Monday, September 19, 2011

Prayer, Faith, and Baptism

I have had a couple requests for the story about the sister who was baptized last week. Thus, here it is!

The first I heard about her was at a district meeting a couple of months ago. We were visiting the district to which the sisters who taught her belong. One of the agenda items at the district meeting was a investigator problem-solving. This is an opportunity for companionships in the district to present concerns that their investigators have that they have had difficulty helping them to resolve. Input from other missionaries with varied experience is often revelatory and extremely helpful--it's the principle of counseling together to receive revelation taught by Elder Cook in a leadership broadcast several months ago. He said something along the lines of "participation by all is necessary if the revelatory potential is to be achieved" referring specifically to sisters in the ward council if I remember right (shout out to the wonderful women in the Church :) ). Anyway, during this portion of the district meeting the sisters mentioned that they had an investigator in a care center who had accepted the invitation to be baptized but had serious, seemingly irresolvable health concerns. Her health concerns include an inability to move a large portion of her body, including her legs. The solution that the district came up with was basically to pray for a miracle--it wasn't going to happen without one. Over the next couple months the sisters continued to teach her and this sister's determination to be baptized only grew. Promises were made both in teaching by the sisters and in priesthood blessings from the local members. The sister missionaries had a great deal of faith and helped this sister to develop great faith for herself as she read from the Book of Mormon and prayed continually. Many people started to put their heads together brainstorming various potential scenarios for her baptism. Some of the major challenges included transporting her from the care facility to the location of the baptismal service, finding a suitable location for the service, lowering her into and out of the water, and transport back to the facility. Rather than going through all of the many, many, many scenarios to resolve each of these concerns, I will just say that there was a plethora. I'll describe one scenario that I was intimately involved in rehearsing.... President Irion came up with the idea to strap her to a backboard, which he borrowed from a local fire department, and carry her into a font and lower her down. Great idea, right? ...riiiiiiiiight.... So we went to the Church building in her area to try it out. After rolling me out of a wheelchair onto a row of chairs covered with the aforementioned backboard and strapping me to it with leather belts they ('they' being my companion, 3 other Elders, the mission President and his wife) proceeded to carry me through the bathroom to the font. The entire time I did my darndest to remain absolutely relaxed in every way so as to most accurately simulate the complete lack of support that the sister would be able to supply. I was terrified. When we got to the font they realized that getting a backboard with a limp individual strapped to it around the corner from the bathroom down into the font would prove exceedingly difficult. They tried tilting me up vertically leaving me literally hanging from a leather belt wrapped under my arms with my lifeless legs twisting and dragging on the floor and around the corner. I thought for sure that I was going to die as they struggled to get me down the stairs into the font; or at the very least break both my legs. It was uncomfortable and had no chance of success. Back to square one: praying for a miracle. All of this was going on just a couple of days before the scheduled baptism. We strongly considered postponing the baptism, but felt that we just needed to have more faith...slightly unnerving.... So...we prayed for a miracle! I'm not exactly sure how it happened (I guess that's not an entirely true statement...we did pray for a miracle after all...), but everything just fell into place. We suggested a hotel pool which would have more space to maneuver her into the water. It just so happens that there is a Holiday Inn around the corner from the care center with an indoor pool! After a little inquiry Sister Irion determined that if we reserved a room in the hotel we could use the pool for whatever we wanted. The Irions promptly bought a room for the period of time that the baptismal service was scheduled for. Location resolved! Wanting to avoid the approximately $1000 ambulance fee for transporting her to the pool we searched in vain for other options. Someone just decided to ask to see if it was even a possibility and the EMTs said they would love to help...for FREE!!! Transportation to and from resolved! (Not to mention the great relief it was to have EMTs present for any medical complications.) The EMTs transported her to the hotel from the care center in an ambulance. They backed right up to the door from the pool to the outside around the back and wheeled her in on a gurney. They had lain her on a parachute-like sheet with handles all around it for lowering her into and out of the water. Last problem solved! We had eight elders and a couple local members around her manning the handles. There were five in the water and five standing on the side of the pool. A member from her ward said the prayer and then we all lifted her up. The EMTs wheeled the gurney out from under her, we walked her to and over the edge and lowered her to the surface of the water. After plugging her nose she was immersed and raised back up out of the water. We carried her away from the edge as the gurney was wheeled back under her. She was beaming and crying as we set her back down onto the gurney. The temperature in the room was warm enough that she was comfortable as she lay on the gurney. She was confirmed poolside. After expressing a great deal of gratitude to everyone present she was wheeled back out to the ambulance and driven to the care center a new member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints! It went off without a hitch! It was a miracle!!! So that's the story of the sister who got baptized last week.
Elder Elder Raymond

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