Nicholas Goodwin was my 3rd baptism. That's right, I said MY baptism. Out of 4 there is 1 - Ashley Lowe; and old friend from high school, 2 - Christian Rios; Nick's little brother, 3 - Nick, and 4 - Mandy Pendegraft; one of Courtney's friends from high school. We met Christian thru Nick...but Christian got baptized first.
One very cold, very dark Sunday night, I was on a 'Blitz Armada' with the missionaries. We were working in the Lincoln Ward area for the Sister Missionaries; Sister Tilby and Sister Fuapau.
I was paired up with Sister Fuapau and we were only a few blocks away from the church. We walked up and down those streets knocking on door after door getting nowhere. It was about time for us to turn in but we had one more street and we decided we weren't giving up yet.
We saw a kid walking across the street from us so we went over to GQ him. He was 18 years old...singles ward territory, and said that he was Athiest but he was interested in learning about any religion, so we gave him a pamphlet...and just so that he could see we were normal people, invited him to a P-day BBQ we were having the next day at my cousin Nikki's house.
The first day I met Nick he was totally Goth, dressed all in grungy black and he was smoking a cigarette. He came to the BBQ and pretty much told everyone there that he was just looking for something to do and would never be any more interested in the church. But I wasn't giving up just yet.
When I asked Elder Rasmussen (Zone leader and in the Singles ward) if he was going to set up a teaching appointment he just said, "I'm not going to waste my time, you heard what he said." I told him how I felt, I thought that it was worth pursuing and I was mad that he was just going to let Nick walk away like that. So he gave me an assignment, "Holly," Elder Rasmussen said, "I want you to take Nick under your wing. He's your find, your teach, your baptism. I know you can do this."
OH MY HECK! That's a lot of responsibility, but it was a challenge I had to accept.
So I made short term goals that would eventually lead to the ultimate goal, baptism. Goal #1 - Fellowship. My cousins and I were going to the Corn Maze that Friday, so I called Nick and invited him. Just a friend, no pressure. In the car he was asking us a few questions about the Church so of course we answered him. We had a lot of fun at the Corn Maze and at the end of the night Nick was my last drop off. He saw a copy of The Book of Mormon that I always keep in my car and he wondered if I could give him a copy. Goal #2 - Teaching. So I grabbed the book and a pen, wrote down my testimony in the front cover and said, "it's yours." I committed him to reading at least the testimonies.
When I talked to him the next day he'd only read a couple pages but he agreed to come to church with me. Goal #3 - Attendance. He dressed in his usual drab and had his cigarettes with him. But he stayed for the full three hours and the baptism afterward. He said that he was a little impressed and he agreed to attend the Cottage Meeting the next Wenedsay. Goal #4 - Firm.
On the way to the Cottage Meeting, dressed in the same exact clothes he wore on Sunday, he was asking Nikki and me a few more questions about the church but we weren't getting very far. At the meeting he seemed pretty interested but when asked by Elder Abeyta if he had felt the spirit his direct quote was, "Yeah, I think I did. But to be honest with you, I don't care." My goals were not met. I was absolutely crushed.
However, with very little enthusiasm, I called him on Saturday to invite him to church...his phone was shut off. That's it, he was gone. Elder Rasmussen and Elder Dipo were very understanding. They explained to me that this kind of thing happened a lot and there is just nothing we can do about it. I tried to move on.
The next week on Thursday, I recieved a call from a number I did not recognize. "Hello?"
"Holly! Hi, how are you?" I did not recognize the voice on the other end and I was a little freaked out.
"Who is this?" I snapped.
"It's me Nick. Nicholas Goodwin, I went to church with you and stuff." Total shock came over me!
"Oh, sorry. Hi, how are you?"
I was totally confused. He explained how his phone had been turned off and he'd been trying to remember my phone number for the whole week. He was very upset that he had not been to church the last week and explained the he wanted to attend regularly. He also said that he wanted to start meeting with the missionaries. As luck would have it, Elder's Dipo and Rasmussen were having dinner at my house the next day so I made plans to pick up Nick. When I told Elder Rasmussen that Nick would be there for his first discussion he was really impressed, "That's awesome Holly! How'd you swing that?"
All I could muster was an, "I don't know."
The next day I pulled up to Nick's house to pick him up. I didn't have to walk very far to the door, someone was sitting on the front porch. "Hi. Is Nicholas here?" I asked.
"Holly, its me!" I did not even recognize him. He was wearing much nicer, CLEANER, clothes than he had worn in the past. And he just had this charisma that wasn't there before. I felt like I was talking to a total stranger.
So we get back to my house, and while the Elders are teaching Nick I was cooking dinner. I was still trying to hear what they were saying and they weren't speaking very loudly. It seemed to be going okay, not too well, but not bad. I was barely listening when Nick said straight out, "I want to get baptized!" I dropped a pot on the kitchen floor. (good thing it was empty) I could see that the Elder's were trying to hold back their total surprise and as I picked up the pot, and my jaw, off of the kitchen floor and apologized for inturrupting, I could not hold back a smile. Somehow, obviously by no power of my own, this grungy kid I met on the street was asking us to help him recieve the Gospel. I will never forget that feeling.
Nick dropped smoking like a hot potatoe, but he had a little trouble with the drinking. Elder Rasmussen was transferred but Nick loved Elder Halabuk so it worked out. Elder Dipo, Elder Halibuk and myself met with Nick every night to make sure that he was doing okay. We took him on a blitz which he loved and decided that when the time was right he too wanted to serve a mission. And after a few set backs, and his little brothers own baptism, Nicholas Kyle Goodwin was finally baptized on December 16th, 2007. Success.
Unfortunately, I had to leave soon after for Colorado. I was gone for a few weeks and didn't talk to Nick much. I tried calling but he was out a lot with the missionaries. I wasn't too worried. I was only back in town for a month before I went to Colorado again for my sisters wedding. I didn't talk to Nick at all and last I heard he was drinking again. He doesn't return my calls and I've tried visiting. I'm not sure what happened that made him fall away so soon. But it's hard to see a good friend go.
Despite my disagreements the missionaries assured me that it was nothing I did. "Sometimes this kind of thing happens. The important thing is what you gave him. Your friendship, your love and support, and most importantly, a special gift. The gift of the Holy Ghost. He will always have that, and someday he will see how important it is to him. Someday he will remember that he has a testimony. He will remember how it felt to be clean and forgiven. He will remember you Holly and what you gave him. And he will come back into the fold. Just keep him in your prayers and in your heart."
Nick was special to me. His journey to baptism strengthened my testimony so much and for that I will always be grateful. I love him with all my heart, he is such a dear friend. I hope that one day he does talk to me again. But whether or not I ever see him again, I have faith that he will be okay. That one day he will serve a mission, get married in the temple and live the righteous happy life I know that he is capable of, and he deserves that. He deserves all the love in the world. He has such a sweet heart and I pray for him often.
Please pray for my friend Nick. Maybe with all our prayers he will return soon to the gospel that I know, he knows is true.