My email time was cut short last Monday due to a surprise I will explain in this post.
I said I had some miracles to talk about in Jardim América and so I’ll do my best to capture them here. The first was with regards to a reference. We visited the house of the Bishop for lunch. The Bishop was working, but the Bishop’s wife and daughters were at home. We ate and began our normal conversation about this and that, but I wanted to turn our conversation towards the missionary work in our ward. I asked about the history of the ward, how it had grown and shrunk, how it had been divided. That conversation led to a different conversation, which turned out to be very interesting. During the previous lunch we had with Nancy, the Bishop’s wife, a friend of the family stopped by. We’ll call her Alex. Alex didn’t know exactly who we were, but we introduced ourselves, and she was warm and welcoming but generally quiet. We didn’t think much of it at the time (I believe that was during my first week in the area) but during this lunch, our second lunch with Nancy, she began to tell us about the miracle. Alex was at home Monday and was about to leave her house when she had a vision. Apparently, she said she felt carried away for a moment and saw Elder J. Vargas and I wearing street clothes, which she thought was really strange considering that we almost always wear slacks, white shirts, and ties. After the vision, she stepped outside to carry on with her morning errands. Not 2 minutes later, she saw Elder J. Vargas and I, returning from playing basketball on the morning of our P-Day, wearing the exact street clothes she had seen in the vision. She said hello to us. We waved and said hello, but I had met her on the second day in the mission field and she looked like she was in a hurry and our introduction had been such that I wasn’t sure if she was comfortable with us stopping her in the street to start her conversation. In other words, I really wish I would have stopped and said something to her. Moments like those are difficult but critically important to recognize. As it turns out, she reported the experience to Nancy and Nancy told us that she had felt like she should talk to us but didn’t know what to say. Nancy said she would talk with Alex about us and relate the news. I’m excited to hear the news about the conversation between Alex and Nancy, but…
I’ve been transferred.
As of Last Monday, Dec. 3rd: I’m not exactly sure what happened, or how it came to this, but I’ve been transferred. It’s quite uncommon for a trainee to be transferred in the middle of their 12-week training, but I’m excited to turn a new page regardless. I’ve been transferred to the interior of Pernambuco. The city I’ve been called to is called Garanhuns. The area is much bigger than my previous area. It’s about 40 minutes walking distance across. My new trainer is Elder Ledema. He has been in the mission field about one and a half years. He’ll be serving as District Leader during our time together, so I’ll have a lot to do and a lot to learn to help support in that calling. As District Leader, we’ll have to travel every week to the various areas in our zone to interview the investigators there. In our zone, that means about a 2 hour bus ride out and a 2 hour bus ride back every Friday. Needless to say, our work is about to change in a big way. I’ll have more to report next Monday, a week into the transfer.
As of today, December 10th, 2012: Wowza. A phrase that I’ve taken from my dear sister Michaela that captures the dramatic change between Jardim América and Garanhuns well. Wowza. I’ve jumped from teaching 10-15 lessons per week without members to teaching 25-30 lessons a week, 10-15 of which are wiht members. Elder Ledema is a bulldog with big ambitions. He doesn’t take excuses from anyone – missionaries and investigators alike. In our first conversation, he explained that he will get an M.D./Ph.D., work as a neural surgeon, and write books that people will read. He’s learning English and speaks remarkably well for having started at the beginning of the mission and studying just 1 hour a day. He wakes up at 6:00 every morning to write in his diary before exercising and getting prepared for the day. I have the sleeping needs of a small child and I didn’t get much sleep the night of my transfer, so this last week was a bit of a hurricane. Between meeting the members of a ward with 100+ members, trying to orient myself in a relatively large new area, and walk-running from appointment to appointment, I can honestly say I feel like I’ve finally found a comfortable pace for the mission. Our zone is on fire relative to the other zones in the mission. We have 5 areas in our zone that are rather widely spread apart and Elder Ledema, as District Leader, is responsible for interviewing every one of their investigators for baptism. For those of you who don’t know much about the process of preparing people to follow Christ’s example by being baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ – every investigator wanting to be baptized has an interview with the missionaries in which they are asked simple but thought-provoking questions, such as:
  • Do you believe that God is our Eternal Father? Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Savior and Redeemer of the world?
  • What does it mean to you to repent? Do you feel that you have repented of your past transgressions? And,
  • When you are baptized, you covenant with God that you are willing to take upon yourself the name of Christ and keep His commandments throughout your life.  Are you ready to make this covenant and strive to be faithful to it?
Having to interview every investigator means we usually travel for 2-3 hours Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and sleep in other missionaries’ apartments about once a week.
Elder Ledema studied for a year in Gastronomy School before arriving on the mission, so that’s a plus.
We had a little miracle Saturday in which we were running a little late trying to catch a bus for one of our interviews. The bus was delayed about 10 minutes. That is, just after we arrived in the bus station and bought our bus tickets. The bus driver arrived as we sat down. He boarded everyone and left immediately. The whole process in the bus station took less than 4 minutes. As we reflected on the little miracle, Elder Ledema mentioned to me that the bishop’s wife in Arco Verde had been praying for rain. We smiled as the rain came in through the cracks in the windows of the bus as we traveled to Arco Verde.
Rain drops on car window and fjord landscape{source}
Much Love,
Elder Fleming

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