Wednesday, December 26, 2012

December 17, 2012 Elder Barstow and Brother Mingo

Yesterday a fine young elder, Elder Barstow, went to the airport to report to President Mehr before flying home.  Every time I was around Elder Barstow I became more and more impressed. He had a difficult assignment, which he fulfilled admirably.  He had served in that area once before with good success.  He was able to make suggestions without taking over the situation.  He was assigned a fun-loving young Guyanese, who was helping out serving a mini mission.  Brother Mingo would say to us, "Hi, Mom and Hi, Dad."  One time, when he first said that to Sister Beecher, she replied that she would like to adopt him.  We then worried for a couple of weeks that he was taking her statement literally.  He seemed to be more and more attentive.  Then Sister Beecher heard him call another sister, "Mom" so we knew that he would not be crushed that we were not adopting him.  Brother Mingo was barely able to read.  Elder Barstow would help him read the Book of Mormon everyday.  The missionaries had the goal to read the Book of Mormon every three months.  THAT is an aggressive reading schedule unless you take a lot of time.  They finished reading the Book of Mormon yesterday, which was 4 days past the reading time schedule, but one day before the original targeted date.  President Mehr called on Elder Barstow in front of the group of all the Guyanese Missionaries to see if he was on schedule with the goal of reading the Book of Mormon.  This was done about 6 weeks ago at the mission zone conference.  Elder Barstow simplied replied that he was behind. President Mehr praised him for his honesty and went on. There were more of us in the audience that winced at the question and applauded the honest answer with a humble reaction.  President Mehr handled the situation well. I think he regretted calling on him. Sister Beecher and I believe that the reason that Elder Barstow was behind in his reading was because he was teaching Brother Mingo every day to read from the Book of Mormon. Did I mention that Brother Mingo was baptized last August? He went on a 6 day mini-mission a few days later and then has been on another mini-mission the last three months.  He has matured so much.  The changes are amazing.  I remember Brother Mingo sitting behind us in Church at General Conference and borrowing crayons from a little girl and coloring in her coloring book. He did so many immature things.  I remember saying, that Brother Mingo is a handful!"   Elder Barstow and Brother Mingo had two recent baptisms, a young man, and another convert, Roy from Canada, who was baptized by his brother-in-law.  Elder Barstow had tried and tried to get a hold of branch members including the branch presidents. He ended up typing up the program, filling the font, conducting the services, speaking, taking care of the wet clothes, cleaning the building, and I am sure other things.  Brother Mingo is too shy to speak or even give prayers. We ended up attending the baptism and helped with the music and a couple of other things. The other set of Elders did come and help with a talk, prayer and being official witnesses.  On Friday Elder Barstow and Brother Mingo went with us to visit some members. We had only driven on the main road so they helped show us where a couple of members lived. One family, living in incredible poverty had a dog that was drowning in the water surrounding their house.  Elder Barstow spotted the dog struggling in the water and got the father to rescue the dog. It was quite dramatic and a little traumatic.  The dog was unable to walk and lay on the bank, his back legs were broken and he fell or was thrown into the ditch.  The father, who is currently the Elder's Quorum President criticized us severely for not starting the meeting with a prayer.  He has not been to Church in over a month and said that there was a personal problem.  It seemed like he wanted to argue, more than anything.  Elder Barstow has spent a lot of time in that home and he tried to bring the conversation around to where we could feel the spirit. There was a feeling of hostility. Elder Barstow apologized for "losing it". He was referring to when the brother criticized us for not starting the meeting with a prayer. I said something about we were certainly distracted by the dog in the ditch. Elder Barstow said that we were not teaching a lesson.  Then the brother lit into Elder Barstow.  Elder Barstow simply said, "I never thought I would see the day when Brother __ would be saying ..."  We did end with a song and then he gave a a rather sweet prayer. Yesterday Elder Barstow spoke in two Sacrament meetings and he helped out in many ways during and after the meetings.  He was a great example of enduring to the end.
Sunday during the announcements, Branch President Bharat turned and looked at me as I was seated to his side and slightly behind him at the piano/organ. He thanked me "for bringing a little magic to their branch through the music."  The "thank you" should have been addressed to Sister Beecher.  It did bring a great deal of emotion and a few tears to hear that and especially from that branch president.  He has a tendency to be controlling.  He has had a hard year.  I don't know how long he and his wife saved to go to the temple, but shortly before they left they were robbed.  When they broke open their temple trip money jar there was just enough money for them to go.  He said it was worth everything to be able to go to the temple. He dedicates his time to the church, helping the members.  He is especially mindful of the youth and the young single adults.  He supports them so much.  He has a small canteen that is set up near a school and also sells things from his home. Some of the things they make to sell.  The Young Single Adults are definitely the strength in the branch.  The other day there was just one woman other than Katie in RS.  This woman's husband used to be a counselor in the district or something like that.  While he was out of town working she got a boyfriend, a member of the church, who moved in.  She and her husband were endowed members and he was unkind to her.  He was in his mid-thirties when they married and she was 17.  She would like to divorce her husband, get married to the boyfriend and get her life straightened out.  Many of the Guyanese have unmarried parents with children from different partners. There seems to be a re-occurring theme of not being able to be baptized because one or both have former spouses who will not give them a divorce, they can't find, or they cannot afford to divorce or get married. I am confident the Lord will figure everything out, I certainly can't. Two men that Elder Barstow was teaching wanted to get baptized.  The one is the husband of an active member with active beautiful children. He was refused baptism because he was not worthy.  The other man, whose sons are inactive and a Hindu wife, cannot get baptized because he had an affair a couple of years ago and he is afraid to tell his wife, who is unaware of his lapse of fidelity. 
It is now Tuesday evening. Elders Beecher and Beutler went to visit a man that has expressed interest in learning about the Church.  He is a construction superintendent remodeling a former Police Academy into a school that will teach nursing, among other courses.  He is also a preacher and has a congregation on Sundays.  He is reading the Book of Mormon and keeps making comparisons to the New Testament. He is a faithful man and humble.  He is on the city council and after the construction/remodeling is done he is going to donate the building and land to the community.  When asked how he will know how he can ensure that the building will be used for the intended purpose, he said because of his position on the council that it will be used properly.  He asked that we pray at the end and wants to continue with talks. Later in the afternoon when Sister Beecher and I were picking up some printing.  A man came rushing towards us. He asked that we pray for him.  His brother recently died and it has really set him to contemplating his life and he knows that he needs to make some changes.  He is looking for religion.  Please pray for Kerry. He mentioned his wife and then his other wife that was in the front seat of his car.  He has so much love that he wants to share it.

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