Good Wednesday Everyone!
I think the highlight of this week came on Monday. I was asked to do a baptismal interview for a young man who is supposed to be baptized this Saturday. After this interview I think I understand a little better what it feels like to be a bishop. Interviews normally last about 30 minutes to an hour, depending how prepared and understanding the candidate is. This one lasted four. I've never heard of one lasting that long, but that's what needed to happen, so it did.
He told me that he had woke up that morning with a "bad" feeling, and now he wasn't even sure why he had agreed to be baptized. I told him that was to be expected, sharing with him the account of the first vision from JS:H. We discussed why Satan would want to stop him from taking this step closer to God, and keep him from being happy. We discussed God's love for him, and how he knew what he had been taught was true. He got impatient and said "But I want an answer now!" I asked him if he remembered about the Priesthood, he hadn't heard that name before so we reviewed how the authority of Jesus Christ had been given to his apostles, lost, and then restored to the prophet Joseph Smith. I asked him if he would like a priesthood blessing of counsel. The spirit whispered to me that the blessing would answer his concerns and help him. He declined the blessing, and again said "I just want an answer right now!" I told him (Because the spirit was telling me), "Eric, that's the very point of the blessing. To give you your answer." He finally agreed, but warned me "If I do this, and something weird happens, I'm done". I said that was perfectly fine, and proceeded to give the blessing.
In the blessing I promised him the spiritual affliction he was under would end, and he would be filled with a feeling of peace. Never before has it been harder for me to give someone a promise from the Lord. If I spoke those words and they were not fulfilled, I would look like a fool, and his budding testimony in the restoration might be shattered. But I spoke them as directed. At the end of the blessing I once again sat across from him. "Eric, how do you feel?" "...Better. The bad feeling is gone. Most of my questions have been answered now".
We continued to talk for quite some time. Every question he asked was quickly answered as the spirit gave me utterance. It was probably one of the most spiritually draining things of my mission. We did nothing physical that day but when I went to bed that night I had large bags under my eyes.
However, that being said, I know that I was but an instrument. I made no promise. I answered no questions. I bear my witness that I was doing nothing other than act as a mouthpiece and servant for the Lord to that young man in his time of need.
I testify that the church of Jesus Christ has been restored to the earth. We have that blessed opportunity to live in a time when the priesthood of God is alive and well.
I love you all. Thank you for reading all of these e-mails for all this time.
Next week will be the last one sent from DC.
-Elder Ted E. Bear