Wonderful baptism service

Wonderful baptism service

By Wong Wei, Woodlands Ward

When I was growing up in the church, I often heard the testimonies of return missionaries and their encouragement for the youth to go on missions and wondered what all the hype was about. For the next several weeks, I would catch trickles of conversations about how different this person was and the new power that possessed his testimony of the gospel. Usually my curiosity, stimulated by the surrounding buzz, causes me to observe the said person more carefully and sometimes, if I knew the person well enough, I observed the “boys to men”  'followers to believers' change in them.

It was in those times, that I became increasing convinced that that was one of the solutions of life. It was almost an equation in my mind: Going on a mission will result in this manning up outcome. It wasn’t that I knew God would be a big part in making that change, but rather the immature notion that simply the outward act, much simplified in my mind, of completing those years would magically transform me.

So I started to prepare in much anticipation; not in the process that I am to experience, but rather in fantasizing about that final day when I return and in that change that was guaranteed. However there was one thing I did not understand then and it was that a person’s perspective, what I believe to be an active ingredient in that progression, can sometimes be difficult to change unless he experiences something new and yet powerful enough to convince a shifting of paradigms. The two years of service was definitely one of those defining milestones in my life.

One of the perspectives that changed on my mission was the realization of how much God was in my life and how He was there to help me make the better of things. It was somewhat a portion of Joseph of Egypt kind of understanding that as long as he trusted in God, everything will turn out for the benefit of him and others; even if it took betrayal from his brothers, being victimized by his master’s wife and long years in prison. Of course I didn’t start off with the spiritual strength of Joseph.

Many times I have met someone on the road that would say something to the effect of, “it’s all about me, and God has nothing to do with it”. It is one of those statements that is said in ignorance of the countless wonderful things that happen around us every day that literally shouts to us that there is a loving being who has a hand in our lives. I was an embodiment of that statement when I left for this mission. To me it was my preparation, my decision to serve and my right to deserve blessings because I fulfilled the requirements for it. During the course of my mission, I did just as any good missionary would, I contacted, I taught, I called, I tracted, I obeyed, I read, I prayed, I baptized. But the experience was a soured by a bitter heart. I did everything I needed to, but I did it with nails dug into the palms of my hand. Smiling made my cheeks sore. The results did not seem to be worth the effort and very often I had my fist clenched toward heaven, shaking, and on many nights from between my teeth crawled the infamous question, “God, why? Why is this happening?”

It took me a while before I was convinced that my mission was better off enjoyed than endured and I had many of my prayers dedicated toward the plea for God to help me enjoy my mission. I was finally humble enough to ask God to help me, even with all my presumptions, understand why I was there. As my mission in Taiwan drew to a close, I testify that it was not I that brought upon me any good fortune, but that God was in my preparation, He was there for my decision and He still saw fit to provide more blessings even when I was blind to his mercies. I’ve realized that God gave me all the experiences I needed before and during those two years so that I could successfully complete this mission. For that, no amount of compensation will balance the debt I am in to God.

Dear Brothers and Sisters, that is my testimony: That God lives and He loves with a perfect understanding. This is not knowledge that is attained vicariously, but rather through persistence in choosing to do what is right and patiently waiting for good things to come.

I don’t know how much I am different since I returned, but I have come to understand that a change is a choice made and the best change will come from making that choice with God.