Monday, December 2, 2013

Let's talk about Anabelle (Bayley)

Let me tell you something about missionary work.

It's pretty much the best thing ever.

Anabelle got baptized yesterday.  But more on that later.  I'll save the best for last.

Earlier this week we had zone conference.  Zone conference is when all the missionaries in our zone (which is like eleven companionships) all get together and receive training from our mission president and mission president's wife and the two elders who are the assistants to the president.  This particular zone conference was a combined zone conference with the neighboring zone (so it was more like twenty something companionships there) and we did all sorts of things like learn how to be better companions and better teachers and all around better missionaries.  And then we all ate gumbo and took part in that great mission birthday tradition in which all those who have had birthdays since the last conference (which included me) are ambushed by President Crawford who ties a red or blue kerchief around our neck and puts a red cowboy hat on our head and makes us all stand up front while everyone else sings the Texas Houston East birthday song.  It's pretty grand.  At least after the whole ordeal we get cookies from Sister Crawford.  Cookies make everything okay.  Also this conference we received a health challenge from Sister Crawford.  Sister Crawford is responsible for the wellbeing of all us missionaries, and it is a well known fact that if you call her with any ailment one of her first questions will be "what have you been eating?" which is why many of us will just remain deathly ill in secret rather that have to confess our diet of Lucky Charms and Oreos.  But anyways, so this health challenge is basically a series of little things that could earn us a checkmark a day - like drinking 6-12 glasses of water, eating protein, and eating 5 fruits or vegetables - and if we earn a certain number of checkmarks by a certain date we receive the limited edition super special Sister Crawford's health challenge champion sticker.  Yup.  And let me tell you, it's amazing how motivated I am when there's a sticker involved.  Sister Johnson and I will come home and binge on celery and pineapple just to earn that check mark for the day.  It's pretty terrible, actually.  Nothing quite like forcing another carrot down just because you've only had four servings of fruits and vegetables.  Haha.  But you know, probably we're going to have super great eating habits after this is all over, which was probably Sister Crawford's whole ulterior motive in the first place.  Moral of the story: if you want missionaries to do something, like really do it - offer them a sticker.

But anyways.  Let me tell you about Anabelle.  There's a lot to say about Anabelle.  She's pretty much amazing.

So you may remember that she was facing some pretty hardcore opposition to her baptism.  That's Satan for you.  And anyways this past week we still needed to finish teaching her the lessons and weren't quite sure she was going to make her baptismal date, but were just going to try to go through with it anyways.  So one day this week we call her mom, Sister Guidry, to see if we're still good to go over and have dinner with them that night (and then we were going to teach Anabelle as well) and Sister Guidry was like "I dunno...I actually am just leaving the emergency room with Anabelle, she is really really sick."  Seriously, this poor family.  Satan just would not leave them alone.  So we tell Sister Guidry on the phone "you know, maybe we should just push her baptism back a week" and apparently, according to Sister Guidry, when we said that and when Sister Guidry responded "yeah maybe we should," Anabelle - who was passed out in the back seat of the car - sat right up and said "no! they have to come! I want to get baptized!" before falling back over and going back to sleep.  If that doesn't tell you how incredible Anabelle is, just wait.  So we go over to Anabelle's house that night even though she is basically dying (not really) and we teach her the lesson and we talk to her about her baptism and about whether or not we should change her date or not and she says to us "no - I'm getting baptized on Sunday.  I don't care if they have to carry me in and out, I am getting in that water."

Yup.  And that she did.  Last night, Anabelle got baptized.  It was amazing.  Anabelle is incredible, and it meant the world to me to be there for her baptism.  One of my favorite things is to see someone come right out of the water, and to see how they feel - you can see it on their face.  And when Anabelle came up, she came up the stairs to where her mom was (Sister Guidry watched from the side with Sister Johnson and myself) and they just stood there hugging each other and crying.  And Anabelle looked so happy.  I can't even begin to explain it to you - she just shone.  If somebody had just opened the door to the Relief Society room and just looked at everybody who came for the baptism, they could've spotted who had just been baptized in a heartbeat - not because her hair was wet, duh, but because she was just glowing.  This gospel is all about happiness, and last night I have never seen someone glowing with such happiness the way Anabelle was.  

There's more to Anabelle's story though, and it starts several months ago.

It begins with Sister Guidry, Anabelle's mom.  I'm pretty sure I shared this story before, so just a quick refresher.  Several months ago, while it was still me and Sister Barton, Sister Guidry showed up at the church building.  She had apparently been a member for a number of years, having converted when living in Utah, but then after moving back to Lake Charles, didn't think we had a congregation here and so she hadn't been attending church for years.  She had never had her records transferred either, so no one here knew of her to go out and search for her.  Something, however, made her decide to look up the church, and after meeting with Sister Barton and myself and hearing about the ward, she came the very next Sunday and became a very active and involved member.  I can remember that first Sunday she came back, looking over and seeing her sitting by herself at the back of the chapel and thinking what a strong woman she was and how incredible that she was here.  Well, before long, her mother - Sister Arabie - was coming to church with her too.  Sister Arabie and Sister Guidry had been baptized together and moved back here to Louisiana together, and Sister Arabie, like Sister Guidry, as soon as she found out about the presence of the church returned to full activity.  Sister Guidry and Sister Arabie soon became some of the most dedicated and incredible members in our ward.  And then Anabelle started coming too, and we started teaching her.  Anabelle also has a 1 year old daughter, and so soon that back pew was no longer just Sister Guidry, but Sister Guidry and Sister Arabie and Anabelle and little Madi who is ADORABLE, by the way.  As we taught Anabelle, Sister Guidry's cousin, Kristy, came to stay with the family, and began to sit in on the lessons.  She soon decided that she wanted the lessons as well.  All the while, the family has been working with Sister Arabie's husband, Brother Arabie, who was baptized with his wife but who has had no desire to return to church.  However, yesterday he came.  And so during sacrament meeting, I looked over to where - just a few months ago, I had seen Sister Guidry sitting by herself - and was just filled with joy at the sight.  Her pew was filled - she sat with Sister Arabie, with Brother Arabie, with Anabelle, with Kristy, and with Madi.  And then last night was Anabelle's baptism, and in addition to all those who came to church being present at the service, Anabelle's two brothers came to see her get baptized, and as we took a picture of the whole family - all four generations of them - I received such an amazing testimony of the reality of this gospel, and how it very literally brings families together in ways nothing else can.  This gospel is real.  This gospel changes lives.  This gospel brings happiness.  I can think of no better work to be involved in not just full time right now, but for the rest of my life!

I love you all!  I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving - I know that for myself on that great holiday I was especially grateful for each and every one of YOU, and for everything you do!

Sister Bayley Enright


Anabelle and Madi

Us and the whole family

Us and Bishop Gibson who baptized Anabelle

Kristy, Madi, Me

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