From the Parent of a Missionary
That’s right! I got transferred!
Last Tuesday at exactly 2:27 PM, we received a call from our zone leader saying that I had transfers. Elder Torres was the one who answered the phone, and what I heard went like this: “Uh uh. uh huh. Elder See. Uh huh. Bye.” Then he turned to me and said, “You have changes.” I didn’t believe him, so I told him to look me in the eye and tell me. He told me again. And I still didn’t believe him so I called the Zone Leaders back and they told me too. I still didn’t really believe it, but I started planning the families I wanted to visit to go say goodbye.
Here’s an excerpt from my journal entry that day:
“Dear Diary, (just kidding I don’t really write that.) Today was easily the saddest day I’ve had in the mission. I’ve got changes! It’s 12:15 AM and I just finished packing. I feel like there’s a little hole forming in my chest.” Yah, that pretty much tells it all. I had a couple of rough goodbyes, especially with Vilma and Hermana Josefina, and one of the coolest families, the Gonzalez. And it really sucked having to say goodbye to Antonio when he has a baptismal date for next Saturday. But I survived!
Wednesday morning we headed to the capital to the central “change meeting” where all the missionaries who have transfers meet up. They packed us into a chapel and then put up a projector, where they put up the new assignments one by one, accompanied by gasps, cheers, and groans. When they announced Zone Zacapa, Area Ipala, my name and picture came up next to Elder Jimenez, who is my new companion from Mexico. But more about him later.
After a goodbye with Elder Torres and my old zone, we headed out on a 5 hour bus ride to my new area. Yah, it’s in the middle of nowhere. And we didn’t even get to the area in time, so we had to stay the night with some other Elders and keep going in the morning. So on Thursday morning I got here to Ipala, which is in the department of Zacapa, near the major city Chiquimula. My area is HUGE and consists of one central town surrounded by a bunch of little towns in the outskirts. It would take hours to walk across my whole area. But it is beautiful country and reminds me a bit of central Utah: A bit desserty but mixed with green farms. And it’s a lot hotter than El Pajon was. And as an added bonus, we live right under the Volcano “Agua” which has a crater lake. And there are a bunch of traditional customs here, like outdoor markets, traditional native clothing, bargaining for prices, and more! Pretty fun stuff, all in all.
The area is going to be a tough one. Here there isn’t even a branch. It’s called a basic unit, which I didn’t even know existed. We rent out the house of one of the richer people in town (who is apparently on a permanent vacation to the US) for our meeting house. And I get to serve as the 2nd Counselor, with my companion as the first. So things are just a bit different here! Some of the other Elders told him that this is one of the biggest and toughest areas in the mission, and I believe it. There are a lot of problems with gossip and family feuds that have caused a LOT of deactivations. We had 30 people in church on Sunday, and I would say that there are around 300 inactive members. But I know the Lord can help me and that the church can grow under his guidance.
My new companion is pretty cool as well, even though he has yet to live up to Elder Torres. Since he is my second senior companion, they say that he is my “father-in-law” of the mission. He’s a bit shy and doesn’t like taking the lead in things, so I’ve had to take the initiative. But he has a sincere desire to work and help this area and we get along just fine, even though we don’t talk too much. He has a little over a year in the mission and is the district leader here, so I’m excited. And like I said, he’s from Mexico City and just converted to the church about 3 years ago. So we can grow and learn together.
My first weekend here consisted of running around and buying stuff for the branch Christmas Party. Since we’re the counselors, we are in charge of a lot of the finances, buying, and organizing. But we had a really good party. I felt proud of it.
My first Sunday here was a bit of baptism by fire. I got assigned to direct the meeting, and I also had to give an impromptu talk since one of the speakers didn’t prepare. And I was assigned to ordain a recent convert to the Aaronic Priesthood, which was a first for me. And even though church here is only two hours (since there is no priesthood quorums or relief society) we get to stay about 2 or three hours after and take care of tithing, finances, and presidency meeting. Fun stuff! But I think I pulled it off pretty well. I hope.
Well, even though I’m in a strange new place for Christmas, I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas in your homes or wherever you are. I’ll be here, thinking of you guys, but also walking around and trying to serve the people of Ipala as best as I can. I know that the Lord gives us challenges so that we can learn and grow, and I have lots of opportunities to learn here in Ipala. No matter what happens, I will always know that Jesus Christ has established his true church here in the earth through Joseph Smith. Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father were like the first missionary companionship that opened the first area: the world. And this work will always move forward until the Gospel has sounded in every ear and every nation. The Church is true.
Lots of Love,