These last two weeks have been a bit of a run-run for the Elder Fleming. Our zone was able to visit the temple, not this Wednesday, but the last. The whole lot of us gathered at Burger King to get a little taste of America. It was fun for all the missionaries to gather together in a non-district meeting context. Little by little, our zone is becoming more and more united. Elder Sanchez and I are trying to lift the spirits and the energy of all the missionaries in Zona Casa Amarela. Nobody will ever be forced to follow Jesus Christ, so it’s our job to be such animated and exciting messengers of the gospel that people themselves get excited about our message. Certainly, there’s a place for reverence and the quiet whisperings of the Spirit in our work, but I’ve always found that preaching the gospel is easier with a bounce in your step and a smile on your face.
The day after our temple visit, the mission president, President Lanius, came to our zone to give us a mini-training and do surprise interviews. He started off talking to us about the speed of thoughts, the size of the milky way, the distance from earth to the sun, and the fact that light travels around the world 7.5 times in a mere second. I’m a little foggy on the purpose of his prelude, but it had something to do with the grand magnitude of our work here and the eternal possibilities after baptism. Then he talked about how to diversify our teaching group. He then held a handful of interviews. He asked me, “Are you better after your operation?” I got confused and told him he must have me mixed up with another missionary. He looked puzzled for a minute, smiled, laughed, and realized that he had indeed mixed me up with another operated elder. I was grateful I didn’t have to go to the hospital. I was also relieved to know that I hadn’t received a medical operation unawares while on the mission. Dementia would be a handful at 21. He then asked me if I was excited to work. I said yes. He gave me a hug. Everybody walked away happy. The shorter the better with these things, I figure.
While the other elders were being interviewed, Elder Sanchez and I gave an impromptu training to the zone on the importance of contacting everyone in our path and how to use our time wisely. For having about 0 seconds of planning, it actually worked out remarkably well. It’s nice to have a companion that is “desenrolado” (it’s a word that means something like “quick thinker” or “silver tongue”).
We had a miracle baptism this last weekend (14th of July). Her name was Juliana. One day we had very few appointments and were resigned to a day full of contacts. Our twentieth contact was a heavy door in the face by an angry catholic. Needless to say, our spirits were low, the sun was hot, and there was a massive hill to climb in front of us. We considered giving up on contacts and trying to find some of our more agreeable investigators at home, but Elder Sanchez and I felt we should do just one more street. We climbed the hill, a little disappointed and entirely exhausted, and were happy to see a woman with her child waiting for absolutely nothing. We talked to her. She said she would get baptized. She read the Book of Mormon, went to Church, and decided to change her life forever. Amen. She said she just felt a warm tingly affirmation when she read the Book of Mormon. She reads every day. Her little daughter is probably the cutest thing since people started breeding miniature dogs.
A side note – these last two weeks have been an adventure in the doggy world. It all started when I asked to speak with the aunt of a less active who had recently moved to our area. He guided me to the little alleyway that led to his house. There was one dog chained up on our right. The chain gave just enough space for us to squeeze by with our little bottoms pressed up against the wall. There was another dog at the end of the alleyway, just before the corner that led to the Less Active’s house. Needless to say, we slowly tip-toed past the first dog just as the second dog pulled out the stake that he was chained to and started to chase after us. I backed up into my companion who was slipping on a pile of dirt into the first dig and pretended to throw rocks while the second dog was barking and coming closer and closer and…it was all just a mess. Needless to say, I didn’t get bit and I don’t have rabies. Story #2: We did a contact at a house way out in the middle of nowhere. There was a little rogue dog that had followed us for a good half-mile and he was just as excited about the contact as we were. When we clapped our hands to call out the family, instead of a nice smiling old lady with cookies came a Rottweiler and an angry mutt. The dogs were King Size (definitely not fun size) and pretty much ran face first into the fence that was blocking them from us. Or us from them. 🙂 They were barking like mad and we were laughing because they couldn’t get past the fence and we were safe. All of sudden, they stopped barking and ran into the foliage that covered the fence encircling the house. Everything went eerily quiet for a second. Then the two massive guard dogs burst out from a hole they had dug under the fence and came barreling towards us. Elder Sanchez and I opened our umbrellas (as if a $R 5,00 street umbrella will fight off a 100-pound Rottweiller). Our little friend that had so faithfully followed us sprinted off like a fugitive in a drug-bust. But, just like always, the big boys caught the runner. They grabbed him by the back of the neck and he squealed and cried. Fortunately, the bigger dogs realized that it really just wasn’t worth it and the little guy didn’t have any lunch money. They just gave him a good sniff and let him go. At that point, the little guy ran behind Elder Sanchez’s umbrella, shaking. But, yet again, we were unharmed.
Two more baptisms marked for this next week. All is well. God Bless.