church.  But I found my inner peace. (Kung Fu Panda style, Johnny that quote was for you. You just remind me of Po sometimes. And funny movie quote always make me think of you for some reason.  But you probably didn’t read this far. 😉 Happy Birthday, punk.  Don’t take your teenager-hood too seriously. )  So, if anyone is planning on sending me anything in the near future–using the mission office address would be the best option.  517 Walnut St. Independence, MO 64050.

 All my love,

Sister Rackham

 

Mercedes–our favorite “grey convert” I told you that story, right?  How someone congratulated her on being a convert and she thought they said “convict” so she told them off. She’s trying to tell everyone now that she’s a proud convert so she can repair the damage with whoever she snapped on. 😉

 Then there’s our BoMBC.  Hannah, Emily, Mercedes, Sister Jorgensen, and yours truly.

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 And then there’s us being silly with Mercedes. =)

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