Tuesday, July 24, 2007

guess what!! we had a baptism on Sunday. i know, i know..."sis cartwright, you serve in a visitors' center. you don't have baptisms." yeah, that's what YOU think! :) so this amazing 68-yr old man named victor moved to nauvoo to work at a campground for the summer. he ran into some girls from the pageant cast who invited him to come see the show. he came that night and was so touched and moved by the message and then and there felt the spiritual confirmation that the teachings in the pageant were true. his wife passed away in march adn he hasn't been the same since. but after seeing the pageant and learning that he could be married to her for eternity and how much Heavenly Father wants us all to return to Him it all started to make sense. He came to the VC the next day and talked to one of the sisters here for over an hour. He took a Book of Mormon home and started reading all he could. He met with the missionaries about 2 hours/day for several days. The dad of the girls who met him initially came and picked him up for church adn the fam would join him for the discussions. A week and a half later he was baptized. J J What? I know. He’s an amazing man. I met him at Carthage last week and walked away just wanting to write down 100 inspiring things that he said. He’s been in AA for 27 yrs and that has prepared him spiritually a ton and more than anything he was just ready. The missionaries had to do very little—other than teach him as fast as they could handle cause he was just soaking it all in. He realized it was an important decision and didn’t take it lightly at all. Everything just timed out so perfectly. He kept saying that if he died before he was able to be baptized that we had to make sure someone did it for him. J He also called up his daughter and son and told them he’d found what he’d been searching for and that they’d better both get out here quick so that they could find it too. J They both flew in for the baptism and we’ll see what happens. But he’s the most incredible man. The appreciation he expressed at Carthage for the prophet Joseph Smith was so cool because I just don’t always think of it the same way. It’s all just so fresh for him that it was cool for him to talk about how because of what Joseph went through, he was able to know what he knows now. He says, “and it all happened here in Nauvoo…” meaning his miracle but it’s so cool to think of all the miracles here past, present, and future. He also told me that we don’t need to worry because the gospel isn’t a hard “package to sell.” That you get infinitely more than you put in so everyone should want it. Well yes, everyone SHOULD want it. J The key is to find who will listen and open their hearts. Victor’s been such a blessing and strength to all the missionaries and pageant cast out here. Some of the pageant members changed their flights home so they could be here for the baptism. It was so special. I loved it!! What an amazing thing for everyone involved.

There’s also a boy out here named Jacob. He’s 16 and his parents won’t let him get baptized. They think his faith in the church is just a phase. So he comes to the VC and stuff as often as possible. He loves the shows and helps out the performances. He gets to be in the pageant cast next week and he got to be set apart for it. It was so cool cause he listened so intently to his blessing and was so impressed at how directly it was for him when the man giving it to him barely knew him. The blessing he got assured him that everything would happen even if it was on the Lord’s time and he’s really taken comfort in that. Anyway, he’s been around all summer cause he lives in Nauvoo but I just thought I’d write about him as I was thinking about people who strengthen me. He’s such a powerhouse. He was wearing one of those semi-cheesey “future missionary” tags the other day with a sign taped under it that said “as soon as I’m baptized.” Love the kid!

So try as we might to get rid of all the lettuce we still ended up with a few bags in each fridge. And I have to say that every time one would get remotely rotten I was secretly happy. Like maybe I liked watching it suffer for all the drama it caused us. Really I think I was just relieved cause I could finally throw it away without feeling guilty. There’s still a bag a sister is using though cause “the lettuce on top is still good” and every time I open her fridge and see it I get chills of discomfort.

So may I say that my comp’s hilarious? As Sis Faulkner put it “at first I thought it was just the accent but she really is just funny.” But the most delightful part is getting through the language barrier that comes up fairly often. For example, the other day I asked her if we had an ironing board and she said, “yeah, but I just used the bench.” Bench…? Like most houses we don’t have a bench so….I had to go around pointing at different pieces of furniture or describing things that she may have perceived as a bench (the couch? the backless loveseat in the lobby? no and no.) before we finally were able to get to the bottom of it. The kitchen counter! Good times! (Who irons on the counter anyway?) I’m loving it. I ask her a million questions a day about New Zealand. Hopefully she doesn’t think it’s creepy. Still trying to pick up on the accent. I think at least I’ll start calling my mom “Mum”…

Unfortunately, the accent I seem to be picking up the most is not from the Kiwi, not from the locals, but from the visitors. Ahhhh! Yeah, “would you like to take a tore of the jell?” I’ve TOTALLY busted out with some Utah speech. But I’m working on getting over that. Haha! But at least that accent that was so allusive to imitate is now coming to me. even if it is against my own will, “You becha….Take all the pitchers you fill like…”

So Sis. Thomas and I have decided to do a documentary on small-town Mid-West life. We’ve contemplated just leaving the mission life to do it since we’re already out here and all. As we’re walking around town we’ll be like, “yeah, for sure that guy’s gonna be in the documentary.” We’re fascinated by all the people out here. We walk to and from the jail everyday cause it’s just a couple blocks so that adds to the small-town feel. Fill. We live in an old mansion that was donated to the church and converted into 5 small apartments for the missionaries. Two senior couples live on the bottom and the sisters have one apt per companionship up top. But all our doors meet in the middle and we leave them open so it’s not too lonely. Anyway, it’s really neat. The first night we got there we were out on the balcony looking at the fireflies. So unreal. Love it! The jail is really neat to do tours. I was worried I’d get bored doing the same tour several times a day but it’s just such a neat place. Even though you say the same thing every tour there’s just such a powerful, special feeling there and since every group is different you say things in a different way and testify of different things just according to how you feel prompted. For those of you who don’t know why I’m at a jail every day….Carthage Jail is where the prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were martyred. Come take a tour and I’ll tell you all about it. It’s a really neat place because although there’s a somber feel to it and something very tragic happened there, it’s been able to become a place that everyone can visit and feel something undeniably special and have their own faith strengthened in our Savior and in the reality that Joseph Smith was a man called of God to restore the gospel on the earth.

Ok, hope you all enjoyed the extra long email to make up for last week. Love you all and thanks for the thoughts, prayers, letters, etc. You’re all in mine!And congratulations to everyone who’s having a baby who I didn’t know was pregnant.

p.s. sometimes people leave inspirational scriptures in their emails. i'm such a slacker. mosiah 4:9. just a good one to help you keep perspective.

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