The Longest Day of My Mission

The Longest Day of My Mission

From Chicken Soup for the Latter-day Saint Soul

The Longest Day of My Mission

Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

Matt. 4:10

We all know that Satan, desiring the misery of the entire human family, works especially hard to keep people from making the sacred covenant of baptism. In the week before a scheduled baptism, numerous obstacles usually come at the new convert from all sources; they generally include such things as feelings of doubt or opposition from friends and family. Those sources had had no effect on one man I taught during my mission, however, and the desperation of the adversary as he sought for ways to prevent the baptism resulted in what felt like the longest day of my mission.

A few days before the scheduled baptism, we went to visit the man, whom I will call Carlos. We were surprised to find that he had not yet come home, and we decided to wait. A few minutes later he arrived, leaning on a friend who helped him hop up the stairs. He had sprained his ankle playing soccer! He was in obvious pain, so we offered to reschedule our meeting—but he insisted on visiting with us right then, assuring us that he would not let his injury get in the way of his baptism.

Since that didn’t work, the adversary tried another plan of attack. After a miscommunication prevented Carlos from getting a ride to a church activity, he became very worried about depending on someone else for transportation to church that Sunday—and to his own baptism Sunday night. So he resolved that he would walk all the way to the meetinghouse both times, on his sprained ankle! We told him not to do so, and promised that we would ensure his safe arrival. We gave him multiple plans and scenarios to account for any unforeseen complication.

Later we received a call from the ward mission leader, whom Carlos had asked to baptize him. The ward mission leader—I’ll call him Brother Gonzalez—had dislocated his right shoulder. We tried to imagine the pain of lowering someone into the water with a dislocated shoulder, but the ward mission leader assured us that he was determined to perform the baptism anyway.

All his efforts had failed—so Satan switched his plan of attack to us, the missionaries. After our morning studies on the day of the baptism, we prayed and headed out to our car so we could go out and preach the gospel.

Our car was not there.

At first we thought it had been stolen; it was a nice car that the mission office staff had loaned us while our usual car was in for repairs, and we were in a poor area. We later discovered that the car had actually been towed, because the parking sticker for our apartment parking lot was obviously on our other car. At any rate, we were stuck in the apartment while we waited for return phone calls.

Naturally, all the other missionaries, namely our district and zone leaders were already out proselytizing. All of the office missionaries, the mission president and his assistants— that is, anyone who had a cell phone—were at church meetings. (Fortunately, our own ward started later in the day.) As we frantically waited, we spent a good deal of time calling ward members in search of someone who could not only take us to our meeting, but who would also be willing to lead a new investigator, whom I’ll call Rosa, to the meetinghouse for her first time. She had been trying to come to meetings for the previous three weeks, but every time something had prevented her from going.

The members who agreed to help us were late, so we arrived at Rosa’s home exactly as our meetings began. To add to our stress, she greeted us with the news that she did not think she had enough gas to get to the meeting and back. We checked her gauge, assured her that she would be fine, and promised that members of the ward would follow her home to make sure she arrived safely. Then we helped her and her four boys (all under the age of six) into her car and headed to church, ashamed that we were bringing her so late and worried about her ability to feel the Spirit in the face of all these obstacles. Fortunately, she somehow enjoyed it—despite our tardy arrival and her restless boys, who were unaccustomed to sitting still so long. We were so preoccupied with her that we scarcely had time to check on Carlos and to make sure he was still ready for his baptism that night.

After church, we headed back to the parking lot and discovered that the members had apparently forgotten their promise to follow Rosa home—and they had already left. Miraculously, we quickly found others willing to follow her, and they even had a spare gallon of gas just in case she did not make it. The Lord also works hard on baptism days.

Once Rosa was safely on her way, we called the elder who would be bringing us our car. He told us to call back ten minutes later, so we rushed off to the ward correlation meeting, which had already started without us. We frantically reviewed the details for Carlos’s baptism, making sure all was in order, then called again about our car. The elder was on his way, but needed directions we could not provide—and the map was in our missing car! We tried to direct him the best we could, then promised to call again a few minutes later.

Meanwhile, we still needed to make a master program for the baptism—something we couldn’t do before Sunday, because there had been the possibility that another person would also get baptized that night. The other person postponed due to a family crisis (which could make for an entire story in itself), which left us precious little time to compose the program on a computer that was already in use by someone else.

We called the elder again—by this time he was completely lost, but fortunately was near streets whose names we recognized. We stayed on the phone with him and were finally able to guide him to us. At last we had a car again!

Our five o’clock appointment cancelled on us—which, though otherwise unfortunate, gave us time to make the baptism program. Getting it to Brother Gonzalez involved intense study of the map, one U-turn and a lot of stress, but we finally arrived, leaving him only forty minutes before the service started to make all the copies.

We returned to the meetinghouse at six-thirty, the exact time we had told Carlos to meet us there. He had not yet arrived. Suddenly it occurred to us that Carlos thought Brother Gonzalez was going to take him to the meetinghouse— but Brother Gonzalez thought someone else was providing the transportation. We panicked and tried to find a phone. A few minutes later, Carlos arrived. Brother Gonzalez arrived in time with the programs and a much-improved shoulder.

At last, we were able to hold the baptismal service. We witnessed Carlos hobble into the waters of baptism and make the sacred covenant with the Lord, oblivious to the stress that had exasperated his missionary friends that day.

Satan may throw a thousand obstacles in our path, but if we are on the Lord’s side, we will come out victorious— as did Carlos.

SummerDale Beckstrand

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