Work in the office is much different. To a certain point, I feel like I’ve been given the keys to the brains of the mission. My focus and thinking have increased to a much larger scale. Now my responsibility encapsulates 100 areas instead of 10. We create trainings, distribute leadership and training materials, and write the documents that ultimately define what makes “Missão Brasil Recife” what it is. It’s very different. It’s sort of like being moved from a foot-soldier to a constitution-writer. But it’s fun and an opportunity to get my creative and administrative juices flowing. Sunday and Monday are slower days in the office, analyzing the mission and preparing trainings, dealing with transfers and other administrative details, and Tuesday through Friday we are in the field doing divisions from sun-up to sun-down.
We spent the first couple days as Assistants handling the incoming missionaries, giving a little Mission Orientation, and preparing a training to give to the whole mission as a sort of AED to make the mission wake up. The mission fell into a bit of a slump during Christmas time, what with schedules being interrupted by Christmas and New Years and missionaries dreaming about family and home. So we’ve been thinking about how we can revamp the missionary efforts here in the Brasil Recife Mission, helping the missionaries to become more Christlike as representatives of Christ. I’ll explain more about the training in next week’s email.
I did my first divisions as an AP near the end of the week. We went to a zone called Boa Viagem and did a 2-day division with the new Zone Leaders there. The Zone Leaders reopened the area and the Area Book (where the previous missionaries ought to have put the names, telephone numbers, and addresses of every investigator that they have been teaching) was completely empty. On top of that, the Elders in Boa Viagem are responsible for two wards instead of one, so it was a fun opportunity to walk around with the equivalent of an informational blindfold and figure out the mysteries of Who’s Who and Where’s What while finding new investigators with them.
I had the incredible opportunity to spend my first Sunday in the office paying a visit back to the Paratibe ward. I got a call from Elder Olpin on Thursday saying that one of the families we had been teaching for some time – Moisés and Edilene (with their little boy Mateus who’s 6-years old) – decided to be baptized.
I had, truth be told, visited them on my last night in Paratibe before I got transferred to the office. We were scheduled to visit a different family, but Elder Olpin and I wanted to briefly pass by their house to offer some final goodbyes. So Sunday night (January 12th, 2014), knowing that I would be gone the next morning, Elder Olpin and I stopped by Moisés and Edilene’s house. I explained that I would be leaving, but that I loved getting to know them and that I would love to hear any updates after I left.
At the time, we hadn’t really planned on teaching a lesson. We were more or less double-booked in our Sunday night schedule and were already late for a teaching commitment with another family. On top of all that, we had already taught Edilene and Moisés most everything they needed to know to be baptized. We had invited them to be baptized several times up until that moment and had explained several times the importance of baptism that they were ready and had learned everything they needed to know. In response to those invitations, they had always been a little resistant, asking, “Can we just keep visiting and learning?” (to which we replied, yes, but reiterated the promised blessings and significance of baptism).
So in that light, we showed up on Moisés and Edilene’s door-step to offer our final goodbyes. We were chatting briefly in the doorstep, explaining how I would go to a different area and a new Elder would come in my place. You can imagine our surprise when Edilene looked at us and asked, “Well, but now that you’re leaving, who’s going to baptize us?” Elder Olpin and I paused, puzzled, looked at each other for a moment in amazement, and then asked “You want to get baptized?” Edilene looked down, rather timidly, and her husband mentioned, “She’s been thinking about it”.
So, Elder Olpin and I started explaining how great it would be, planning for a baptismal service the following Sunday. Though still a little pressed for time, we asked to enter and say a prayer. We all kneeled together, arms crossed, eyes closed (little Mateus included) and felt the peaceful, sweet Spirit of the Lord fill their home as we prayed, pleading on their behalf that they might stay firm in their decision and stay firm in the Gospel.
I thought that final prayer would be the last time I would ever see Moisés, Edilene, and Mateus, so you can imagine my great joy and surprise when I got the call Thursday night that Edilene had asked that Elder Olpin and I both be at their baptism on Sunday. I got permission from the president to spend my first Sunday in the Paratibe ward.
The baptism service was phenomenal. Practically the whole ward showed up to give their support. Baptisms always carry a certain excitement and joy, but there’s something different about the baptism of a family – the whole ward seems to see themselves, and their own hopes and dreams as an eternal family in seeing the mother and father descend into the baptismal font. Elder Olpin baptized the Father, Moisés, and I baptized Edilene. When she came out of the water she was all smiles, and reached her arms out to give a hug (though I tried to transform the hug into a handshake as tactfully as I could).
It was so good to see the Paratibe ward animated and united. Just one transfer before I had arrived in Paratibe, the frequency in that ward was hovering around 30 per Sunday. Elder Olpin and his companion before me planted the seeds and Elder Olpin and I tried as best we could to carry the momentum, until, on this very last Sunday there, the frequency was up to around 75-80.
I’m grateful to have been a part of the progress in Paratibe, though I know my influence was minimal.
And I’m excited to see the difference we can make in the Recife Ward.
Until Next Week