Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Miracle of the 50th Baptism

25 years ago, Craig was serving as a missionary in Bordeaux, France.  His mission President was Elder Neil L Andersen.  In February 1991, President Andersen set a mission goal of 50 baptisms for the month.  Prior to that, the most baptisms they had ever had in one month was 20.  Effects of the ongoing Gulf War were felt in France during this month as well, and missionaries were confined to the safety of their apartments for several days at a time in February, making teaching and tracting even more difficult in an already short month.  Needless to say, 50 baptisms was a lofty goal.  

The story below is an excerpt from the journal of Sister Kathy Andersen that was posted on Facebook today.   

February 28, 1991
The miracle of the 50th baptism (written by Kathy Andersen)

There was great outpouring of the Spirit as we met with the Zone leaders at the beginning of the month.  As Neil spoke, he promised wonderful blessings would come as we pursued our desire for baptisms.  Then he said, "I will make a commitment to you that I will find someone to baptize this month and every month for the rest of our mission."  
That evening as we sat together as a family and recounted the wonderful experiences we had with the Zone Leaders, Neil explained also the commitment he had made to find someone to baptize.
During the next two weeks as Neil had interviews with each missionary and held zone conferences, our prayers ascended to heaven.  "Please bless us with 50 baptisms."  "Please bless our missionaries to find those seeking the truth."  "Please help us to find someone to baptize." "Please, Heavenly Father help Daddy find his person to baptize." 
Zone conferences ended on Feb 16 and Neil returned to Bordeaux.  A baptismal date was set the next week but the investigator with whom he had set the date was not at his home when he went at the appointed time to pick him up for church the last Sunday.  He would not be ready for baptism.  After a call on Tues from a missionary, Neil drove several hours to a city to challenge a long time nonmember who was very active in the church.  It was a good meeting but the man was not ready to join the church. Returning home that night he had another appointment with an investigator.  The children's prayers continued, "Please help Heavenly Father, help Daddy find someone to baptize."
On Wednesday at about 5 p.m, Neil received a message from the office that Kamla Persand had called and wanted to speak with the mission president.  Neil called Kamla.  She happily answered the phone and explained to Neil that she felt like she should call.  She explained that she had lived in Bordeaux and was a medical student.  Her father was one of the first members of the church on the island of Mauritius.  Her sister had served a mission.  She was not a member of the church but felt she should call.  She had only one hour before another appointment.  Neil invited her to come to our home.  She accepted and we went to pick her up.  She just happened to live less than 5 mins from our house.
Upon our first meeting, we felt a great feeling of friendship with Kamla.  We had only one hour.  Kamla told us about herself and her family.  She had had the discussions twice, had been to church and understood the principles of the gospel.  Neil asked Kamla why she had called now and why she had asked for the mission president instead of a missionary.  She explained that five or six months ago she had looked in the telephone directory for the church but hadn't found it. On Tues, Feb 26, she was looking in the yellow pages for a doctor and her eyes fell on the name of the church. "I don't know," she said, "I felt like I should call." She called the mission office but the recorder was on and she did not leave a message.  She called back on Wed, Feb 27.  She asked for the mission president, "because," she said, "I don't know - I guess I've always had a good relationship with the mission president at home."
Neil was candid and explained the miracle that was taking place in the mission. He said "Kamla, I think you are part of this miracle." Kayla said that she hadn't planned to be baptized until maybe the holidays - Easter - maybe April.  As Neil spoke with her, the Spirit was strong and he challenged her to be baptized tomorrow, Thurs, Feb 28, 1991.  He asked her if she would pray about it and promised her she would receive an answer.  She agreed to pray about it.  We had a kneeling prayer.  The hour had passed quickly.  We took Kamla home.  As she got out of the car she said, "You know, I really do feel like I've known you longer than an hour."
We pleaded with our Heavenly Father that night that Kamla's prayer would be answered. Thursday afternoon at 3:15 Neil called Kamla and she said,"I feel so happy, I've felt happy all day. I tried calling you last night, but your line was busy (Neil was doing transfers). Yes, I will be baptized tonight." 
We picked Kamla up at 7:30.  She was radiant.  At 9.00 p.m Neil baptized Kamla at the Eysines chapel.  After being confirmed a member of the church, she bore her testimony and expressed her gratefulness to Heavenly Father for His love on her baptism day.  Derek echoed the thoughts of each of our hearts when at 10.30 Thurs night, he prayed, "Thank thee Heavenly Father, for giving Daddy someone to baptize."

Kamla's baptism, 2/28/91
Kamla and her family 25 years later

Craig, his companion and Zone Leaders after receiving the call about Kamla's baptism
The missionaries throughout the Bordeaux Mission were notified that night either by telephone or in person about Kamla's baptism and the completion of the mission goal.  It was also the same day that the Gulf War ended.  

Craig shared this story and Sister Andersen's journal entry with our kids tonight for FHE and sent a copy of it with the pictures to Savannah, so I thought I should post it here, too.  What a great way to be reminded of the amazing miracles Heavenly Father is capable of in our lives.  

"For with God, nothing shall be impossible."  Luke 4:37

"Being confident of this very thing, that He who hath began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." - Philippians 1:6

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