Then Thursday hit and things kinda got crazy. There were lots of snow and ice storms which was kind of cool, but our cars got grounded so we couldn't go anywhere. That probably would have been fine in the city, but out here in rural Oklahoma we were pretty limited on what we could do. We knocked houses in the small neighborhood by our house, but there wasn't much else to do. We spent lots of time cleaning and organizing our apartment which was lame. Some of the days we got picked up by members which was a life saver because we were getting pretty bored. It has just been kind of crazy not having the normal missionary life the past few days.
Then Saturday was a pretty crazy day. To start things off we felt an earthquake. We were just sitting there reading scriptures when the ground and walls start shaking. We were pretty excited, but it was a small earthquake. Then Jake picked us up for his baptism. So we were just riding along in Jake's jeep on the snowy roads with our happy chit chats and good stories when we hit a nice patch of ice and start sliding. There was a big white truck coming towards us and we were going pretty fast so we didn't have a whole lot of control. There was also a nice large ditch on the right side of the road. Looking between the two options of head on collision and ditch, we chose the ditch. We slid off the road and into the ditch. We went sideways for a long time once inside the ditch and there was snow flying all over the place. Then it all stopped and it was kind of weird because we were way calm. We got out and somehow we hadn't flipped, we ended inches from a fence, and somehow we dodged a light pole. The guy in the truck pulled us out of the ditch, we changed our tire, and we were on our way. Wow the Lord was definitely protecting us on that one. It was the first real crash I've ever been in too.
So we went to the airport to pick up Jake's friend then headed to the baptism. The ward Christmas party was right after, so they left the church cold becase there were going to be so many bodies in there. That was bad news for the baptism because we were cold. We got out of the font and we were shivering. Being the geniuses we are, we both forgot towels as well. We got creative and everything worked out though.
Looking back to the start of Jake's conversion it really started more like 10 years ago when he was in high school. He had a good friend named Danny (the friend we picked up at the airport) who got him to take the lesson back then, but Jake wasn't ready then. We knocked on Jake's door about 5 months ago. The prompting came that we just needed to be really nice and smiley, so we did and Jake told us he was busy right then but that we could come back. Well for the next month and a half Jake did pretty good at avoiding us. He told us that he even hid his car one time so that he wouldn't have to talk to us that night. Haha from his perspective he says it was like being a prisoner in his own home. At one point we showed up to his house and knocked on his door but no one answered. The problem was that his car was in the driveway and we could see one of the chairs rocking because someone had just got out of it. We decided to stop trying at that point, but for some reason we just couldn't stay away. We finally met with Jake and had an awesome lesson in which he committed to read the Book of Mormon. Danny called us that next Monday and we began the tag team effort of baptizing Jake. The next few months consisted of a lot of ups and downs. There would be times when Jake would show so much potential and we would be running around screaming in our apartment because we were so excited. Then there would be times when we would want to give up because we no longer knew how to help him. In one of those hard moments I asked dad for advice and he pretty much just told me to be patient. When I read those words I knew deep down that Jake was going to be baptized someday. I somehow just needed to learn to be patient. As Jake continued to read and pray his desire for truth continued to grow. Finally the point came where Jake wanted all of this to be true and he was willing to do whatever he needed to do to get his anwer. That was much more easily said than done though. He wanted to gain a testimony of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon but it was just such a struggle. He knew there would be a lot of pressure from family and friends if he decided to join. He had to know if he was going to withstand that. We had so many lessons with that as a focus, but we just couldn't figure out what was going to push Jake far enough for him to realize his answer. It was quite frustrating, but we had a lot of hope. Then one day we decided that we were going to have Jake choose whether this was all true and he was going to take that answer to prayer. Well during that lesson we didn't end up doing that because Jake had received his answer the night before. That was one of the most exciting days of my life seeing the gospel glow in his eyes. He had changed from the first day we had met him months earlier and he was prepared to become a member. Jake took us to dinner a few days later, and I realized that my time in the Village had come to an end because Jake was spiritually self sufficient and no longer needed Elder Hoddy.
I left soon after but I got to go back for his baptism. We stood in the baptismal font and the words came, "Having been comissioned of Jesus Christ..." How special are those words right there. That is a life changing line with so much deep meaning behind it. D&C 18:15 And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance uno this people, and bring, save it be one sould unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father! Missionary work is amazing.
So after the baptism we hung around for the ward Christmas party and got to see all the people from my last area. We went out to leave and Jake had another flat tire. It came off the rim too, so we ended up going back to the airport to get a rental car and he took us home. Saturday, December 7th, was one of the craziest and best days ever.
This week has been amazing and the gospel never ceases to amaze. The church is true and it blesses these amazing people and it blesses our family. I have learned a lot of the doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ, but my testimony's strength lies in the simple truths. Jesus is the Christ, Joseph Smith is a prophet and restored His church to the Earth. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has been restored to the Earth with a living prophet and the Book of Mormon as its cornerstone, we must read and pray each day to strengthen us, and I want to be part of this forever.
The church truly is amazing and will never be taken from the Earth again. We are so blessed as a family and I am happy to be a Hoddy. HFF!