Another swell week, topped off with every missionary's dream: a baptism! It's been a long wait for this little man (we set his date in the last week of March), but he finally got dunked. His grandparents from Idaho made the long trip to Illinois to make it; it was nice to meet them and spend a little bit of time with them. I think the best part of this event wasn't just that Mason was baptized, but that his whole family has made so much progress and grown so much in their faith along with him. I have truly seen the atonement at work in their lives. They've impressed me so much by the motivation and determination they've put into coming back to church. It was so exciting to have Rene baptize Mason- to see him become worthy and use the priesthood once again was a very special experience.
I also got to go to the St. Louis Temple on Thursday with the group of missionaries I will leave with as well as the missionaries who are half-way done with their missions. This included several dear friends I have made and served with. The whole day was a tremendously spiritual experience. I love the temple so much. After the session (of only missionaries) lunch was provided and we had a powerful testimony meeting. It was an incredible experience; one which I shall never forget.
Unfortunately it doesn't look like I'll get to enjoy another baptism before I leave. I know several are on there way for this area though. I'm extremely grateful for the blessings the Lord has afforded me here. He has truly hastened His work in this area (as well as throughout my entire mission); I'm grateful to have been a part of that process, which has changed my life and allowed the foundation of my testimony to solidify even more, all thanks to the atonement of Jesus Christ.
Where would we be without that atonement? It is a daunting and humbling thought; to be subject to an endless, awful state, bound by the evil chains of death to bind us in misery forever, having become devils consumed by the despairing darkness of our own condemnation- slaves of our own follies, afflicted with tumultuous pain and turmoil for eternity, No hope. No peace. No relief. No light. Just despairing darkness brought upon us by our own weaknesses.
Surely Christ has already saved us from that horrible fate, for we do have joy in this life. There is hope, peace, relief, light, joy, and love. I now realize just a little bit, how fortunately blessed we all are for a loving Father and an equally loving Brother, who went through all of that horrible stuff and triumphed over it all in order to satisfy the laws of justice which would condemn us to such a fate, and to allow us to overcome those very weaknesses that would put us there in the first place so that we too can receive joy and glory in the Kingdom of God forever. I'm glad I've been able to share this good news to a few of my brothers and sisters in the Mid-West, by the Spirit, and get them on that path of atonement, or at least closer to it. I know we are here to fulfill that purpose in our lives together until we stand before our Savior and give an accounting of our works and testimonies of Him. It's no wonder that missionary work is vitally important. "The end of all activity in the church is to see that a man and a woman with their children are happy at home, sealed together for time and all eternity." I'm excited to actively work on that "end" in a different mission field now, never forgetting the wonderful journey this mission has been for me. It has forever changed me, because I know Jesus is the living Christ- the Messiah and Redeemer of us all. Our precious Lord and Savior. Our devoted King. I know His grace is sufficient for all of us. He leads us in this church through prophets whom He has called. I know the importance of obedience to Him- it is the key to joy and happiness in this life and all the eternal blessings of exaltation. Guys, I just love the gospel of Jesus Christ so much! I love this gospel!! It's perfect and divine. I love my Savior, Jesus Christ. I love my Father above, and I'm so grateful to both of them for the bounteous blessings which I do now enjoy and will yet enjoy because of the atonement. I know these principles are true. I testify of them with all my heart in our Savior's Name, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Me, Rene, Elder Abbott, and Mason before the baptism.
Me and Elder Anderson, my former companion, at the temple.
Me and Elder Johnson, my second "son", at the temple.
I will miss my mission so much. A huge portion of my heart will remain here forever. I love each person I've been blessed to serve. My heart will swell in gratitude towards God in every remembrance of my mission.
-Elder Curtis, signing off.