Converts in the Montana Billings Mission are not uncommon, but a recent baptismal ceremony here was a bit unusual.
May Hodson was 100 years old when she was baptized on Saturday, Nov. 12. "I've never taught anyone so old, but so alert. It was a thrilling opportunity," said Elder Don Skaggs from Garden Grove, Calif.Elder Skaggs was one of four missionaries involved in teaching Sister Hodson since the beginning of October. "A sister in the ward had been fellowshipping her for a couple of months and she confronted us one day after Church and told us we needed to visit her," the missionary explained. So, he and his companion, Elder Carl Howard from Hampstead, Md., made an appointment and the conversion of Sister Hodson began.
Sister Hodson lives with a younger sister, Caroline Jacobs, who was baptized two years ago. Although Sister Jacobs attended Church and the activities regularly, Sister Hodson remained uninterested in the gospel – until Oct. 7.
"That was the first appointment we had with her," remembered Elder Skaggs. "And we kept meeting with her. Those appointments were the high points of our day."
On Nov. 4, Elder Howard invited Sister Hodson to be baptized. She accepted, but with one stipulation. She wanted to be baptized before she left on vacation the next week.
"I looked at the calendar and the number of lessons we still had to teach her, and I decided we could do it, but we had to work fast," Elder Skaggs related. Two zone leaders split with the companionship so they could continue teaching other investigators and still teach Sister Hodson the remaining lessons.
Although Sister Hodson is remarkably fit for a centenarian, there was a little concern about the baptism because of a hip problem. "But the whole thing went off without a hitch," Elder Skaggs reported. "It was really neat. As soon as she touched the water, she started crying. The Spirit was very strong."
Mission Pres. John J. Grove said he is thrilled with Sister Hodson's baptism. "Of course, we love any baptisms. But this one is particularly exciting. It's not often we see a 100-year-old baptized."
Pres. Grove used Sister Hodson's story in the mission's weekly newsletter to inspire other missionaries throughout the mission.
"It really is a great story," said mission secretary, Elder Curtis Wright from Beaver, Utah. "It inspires all the missionaries when we hear stories like Sister Hodson's."