Sunday, November 22, 2015

Surprise Transfer

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Hola Hola!

So I bet you weren’t expecting this, were you? So, I’ve got some news! I got emergency transferred... and I’m now working in the mission offices in charge of the visas for all of the missionaries! Crazy right?! So Wednesday morning, around 8:00 a.m. just when we were starting our studies, President Thurgood called us.  Whenever he calls, you know it’s something important, obviously, but when he calls at that time of the morning, and interrupts your studies, you know something is up.  So my companion answered it and put in on speaker phone and President Thurgood told us that he had a change for us and asked if I was listening. He then continued to tell me that the Lord wanted me to leave 9 de Abril and go to work in the offices in Adrogue being in charge of the visas for the missionaries. I was kind of just in a daze, not really knowing what to think but I said “great President” and I asked when I’d be leaving and he said tomorrow. He told me that it’s an assignment that requires a lot of organization but he really feels that’s what the Lord wants. So he told me that I’ll be in a trio with Elder Valis and Elder Bavelas for three weeks while Elder Bavelas trains me the rest of the transfer and then I’ll be with Elder Valis. Elder Valis is the pensionero (or the Elder in charge of all the pensions (apartments) - the contracts, finding new ones, delivering things, etc) and Elder Bavelas is the Elder currently in charge of the visas.

So the call ended with President Thurgood and I was just kind of in a daze not knowing what to think and a lot of emotions. I was excited to go to a different area and have a different assignment, but then the realization set in that after this transfer, I have just 4 transfers left and almost all the office Elders are there for 4 transfers. So it means that it’s very likely that my proselyting mission is pretty much over. When I realized that, it bummed me out pretty bad and I got a little upset and a little teary eyed. It was hard to take in and it’s still an adjustment. I had had in my mind that I would almost for sure be in 9 de Abril until at least late January or maybe even the beginning of March. Then to get that call, that I’d be leaving, just threw me off. Then even more so when I realized that for the rest of my mission I probably wouldn’t be proselyting and teaching the gospel like I was before.

So Wednesday, the day I got the call, we actually went to Colon to do an intercambio. I was going to work with Elder Hall in his area and my companion stayed with Elder Catalan, who’s having back problems, so my last day I wasn’t even in my area and didn’t get to say goodbye to any members or investigators and that was also really hard. Then Thursday morning, a taxi picked us up at 7:00 a.m. to take us to the offices. From there, I dropped my suitcases off at my new pension and then I left with Elder Bavelas to get right to work because that morning some missionaries had tramites to do. Elder Almeida went with Elder Valis to do pensionero stuff until Elder Almeidas companion got there. Thursday morning, we went in a mini bus with like 12 Elders to go to tramites. The last couple days have been kind of nuts because it’s a completely different mission being in the offices.The offices are on the 2nd floor in the Adrogue chapel and there’s 4 Elders (5 right now including me) and 2 senior missionaries. 2 Elders are the registradores, they do the baptismal records, the information that they give to President Thurgood and the Stake Presidents and all that stuff. Then the senior couple is Elder and Hermana Mitchell and Hermana Mitchell is Hermana Thurgood´s sister and she is the secretary and Elder Mitchell is the financiero. Then Elder Valis is the pensionero and Elder Bavelas (and now me) are the viseros. Well it sounds like we aren’t in the office that much. Sundays we are normally in the office after church because we have to do some reports and then sometimes during the week but usually it sounds like I’ll be out with missionaries doing their tramites or in the truck with Elder Valis traveling the mission doing pensionero stuff. We have a lot of work, the pensionero and visero, because right now the mission is growing and President Thurgood doesn’t want 4 Elders in a pension so he has been asking Elder Valis to find a bunch of new pensions. Elder Bavelas had a lot of work before because, as a visero, our job is to make sure the missionaries are legal. The missionaries arrive on a tourist visa and we have to do tramites to make them legal. The area wants the mission to be at least 95% legal but before it was only 40%.  He had a ton of work and right now we are back around 95% but transfers are coming up in 3 weeks and like 30 missionaries are coming so I’ll have lots of work to do. I’ll tell you more about it when I know more about it because I still know nothing ha-ha.

It gets even more complicated because about 3 months ago there were some big problems in the offices. It was a stressful time in the offices and for President Thurgood. On top of that, the offices got robbed. Then again, about a month ago they got robbed again. A lot of things have happened in the last few months, so that’s what I’m coming into, a situation that is a little complicated, although it’s settled down a lot. A big portion, if not the majority of the money in the mission is in mine and my companion’s possession, mostly Elder Valis because he spends a ton buying things for the pensiones and what not. Elder Bavelas and I spend some on the tramites fees and other things but in the end it’s not that much. There’s a lot of responsibility and organization needed, obviously, when dealing with money and then with documents, like visas and passports. It’ll be interesting.

Like I was saying, the rest of my mission will be completely different. My mission from now on will consist of doing tramites, being in the office, or being in the truck and it’s taking some getting used to. I was very, very worried when I got the call because, like I said, in the beginning of the email it meant I wouldn’t be teaching anymore, really. Right now the registadores usually have some time to leave the office and teach in the evenings, but in the past, Elder Valis and Elder Bavelas were so busy they literally never had time to proselyte. Our schedule is all over the place. Sometimes we get back on time, like last night we got back at 10:00 p.m., but the other night we got back like 11:00 p.m. and sometimes it is past midnight, traveling from different parts of the mission. The food, well that’s also different. Since Elder Valis, Elder Bavelas and I are always on the road in the truck traveling, we have to eat out a lot, almost every day. It sounds like we spend the money we get from the mission and then after that we get reimbursed by the mission for our lunches and dinners. The other day we ate at Subway and then got empanadas another day. It’s weird.

