What a week this has been! Last Wednesday, at about 3:00 PM, as we had just finished eating with the Valencia family, my companion and I were walking to an appointment when our phone rang. It was the zone leaders. Not a big surprise -- being a district leader you get used to talking to the zone leaders on a regular basis.
It was Elder Samano, the senior zone leader, who is one of my heroes and also was my zone leader back in Juarez when Elder Zamudio was my companion. He told me that tomorrow in the morning I needed to meet them in front of Soriana Hidalgo (Soriana is like a Mexican Wal-Mart) and that I needed to bring clothes for three days. I thought that was strange, but I said that it was OK. He then passed the phone to his companion, Elder Tovanche, one of my past companions. "Congratulations, my friend, you are coming with us to the zone leader conference. You are a new zone leader!"
At first I didn't believe it. I'm not ready to be a zone leader. There are many missionaries with more experience and abilities who should be zone leaders. They must have been mistaken.
It’s a good thing that I have learned that transfers are inspired, or I might have refused to go.
Thursday was spent in buses. Lots of buses. First we went to a far-away branch, Miguel Aleman, to do baptismal interviews. The plan was to go directly from Miguel Aleman to Monterrey. During the bus rides between Monterrey and the border cities, there is always a pause when bus stops and Immigration gets on to check to make sure that everything's alright. Usually they don´t say anything to the missionaries. But this time, maybe because I was the only American, he asked for my papers.
I didn't think it would be a problem. I always carry with me the copy of my visa and passport that they gave me when I got here (the originals are kept safe in the mission offices.) But he said that the copies weren't valid. He made me get off the bus.
I was worried that they were going to put me in jail or give me a big ticket or something. But when he saw that we weren't worried (Elder Tovanche and Elder Samano were taking pictures of the whole ordeal) he was soft on us. He let us go back to Miguel Aleman and told us that we had to report to the immigration offices the next day.
We cheated. From Miguel Aleman, we went to Reynosa, and from Reynosa to Monterrey. We arrived at the mission offices at about 1:00.
Friday was the zone leader conference (details to follow.) Saturday morning we returned to Reynosa, and then to Miguel Aleman. I brought my visa and passport. I celebrated the Fourth of July being within 20 yards of the states. Luckily nothing happened. They told me to always carry the original with me and they let me go. I was grateful.
Saturday night came the transfer calls. After only one transfer in Puerta del Sol, I'm leaving. But I'm not going far. My new area is Cumbres, Reynosa, about ten minutes away from my last area. Elder Samano, my hero, is my companion, and I am the Junior Zone Leader of the zone Lehi.
The Zone Leader Council was incredible. We started at 8:00 AM and finished at 10:00 PM, stopping only to eat (delicious food prepared by la Hermana Mendoza) or use the restroom. Fourteen hours with 20 zone leaders, three assistants, and President Mendoza. The truth is I felt somewhat out of place among such spiritual giants.
We discussed all sorts of things, from how many baptisms the zone had this month to how to help the missionaries gain a testimony of the Book of Mormon. I could see more than ever how much President Mendoza does for us. He is truly consecrated to the work of the Lord.
I am very nervous, but also very excited about my new assignment. I am excited about the things I will learn, and the opportunity I will have to serve. I know it will be an experience of much growth for me.
Saying goodbye to the members, investigators, and converts of Puerta del Sol was hard as usual. But the good thing is that I'm not going far and that I'll be able to see them in stake meetings.
In other news, Elder Dudley, my BYU friend, has been made a Tutor. He's in my zone. I'm excited.
Elder Chuc and I had an interesting experience this past week. As I told you, we have been making the effort to contact all the families that the Lord puts in our path. When we went to the appointment we had set with one of the couples we had contacted, we didn't find them, but we met Alma, one of their relatives. Alma is what President Mendoza calls "prepared." It is interesting to see how the Lord puts people in our path one day so that we will be in the right place to find someone the next day.
* * *
P.S This friday will be Parley P. Pratt day in the Mexico Monterrey East mission. We will not leave the house the whole day, but will spend it reading the Book of Mormon. It is going to be an incredible experinece.