Such good news: Danny and his family are getting baptized and confirmed! Depending on his wife's work schedule--which we don't know about yet and is pretty inflexible--we will be holding that service on the 20th. We are so excited!
Allow me to expound on why that is so significant. Baptism is very symbolic. It represents death and rebirth and becoming clean so we can start anew. Confirmation is when we receive the gift of the Holy Ghost so that we can always have the Spirit to be with us to guide us through our lives, help us receive personal revelation, cleanse and sanctify us, and bring us peace and happiness. Both ordinances are great gifts in those respects.
However, they have greater import than just these aspects. When we are baptized and confirmed, we make a covenant, or promise, with God to follow the Savior more in our lives and to always remember Him. We promise to help those around us and to try to become more like Christ. Covenants, like those in baptism and confirmation, are essential to return to live with God again. God commanded the Children of Israel to make covenants with Him and He still requires the same of us today.
Jesus tells us that "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God" (John 3:9). Christ Himself was baptized because even He wasn't exempt. We are excited Danny's family will be able to begin making covenants that allow them to return to live with God again. That is the purpose of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; to help the children of God to participate in ordinances and make covenants necessary to live with God. In essence, that is a large part of our purpose as missionaries.
An Apostle of the Church recently said of covenants: "At baptism we covenant to serve the Lord and keep His commandments. When we partake of the sacrament, we renew that covenant and declare our willingness to take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ. Thereby we are adopted as His sons and daughters and are known as brothers and sisters. He is the father of our new life. Ultimately, in the holy temple, we may become joint heirs to the blessings of an eternal family, as once promised to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and their posterity. Thus, celestial marriage is the covenant of exaltation. When we realize that we are children of the covenant, we know who we are and what God expects of us. His law is written in our hearts. He is our God and we are His people. Committed children of the covenant remain steadfast, even in the midst of adversity. When that doctrine is deeply implanted in our hearts, even the sting of death is soothed and our spiritual stamina is strengthened. The greatest compliment that can be earned here in this life is to be known as a covenant keeper. The rewards for a covenant keeper will be realized both here and hereafter." --Russell M. Nelson, Oct. 2011
I used to look down on missionaries that were always talking baptism. Since coming on my mission, I've realized how truly important it is.
I know what I have shared is true. I felt like it was the message I needed to covey this week. I know baptism and confirmation blesses our lives.
My invitation is twofold:
1) Be baptized and confirmed by someone holding the priesthood authority from God. Reach out to a Mormon friend or go to Mormon.org and you can get in touch with missionaries like me who will be happy to help.
2) When you have done that, come to church and renew your baptismal covenants weekly. We all will still make mistakes; coming to church and taking the sacrament allows us to repent, move forward, and relieve ourselves of guilt and sorrow.
Again, I know these things are true. I know that baptism and confirmation by proper priesthood authority are essential for us to return to live with God again. I promise that if we take these steps, not only do we receive the gift of the Holy Ghost to guide and support us in this life, but we prepare ourselves for greater blessings to come in the next.
Love you all. Great to hear from you. Thanks for faithfully reading my letters and supporting me in my efforts to help those in Oklahoma.
Elder Josh Kilmer
Oklahoma, Oklahoma City Mission, Marshallese/English-speaking
Fudoshin: immovable spirit