That's right, I'm happy to say I am a missionary who now has time on my hands! I am no longer District Leader, nor Trainer. I don't want to make it sound like those responsibilities are no good, but it's a relief to be back to being a normal Senior Companion Missionary. It was all a good experience for me and I'm really happy I went through all I did over the last five months. It was the hardest time of my Mission. It's over now though, and I can just focus on work, work, work. I am in a new area called Aguas Claras, in the DF. (It's not Taguatinga, Momma, but it's very nearby.) My new companion is Elder Brown. He's from Antioch, California near San Francisco. Two California companions in a row! He's from Elder Chacon's group from the CTM. They are such a great group of missionaries. They all speak Portuguese really well for only having three transfers, and they will no doubt be great leaders in the Mission.
We spend most of our time working in an area called Areal that is smaller and has more houses. Aguas Claras is all skyscraper apartment buildings, but it's where almost all the Members live so I imagine we'll start working more in that area soon. We need to be working with the Members here. We have a strong Branch of about 200 Members, many Priesthood holders, many tithe-payers, and about 30 returned Missionaries. It's about ready to become a Ward, I don't know what it is that's keeping that from happening. My hope is that we use this time to push the Branch past the point of being "ready" to be a Ward, but that it BE a Ward. To do this, we'll need to work with the Members in a very efficient way. I think this part of my Mission will be mostly dedicated to learning how to work best with the Members.
Chapter 13 in Preach My gospel is about exactly that, working with the Members, and I need to study it more closely and pray to have ideas of how, using the Members, we can really find the Elects here. The Lord has already answered our prayers and fasts from last week of how He wants the work done here. It is, without any doubt, working with the Members. He's blessed us with some ideas that I really think will help. If things work out as planned, I can expect to not dirty my shoes nor break a sweat with this transfer. We will train the Members, and they will fulfill what Elder Bednar instructed the Church a year ago, that the Missionaries are the full-time teachers and the Members are the full-time finders. We won't have to knock on anymore doors, and we won't have to spend anymore time thinking of where we can go after all our appointments have fallen in a matter of hours. We will work with referrals and everyone will be planned visits in Member's houses, or there will at least be a Member present at the investigators house. Please don't misunderstand, it's not that I want to be lazy, only that I know this is the right way to work. The field is white and ready to harvest, so we ought to go about harvesting in the best possible way. It's been made known to me that this is a place where the Members can be and need to be involved in the work.
My only worry is the time. People are rich here and they have a lot of fancy appointments. Pray for me and my companion that things work out here and we will be blessed with the help of the Members, and particularly pray for them that they will receive revelation and will have opportunities to bear their testimonies. My whole Mission I've always wanted simply to be a Missionary that (1)trains the Members, (2) teaches the Gospel to those the Members have found, and (3) has no leaders breathing down my neck about numbers because the work is steadily progressing and the Elects are being baptized. Even with only four months left, I know that's possible.
This week we had a meeting with Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve at the chapel in Asa Norte. It was wonderful. He taught us some really great things to help us be better Missionaries. He gave us four points to remember: (1) Love the people and the culture, (2) Love your Mission President and his wife, (3) Love your companion, (4) Love the Savior. He mentioned that when he was a Missionary years ago in England, he and Elder Holland were companions at the end of their Missions, and they learned these things and had success because of them. He said that he too had two different Mission Presidents, and that it was a very similar situation to ours here. The first brought in the numbers and lifted the faith of the Missionaries, but it got to a point that there were so many children and young people being baptized that there weren't enough adults and Priesthood leaders to take care of it all. The second did more refining of the work and got things more organized and on track and the area grew towards having a Temple.
The most touching part to me was when he told us the story of when he was called to the Twelve. The Thursday before Conference he and all of the Seventies were brought together to have a big lunch with the Apostles and the First Presidency. Then they went to the Salt Lake Temple and had a big Testimony Meeting and everyone had a chance to speak. Then the Wives left and the Seventies stayed in the Temple to spend a little while in reverent prayer and scripture study. About 4 o'clock he got a call to go meet with President Hinckley, who was almost always joking around and making fun of the Seventies when he saw them, was as serious as he had ever seen him. He simply asked Elder Cook if he would be willing to fill the vacancy in the Quorum of the Twelve. He said that at first only feelings of inadequacy and inability came and he didn't think he was worthy, but President Hinckely stopped him and said, "no, none of that, I only want to know if you are willing to accept the calling", and he said that he was. Telling us how it was that he was able to accept such a responsibility he said that one time he had asked Elder Neal A. Maxwell what it takes of someone to be an Apostle, and Elder Maxwell said the only thing you need to do is ask yourself, "how comfortable do you feel testifying of the divinity of the Savior?" And he realized after President Hinckley had stopped him and asked him if he was willing, that he was completely comfortable testifying of Christ. He then bore that Testimony. It is powerful to hear the Testimony of an Apostle standing right in front of you.
Since then I've asked myself everyday, after every lesson we teach, that same question. "How comfortable do you feel testifying of the divinity of the Savior?" Those words are in my mind a lot. Probably because I can improve on it. We all can I'm sure. As Latter-day Saints, it would be worth asking ourselves that more often I believe. If we truly are comfortable, we need to pray to have opportunities to bear our testimonies to the people who are prepared to hear them. We'll find many people for the Missionaries to teach.
I need to go eat ice cream. I love you family. I love each of you perhaps more than I ever have. And for as much as I miss you, just remember you only have four more months of receiving truckloads of blessings. Enjoy it while it lasts. I'm writing a letter to Grandma and Grandpa Hoon today about why I asked them to read the Book of Mormon. I hope I say the right things. Pray for them that they'll understand what I say, in the way they need to understand.
p.s. - Don't worry, Cards National Champs 2010