As you know the famous transfer call was last Saturday. This time I did a lot better than past transfers. The week before I didn´t stress out or think about transfers too much, and I didn´t let it affect my work. But when I got home on Saturday night, I was anxiously waiting for the call.
I knew what would happen. But I didn´t want it to. I knew that 7.5 months is a long time to spend in one area. But I didn´t want to leave. At 10:00 the phone rang. It was Elder Farrier, my district leader. First, he told us about Elder Dominguez: “Elder Dominguez is going to . . . stay! His new companion will be Elder Morales. Elder Rowley is going to the ward Puertas del Sol in the city of Reynosa. His new companion is Elder Chuck. Elder Rowley will be serving as district leader.”
As soon as he said that Elder Dominguez was going to stay, I knew that meant that I was leaving. I´m not going to lie. I cried. I love this area and ward. I love the members and investigators. Most especially, I love the recent converts.
Saying goodbye to the Montoya family was very difficult. Even more so because Elder Alcayde, my zone leader, and Elder Gonzalez (my first companion) came with me. Today they will be arriving home, having honorably served two years. Everyone in the ranchito was crying, including me. I´ll never forget how everyone was outside in a line, crying as they waved goodbye as we drove away.
But we know that the goodbye is temporary. In a few months I´ll see them in the temple when they are sealed. And then six months later we´ll see them together when I finish my mission and you all come with me to meet them.
Although I am sad to leave my area, I feel satisfied. I know that I have done my best here, and that it will progress with Elder Dominguez and Elder Morales. My “son,” Elder Dominguez, is a great missionary and will progress a lot as well in this new transfer.
I am also excited about what is waiting for me in my new area. My new companion is from Elder Dominguez´s generation. I will be what some missionaries call a “step-father” (his second companion). We are going to work hard and have lots of success together.
At the same time, I am nervous about my new assignement as district leader. I don´t feel ready. But I didn´t feel ready to be a tutor, or a senior companion, or even a missionary. As Elder Eyring has helped me to understand, God helps the faithful priesthood holder, and I know that He will help me as he has in the past.
Do you remember the kid who asked me if I have a brain? Well he and his mother and brother have accepted a baptismal date. They are a wonderful family whom I will dearly miss. Suzana, the kid's mom, said her first prayer with us last week. It was such a tender and sincere prayer. I love hearing people praying for the first time. Her three sons are so smart and funny.
A few days ago we taught them the Plan of Salvation. When we started to talk about what comes after death, Suzana asked her youngest son, Sebastian, who is six years old, where we go if we behave. “Heaven,” he replied. “And if we don´t?” “I don´t know,” he said. “To hell,” she answered gravely, upon which Sebastian uttered a shrill scream. It was actually quite funny. (Now they understand that it isn´t quite like that.)
I´m sure that there are more people like Suzana and her children, and like the Montoya family in Reynosa. I´ll go where the Lord wants me to go.
I love you, Mom, Dad, Truman, Sarah, Hannah, Rachel, Rebecca, Benson, and everyone else who reads my letters.
Elder Dallin I. Rowley
P.S. You asked for more cockroach stories. I don ´t remember which ones I told you. But when I took out my suitcase the other day (that had been months sitting under the bed), I opened it up to find a family of four huge cockroaches living there. I don´t know how they got in, because it was zipped shut.
P.P.S. Reynosa is in the “frontera” (border) part of the mission. I´m pretty sure it is in the state of Tamaulipas, but I´m not sure.