This last week has been a different week. One thing that I have learned in my mission is that the best progression spiritually comes when we open our mouths to teach and testify of the gospel. Our testimonies grow when we share them.
We are trying to reactivate five less-active families that our Ward leaders chose for us. We have the R family, the L, the Y families and a couple others that we have not been able to find. Whenever we go, we try to help them realize the importance of the gospel in their lives, and the blessings the gospel brings. It is effectively done by helping them remember what they felt like when they were baptized. It is an unforgettable feeling. I remember when I was baptized, I asked dad how I would feel after, and he said that I wouldn't be able to be sad, just happy. I remember my friend Braden got baptized first, and when he came out of the font, he passed me on the stairs and he was smiling. Well, I went in the water, got baptized, and when I came out of the water, I felt those indescribable feelings that I am sure we all remember from our baptisms, the feeling of being perfectly clean. I was in the dressing room changing, and I tried to see if dad's promise was true by trying to make myself frown with my fingers, but I could not. I was smiling, happy, and clean. I think sometimes that as members of the church, we have the opportunity to have that experience every week as we take the sacrament. We are being cleansed and purified again. When the less-actives realize that they can feel as happy as they did when they were baptized, they want to come back to the church. It is incredible to see the spirit that is brought back into their lives as they remember the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ and promise to be better and follow Him more.
The changes I have seen in myself over the last year have been incredible, and I owe it all to Christ's atonement. But even more amazing than the changes I have seen in myself, are the changes I have seen in other people. The atonement does not just give us forgiveness of our sins, but it gives us the opportunity to change our hearts and be more devoted to God. Seeing someone display that inward change by the outward ordinance of baptism is probably the thing that has brought me the most joy in my life. I haven't baptized the most people ever, but the people I have baptized have been able to truly transform their lives by correctly applying the atonement and letting the Lord into their hearts.
I have a song from EFY called "Let It Begin.” There are some lines I really love. "To start is the hardest, but it's something that only you can do. Healing starts within, just let Him in, and let it begin." Another line says, "just remember, mistakes from the past don't define us, they refine us." Those lines help me realize that to the Lord, it doesn't matter what we have done, but that it does matter where we are willing to go and what we are willing to do. We need to be willing to take that first step of courage to let the Lord in and heal our hearts. This last week has been filled with experiences of trying to apply the atonement. It has been marvelous; a hard week, but one of great profit and learning.
Dad, I wish you best of luck on the job hunt! Keep it up on the biking, and maybe you will be able to beat me when I get home! hahaha! Mom, I hope everything with your healing process continues to get better. We are definitely praying for you here. I love you all so much!
Elder Austin Michael Kipp
P.S. I look like a lobster again. We had a multi-zone, seven zone soccer tournament this morning . Our team won. Five and a half hours of soccer.