Monday, December 8, 2008

Monday, December 8, 2008 -- "And the Transfers Are . . . "

Cambios (literally “changes,” called “transfers” in English-speaking missions) are an interesting thing.  After six weeks of working in an area, getting to know and love your companion, your ward, and especially the people you are teaching, there is a possibility that you will suddenly be moved to a different area far, far away.  When the last Saturday of the transfer, everyone is nervous, because that night you will get the call.  You try not to let it affect your work, but it is there in the back of your mind all day—“this might be the last time I walk down this street,” or “this could be the last time I teach this person.”  When you arrive home, you pray and plan as normal, but it is really hard to keep your mind in it, because only a few minutes separate you from the knowledge of where and with whom you will be working for the following 6 weeks. Then the call comes.  It is almost a guarantee that the first thing your district leader tells you will be a joke, but you always end up believing it anyway.

“Elder Rowley se va . . . a quedar en Juarez!”  (Elder Rowley is going . . . [long pause] . . . to stay!)  Yes!  I am staying in Juarez!  “But he's going to Juarez dos.”  (What? The same city, the same ward, the same house, just moving bedrooms and companions and areas.  Can they do that?  That means I'll still get to see Roberto Carlos and Eddie and Johanna every Sunday, but I won't get to teach them.  I think he's kidding, but he sounds so serious.)  “Just kidding! Elder Tovanche is going to Matamoros.  Elder Rowley is staying in Juarez uno, as the senior companion.  His new companion will be Elder Zamudio.”

When I heard that, I was even more surprised than the first time.  (Senior companion? I'm so not ready for that.)  But this time it wasn't a joke.  Part of me was happy to hear that, but that's the part of me that I try not to feed—the pride side.  Most of me felt very much overwhelmed.  I am not ready to direct an area.  Now it's up to me.  The souls of every one of the people we are teaching are my responsibility, [insofar] as their agency is not compromised.  I also am in charge of helping and leading my companion.

Saturday night I prayed.  A lot.  As I did, I was reminded of a talk by President Eyring from when he was called to be in the First Presidency, called “God helps the faithful priesthood holder.”  It was exactly what I needed.  In summary, it says that when God gives us an assignment, he will give us the means to fulfill it.  He will help us remember past times when he has helped us.  He will give us the desire to pray for and a great love for the people we will serve.  And He will tell us to go to work.  I have experienced all three of those things in the past 48 hours.  I still fill a heavy responsibility, but I know that I can do it, with the Lord's help.

To finish my description of transfers, the day after the calls, Sunday, is spent like a normal Sunday, except the visits are directed towards those whom the departing elder most wants to say goodbye too.  Then Monday morning is packing time, until 1:00 where everyone meets at the office.  There we meet our new companions, have a little devotional with President and the Assistants, eat lunch, and return to our areas.  Yes, transfers are hard.  But we know that it is the will of the Lord.  The hymn “I'll go where you want me to go” is a perfect description of the general feeling of transfer meeting.

Last week there was a special conference in which President talked a little about transfers.  He used me and Elder Billings as an example.  Elder Billings has been in his area for 7.5 months. He has had 3 areas in total during his 21 months as a missionary.  I on the other hand, have had 4 areas in 6 months, not to mention two missions, 8 companions, etc.  President Mendoza said that each of our missions is different, but each is directed by the Lord.  I have a testimony of that, and I'm very glad that the Lord willed that I stay in Juarez this transfer.

My new companion is named Elder Zamudio.  He has 3 months in the mission, and I am his first companion after his tutor.  He is from the state of Mexico, and is 18 years old.  He seems like a wonderful missionary, and I can tell that we are going to have a great transfer.

Things in the ranchito are going well.  This weekend they had many of their relatives come from out of town, who we also taught.  Eddie, one of the family members, is really excited about the gospel.  He and his wife and children will be getting baptized soon.

Last night I was able to go to the Christmas devotional, along with Johanna and Jorge and Eddie and Olga and others from the ranchito.  I loved it, especially the last hymn, "Silent Night."

Speaking of Christmas, we will be speaking at Christmas! This week they should be telling us the details, and I'll let you know in my next letter.

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