Well this week was crazy. Really crazy. We had a weird experience that none of us really understand, but we know we did everything we could and we followed the spirit. We may not ever see results from this experience, but I know I did what I was supposed to do. I will fill you in….
Last Friday we were weekly planning and we came to Vasis. We had all felt strongly that we needed to meet with him to teach him about personal revelation to try to help him understand his answers that we all know he received. As we were discussing him we realized that if Vasis wanted he could be baptized in a week. He knows everything, but a few commandments and we could teach him those and review everything in a week. All of the sudden it made so much sense. Vasis was ready to be baptized and if he wanted too, he would be ready. He had already come to church more than 3 times and was already living the word of wisdom. So we all got on our knees and prayed to know what to do with him. We arose from our prayer and we all knew. We got to work. We made him a baptismal calendar and we planned a lesson for every day that next week. We knew it sounded crazy, but we also knew that the spirit had told us to plan for Vasis to get baptized on Saturday March 16.
We planned every lesson along with a member to use for every lesson. We thought of every single excuse he could possibly come up with and planned how we would handle it. The only thing Vasis was lacking was a testimony of Christ. He knows the Book of Mormon is true (how can you know the BOM is true and not believe that you have to follow Christ and be baptized and that Christ is your Savior? Beats me.)
And although we couldn’t give him a testimony of that we knew that God could work miracles and if Vasis allowed God to give him a testimony, God would. We planned EVERYTHING. We even planned his baptism. Then we started a fast to know how to handle this all and to be able to follow the spirit in our next lesson with him where we had prepared to invite him to baptism. The lesson with him the next day was very intense. I looked Vasis straight in the eyes and I told him that I KNEW he had received an answer. He starred back at me and didn’t deny it. And so I told him that when you receive answers you must act so that you don’t lose that light.
We invited him to be baptized and to act on the answer we knew he had received. He sat there and thought for a while and then said, “I need to think about this. I don’t know if I am ready” We told him we knew he was and that we were ready to meet with him every single day to prepare him. He said he wasn’t sure what he would do, but that he was willing to try to be prepared. We all knew it wasn’t going to be an easy ride with him. We all knew he would have to take some big steps and strides to believe in his testimony. But we were willing to work for it. And so we did. We met with him after church the next day and taught some commandments and he agreed to live by them all. We then set up a lesson for every day and he agreed to come. We spent hours praying, thinking, planning, talking, and practicing for Vasis. The next lesson we reviewed the Plan of Salvation and Vasis started to fight it a little in a respectful way, but he didn’t understand and didn’t agree with our need for a Savior. The next lesson he was still stuck, although he had done his homework studying the topics we felt would help him. It continued to get worse from there on out. The next lesson with him he fought and picked apart everything we said. Once again in a respectful matter, but in a ‘didn’t agree with anything’ matter. We started loosing hope in his baptism on Saturday.
And one thing I learned through this is the difference between faith and hope. The next day we were weekly planning again (Thursday) and we were talking about Vasis and how we all knew without a doubt that we were supposed to be preparing Vasis this week and doing everything we were doing. We all felt that it was one of those experiences where we just knew and we had no doubt of what we needed to do. And we were all giving it our all. We gave it everything we had. I realized while planning that although I had faith that God could work miracles and send Vasis a dream or something, I had lost hope that God would.
Faith is a belief while Hope is more of an attitude. I realized I needed my hope back. And the spirit gave it to us all while planning for him. Our faith and hope was renewed as we once again knelt down together for guidance on what to do with him with only one day to go before his supposed baptismal date. We realized that if he had received the answer and had realized his testimony of Christ that we could meet with him 2 or 3 times just on Friday to make sure he was ready. We were ready to not sleep, drink, or eat for this cause. So Friday came and Vasis came to the lesson. I asked him after the prayer what he was thinking about his baptism. He then took the next long while explaining how he doesn’t think there is a universal truth to anything. What we say is true because it is true for us. And so it is true. What others say is true, is true for them. He doesn’t think that there is a need to be “saved” from anything. He doesn’t believe in the fall and can’t accept it. He believes in inner harmony and peace that can be found by turning inward and releasing it yourself. That inner self-harmony is God, and that we just have a different name for it, namely the Holy Ghost. I told Vasis I knew that there was more to this “inner peace” and that he couldn’t find it just from meditating. I told him that when he realized that there was something more he should come back to church and talk to the missionaries. He didn’t deny that, but he didn’t change his opinions. Vasis walked out and we all sat on the ground and cried. We all love Vasis and we had given it everything we had. We had exhausted ourselves. Vasis is so stuck in his ways he can’t see the difference the gospel has already made in his life. We knelt and prayed for understanding. We were confused why the spirit had confirmed to us that he could do it and that we could help him do it.
I have since realized that through the past experiences with Vasis (namely the one where we witnessed him receiving an answer of the Holy Ghost) I have gained confidence in God. I knew that God will answer people’s questions when they are sincere. I know that the spirit ALWAYS testifies of truth. I know that God did everything he could to help Vasis along. But in the end it was Vasis who chose not to listen, not to admit, and not to accept what the spirit has taught him. I have no doubt that God did his part. And I have no regrets about the experience.
Vasis is still around and even came to church on Sunday, but we are not meeting with him anymore. He understands. It has been one big circle with him, over and over. but I know we did what God wanted and I know God is happy with what we did. I still have hope for Vasis in the far future and I will continue to keep praying for him. I did learn a lot through this experience and I am grateful for it.
So that pretty much took up our whole week. Other than that here are some highlights
We had Zone Conference, which was really amazing and I learned so many valuable things.
We were able to have dinner with one of the senior couples, the Adams, and it was like being at home and it was wonderful and picked our spirits up.
Eriks, dzintars cousin, accepted a baptismal date for March 30! So we will be working with him a whole lot the next 2 weeks!!!
One of the best parts about this week happened on Sunday bright and early. We got up at 5am and went to the train station where we met all the missionaries in Riga along with many Russian and Latvian members. We all traveled to the seaside and once we were there we stood by the frozen waves. We commemorated the dedication of Latvia the country to the preaching of the gospel. Exactly 20 years ago James E Faust had stood right where we were and dedicated Latvia. They had some speakers and they reread the dedicatory prayer. We sang some hymns and then rejoiced together. It really was a special morning and although it was -10 degrees and we were all freezing, we had huge smiles on all our faces.
I love Latvia. I love these people. I love being a missionary. I love working hard and giving everything I have to the Lord. I am grateful I have this experience to have to give everything to the point where I have absolutely nothing left to give and then standing back up to try again. It really is life changing. And I am thankful for the change in my life I have made and received.
I am thankful for all of YOU in my life and I hope you all have an amazing week!!
Love you all forever and beyond! 🙂