After another week in Poughkeepsie, we are finally starting to see the makings of a solid new area. We've had some great experiences that tell me God is helping us pull the work together in this place.
R* is set to be baptized this coming Saturday. She is "soooo stoked!" Better yet, her daughter, D*, approached us this last week and said that she wants to be baptized too! She wasn't very interested at first, but she's been sitting in on a few of our lessons with R* and now has determined that she wants to follow in her mother's footsteps and be baptized! She won't be able to be baptized on the same day, because we don't have time teach her everything, though she has been attending church with her mom. Plus we want to make sure she's ready. She has a baptismal date set for the first Saturday in January! This Wednesday, she is going to be going caroling with the Young Women while R* hangs out at a member's home. Everything is going wonderfully!
Elder L'Espérance will be singing a solo at her baptism. I got lucky and will just be saying the opening prayer.
Another miracle this last week happened quite unexpectedly and at a bit of an inconvenient time. Right as we were about to begin our Ward Christmas party we got a call from a woman we've never met nor heard of named B*. She told us she is a member of the church and needed to speak with missionaries as soon as possible. Elder L'Espérance and I both felt like we needed to go right then. We met her in a cafe and she broke down crying as she explained to us a series of events that have occurred in the past few months that have brought her and her family to the brink of homelessness. Lost jobs, raised rent, and medical bills have quite suddenly brought her into the depths of humility. She said she feels so guilty that it took all this to make turn to God again. We assured her that no matter how far off she thinks she's gone, there is always a place for her in the church and there is always forgiveness available to those who seek it. She said she will never leave the church again. We found her membership records in a Ward in the Bronx (which is why no one in Poughkeepsie knew who she was) and the bishop is now going to be supplying christmas presents for her family this year. We met with her again on Monday and she introduced us to her aunt, who is not a member of the church. Her aunt has been really sick in the past few months with severe COPD and other conditions that have kept her in and out of the hospital. She asked us to give her a blessing. We anointed her head with oil, sealed the anointing and gave her a blessing. Afterwards, she was in tears and told us she felt so warm inside. That was awesome.Weather her has been nuts. One second it will be sunny and warm, the next it will be snowing, then the wind is blowing semi's over, then suddenly it's raining and freezing sheets of ice over everything. And nothing stays the same for long.
On a more appetizing note, I have learned that the CIA (Culinary Institute of America, not Central Intelligence Agency) is in my area and several Ward members are students there. That means we get GOOD food at Ward parties.
We're definately keeping busy. We drive down to Ossining a lot for rehearsals for the Christmas devotional. So I've learned that drive very well now. It's painfully close to my last area. Part of me wants to just keep driving south on the Taconic Parkway for another few miles and see J* and P* , and everyone else I know down there. So far I've demonstrated enough control to peel off on the Ossining exit every time and take Elder Le'Espérance to his rehearsal.
Luckily the work in Poughkeepsie keeps me busy enough to prevent me missing people too much. Things are really starting to take off. We're picking up a few investigators and working with the Ward a lot.
Got to go now. Love you all!
-Elder Samuel Burton