One of the first major things that occurred this week was the fikarakaraina (taking care of) Ernest and Marguerite's wedding. Going into this experience, both Elder Peatross and I were not exactly of high spirits as Ernest had already put off going to the Commune (gov buidling) for days and days and it seemed certain that we weren't going to be able to get them married before baptism.
I walked in with Ernest to the desk in order to say the words that he might not have thought to say. It isn't that he wasn't mahay tengasy, it is just that sometimes Malagasys are overwhelmed with such difficulties as a stubborn office worker or regulations. We, as Americans, are more natural arguers and more apt to be assertive in working our way throught a system. Anyways, the man at the desk said exactly what I thought he'd say: "Yes; I'm glad that you and your wife would like to be married so soon (within two days), but it seems as though you did not take the liberty to read our strict policies and guidelines which state clearly that your marriage date is according to our whims and especially upon the date which you submitted you papers for the ceremony, in the first place. Consequently, you will not be able to get married until next Thursday (after their baptism date). Maybe in the future you should be more prompt with your requests."
Ok ok, so that may have been somewhat of a dramatic interpretation of what the man said, but the meanings were essentially the same. So at the point I begged the man to have mercy upon us, and I specifically explained our plight. I told him that us as missionaries were always helping people get married, and that it would be fantastic if we were to receive a little bit of help in return. If one was to guess his decision by his flustered face and harsh "gruff" at my pleas, I'm fairly positive that they'd say he would say "no." It was at that point that I turned to my Father in Heaven. I remembered reading about Ammon praying with his brethern so hard that God might pour out His Spirit upon those receivers of the word, and the Lord
doing just as he had asked. So, I prayed as fervently as I could under the circumstances and begged the Lord to soften that mans heart and pour His Spirit out upon the front-desk worker.
Then, a miracle happened and the worker said with a broad smile that Ernest and his wife could indeed be married that next Thursday. The Lord will hear our prayers if our intentions are good, our faith is strong, He will usually answer.
The following Thursday, Ernest and Marguerite got married at the local commune. The Spirit was strong as those wonderful people became a couple according to the Law and to God. Later that day we had a modest celebration of Thanksgiving with food, fun, and a movie.
I'm going to Sabotsy Namehana today and I will be senior comp. In fact, from my sixth month on in the mission, I've always been senior companion. Also, I got my Hump Day package and Christmas package! They were wonderful! All of the candy has already been consumed, the letters read, and the presents opened. I just didn't feel like waiting for Christmas, as the main present of the day for that holiday is going to be my speaking with all of you beautiful people. The socks, the ties, the light, and the journal are all wonderful and very much appreciated. The packages were wonderful and I thank you kindly.
The preparations of the baptism last Saturday were long and stressful. Goodness gracious; it was a wonderful event. We were running around town like chickens with our heads cut off trying to get all of our ducks in a row. When the baptism finally started after a good hour or so of delay, it was standing room only. Standing up straight for hours on end was tough - all of us missionaries had really bad headaches and backpains. During the baptism of the all-dressed-in white-44, I didn't really have the stength to ponder upon the wonderfulness of it all. I was just so tired. Seeing all those people in white and watching them all go into the make-shift baptismal font was truly incredible - a sight that I doubt I'll ever see again in this life time.
The next day at the District Conference to form the district, Elder Jackson Mkhabela of the Seventy spiritually brought the house down. This is a summation of what he said, "Seeing the faces of those people getting baptized yesterday was truly humbling. I could see their faith, their hope, and their commitment. But most of all, I could see their joy by the smiles on their faces. I have never in all my years of Church service seen something so breathtaking. I was taken away in the Spirit and I needed some alone time with the Lord." It was spectacular and articulate.
I love my mission and I especially love Antsirabe. I have a whole year left, but I doubt that I'll be able to see something that will trump that. I know this church is the one and only true church on the face of the Earth. I also know by that same power which gave me my testimony to begin with that every single one of those people will be joining us in the Celestial World, dependent of course upon our faithfulness and diligence.
In closing, I just wnted to say that I love all of you and pray for you daily. Also, my next Thanksgiving will be spent at home.
Sad to Leave But Thankful Regardless,
PS: I'm the new translater for the senior couple, The Lehnharts.