As incredible as it seems-Jake will be returning on Dec. 2nd!!!! His Welcome Home will be Dec. 12th, so please plan to join us at 10:45 at our church on Cherry Lane.
This week was awesome! We didn't get too many lessons but we had nine baptisms, so I cannot complain about that. The baptism was so so much fun! We rented out a party house on the far end of the island where it is very beautiful, so it was really cool. We had the baptisms and then a big BBQ and played volley ball. We were also supposed to watch conference but just my luck, technical difficulties-- no conference. One for four of conferences missed on my mission. I think I jinxed myself by going riding instead of watching conference in October before I left cause "I was going to have 2 years of church I gotta take a break now while I still can". Now I want to see conference so bad but I can't. Dang it, I suck. But the baptism was incredible; they were all so happy and ready! They all bore testimony after and it was incredible. Not many dry eyes but I was able to choke back my tears, which was a good thing cause I was conducting and had to give closing remarks. I was so happy to see the change that all of them made. They each had challenges and trials they had to overcome to get to the waters of baptism and I was so proud of them and happy for them for accomplishing their goals.
Autoa got a scholarship to go to Taiwan and go to school, so this week she has been really torn up cause she is excited for the opportunity to get an education but has never left home and doesn't want to leave. Her parents are also still not supportive of her decision to get baptize, so she had a really hard week. She said that she was not happy when she went into the water but that when she came up out of the water, all her cares were swept away and she was left with such a strong peace and happiness. I am so happy for her. They are all so awesome!
Tofikai is already looking forward to serving a mission. He told me that he is going to pray to go to Utah so he can come see me. His friends and family have started calling him Pastor because before he never talked about religion but now all he wants to talk about is the gospel. He is such a great guy. I love him. I went on splits with him for home teaching yesterday and he said he was so proud to be my companion and glad that he could help. Such a great guy with HUGE potential for a future church leader here in Tuvalu!
During the sharing of the testimonies, I was pondering and thought about how this is most likely my last baptism of my mission. I then thought back to my first one and compared the difference. My first baptism, I was so focused on myself. I was excited cause I thought getting baptisms meant I was a successful missionary and that when they were baptized I would be so happy. I was so excited to get to write home and say that I got my first baptism. Honestly though when it was all over, I was really disappointed because I didn't have this intense happy experience. I didn't feel this happy feeling because I wanted it for me, not for them. However this time, I was so happy for the converts; so happy for their progress and the wonderful change that I had seen and been a part of as they changed their lives; so happy for the future they have in the church; so happy for the wonderful things they will learn and experience through the church. As a result, during their testimonies, I was overcome with joy. I was so happy for each and every one of them. I just loved them all so much and was so proud of them. It was a wonderful experience and a wonderful contrast from my first baptism. My first baptism was awesome and something I will never forget. But it could have been better if I would have thought less about myself and more about them. So that is my message this week. Think more about others.
I am so sad to be leaving Tuvalu. On my mission, my family circle has grown to include people in Fiji and now includes people in Tuvalu. I love them so much. I am so proud of the great progress they have made as individuals and as a branch in my two short months here. I know the church is going to continue to boom here because these people just have so much heart and spirit about them. I am truly blessed to have been able to take part in the Lord's work here. I don't know what I have ever done to deserve it but I will just say thank you and be forever grateful to my father in heaven. As you may guess, I am on cloud nine right now. What a great way to leave Tuvalu!
I love you all very much. See you in a month and have a great week. The church is true and being a missionary is freaking awesome.