I'll get the tough part out of the way first. I'm sure many of you have heard about the fires occurring out in the West. Nothing new right? These fires happen every year, I know that's what I thought growing up. California, Utah, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon... yeah, they all get really bad fires. Nothing new this year, except now I have a different perspective.
This past week has been one where I have recognized just how important faith in the Savior, Jesus Christ, is to powering through fear and sadness when frightful current events are happening at your doorstep.
Fires have been going on this past week around most of the towns up here in the Baker Valley region. John Day, which has its own set of missionaries, was at a Level 2 fire warning, many people have been evacuated and a neighboring town, Canyon City, has lost at least 26 homes and one firefighter died in service. The John Day missionaries were at one point trapped within the valley there with no roads open to leave the city. Here in Baker City, fires have been moving closer every day. Winds were terrible the other day. Smoke has descended upon the city, obscuring the nearby hills and mountains. Soooo, everyone is smoking here in town, including us....that much smoke. Helicopters with retardant and other materials make frequent passes overhead. The freeway was closed for a while. Other sets of missionaries have been moved due to fires in other towns in Idaho. Lots of livestock has been lost, which is a big part of the economy out here.
Despite all of this, the Lord's work continues. Any and all prayers that are offered for the people out here are answered! Fire and smoke may come, but what endures and is the most important are the lives of those we love and care about. Even those that lose loved ones can be assured that they will see them again. The Atonement of Jesus Christ, which encompasses all the pain, fear, and sickness caused by these fires, also ensures us of immortality in body and spirit.
We have talked with people this past week and the topic leading into conversation is usually about the fire. I am grateful to see how the Gospel of Jesus Christ and its principles calm and bring about peace. We spoke with a woman named Linda and she was quite worried. We shared John 14:27 with her which says "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."
I was able to witness a spiritual fire this past week at the baptism of a young man. He is eight years old, which is the age when children can be baptized and be accountable for that decision. His baptism was the first I have ever been to where a member family had their child baptized. His dad baptized him. I felt the Spirit very strongly and rejoiced in my heart that I was able to be reminded of the purity baptism brings. I am humbled to know that I could very well have the opportunity that his dad had, to baptize my children, and that thought gives me great happiness.
Cindy made it to the baptism and afterward we talked about it. There is a woman who has felt the Spirit of God in her life and whose faith has been healing her spiritually and also physically.
We met with Amos and his family this past week. Again, the Spirit moved very powerfully throughout the lesson and after teaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I felt prompted to point out to the parents that they should look to their children as examples of having faith. We can learn so much from those younger than us.
I apparently said something in a lesson with Nick this past week that made him upset. He is 12 years old and wanted one of the pamphlets I had. I had unknowingly dismissed his request and it hurt him. He let me know afterwards by pulling me aside and talking to me about it. WOW! That kid is going to be a leader someday because I've been trying to learn how to correct and talk to people throughout my mission and I still feel like I can't do it right. I was super impressed with him and I told him that he would be a great missionary someday! He will!
I hope you all have a wonderful week! If you are given $100 randomly, use it wisely and help someone with it!