Every night I write in my journal. Every night I take a glance at the day, evaluate the good and bad, and rate my overall happinessl evel from 1-10. Childish? Yes. Helpful? Absolutely. It lets me improve; know what truly makes me happy in the field, and how to avoid the things that lower this subjective rating. Most days fall at 7, some extra good days at 8, few difficult, trying days at 6 or 5. I'm generally pretty happy. The baptism of Florencia and her family I rated 9.5. I suppose I was scared to set a limit on how full of joy I could be. A "10" seemed to force a ceiling to the happiness scale, as if I would never know if I had a "10" until I had experienced everything.
Today was a 10. I say that with confidence. Never in my life have I felt such pure love for a family not my own. I believe, eleven months out, I am just starting to understand "charity". Today I had the honor and great privilege of baptizing Sunshine. Her conversion is inspiring in itself, but her baptism and testimony were of a celestial spirit. This 17 year old girl had truly repented of her sins, desired to enter the Church of Jesus Christ, and had made the necessary preparations. She has experienced trials I could only hope to be able to endure. Sincere faith in our Savior was all she had to rely on, all she needed to press forward to baptism a midst great tribulation. Having a pure heart, she was baptized at 1:00 this afternoon. Upon rising from the water, all she could utter was, "wow!".
Last Thursday we finally got a chance to sit down with her family. they had approved of her going to church and being taught long ago, but were understandably worried about their daughter actually joining a new church within days. As we taught the powerful message of the Restoration, hearts were softened. The Holy Ghost testified to loving parents that this Church is, indeed, the Church of Jesus Christ. We returned Friday and Saturday to share more. Saturday, the night before the baptism and just after teaching, her father was attacked by appendicitis. He had pain in his tummy for a few days, thus keeping him and his wife at the house long enough to teach them. We watched as Sunshine rushed her dad to the hospital in a tricycle. It was 9:10 PM, the night before the baptism.
She shared in her testimony that her dad had strength to speak that night at the hospital. He said, "Pupunta ka bukas." (You're going tomorrow) She asked, "Saan, papa?" (where, papa?) "Sa binyag mo. Yan ang simbahan ng Diyos. Ipagpatuloy mo yan." (To your baptism. That is the Church of God. Proceed with it.) Though her father lay in pain and her mother needed at his side, she faithfully proceeded with the baptism. She added her knowledge that she had found the true Church, and thanked her Father.
A "10" day requires not Dr. Pepper, it need not be free of struggle. A "10" day is had when results of honest labor are felt in the pure testimony of a newly baptized member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
If nothing else had happened today, it would have been complete. But there is more.
Sunshine was accompanied by her aunt Mariel this afternoon. Mariel had been at Sunshine's house every night this week, actively participating in the lessons. In those few days she shared with us that her husband died three years ago, leaving her and seven children, the oldest of which is 15. SHe shared that she had been taught by missionaries twice before, but ignored the true message. Last Friday she stopped me mid-sentence, began silently sobbing, and said she felt different from her other experiences with missionaries. She resolved to give us a real chance and come to the Church, as well as support Sunshine at her baptism.
Tonight we taught her whole family. Though I have felt this before, tonight the strong impression came to me to extend a baptismal date. As I followed, I felt love. A perfect Father's love for His faithful, imperfect children. I knew at that moment that I wished to be in no other place in the world. Inviting Marield's family to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored Gospel was my only desire. Mariel testified to the truth of the Church. She rejoiced in knowing she had finally found real hope after the passing of her husband; that she had been given a third chance to accept the Gospel.
Not all days are "10"s. In fact, this could be the best day I have had as a missionary. However, It makes every other day worth it. It shines a light of perfect hope. It is a blessing I will treasure for the rest of my life. Today I humbly sumbit I have experiences, but if nothing else, a taste of the fruit of the tree of life: the love of God. It is, in every deed, most desirable above all other things (1 Nephi 11:21-22).
PS i dream in tagalog and when you guys are in them you are surprisingly good at tagalog in my dreams.