This week was a weird one. I feel like not too much happened because I was on exchanges (when you change companions for a day) twice this week, and it was all during our important lessons. I'm going on another one today. I'm not the biggest fan of exchanges, but they are a good way to learn from other missionaries. Also, I'm pretty sure they exist only to keep me humble. Seriously, every time we have exchanges things go wrong. All of our plans fall through, people tell us not to come back, or we meet a bunch of crazy people.
Anyway, in other news this week, we had a fantastic trip to the Temple with Danny and his family (except Ravin, who is too young). It was so wonderful to see them all dressed in white and being baptized for ancestors who have been waiting a while to receive that ordinance for themselves.
For a brief explanation on the practice of Temple baptisms, Mormon Newsroom has published this statement on our beliefs:
Jesus Christ taught that “except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). For those who have passed on without the ordinance of baptism, proxy baptism for the deceased is a free will offering. According to Church doctrine, a departed soul in the afterlife is completely free to accept or reject such a baptism — the offering is freely given and must be freely received. The ordinance does not force deceased persons to become members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or “Mormons,” nor does the Church list deceased persons as members of the Church. In short, there is no change in the religion or heritage of the recipient or of the recipient's descendants — the notion of coerced conversion is utterly contrary to Church doctrine.
Of course, proxy baptism for the deceased is nothing new. It was mentioned by Paul in the New Testament (see ) and was practiced by groups of early Christians. As part of a restoration of New Testament Christianity, Latter-day Saints continue this practice. All Church members are instructed to submit names for proxy baptism only for their own deceased relatives as an offering of familial love.
Sweet feelings of the Spirit entered the room when Elizabeth was baptized for the granddaughter of one of the members attending with us. It was made all the more meaningful due to how recently Danny, Elizabeth, and MaKayla were baptized themselves.
MaKayla was actually feeling sick beforehand, and I almost suggested that she wait until she was feeling better, but I'm glad she didn't because she said as soon as she changed into the white Temple clothing, she felt immediately better. They all expressed how peaceful it felt in the Temple and that it helped them after a long week. I, too, enjoyed the calm and refuge inside the Temple, as well as the peaceful spirit it allows us to feel.
As missionaries, we work a lot with people with serious struggles--often struggles that affect their whole lives and their general demeanor but are difficult for others to see from the outside looking in. This week we had a lot of that. My challenge this week is for you to remember that everyone goes through struggles and that if you assume someone you see is going through a trial, you're probably right. Look for ways to lift others up, not write them off.
Have a great week! Love you all!
Elder Josh Kilmer
Oklahoma, Oklahoma City Mission, Marshallese/English speaking
Fudoshin: immovable spirit