Paradise Lost

I was transferred…again!

This time to a an area called Paratibe in the City of Paulista. It’s located north of Recife but still is part of the Metropolitan Area.

My last week in Boa Vista, Garanhuns, was a dream. Elder Withers and I finally got the swing of things. We taught well together, traded well in our teaching, got accustomed to each others’ routines, got to know the members more and marked a baptism.

We had a great lesson with the Catholic wife of a returned missionary, Pamela. Pamela has strong Catholic roots – she grew up Catholic, goes to mass about once a month with her mom, and considers herself Catholic. But, these last few weeks she has been visiting the Boa Vista ward, she has gotten to know (and love) the other members. She participated in a 1960’s dance presentation with some other female members of the ward and has become fully integrated with the young families like her there. Elder Withers and I have been coordinating closely with the members, and every week she is in a new member’s house for a Family Home Evening or dinner or something of the sort. But this last Sunday was the first we taught just her and her husband. We taught the Restoration. She understood everything perfectly, but when we asked her how she felt about what she had taught, she expressed some doubt. Her husband talked about  the importance of reading the Book of Mormon to gain her own testimony and she consented to reading and praying. And getting baptized, when she understands the answer she has been given. She was torn between her nuclear family and her husband, and the weight of the decision brought tears to her eyes, but the room was full of love – love her husband had for her, love we had for her, the love that God has for each and every one of us, and the powerful testimony of the truth. I’m anxious to see what happens here in the future.

We had another sweet experience with a young man of about 22 years of age who has been missing church for about a month. He received the priesthood and then just kind of disappeared. The bishop asked us about him, and given that I had only been in the area for less than a month, I said that I hadn’t the foggiest who the kid was or where he had been. But we said we would visit. So last Saturday we went to Ronildo’s house to talk to him. It turns out we played football together in the park when I was serving in a different area in the city of Garanhuns a year ago. And he remembered me! As we talked, I had the strangest deja-vu. I swear I had already dreamt about that whole lesson before. But we talked about the importance of Sacrament Meeting and he committed to go. Sunday, being the first Sunday of the month, he went up to bear his testimony and afterward went to talk to the bishop about going to the temple. I was all warm and fuzzy inside.

Sunday was an interesting day. We were fasting, being the first Sunday of the month, and when we woke up to shower we were surprised to find that our house was without water. So we stood outside for a little bit to see if the fresh morning air could take some of the musk off, applied deodorant, and went out on the hunt for investigators. Our Sunday lunch fell through, but we were lucky to be invited to eat feijoada with the former bishop’s family. It was an awesome last supper. Sunday night we taught Pamela, and shortly thereafter I got the call that I would be transferred. We planned, got the zone’s numbers, and I started packing my bags at around 22h30. At around 01h00 in the early morning I grabbed my broken-wheeled bags and we called up a taxi to the bus. The bus didn’t have any seats left, so we stayed standing for the first two hours trying not to fall asleep on the passengers in front of us. Then about 06h30 we got off the bus, and caught one more to the transfer. I had forgotten how hot Recife is. The bag I use to carry all my books has one busted wheel, so I kind of tilted the bag to one side and walked like a hunchback to push the thing around. I’m considering buying a trolley to lug the beast around. Needless to say, I built up a sweat. I was called to be the Senior Zone Leader in Zona Paulista. Zona Paulista is known to be a difficult zone – the people are not exactly the friendly interior of Garanhuns, it’s generally hot, and the president has a history of putting the slackers there. As it turns out, there were some hot debates between the missionaries and the last Zone Leader, so I’ve come to fill in the hole, as the saying goes. I also found out the chapel is a good 20-30 minute walk from the closest point in our area. The rest is all by bus. Needless to say, there are and handful of naysayers that want to pass a vision different than the paradise that Paratibe is.

Transfer day, being P-Day/Monday, I tried writing the Stanford essay, which delayed a little (2-3 hours), and just as I was wrapping up the LAN-House suddenly shut off all the computers. And…I didn’t save. So, being that our Tuesday lunch had called us to cancel, we went and quickly bought some groceries. I dropped my bag off, changed ties, and we went out to work. No marked commitments. No investigators. I came back to the house hot, sweaty, having not showered a good 2.5 days, having left without teaching a lesson, and tried planning. I fell asleep in the prayer, then 1 or 2 more times during planning, until my companion decided it was better for us to just go to sleep and handle Tuesday on Tuesday. I consented, and conked.

Mondays, man.

Mondays.

Some days on the mission are just difficult. But I would be lying if I said I wasn’t stoked to be here. The ward is good. The companion has a vision. We’ve already been able to teach a handful of awesome lessons with powerful members, each of whom has their own incredible conversion stories. I told Elder Olpin that I expect nothing less than Kick-Butt performance from the both of us and Kick-Butt Results from the Ward. He’s on-board. We’re gonna light the world on fire.

Naysayers are just people who can’t see the “possible” in “impossible”.

I say Yes to Paratibe, Yes to Zona Paulista, and Yes to Work, Work, Work.

Amen.

-Elder Fleming-

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