Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Progress - The Stone

Two new priesthood holders sit to contemplate and prepare to serve for the first time. Alain is 13-he is our deacon's quorum. Last week instead of waiting an extra half hour for his mother, he didn't want to be late to help us clean the little chapel, so he walked for 45 minutes alone. He was waiting with a smile as we arrived. He worked hard with us as he as done each week. Fleure was a little boy when his family was baptized in 1992. He is now 19 and hoping to serve a mission someday. But this day he is a priest and is waiting with Alain to pass the sacrament for the first time.

Our little group of saints and investigators were ferried 10 minutes across town (40 minutes on foot) in our pick-ups (four round trips) to meet for the baptism of Four more wonderful converts. The setting is beautiful midst the mango tree and palms set on the eastern hillside of the city. It is further than we like but a real answer to much prayer and the direct result of revelation.

This time families of the new converts were seated to watch father, mother, brother, or sister experience the beginning of their rebirth. One investigating pastor was pleased to see that his congregation baptized like we do.  We hope he discovers that form is not all there is. He will begin meeting with the missionaries this week.

Elder Diazola (left) is a sweet humble elder with a Michael Jackson voice and a Sons of Helaman spirit. His facility with Swahili made the teaching of these four possible. Elder Kizumbu, (right) is our youngest missionary and one of the oldest elders. He is a natural leader and accomplished teacher.

The young nephew of former pastor Thomas followed his uncle and pastor into the waters of baptism. This will give us two young adults preparing for missions.
Former pastor Thomas (next to Annie) understood that baptism would mean he wasn't a pastor any more.  His testimony gave him the stamina to walk two and a half hours to church each week. Will his flock of 30-60 follow him? He hopes they will, he has said they would if they were closer. The filters of mortality may someday be seen for what they are.

We have introduced Annie in earlier accounts. She is the widow and mother from Baraka, DRCongo who had visions that led a little congregation to the Church. In her vision a man told her the name of the Church and to look for "whites" to lead her. She moved the 71 miles of mountain road and into different country so she could be taught here.

Former pastor Johnson (2nd from right) began years ago, with an embassy official who is no longer here, to discover the power of the Book of Mormon. He wrote the Church for books and literature which he hungrily read. He subsequently invited, petitioned, begged the Church to come and bring the gospel to his country. His story is detailed also in earlier blogs but this was the moment he had prayed for. He hopes to receive the priesthood soon so he can baptize his family; wife and seven children. He is a natural leader, a humble, gentle, but influential man with connections in education (former employment) and politics (former activity).

Progress is often measured in numbers, size, or distance but here and now for us it is measured in the miracles of the conversion process - people being changed by the still small voice - over and over again. Though no two stories are the same, the process is common to each. This something, so quiet, so repeatable, so life-changing, requiring much sacrifice and pioneering with little mortal reward, is the stone upon which Christ would build His church and against which the gates of Hell could not prevail. The stone is rolling in Burundi!

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