This week was so good and weird. This coming Sunday we have three people lined up to be baptized, so we have been running around and visiting them as much as we can, trying to make sure that all is in order. It always seems like whenever someone is right on the cusp of being baptized, lots of things happen to mess up the baptism. This week I went to a near by area to give a baptismal interview to a man who other missionaries had taught, and was preparing to be baptized the next day. When I arrived at the church to give the interview, I walked in on the man and the two missionaries who had taught him in a serious discussion in which everyone involved was bawling. I silently backwards tiptoed out of the room, trying not to be noticed. It turns out that the man had been investigating the church for 8 months, and had finally made the decision to be baptized. Right before I arrived at the interview, he told the missionaries that we knew the church was true, but would never be able to take the step of baptism because he was scared. I feel like that happens with a lot of baptismal candidates right before baptism because someone doesn't want the baptism to happen and will do all possible to prevent it. Right now, Elder Abbott and I are trying to make sure this doesn't happen to our investigators. This involves visiting everyone of them everyday and a lot of running around. Sometimes I feel like one of those guys who spins plates on sticks and has to make sure of all the plates get a certain amount of spinning so they don't fall. (Sweet simile.) We are praying so hard, and doing all possible to help our investigators get there. I guess, in the end, this is a good process, because it weeds out the people who really aren't committed. Painful, but good.
This week we got a call from an Elder from a nearby area telling us that he had a really special reference (referral to teach someone) for us. He told us that had met and taught a woman who really like the message that he had to give. She happened to go to be a pastor (pastoress?) for a church in Longchamps (my area), and she wanted her congregation to hear the missionaries. We were really excited/nervous to teach a whole congregation. I had visions going through my head of all of them getting baptized, and just having to change the sign of their church. I called the lady and she told us to meet her in a park in our area at 3:30. I thought it was kind of weird to meet in a park, but didn't think too much of it. As we walked to the park, I heard lots of shouting and what sounded like an outdoor concert. We got to the park, and found that it was not too far from that. The park was full of people in strange long robes and tunics and women with their hair covered in long cloth tubes. All the men had really long hair and beards. They were all turned away from us, facing a stage, where a rock band was playing songs about Jesus and God. I thought to myself, "It's weird that these strange people wanted to meet int the park at the same time we were going to meet an investigator. Way wrong. As we approached, a girl ran out of the crowd and shouted,"Elders!". My stomach sunk and I had a fit of nervous laughter. She grabbed us both by the upper arm and shouted to the stage, "Brothers and Sisters! The Mormons are here!" The man on the stage with the microphone then announced that we were there and everyone turned around, looked at us, and gave a thunderous applause. I was so scared. hahaha I thought that they were going to want us to preach from the stage, but luckily it was not the case. The girl took us over to talk with the leaders of the church, a group of about 10 large, robed, bearded, old guys. They sat Elder Abbott and I in between all of them and began to explain, in really a very courteous way, that there church was right, and that we were liars. I just smiled and said, "Ohhh que bueno!" about a thousand times. They explained that they practice the law of Moses to exactness and that they were a new Israel community. They were trying to expand their message to the whole world, and had pretty much invited us to come to try to get us to convert and become missionaries for them to start a community in the United States. We politely declined and talk them a short version of the first lesson. Then we tried to excuse ourselves while they shoved Bible verses in front of our faces for the next hour. We finally escaped and I come away from the experience learning what an investigator must think when two strange white boys in shirt and tie come up to them and tell them a bunch of strange things. I guess the only difference in the Spirit. It really is essential to everything.