Friday, June 10, 2011

The Miraculous Wedding Parable

Acts 2: 37-38-  " Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost."
      For many months a wonderful young couple in Laredo had been sincerely investigating the church. At least four times they had committed to a baptismal date, but each time they had backed out. They admitted that they had been taught well and that they had testimonies that the church is true.  Members of the branch had befriended them. From the examples they set, some of their family members also began to investigate the church. The missionaries sincerely loved the couple and had done all in their power to help them realize that the baptismal covenant is essential.           
   Although not yet baptized, the couple paid tithing, read the Book of Mormon, and came to church regularly... until they chose to investigate other churches in the area. Their hope was that they could gain a clearer understanding of what others believed and compare that to what we believe. Unfortunately, one minister of another faith quickly pointed out the negative and false claims (that frequently arise) by others who really do not know who we are, what we represent, or are claims that come from angry accusations by those who have become disenchanted with the church for various reasons. (Our missionaries often refer to this process as being "anti-ed")  Eventually, the couple broke the hearts of the missionaries and asked them to never return.
   A few months later on a beautiful Sunday morning, Elders Duke and Wilde were surprised when they looked up and saw the couple sitting with a family member in Sacrament meeting. Following the meeting, the elders approached the couple and asked if they could return to teach them again. They all agreed to a lesson the next evening, Monday. The couple asked if the missionaries would teach about faith, because they felt they needed more faith to be able to make the decision to follow through with their baptisms.
   Humbled, recognizing that they would need to teach by the Spirit, the missionaries arrived prepared to teach about faith and about any other concerns that the young couple had.  Here are the words from the letter one missionary sent to President Trayner:
   We decided to ask them about their experience at church and then we asked them what it was that was keeping them from baptism. The husband said he didn't want to get baptized and then have someone from another church come and show him in the Bible all the places where we are "wrong" and lose his faith and not be able to defend himself. For the next 45 minutes, we did everything we could to answer- we shared scriptures from the Book of Mormon, the Bible, the Doctrine and Covenants; we told experiences and stories, etc., but nothing worked and we were still stuck in the same place.      
   Then some thoughts came to me... I started to describe how I am going to find a girl after I return home and I will decide to marry her.  (Editor's note:  his companion describes this as a very "trunky" story!) Ha Ha- what I mean is that I am going to share this "Parable of the Wedding." .. and try to apply it to you  ...I will eventually meet someone and we will start to like each other and eventually I'll ask God if she's the person I should marry. Now if I receive the answer that it is, I'll have two choices. First, I can have faith in the answer I received and do it- get married (baptized), or I can wait because there might still be someone else in this world who is better, prettier, more likeable, etc. If I wait, I'll remain in confusion and never be able to take that important step. If I follow the answer, I will marry. With time, day by day, experience by experience, we'll grow closer together and love each other more and more, to the point to where we both see why God approved of our marriage.  We won't desire anything else.  Now, let's liken this story to you-  You have also received your answer and if you follow it, with time your testimony will grow and strengthen until you more fully understand just how truly true the church and gospel are.
   Well, that hit home pretty well with them. After that they agreed to be baptized. We said "when?"  They replied that the missionaries always set the date, but we explained that this time we felt that they needed to. We sat back on the couch and said that this wasn't our baptism, it is you two making a promise with God and you should set it. They said OK, we'll talk about it tonight and let you know.  We all knelt to pray. The young wife prayed first, and while she prayed, another thought came to me. It would be really good if we could help them set a date before we leave, so I thought maybe after the prayer we could give them each a piece of paper and tell them to go into separate rooms and listen to the Spirit. They can then each write down the day when they should be baptized and (hopefully) they will return back into the living room with the same date. So that is the thought that went through my mind. After she finished praying, the husband began to pray. During his prayer, I prayed to know if I should try out the separate paper idea- basically, I said, 'I don't know if this comes from the Spirit, or if it is just a goofy thought, but I think I'm going to go for it... if I'm wrong, please let me know.'  The husband's sincere prayer ended and we all remained kneeling for a short time. As we sat back down on the couch, I explained what we wanted to do. We gave them each a piece of paper and a pen and separated them into different rooms. In the meantime, I looked at my planner and tried to figure out what date they would pick. I picked the 19th of June. After thinking for about five minutes, the wife picked a date. She handed us her paper and sure enough, it said the 19th of June. I showed her what I said and we all felt pretty confident the Spirit was saying the 19th. About ten minutes later, the husband returns and sits down. I ask if I can see his paper.  He hands it to me and I open it, expecting to see June 19th. It says "hoy" (Spanish for "today").  My first thought was that he thought this was a joke, but we looked at him and asked if he was serious. Resolutely, he replied, YES! We showed his wife and she got excited and asked him again. Again the reply is YES!
   So there we are, on the couch at nine at night, realizing that after months of coming to church and investigating and praying for answers, they said,  "Hoy!"  So what do we do? Did we wait to teach them a bunch of "lessons?" NO!!! We called who we needed to call and went over to the church and started filling up the baptismal font. By ten o'clock, most of the branch was there and we were all dressed in white. About 10:30 pm, this faith-filled couple ended eight months of searching and waiting. Finally, they had made the important decision to follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized!!! The Lord poured out his spirit during that very special baptismal service, tears were shed, and we were able to stand and testify THAT THE DAYS OF MIRACLE HAVE NOT CEASED!!!