Friday, June 26, 2009
So this week was so stinking awesome! We had 2 baptisms. I know I have told you all about the Jewish man that we have been working with. He has been doing so well lately and then finally he was ready. He has been meeting with the missionaries for over a year and has progressed slowly the whole time. Since he is about 60 years old and has a very strong Jewish background, it has been a hard long road. But through the power of the Spirit influencing him day by day he was able to change.
His story is very unique. A little over a year ago, the missionaries were heading home late at night and they ran across a drunken white man on the street. His name was Robert Hirsch. He was lost and drunk out of his mind. They felt bad for the poor guy so they asked him for his wallet to see if they could find his address for him. They found his address and realized that it was way too far away to walk. So they jumped in a taxi with him and took him home. After dropping him off the missionaries headed home. A couple days went by and the missionaries didn’t think much about the incident, but they had a strong impression to call him and see if he was doing ok.
They called him up and asked how he was doing. He was so thankful for what they did for him that he invited them over for dinner. Days later they went over to his house to eat a special spaghetti dinner that he had prepared for them. He introduced the missionaries to his wife and 3 kids. They all sat down for a good ol’ American dinner as Robert would call it. During the dinner of course the topic turned to religion. Poor guy just wanted to thank the Elders for helping him, he probably didn’t want to talk about religion. Hahaha… Well what did he expect. However it went very well and Robert was very interested in the “Mormon” religion that he had always heard so much about. The missionaries quickly explained that the “Mormon Church” is not our actually name, it is a nickname that other people have given us and they told him that our church’s full name is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They explained that the center of our religion is the savior Jesus Christ. Of course Robert teased them about some of the rumors and half truths he had heard about our church but in the end he was still very intrigued and decided to keep listening.
The first several lessons were very rough. Coming from a non-Christian background made learning the gospel just that much more difficult. As he continued to meet with missionaries regularly his attitude started to change. He started to treat his family more kindly, he started to quit some of his addictions, and he started to feel the love of the Lord as he began to pray and repent.
His progress has been very obvious, about 5 months ago I had the opportunity of being in this same area. On several occasions I was able to meet Robert and talk to him at church. At the time he was meeting with the other Elders so I never taught him at his home, but at church I would talk with him and we started to develop a friendship. I don’t know why, but I always seem to make friends with 60 year guys. They are usually the smartest and most interesting people though.
Well I moved away for a couple months and then came back to this area when I moved into the Mission Office. We started teaching him regularly and began helping him to prepare for baptism. I think the most memorable moment of teaching Robert was the night that we got him to forfeit all of his cigarettes and alcohol. He has always struggled with drinking and smoking, but on that night he decided to change. He went into the back room, grabbed several bottles of rice whiskey and we all went and dumped them out. Since Robert doesn’t speak Chinese I asked his son in Chinese if there was any more alcohol in the house. His son thought about it for a minute and ran off into another room and came back with another bottle. So once again we went back and dumped it all out. It was kind of funny because I don’t think Robert was trying to hide it, he just forgot about that bottle, but of course we had to tease him a little bit about it.
We left that night with several packs of cigarettes in our pockets. Thank goodness our Mission President didn’t come visit us. It would have been a little hard to explain why our pockets were full of cigarettes and why we smelled like smoke. Hahaha… Luckily we didn’t run into anyone so we just went home and flushed them down the toilet because we were afraid that if we threw them in the trash our neighbors might think we were smoking.
Anyways, finally on Thursday he was baptized. He still isn’t perfect and will probably struggle with several things throughout the remainder of his life. However, the change that has happened to his family is so amazing. They truly have felt the love of the Gospel. His wife decided to wait a little while to be baptized, but Robert and his daughter Elli were baptized. They all come every Sunday and are probably the most active members of our ward.
Here are their pictures. Elder Frandsen performed the baptisms, Elder and Sister Frandsen are the coolest. Elder Frandsen was a missionary here about 30 years ago. Him and his wife have been here for about 1 year and they always feed us really good food They will be heading home in about October just before I come home on the 22nd of December. Oh and yes that is the official day I will be coming home.
Anyways, I hope that Robert’s conversion story makes sense. I am having a hard time thinking how to write today. I am sure I left out a ton of little details but I will rewrite it in my journal later. Love ya all.
Elder Craig Anderso