with nephew of one of our members
the Gateway Hotel swimming pool
the family we are teaching, as mentioned above
This past week was, I feel, one of the best last weeks that a missionary could ask for. There are so many details that I need to include, however I do not have time to do so, we had a SICK district activity today, from which I will send photos, don't worry. I will skip to the highlights now:
Sumanth was baptized on this past Saturday, the 23rd of September--my two year mark. It was amazing and miraculous that it even happened. I'll get to that, but first, about Sumanth: Sumanth is in his mid-twenties, working for a tech company based out of California. He has a cousin that is a member in Hyderabad and has attended our church there whenever he visits, seeing as Sumanth lives in Vijayawada. The difference between our church and other churches, Sumanth noted, was that the doctrine and the teaching just feel right. They make sense and, from what he's observed, our members practice what they preach, so that's what drew him to our church. The crazy part is that Sumanth has been waiting for more than five years now for the Church to come to Vijayawada. He made a post on his Facebook in 2012 requesting for a Book of Mormon and Gospel Principles manual to be sent to him, but no one responded. Then, just about two months ago, Sumanth somehow got in contact with the assistants who forwarded us his number, we contacted him and he was just a golden investigator haha, kept every commitment, has a strong testimony, he's solid.
How did he get baptized? It was crazy. We did not know where he would be baptized until an hour before his baptism took place. "Elders, you should have been more on top of things," Yeah, no, WE WERE. Over the past few WEEKS, we've literally talked to EVERY hotel and swimming pool in Vijayawada only to be turned down at our request to conduct baptisms in their pools. Everywhere except two places: the Gateway Hotel and the Vijayawada Municipal Corporation swimming pools. The Gateway Hotel is the largest and nicest hotel in Vijayawada and we thought there was no way they would let us use their pool and if they did it would not be in our price range. The VWC is the government-run swimming pool and we again thought, no way, because they're the Hindu government haha. But this week, seeing as these two were our last resorts, we talked to both. First the Gateway Hotel. We were shocked when, on Thursday, they said that we could use their pool (which is on the seventh floor terrace by the way haha). They said they were unsure of if we would be able to use it at our desired time because other people might be using it and they would "get back to us," which is what most other hotels said to us with an eventual denial. So, on a whim, we took a risk and talked to VMC, just to see what they would say. Long story short, the head office guy turned out to be a Catholic and liked who we were and what we are doing and gave us permission to use their pool during the short time that it would be closed to the public! Kind of. He said he too might run into some problems. Then comes Saturday morning, and at 11AM (remember the baptism service was to be held in one hour from that time) we called the VMC people and what we thought might happen happened: they said due to "religious conflict" we could not use their pool. Then what? We got a feeling to call the Gateway Hotel guy. As soon as we did he said, "Yes, come, the pool is all yours, we will make sure no one disturbs you." So Sumanth was baptized in a 4ft. deep swimming pool on the seventh floor terrace of the largest hotel in Vijayawada. I had the privilege of performing the ordinance. It was absolutely unforgettable.
Wow this is super long already, there's SO many things I wish I could include but I do not have time to do so. I will attach some photos from this week. I'm excited to see you all next week, that's crazy. Til we meet, I guess haha.
Keep the faith,
P.S. Our excursion today was awesome. We, the missionaries, and Sumanth and his friend, rented the Indian equivalent of a Jeep (a Mahindra Scorpio) and basically climbed up a jungle-covered mountain to a hidden fort/mosque, it was SICK. Seriously one of the coolest P Days ever. We saw exotic insects, butterflies, frogs, geckos, monkeys, pigs, you name it haha, it was awesome. Attached are a few photos from our journey, I will show more and expound more when I get back.