Mission Update

It does seem like I have been away for a very long time. Some people say that the mission passes by in an instant – but I think what they mean to say is that we have the privelege of living completely in the moment, without having to worry about rent or a job or school or the future. All we have to worry about are the next baptisms. So sometimes it can all just seem like a blur. But as time passes and there is significant progress in understanding (and in the knee-joints, he he…) there does come a sense of time passing that is not insignificant. I don’t really remember anything about what home looks like or what my friends look like. It seems kind of like a dream of a life that I’ve only imagined. But I have never forgotten any of it 🙂

Your description of a desk with a lot of papers and calendars and a phone to each ear and rapidly striking keys and sending emails and instructions and doing searches on maps, and key locations, and missionary needs, and orientations for the new President, and protocols to pass for the missionaries to keep them out of the path of danger, is pretty much 100% correct. In fact, I think you’re the first person to really pinpoint what it is that we do here, he he… Most people just think that we sit back and relax while drinking milkshakes. But, you can’t please everyone I suppose.

Our new Mission President came yesterday. The President had us call three zones to be at the airport when the new president arrived. All of the missionaries were there singing the “Mission Hymn”? (Hino da Missão) to greet him. It was so cute… He came with his wife and three kids and we took his bags to his new home. His poor wife just couldn’t take it all in at once and she began to cry. It’s one thing to move. It’s another thing to move to a different country with a different culture and language. It’s another thing to move to a different country with a different culture and language with three kids and be responsible for 200+ youth in the middle of the world cup in the host country. But we’re figuring it all out…

We helped load up the car of one of President Bigelow’s friends, Elder Soares, an area Seventy who lives here in Recife. President Bigelow came with 25 bags! I suppose that’s almost reasonable, given that he came with a wife and three kids and is planning to stay three years. But 25 bags! We loaded up 4 cars worth with the bags. The executive secretary and I got a ride with Elder Soares to the new President’s home. On the way, Elder Soares told the story of how his Dad was baptized and became the very first member of the Church in the entire state of Pernambuco. We drove past the spot where his Father lived and the spot where he was baptized and the spot where the rest of the family was baptized. Apparently, the missionaries used to meet in the apartment where they lived. When the missionaries invited Elder Soares’ Dad to be baptized, he said, “I love you both, but you simply just don’t have a church!” But as he prayed more, he received an answer that he should be baptized. So he was. Elder Soares’ Dad worked as the private pilot for the governor of the State of Pernambuco and later that week the governor brought the decision up in conversation, asking, “So where is this new church you were baptized in?” And Soares’ Dad explained, “On the Rua Imperial”. The Governor thought for a moment, then commented, “That’s funny, I don’t remember a single church on that street!” Soares’ Dad had to explain that they were in some temporarily humble conditions. Then the Governor asked, “How many people are part of the church there?” And Soares’ Dad replied, “Well, just me. But my family is going to get baptized next week!” Imagine! Now, some thirty years later, the state has 16 stakes and a Temple. What an awesome legacy…

Our new Mission President speaks almost perfect Portuguese. It’s incredible, really. He speaks better than a lot of American Missionaries that are going home. And he just got here! That’s a good thing, though. It’ll be a little strange for him, though, because American Missionaries are a dying race here in Brazil… I attached a photo of one of the recent arriving groups. There were 15+ missionaries with just 2 Americans. And the Americans that came having already been trained and were training other missionaries in the field! All we’re receiving right now are Brazilians and Latinos! But it’s great to see the church here becoming more self-reliant.

We’ve been throwing together all of the documents necessary to leave the new President completely self-reliant and well-oriented as possible in as little time as possible. Tomorrow we’ll be putting together plans for a series of “Meet the President” multi-zone conferences. It’s been a host of interesting experiences.

I will admit that it was difficult to see President Lanius go. I gave him one of my ties and he gave me one of his as a memorial. I’ll never forget his example of honesty, integrity, and love unfeigned. But 3 years is 3 years and he has done very well…


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