All week Fairmont was hammered with torrential thunder storms and thick, clotted clouds. However, Saturday morning greeted us with perfectly clear skies, brushed in baby blue and bordered with a marvelous sunrise. At 10:30 on Saturday morning, a handful of Saints gathered on the shaded bank of the Prickett's Fort river ("crick") to witness the baptism of Walker and Hayley Ice.
Two months ago Walker and Hayley's Dad, Conrad, was baptized and 6 days prior to their baptism, Conrad received the Aaronic Priesthood so that he could baptize his children. It was a beautiful ordinance.
The Spirit was wonderfully heavy in the crisp morning air at the river during the opening hymn and prayer and during the talks that were given. The Lord surely blessed us with a perfect day! When the time came for the ordinance to be performed our hearts melted as we watched Conrad lead his son Walker into the water. After helping Walker place his small hands in Conrad's large hands, he raised his arm to the square, beautifully said the baptismal prayer, and baptized his son. Hayley followed and again, Conrad baptized her by the Authority and commission of Jesus Christ.
I cannot describe the Spirit that accompanied these marvelous ordinances. What an incredible experience it was to be surrounded by the Lord's beautiful creations and to witness a father, humble and faithful to his own covenants, help his children enter into some of the same covenants. This is a gospel of progression and it is a gospel that unites families. The Ice family is incredible! Walker and Hayley's baptisms were a very sacred experience for all who attended. I know that the Lord is overjoyed and pleased with the decisions this family is making!
Yesterday Sister Herzog and I created a "know, feel, do" lesson plan. As we prepare for the day, we pray to know who the Lord would have us teach. We prayed for inspiration, then wrote down our impressions.
We invited Heavenly Father to help us create an accurate vision of this family. These are our notes: This family consists of a mom, dad, and two children, but the mom and dad are not married. The parents were raised in religion but do not currently attend a church because the changing doctrine is confusing. This family of four has struggled with feeling that God loves them. We will identify them by their house (which will be white with blue shutters) and because they will let us in right away.
This is the vision that Sister Herzog and I prepared for this family of four that we knew was out there somewhere! We planned to find this family between 4:00 and 5:00 yesterday evening in the Rayford neighborhood. After planning these things in detail we knelt on our study room floor and offered a prayer with all the faith we could possibly muster. We gave our lesson to the Lord and promised Him that we would do ALL in our power to find this family according to His will. We knew that He would sustain His faithful servants.
And we went to work.
Atafternoon we pulled into the Rayford neighborhood. Our stomachs fluttered with butterflies of excitement as we bowed our heads in prayer before leaping from the car. We knocked only on the white houses with blue shutters. There were more than I expected! (I didn't realize how popular blue shutters are!). The first two doors were void of any response but as we crested a hill our eyes were drawn to an off-white house with blue shutters. Sister Herzog and I looked to each other and muttered, "this is it."
A man was mowing the front lawn but as he saw us approaching his house he waved for us to walk around the back. That was awkward. We walked along the side of the house and poked our heads around the corner into the backyard (feeling like creepers). A woman sitting on the back porch practically leaped from her chair when she saw us and with a smile on her face she exclaimed, "Why hello! Would you like to come in?" With a kind smile and gentle, tired looking eyes she opened the sliding glass door and ushered us into her home, which they recently moved into. She proudly introduced us to her son, Bently, who is three years old. Bently is a small child for his age, and he is constantly hooked up to an IV and many other tubes and medical devices I have never seen before. It was a very intense scene. Bently's nurse, Faith, warmly greeted us as well as she adjusted tubes and gave shots to little Bently. Bently's Mother, Kari, explained to us that Bently was born with a misdiagnosed heart disorder. Because of the misdiagnosis some severe damage has been done to his body. A smile still spread across her young face as she explained Bently's many medical needs. She is a strong woman!
Kari invited us to sit on her couch and we began getting to know her. We asked if the man mowing their yard was her husband and she replied, "Yes he is.... well, actually we are not married yet... but we are engaged!"
I almost couldn't believe it.
We asked if they had any other children in addition to Bently and Kari exclaimed, "Oh yes! We also have a daughter named Hailey but she is in Oregon visiting family right now."
White house with blue shutters. Let us in right away. Not married. Two kids.
Kari told us about her life and about her struggles and about the many miracles she and her family have been blessed with. She was raised in a Baptist church but as she grew older she became confused with the changing doctrines of each Baptist church. She felt that all Baptist churches should agree on doctrines, but instead they were always disagreeing. She stopped attending church a few years ago and she has been searching for something since then. We asked Kari how she has been able to feel God's love in her life and she listed some marvelous blessings that have expressed His love for her, but she concluded by saying,
"That is actually something that I really struggle with."
"That is actually something that I really struggle with."
Raised in religion but not currently attending. Confused by changing doctrine. Has difficulty feeling God's love.
We taught Kari about the gospel of Jesus Christ that has been Restored to the earth. When we showed her a picture of the Prophet Thomas S. Monson and the Twelve Apostles she said, "Wow, I just got goose bumps! I didn't know there was a prophet on the earth today!" As she looked at President Monson's face she reverently said, "Isn't it wonderful that you can see so much in a person just by looking at their picture?" Kari loves the Book of Mormon and everything that we taught her. Near the end of our visit Kari's husband, Bobby, came in from mowing the lawn and joined our discussion. Kari and Bobby are incredible. They have been prepared to receive the gospel and they are excited about it.
I love the Lord. I love faith. I love prayers and I love answers to them. I know that the Lord will go to eternal lengths to sustain His faithful servants in the prayers of faith that we express according to His will. This is so clearly the church of Jesus Christ, and it is filling the world in these last days, preparing the children of men for the second coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
I love you!