Saturday, July 12, 2014

Week 51: Changing of the Guard‏

This week was a rather reverent change, different from the fast-paced felicity that is the work of the Lord. For some reason, this week had another way to teach me to love the Lord than the way I had been previously learning, like the difference between Sunday School and a Seminary Class.
My feelings were tainted with a sense of renewal and excitement, and stalked with the bitter sense of uncertainty that grows when a change is expected.
The day to day events were focused on preparations in the mission offices and in my area. With the change of our Mission President and the baptism of the Franco family on the horizon, we had a great many things to do.

Saturday: We had a great PDay. After we played soccer in the church gym, we went to an incredible hamburger joint on the other side of the capital. I was incredibly surprised, it was great, the burgers tasted like they had been cooked on a BBQ at home (not like those gross McDonald's patties that I have resorted to). That night we had another lesson with the Francos just to recap everything that we had taught them over the past three months (has it really been that much time?). Walter and Ingrid are so prepared, they haven't just accepted the gospel, and they’ve embraced it!
Sunday: Walter and Ingrid came to church today along with Manuela and a few other people we've been teaching, in total we had six investigators present in Sacrament Meeting! It was an awesome feeling. That night, we passed over the Baptismal interview questions with Walter and Ingrid and they shared their testimonies with us. Walter explained that before he had taken the lessons, he had a thousand different ideas about our church, (that we worship Joseph Smith, that we have a hundred wives, etc.) but he said that when we first talked to him on his doorstep, what really impacted him was the faith that we have in Jesus Christ, and how our entire religion is centered around him.
I remember that lesson, and I remember how it was completely focused on the Savior, we used a Book of Mormon pass-along card that shows Jesus coming to the Americas, at the end of the discussion we gave it to him.
Now he keeps has that card taped to the wall in the entryway of the house.
My friends, the church is true.

Monday: I woke up this morning at 5 o'clock a.m. feeling my bed moving swaying back and forth beneath me. I was too tired and groggy to realize that I was in the middle of an earthquake, and just rolled over and went back to bed.
I'm not sure that was the best idea in the world, but I don't hold myself accountable for my actions in the early morning.
We enjoyed the very last office meeting of President Stay. It was a solemn assembly, especially because the opening hymn was "God Be With You Till We Meet Again." The whole thing was just pretty emotional.
That night, the Zone Leaders from Jalapa couldn't catch their bus to get back to their area in time, so the ended up having to stay in the White House with us. I did a division with one of them, Elder Cooper, from Toole Utah, so that Elder Gil and I could get to all the appointments we had planned.
Overall it was a good day.
Tuesday: not much to report. The Internet went down in the offices and we were kind of left hanging out to dry as secretaries. We were stuck waiting for the area offices to fix things...but nothing happened!
Turns out that everyone there was too engrossed in the World Cup Germany vs. Brazil game that they forgot to pay our internet bill (which doesn't make any sense at all...I mean, I heard that the game ended up at 7-1 for Germany. That's not a soccer game! That's called playground bullying!).
That night all of our appointments fell through and the permanent retainer I have on my top front teeth popped out on one side.
So...basically, today wasn't that great.
Wednesday: Today was the Zone Council for "La Zona Guatemala" ...but I couldn't make it to the meeting because I had to go to the mission's dentist office in Zone 2 to get my retainer fixed.
The actual visit took only 10 minutes...getting there however, was a little more complicated:
We left the house at about 8 o'clock and started walking to the Avenida Reforma (a really big, nice street in Guatemala, it's where the Mission Offices are) to go and take a bus to Zone Two. Approaching the street we saw a great hoard of people marching down on the other side of the street. They carried banners and microphones and were all shouting.
"Wow," I thought to myself, "how fun, a parade!"
But upon, listening closer, Elder Gil and I heard their cry through the megaphones: "Gringos! Fuera de Guatemala!" (Translation: Americans! Get out of Guatemala!)
This wasn't a parade, it was an Anti-American protest. A good amount of people were all swarming towards the American Embassy like angry (but pacifistic) bees.
We were stopped dead in our tracks, I looked at my companion and said, "I'm not about to cross the street" so we both turned around and we ran in the other direction before any of the members of the angry mob would see me.
We ended up having to wait a good hour before it was safe to cross the street and take a bus... and we made it to the Dental Clinic safely and without any problems, but it really started me thinking: What would have happened if one of them would have seen me? There were about 300 people, and none of them even noticed me!
We were definitely protected by the Lord that day, as he always does...
Even though the mob was non-violent, I wasn't about to be caught up in the midst of an international conflict.
Thursday: I had the opportunity to go on divisions with Elder Ampaza, from Bolivia, while Elder Layton went to Montufar with Elder Gil to do an interview for Walter and Ingrid. Elder Ampaza is a brand new missionary, he has been here for only three weeks and carries this pure desire to share the gospel. He's a rather short Violin player who is so excited to be a missionary that he really just shares this fire with everyone he comes in contact with. I definitely learned a lot from him.
Friday: When Elder Ampaza and I returned to the mission office this morning we were the only ones there. So we talked until President Stay and all the others came. Today was the very last day of the mission of President Stay, so to celebrate, he invited the Secretaries and the Assistants to eat at "La Estancia" (a stake house! yum!) and we had an incredible lunch at the offices (because we got take-out, they brought it here so we didn't have to go anywhere). Then we ate and President said to us "Well, do you have any questions for me?"

For your information, President Stay is like the smartest person I think I have ever met. His knowledge is incredibly extensive in regard to the doctrine of the Church, so basically the next two hours were filled with open-fire, anything-goes, gospel questions.
Awesome. I don't think I've ever had so many doubts cleared up in so short of time.
Then we took a picture and President and Sister Stay said goodbye.
It was incredibly emotional.
The thought of crying hadn't even crossed my mind until President gave me a big hug, and Sister Stay shook my hand with tears streaming down her cheeks.
By the end, everyone in the office was just a watery mess, as the two of them walked out of the office doors and waved goodbye. Elder Walters, one of the assistants said to me "Seeing your mission president walk away from a job well done is like watching your family drive away from you in the MTC."
And just like that...he was gone.
I am still thinking about all the things I learned from President Stay, how many ways he had helped me through some of the most difficult times in my mission...he and his wife were always there...and now it's time to welcome a new leader!
Now I'm here on Saturday morning, waiting for President Caffaro to come so that we can train him financially...a whole new adventure is starting; this is the beginning of the 2nd part of my mission.
I'm sure it's going to be great!
Especially because tomorrow, the Francos will be baptized!

Extra! Extra!  Had a quick email with a picture of new Mission Pres and Sis. Caffaro with the office staff...  Super great!



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