Monday, August 8, 2016

8-8-2016 Alex & Kadiatu's baptism, Quintin, Isha, Kim, Arlington National Cemetery

Hello everybody! We had a great week and have had of lot of work going on.

I'm pretty sure I've taught more lessons this week than I have any other week in my mission. It has been amazing how busy we have been! So much has happened I wish I could convey how great the last couple weeks have been.

We taught Quintin a couple times this week. We brought a member of the ward with us that speaks Krio, so he was able to connect with him! Quintin is progressing really well, and he even joined us in a lesson with Isha later on in the week. Quintin and Isha are now on the same track as far as lessons go, and they are both excited to be baptized. We coordinated with them a day that would work for both of them, and they are preparing for September 2nd!! When we got to Isha's house on Friday, she was having a rough day and was pretty sad about some news she received regarding her sons development and progress with his autism, but by the time we left she had a huge smile on her face and said she felt much better! It's so great to see how happy people can become as they embrace the gospel!!

This is Leroy, a member of the ward that came to join us in our lesson with the Ethiopian family. Before we got into teaching anything, they gave us a bunch of food to eat and it was pretty good! 

We had some amazing lessons with Isha and Quintin this week. We had a couple separate lessons and were even able to do one together! The one on the left is Isha's sister who we haven't gotten to know to well yet. And Isha is holding her son Ali here standing next to Quintin. They've become great friends in the last week! 

We have an investigator named Kim that's started learning about the gospel a couple weeks before I got here in Alexandria. In one of her first visit with missionaries, they were having a good discussion with her, but when she was invited to baptism she immediately said no and then kicked them out of her house. About a week and a half ago she called and told us she's been reading the Book of Mormon and that she's felt really good about it and wants to keep learning. Then a few days later, she called us early one morning and asked if we could come over and give her a blessing because she was in the hospital the night before. So we went over and gave her a blessing and had a cool experience with her. After the blessing, she immediately told us she felt her burdens lifted off of her and that she feels at peace. She said that she wants to work towards being baptized! She struggles with smoking, but has a strong desire to quit, and has already made tremendous progress. She came to church for the first time yesterday, and got up and bore her testimony in sacrament meeting! I've never seen that before! Someone whose never been in the church before, who barely started learning about it, got up there and testified that she knows this is the right path for her and that she hopes that she can have the strength and courage to be baptized! She calls us everyday just to check up on us, and asks "How are my friends doin on this beautiful morning?" She's the sweetest woman! She leaves us voicemails occasionally as well, telling us things that she's learning from the Book of Mormon and how she feels the spirit as she reads. We're so grateful for Kim!

This is the Olsen family, with our investigator Kim. Kim loved meeting different ward members this week!

At church I felt like I was moving all over the place this week. I first was sitting with Elder Judkins and Kim, but then I went to sit with Isha and Quintin once they got there. A few minutes into the meeting, these two Ethiopian ladies showed up that we've been teaching! Their names are Lydia and Tringo. We had 5 investigators at our sacrament meeting today which was awesome!

We then went to another wards sacrament meeting with another investigator that we taught this week that couldn't make it in the morning. His name is Asif, and he's from the United Arab Emirates, specifically the city of Dubai. He's pretty wealthy and came to America to buy some hotels and gas stations. He makes it sound like buying a hotel or gas station is like buying a piece of candy. It's funny how he says "If I like the gas station, I'll buy it" like its no big deal. From what we understand, he owns a big advertising company in Dubai. He's an interesting man, but he's super will to make sacrifices to become a member of the church. He's been reading the Book of Mormon and knows that it's true and is super motivated to learn! We found out that there are actually a couple LDS congregations in Dubai that we will get him in contact with when he returns.

This is Asif!  He's such a great man! 

One highlight of the week was being able to go back to Centreville a couple times. We had a Mission Leadership Conference in Centreville with all the Zone Leaders and District leaders that was really good. President and Sister Huntsman have a son that just returned home from his mission in France, so it was cool to be able to hear from him and some of the experiences and lessons he learned while serving there.

Alex Koroma and I. He was so happy when he found out I was going to be able to come to attend his baptism!

On Saturday I was able to go out to Centreville again to attend the baptism of Alex Koroma and Kadiatu! It was probably the most spiritual baptism I have ever been to. I got to participate in the service by saying one of the prayers at the baptism and Elder Chu and his new companion did the baptisms.

Kadiatu, Alex, Elder Wickham, Elder Chu and I. I'm so grateful that I was able to attend their baptism and be a part of their conversion process! 

 At the end of the baptism, Bishop Deursch had both Alex and Kadiatu bear there testimonies. Kadiatu doesn't speak any English, but we were able to start teaching her through translation from Amy and she was so happy when she found out she could be baptized here, even if she didn't speak English. I felt the spirit so strong as Kadiatu bore her testimony in Krio! Amy translated so we could all understand, but she kept saying over and over how happy she is that her whole family has now been able to become members of the church! Alex shared his whole story as well. When he got here to America about 2 months ago, it was the first time he had ever travelled outside of Sierra Leone. He came to church with Amy his first Sunday here, when Amy bore her testimony in sacrament meeting. Then we started teaching him about the gospel that week. He really liked how we encouraged him to find answers for himself and not just accept what we tell him. So he did just that! His story of praying to know the truth and receiving his own answers was powerful! He told me how happy he was when Elder Chu told him I'd be coming to his baptism! Kadiatu was so happy to see me again as well. I met Kadiatu my first Sunday in Virginia and she's the kindest woman, always has a smile on her face and loves everyone around her, even though she doesn't understand any English. I'm so happy that I was able to go witness their baptism, and be a part of their conversion. Their whole family has been such a blessing to me, and many others that they've interacted with and I can't wait to see what's in store for them. It was fun to see some of the members of the ward there as well.

I'm so grateful to be involved in these amazing miracles the last few weeks!

I'm also grateful for the freedoms we enjoy in this country and the opportunity we have to worship as we please. Today we were able to go to the Arlington National Cemetery. Regarding war, President Hinckley has stated "As we contemplate the human misery created by war, we need to recall our debt to those who have sacrificed so much for human liberty." I'm grateful for those who have gone before us and sacrificed their lives in effort to protect the freedoms we enjoy.


 Good view into DC from a hill inside Arlington National Cemetery, right next to Robert E. Lee's house

Arlington National Cemetery with the Pentagon in the background

 An amphitheater right next to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, where we watch the changing of the guard ceremony.

Well, I'm loving it here! I love all of you! And I hope you have a wonderful week.

Elder Jeremy Duvall Washington DC South Mission

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