Happy Late Independence Day!This week was a great one for Elder Murdock and I, and it is only going to get better this week! It was a really eventful weekend with a baptism and 4th of July celebrations. Earlier in the week we had a zone training meeting on July 1st, the first day of the Arkansas Bentonville Mission! President and Sister Shumway have travelled safely home to Utah, and they will be greatly missed. Our zone leaders gave us all new mission calls saying we have been reassigned to the ABM, it was clever! We talked a lot about how we're going to keep the culture and pace of the mission, and do all we can to support and sustain President Loveland in this transition period. The next day was zone conference, where we got to meet the Lovelands. It was their very first conference in the mission! They are incredible people and were truly called here by the Lord. President is a hard working potato farmer from Idaho. I'm excited to see how they shape the mission! When I met the Lovelands, President said, "Hey, I think we know you!" They remembered that you went to college with Sister Loveland's brother, dad. So I've basically already got my "in" with the President ;)
Saturday was awesome, the Birkedahl kids were baptized!! It was an amazing ordinance. Kyle (8) and Sabrina (11) were initially really nervous to be baptized, because they are both kind of afraid of the water for some reason. In one of our earlier lessons, they said that they didn't want to be baptized. It stung a little! But when we talked to them about it, we realized they believe in Christ and the church, but were scared of the actual ordinance itself. Their parents' records were finally received in the ward, and we found out that their father George is actually an elder in the priesthood. He had been inactive for so long that he didn't know what his office was. After meeting with the Bishop, he was cleared to baptize his kids! That made Sabrina and Kyle much more comfortable. It was a beautiful thing to witness him enter the water with his son. When it was Sabrina's turn, she was still nervous going down into the water. Enthusiastic Kyle gave her a big double thumbs up and encouraged her that it would be okay! George reassured her and did a great job performing the ordinance, and their mother Mandy comforted from the sidelines. It was such a family affair! It was awesome to be able to witness the whole family making this step together. After the baptism they were all so happy! We had two amazing youth talks and the Spirit was so strong. I can't wait to watch them progress in the gospel. I pray every day that they can continue to sink their roots into the lasting soil of conversion. Later that day we had a fun bbq with the Bird family. They're so awesome and we feel right at home with them. It's amazing that we can be complete strangers at their family parties, but feel so close at the same time. The gospel unifies all of us! That night our bishop put on a huuuuuge fireworks show in his backyard with half the ward there. It was crazy! He asked me to say a prayer before we started and ask for a blessing of safety. It was probably a good thing that we did, some of the fireworks missfired right into the crowd and exploded against the side of the house. It was like a warzone haha. The fireworks were massive, I'd never seen a show like that in Arizona. All around the horizon as we drove home we could see people shooting off their own giant fireworks in their yards. It was awesome!