The Khan family at the Washington D.C. Temple
I hope I can convey how remarkable the last few weeks with Asif have been! I haven't given too much detail about him in my previous few emails, so I'll try to explain his story in a little more detail.
It all started a few months ago when Asif had multiple dreams from an angel telling him he is going down the wrong path. The same dream happened three times, but he didn't understand it the first two times. The third time, however, he says it was extremely clear. He knew he needed to explore to find the truth that was missing from his life. So, like any normal human trying to find answers to questions, the first place to go is the internet right? Thankfully for Asif, after typing in "how can I follow Jesus Christ?" he found himself chatting on Mormon.org with two Sister missionaries in Salt Lake. They referred him to two elders in Mt. Vernon, who taught him in his hotel. They proceeded to teach, testify, invite, and promise Asif many things regarding the Book of Mormon. From there, he started to read it every single day. As he read, he began to feel feelings that he had never felt before, which he now knows have come from the Unfortunately, he had an emergency to take care of in Dubai with his businesses, so he lost contact with those two elders and had to return home. However, he never stopped communicating with the two sisters in Salt Lake via chat. He then came back to the U.S. a few weeks later, this time to Alexandria.
So it was an average day, on August 4th, and we were in the elevator heading up to our apartment for dinner. Phone vibrates. Little did I know at the time the miracles that would result from this single text. Here begins a 3-week long journey in "missionary paradise."
Elder Judkins looks down at the phone and states "Sweet, looks like we got a media referral." Then continues on and says "Mr. Asif: call before you visit. They are staying with friends but really, REALLY want to be baptized. Call ASAP. They've been taught lesson 1 and know it's true." I looked at him, thinking he was being his usual joking self, laughed and said, "so what does it actually say?" but he then turned the phone to me and I read it for myself! We immediately called him and set an appointment for August 6th.
On the phone we asked if the information was accurate saying "We hear you want to be baptized?" He said "yes, that is correct." We were esctatic! Our first visit consisted of getting to know him and his understanding of what he's already learned, and helping him understand what would need to happen for him to be baptized here.
Since then, the last 3 weeks have we had the privilege of teaching the most prepared person I've ever met. Truly a missionaries dream. He knew he would have to learn a number of things and come to church a few times before he could be baptized, so he delayed his stay in the U.S. He even came to church on August 7th, knowing his wife would be going into labor that very same day.
The first words he said when he stepped into the church for the first time were "I feel really good. I don't know how to describe it." From this point, we proceeded to teach him the principles of the gospel and he soaked it all in. He spent hours studying the Book of Mormon, watching Mormon Messages, listening to general conference talks in between our visits. He told us in our last lesson before his baptism "I've never felt this way before in my life. It's truly amazing! The more I learn, the happier I get!"
The sister missionaries in Salt Lake, Sister Clark and Sister Gomes, got permission to Skype into Asif's baptism. That was such a neat experience! Those two sisters were extremely happy and emotional to witness the results of their hard work on the other side of the country. One of the sisters told me that the day they met Asif on Mormon.org chat, they had strong faith and specifically prayed that morning to be able to find a family that would be baptized into the church. Asif has been teaching his wife, and she will be baptized within the next month at their congregation in Dubai. They plan on raising their two children in the gospel. I told Sister Clark on skype that we had been praying around that same time to be able to receive some solid referrals that would progress. We've received a number of media referrals, but none of them have seemed to get anywhere. Asif proved otherwise.
The baptismal service was great! Elder Judkins and I, along with a few sister missionaries in our zone sang a musical number "This Is the Christ." Asif bore his testimony at the end, which was so amazing to hear! He bore his testimony again in sacrament meeting after his confirmation. I was able to confirm him a member of the church and that was a neat experience as well!
These last few weeks has only been the beginning of an eternal journey that's in store for Asif and his family. We were able to go up to the Temple Visitors Center with him and his wife on Saturday. I've been there numerous times, but this trip was special. We watched a few different films, one about Joseph Smith and another one about families. Then the Visitors Center Sisters taught about the sacred and special role that temples play in fulfilling Gods plan for us. We showed him pictures of the inside of the temple, as well as the replica cutout model, as we explained the temple ordinances. After learning about baptisms for the dead, Asif immediately brought up that he has a deceased brother and he wants to be baptized for him. Then after learning the basics about endowments and sealings, he said that he would love to come back here in one year with his wife and kids to be sealed for eternity!
Myself, Asif Khan, and Elder Judkins before the baptism.
I am so grateful for the priesthood authority that's been restored to the earth that can bind us together with those we love forever. I'm grateful for temples and the special role they play in our lives.
We have never been happier than we've been these last few weeks! Asif has been such an example to us of faith, courage, love, humility, and sacrifice. I have no doubt that he will remain a strong member of the church. He's going to be a blessing in the lives of many!
It was sad to say bye to him. We've grown to love him tremendously theses last few weeks. But we will be friends for the rest of our lives! I'm grateful for the worldwide church we belong to. It's been a blessing for us to see the support throughout the world! Asif is now getting in contact with his bishop in the Dubai 2nd ward and looks forward to leading his family in truth and righteousness there. Though the numerical membership in Dubai may be small compared to here, they have a strong new addition with Asif!
Elder Duvall, Asif, Naureen, Sofi, and Elder Judkins. Sofi is about 3 weeks old. The day she was born was Asif's first Sunday at church!
Pictures outside the temple. It is currently closed for cleaning and they are repairing the top left spire, which is why part of it is missing.
The Khan family at the Temple Visitors Center next to the Christus statue.
The message of hope and happiness that the gospel brings is the same, no matter where you go in the world! It's quite amazing.
Here are a couple videos from the weekend. One is after attending the Temple Visitor's Center on Saturday. The other was some final words from Asif on Sunday after his confirmation that he wanted to tell us before he left to go back to Dubai. He wanted to write us a note, and he had me write down his words because he hurt his hand trying to do single arm push-ups, so he can't write. He constantly tells us how happy he has been since learning about the gospel! It has been a miraculous couple of weeks. We are humbled and grateful to have been able to help Asif!
If you've made it this far, thanks for reading! I've just been so happy, I couldn't stop typing. There's so much more I could say about Asif, but that's what my journal is for!
My love for whipped cream hasn't faded away!
My district this last transfer.
My zone this last transfer: Sisters Young, Alldredge, Richardson, Morris, West, Corey, Moore, Blackham, Adair, Hansen. And then Elders King, Norton, Goodson, Larsen, Hall, Ma, Mecham, Evans, Judkins and myself.
We were sad to say bye to Elder Mecham! He was a great district leader this transfer.
I look forward to the upcoming week!
I love you all! I hope you have an amazing week as well!
Elder Jeremy Duvall Washington DC South Mission