600,000 Lights

Another Festival week.  It's been a great one.  I think the sisters are to the point now, where they are really learning how to be themselves when they are talking to people.  I love watching them interact and send the missionaries to these people they meet and testify of the Book of Mormon and just love every minute of this experience.  I'm like a mom.  But I'm really so proud of how these girls/sisters embrace their calling! This is definitely a time for a lot of reflecting, and seeing how good they are really makes me think about how my mission has been.  And I'm grateful there is still time to step it up and be better than I am.

One thing that I love about Festival is the number of international visitors that we've had.  So far I've sent missionaries to someone in Trinidad and Tobago, called someone in Zimbabwe, talked to people from India, South Korea, Vietnam, Puerto Rico, Sierra Leone, Ukraine, and a million other places.  My favorite place to take them is the creche room.  There are creche's from all over the world and it's amazing to see how all of Heavenly Father's children can have the same faith.  And even if the creche includes a turtle and a monkey in the manger scene, Christ is always at the center.  It's so meaningful.  That room has such an incredible spirit that is tangible when I walk inside.  I wish that I could take all of you there! Plus, they put these plug-ins in there that make it smell like Christmas and that definitely adds the magic of it all.

Another miracle we're seeing is that this Saturday, Tevin is getting baptized!  He is ready.  It's incredible.  To me, he is evidence that the study of doctrine changes behavior faster than the study of behavior changes behavior.  He is a miracle.  I'm still amazed at the power of the atonement to change people! At the beginning, Tevin was very angry, and bitter, and confused and I wasn't sure if we were going to make it to a second lesson.  And he had so many concerns with the first lesson, that if we hadn't had the spirit in our planning, we probably would have revisited Lesson 1 over and over again.  But both of us felt like we needed to teach him as if he'd accepted everything and just move forward.  As we did so, his concerns became fewer and fewer, and the light in his face got brighter and brighter, and now he's ready.  Last time we saw him he said that we actually likes church (what 16 year old guy says that?) and he feels ready.  He's happy now.  And it's true.  The gospel changes people!  Bah! I wish you could all see it! This has been one of the most memorable and fulfilling conversion experiences of my mission.  I don't know how to put into words all the feelings of watching Tevin (a 16 year old in the middle of 9 siblings, divorced parents, etc. etc) as he hated the world and all of the unfair treatment he'd received.  He was even called the 'devil child' by members of his family, so of course he had every right to be angry and bitter.  It consumed him.  He never smiled.  His eyes were always squinted just a little so that everyone knew he didn't trust them, and would sit in our lessons and just stare at the table.  But from the beginning, Sister Wankier and I knew when he accepted our message he would be the strongest one in that family.  I'm so grateful that Heavenly Father knew that both of us are the type of people who respond with extra doses of jokes and happiness when people are angry, because that is exactly what Tevin needed.  And Heavenly Father knew that.  We're sure Tevin thought (and probably still thinks) we're crazy as we were burning tea bags on his hand, mixing in ketchup with his ice cream, and doing every ridiculous thing we could think of to teach him the gospel.  The Spirit led, and little by little, he smiled more.  He came to church.  He prayed.  He read his scriptures.  He laughed.  He changed! He's confident in who he is, and he's at peace.  He trusts God and he's happy.  And it's real happiness. There's no way he could pretend to be as genuine as he is now.  Ah, it's amazing.  This is what truth does to people.  

So stay true to those things that are eternal.  I love you all!

-Sister Welch 

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