A Failure and a Blessing

This weekend, one of our baptisms fell through for the first time. It was a painful experience, but a necessary one. (As almost all experiences are). I mentioned that last week we began teaching a young woman of about 18 years of age. She was quite literally prepared by the Lord. Everything we taught she understood and recognized as truth. She wanted more information, more knowledge, more light. She didn’t have to change much to live in accordance with the principles of the gospel, but those changes that were necessary she has been more than willing to make (avoiding eating out on the weekends and praying/reading scriptures more frequently).

This weekend she travelled with her family to a nearby city and left with the knowledge and commitment that her baptism was marked for this Sunday. When we last spoke on Thursday, she appeared excited and hopeful about the baptism. We had trouble, however, communicating with her throughout the weekend. We called and called, but weren’t able to reach her. Come Sunday, she sent us a message saying that the baptism was too soon. So we emptied the baptismal font and told everyone not to come.

In moments like these, I’m often left wondering where I might have gone wrong, what I could have done better to help in her conversion. She has a growing testimony, and I have no doubt that all will turn out well in the end, but, even so, I always feel as a missionary that there must have been something more I could have done. A Super Hero complex is a tricky problem to deal with. It’s especially tricky on the mission. I imagine missionary work is a lot like raising children. You start knowing so much and try to steer those for whom you are responsible in the right direction. Leading, however, comes tugging softly from the front instead of shoving from behind.

Captain America

I have a base of knowledge of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ through experience and testimony and reading and prayer and faith. But most of the people I teach don’t have that. If translating from English to Portuguese wasn’t nuanced enough, translating from personal testimony to shared testimony certainly adds to the complexity of the puzzle. Nevertheless, the process of translation is a gratifying one, and I’m learning day by day how to depend on the Spirit. More and more I’m learning how powerless I am and how ineffective this work is without the hand of God performing miracles and guiding our steps.

There’s a need for miracles on the mission. Sometimes, it seems impossible to develop the vision and faith required to perform them. With every day that passes, I’ve come to learn God is a God of miracles. If we really do depend on him, if we take the time to dismantle the training wheels, the power and speed of the Lord’s work grows remarkably. Two years seem so short at times…I’m grateful for every minute of it.

Thank you for your love, your guidance, and your prayers.

I love you all dearly.

-Elder Fleming-

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