Friday, February 19, 2010

The Ebb and Flow...of Water into the Baptismal Font

Well, this week have been nothing short of exciting. Last sunday, the ASL program scored not one, but TWO baptisms: A woman named Myrna and her son Anthony. The other ASL elders have been working with them over the past month and now Myrna and Anthony can now count themselves among God's children. Elder Lingam and I got to help participate by giving a "missionary moment" to the congregation while Elder Hadlock baptized Myrna and Elder Cordy baptized Anthony.

Remember last week I spoke about Evaristo Romero? Well, we just committed him to baptism and he wholeheartedly agreed! Evaristo is such a wonderful guy and will be a great asset to the deaf branch. We're planning to baptize him on February 28th, less than 2 weeks from now. At this rate, there will be many many baptisms in the near future. And there will!

How come? well, Elder Cordy and Elder Hadlock are teaching a pretty great guy named Luis Vergas. He has such a powerful testimony that he wants every one of his deaf friends to come join in with him. Luis gave us a list of correspondences as long as our arm! We've been praying for more people to teach, and Heavenly Father certainly delivered. Right now we're up to our eyebrows.

I want to share yet another experience. Last Thursday, we invited a recent convert, George Bartley, to come teach a lesson with us to a man named Charles Phillips, who is good friends with George. About halfway into the lesson, Charles seemed a bit complacent, but I felt strongly to encourage George to give his testimony. He reluctantly agreed, and gave his testimony.

Now, George is a recent convert. The very idea of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints wasn't among his frame of reference, not even 3 to 4 months ago, and he was baptized only last month. What happened in that moment was nothing short of amazing. George gave a marvelous testimony, stating simply that he *knows* without a doubt that Jesus Christ is his saviour, and knows that he is among those who are in the true church organized by Jesus Christ himself. Elder Lingam and I felt deeply moved, and maybe even Charles also. Long story short, Charles asked us to come back this week to teach him more.

We have many other people to teach within a reachable distance, but unfortunately, less than half of them lives on Long Beach, which lies outside the boundaries of the California Los Angeles Mission.

Mission rules dictate that all missionaries MUST stay within the boundaries, even if there are people to teach outside it. Violation of this rule could cause problems for the missionaries working in the another mission, and in the end, the penalty can mean a early release! Therefore we're being extremely careful to stay within the boundaries, since our mission area is very small. Fortunately, the mission president makes exceptions for ASL and Korean missionaries on a case-by-case basis.

Right now, we're feverently praying for our Mission President's approval to be able to cross the boundary to teach these people. In the short term, we hope to get a kind of "golden ticket" to be able to teach in Long Beach freely. In the long and hopefully more permanent term, we want to work with the Long Beach Mission to extend the ASL language into their mission, so they can accomodate to the specific needs of some of the deaf population there. That could mean more deaf/ASL missionaries to work with the people, and help the work progress more rapidly.

Did you know that out of approximately 55,000 missionaries serving, there are only about 50 to 60 in the ASL program all over the ENTIRE country and in parts of England? Hmph. We'll have to change that.

The field is indeed "white and ready to harvest", even in Southern California. And right now, we're the ones driving the tractor.


By the way, I have two pictures! Here you go. Enjoy.

-- Elder Tritsch and Elder Tritsch. Aren't we both awesome?
-- Baptism of Myrna and Anthony (from left to right: Elder Lingam, Elder Hadlock, Myrna (daughter below), friend Blanca Huante, Anthony, Elder Cordy, and me.)

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