It was marvelous to see all the faces of my family on Wednesday (Christmas). I would be lying if I said that I didn’t get a little bit emotional seeing my niece Eliza, the little stinker, saying “Hi Uncle Scotty!” The last time I saw that little munchkin she couldn’t even walk. Much less speak! Man, how time flies.
This Christmas was a fun one in Areaa Paratibe, Zona Paulista. Elder Olpin and I did our best to bring the Christmas spirit to all and put the “Christ” back into “Christmas”. On Monday, we were able to realize a long-awaited Christmas Choral Presentation in our Condominiums. We had coordinated with the Syndicate, rented the space in the middle of the condominiums, made special invitations for the 400 some-odd apartments in our apartment complex, and brought the ward choir to come sing for everyone. It must have been the lowest-budget ward activity I have ever realized since I’ve been a missionary. We got a little dinky electronic keyboard from one of the youth in the ward, used the chairs and tables that were already in the rented space, printed the invitations in the mission office – but in the end it worked out beautifully. There were some 4 families that came to see the ward sing. And of those four families, three showed interest in going to the regular Sunday church meetings.
I also came to realize why Elder Olpin and I had been put in this specific ward, in our specific missionary apartment, at this specific time of the year. It just so happens that Elder Olpin sings bass and I sing tenor. We’re not particularly good at singing, but we get along just fine in your average church hymn and the harmonies are simple enough to put smiles on your average Brazilian apartment-living family. Between Christmas Eve and Christmas, we knocked on about 130 doors, sung for some 30 families, and are following up with about 15 of them. But as I was reflecting on our experience, I thought to myself – man. Out of all the missionary apartments, I think ours must be the only one that is set up the way it is – in a relatively nicer condominium complex, with upper- to middle-class families Out of all the missionaries in the Brazil Recife Mission, there are painstakingly few that know how to sing harmonies, and even fewer that are Elders that sing Bass. And out of all those few Elders, I was put at this moment at this time of the year with one of them in that very apartment complex that is basically impossible to open to missionary work using the normal street- and door-knocking- techniques (given that many apartment-goers would complain to the Condominium Syndicate and our work would be shut down). So I was grateful to get a glimpse of why God chose to put me in the Paratibe Area during the Christmas Transfer with Elder Olpin.
We did a surprise visit with an area that has been passing through some difficult times this transfer. The two missionary companions have had a hard time getting along and there hasn’t been a whole lot of work coming out of the area. So Elder Olpin and I took a Christmas box that one of the Elders had received and we took it to them Friday morning as a surprise. We spent about an hour interviewing the two of them and asked what we could do to help. That afternoon, we just went crazy in their area, teaching almost 10 lessons, making about 40 contacts in the span of around 3 hours. The effect was as hoped for. The missionaries are much more excited and happy to work. So we’ll see how things go. It’s always a little different working with missionaries rather than working with investigators…