So my worry when I got the call was that the spirituality part of the mission would stop. As missionaries we are here, living on a completely different spiritual level than the members because we are set apart to preach the gospel. We wake up at 6:30, have our studies and go out and teach people. Well now we have to find time, usually at night, to be able to study the scriptures and sometimes there’s not enough time and there’s no time to teach. So the spiritual part of the mission kind of dies. That was something I was really worried about and still kind of am. We are traveling a lot, eating out and it takes away a little bit from the mission. So I was super bummed after the call. Not so much of the fact of working in the offices in itself, just that it meant that my proselyting mission would be pretty much over. So, I prayed and am praying a lot. Then a couple of things happened that helped. Tuesday, we went to the temple for the zone conference. When I was in the celestial room, I prayed, asking Heavenly Father what I needed, to be the missionary he wanted me to be. What did I need to change or improve to be better? I sat there praying and pondering and got nothing. So I prayed asking that if it was His will, could I get an answer later than day in the zone conference or soon. Then the following day, in the morning, is when I got the call from President Thurgood that I’d be going to offices. So when I remembered that, the impression came to my mind that that was God’s answer to my prayers. That this is where he wants me to be, in the offices doing the visas. Also, another thing that happened is now my patriarchal blessing and the blessing President Carmack gave me makes a lot of sense. In my patriarchal blessing it talks about feeling success but not so much in the number of baptisms but in helping others to come unto the Lord and leading and planning fellow missionaries. In President Carmack’s blessing, he talked about how I would lead, which I’ve already done and I suppose I still will and that I’ll be blessed to know the areas, the culture. That part never made sense, but now I’ll be traveling the mission and I’ll get to know the area, haha. The blessing also talked about how under my leadership new areas will be opened. To be honest, I always took that as maybe since I was zone leader, that new areas in my zone would be opened. While new areas were opened this last transfer, none of them were in Monte Grande. Now I’m a visero/pensionero and there’s a ton of areas that will be opened with more missionaries coming and my companion and I will play a large role in organizing that. So although it’s still a big change and I’m still trying to get used to it, I have been able to become a little more okay with it, knowing that it’s really what the Lord wants. It’s been humbling also. I am still somewhat worried about the spirituality part and not being able to teach, but I decided I’m going to use the time in the truck to read talks or read the scriptures. I’ve also decided that I’m going to use every opportunity I have to share the gospel. Perhaps I won’t be teaching the lessons entirely anymore, but I can still make contacts while doing tramites or traveling doing pensionero stuff and teach gospel principles.

The other day, one of the registadores told me when he came from the West Mission, his Mission President told him that in the mission, the assignments change but the calling doesn’t, and that really penetrated him and when he told me, it had the same effect. It really stuck with me. I was called by a prophet of God and have been set apart to represent the Lord Jesus Christ and His church. I have been called to invite others to come unto Christ and that hasn’t changed. That is still my calling, even though my assignment has changed. I realized today, in sacrament meeting, that this will help me a lot and prepare me for after the mission. I realized that I can’t invite and challenge the members to share the gospel with their friends if I’m not doing it with my new assignment. Yes, it appears I’ll be extremely busy, busier than I have been in my mission, and that I’m not proselyting. but if I can’t find time or the way to share the gospel when I’m doing tramites or when I doing pensionero stuff with my companion, how can I expect to challenge the members to share the gospel when I’m set apart to do it but I’m not. I would be a hypocrite to all the members I’ve talked to in my mission if I don’t continue sharing the gospel even with my new assignment. The assignments change, but the calling doesn’t. So I’m excited in that aspect. I think or hope it´ll prepare me to keep the spirit of mission work even after I finish the mission. Because I’m not able to proselyte like I was before, I hope and feel that if I really start opening my mouth everywhere I go to share the gospel then I can continue that after the mission. That it will become a part of who I am and not just something I did for 2 years. I feel that we can say the same about being a member of the church. The callings or assignments in the church change but the fact that we are members never does. As members, we have the duty and responsibility to share the gospel, to invite others to come unto Christ.

I ask that you continue to pray for me. That I will be able to continue to adjust to the change. That I will be able to do the best I can in my new assignment. That I will be able to continue to share the gospel and help others come unto Christ and have those spiritual experiences.

For now I have to go and I didn’t have time to write literally anyone else. I promise I’ll do my best to write Ryan, Scott and Kiersten and everyone else next week. It sounds like I’ll always be writing on Sundays around this time. So let everyone know perhaps by Facebook that I’ll be emailing on Sundays so that they can write me before that. My pdays are actually on Saturdays but we almost don’t have pdays and use that time to buy things because we can’t buy things on Sundays. I’ll try to include some more stuff next week. I can’t remember what else I wanted to say if you have any questions let me know and I’ll try to answer them.

I got to go so I’ll talk to you next week and I’ll have some photos too next week! I love and miss you guys lots!

Elder McFarland