Elder Taylor Dearden
South Carolina Columbia Mission
110 Oak Park Drive, Suite B
Irmo, SC 29063


Monday, July 20, 2015

Fort Jackson

Hello people!

This is a picture of the soldiers who were baptized last week, Pvt
Blanco is on the left, Pvt Doone on the right. The middle guy is a
soldier who was baptized the week prior and had the privilege of
baptizing Doone and Blanco.

I don't get to take pictures of the baptisms, I'll explain why latter
on, but Elder Nolan, a senior missionary takes the pics for us and
then gives us a hard copy the next week, so my photos of the baptisms
will be delayed a week. Having said that, I'll talk about the 2
baptisms we had yesterday on next weeks letter.

The way Ft Jackson works is that we get to go teach on base on
Sunday's. There is a chapel building used by multiple denominations
and we get the morning hours, so from 8 to noon we are on base for the
Ft Jackson Branch sacrament meeting, we get there an hour early and
talk to the soldiers in the chapel that come early, surprisingly about
50-65%  of those in attendance are non members who just wanted to take
a break and visit a church, or they are battle buddies of members who
wanted to go to church but as a rule they must always have someone
with them, kinda like our missionary rules. ( FYI background, these
soldiers are in a 12 week basic training program) But anyways we just
start talking to them and most of the time they are willing to be
taught, so we teach them abbreviated restoration lessons and commit
them to keep coming to church and to be baptized 2 weeks later. It is
amazing how well the soldiers keep their commitments, over the coming
week they actually do read the Book of Mormon and pray and almost
always come back with a witness from the Holy Ghost.

Rather than Sunday school they just have hours for the missionaries to
teach, because we are limited on # of missionaries we teach alone
without our companion. There are 2 sets of Elders (the APs and Us .)
and 2 sets of sisters. Each missionary usually teaches about 3 lessons
each Sunday.

Immediately after sacrament meeting we have a baptism service for
those who are being baptized. Sometimes we get to witness them, but we
are usually caught up busy with other teaching appointments, in order
to maintain effectiveness and productivity we only get to teach a
soldier 1 lesson and then we pass them off to another missionary to do
another lesson. So we don't get to know them on a super personal
basis. But it also guarantees that when someone is baptized, all the
missionaries had a part played in their conversion. But that's why I
don't get to take pics of the baptisms because I'm usually busy
interviewing someone for baptism ( like yesterday) or I'm teaching
someone new. We pick up like 7 new investigators each week and about
half of them stick.

We have a goal to baptize 4 per week, right now we average 2 a week.
What is amazing is that the retention rate of Ft Jackson is higher
than the world convert retention rate. So we are assured that the work
we do is effective. More than half of the converts remain active after
basic training.

Anyways, last week I went on an exchange with Elder Briggs, the ZL for
west Columbia. It was really fun and we got along great.

Ben Stocker was Baptized yesterday too! He is the young man I taught
for 6 months in Summerville! I'm sure Elder Parker had a great day
seeing Ben Baptized! Some members from Summerville are going to send
me pics from that special day. I'll post them next week.

I don't have much else to say other than, LIFE IS GOOD!

I hope life goes great for y'all this week!


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