This week, through the course of our contacting and return citas (appointments) we began to uncover bits and pieces of a story surrounding certain events that happened in our little branch about 3 years ago - events that may help shed some light on the reason why our area has been left unworked for several years. Suffice it to say that, although the Gospel of Jesus Christ is perfect, God must work through men who are inevitably imperfect and who sometimes make mistakes. In this case, the actions of several prominent members sent destructive ripples throughout the entire branch, leading to a plague of open hostility among the members and the eventual falling away of nearly half the branch. After that time, there wasn't a baptism in all of Azua for over a year.
We were talking to Hno Martinez, a counselor in the bishopric, and he confirmed that there are in fact over 150 members in our branch, but only an average of 50 attend church each Sunday. Numbered among the inactives are his wife and 2 of his 4 daughters, whom we have started visiting. We have also found and begun teaching a 15-year-old girl named Pamela, whose entire family is inactive, but she has never been baptized, even though she has a testimony. We set a baptismal date with her for the end of November and we're hoping to encourage her family to come back to church through the lessons we have with her.
But whatever the past history of our area may be, we have inherited it at a time when the people here are largely receptive. All the menos activos (less actives) that we've run into have been more than willing to talk to us, and we have also contacted into many nonmembers who have been eager to hear our message.
One of these was a young woman named Winifel. We contacted her on the street because we saw her talking with Wilky, and they both agreed to sit down for a lesson. We had planned to teach Wilky the Gospel of Jesus Christ and extend a baptismal fecha to her, but as we taught them, I felt impressed to extend the same date to both of them - and to our delight, they both accepted!
In our second lesson with another woman named Viani, she began by telling us that she had prayed about the things we had taught her (the Restauracion), she received an answer that they were true, and she would like herself and her 2 daughters to be baptized.
Amazingly, these are only 3 of a grand total of 8 baptismal dates that we have set this past week. It is a number that we could scarcely have imagined at the beginning of the week (considering that our goal was 2), and I know that this was only possible because the Lord has prepared the hearts of so many people here that have been long awaiting the return of missionaries to their area.
And last, but certainly not least, we received our transfer call last night at 10pm while we were roasting marshmallows on the roof. Apparently, there is a new [and utterly frustrating] procedure in which the transfer call received on Sunday night tells us IF we will be leaving/staying, but not where we will be going of who our new companion will be. For that information, we have to wait for a second call on Monday night. So here's all that I know: Hna Preisler and Hna Nodal are staying here together for another transfer (they're super happy), Hna Matteson is leaving, and I am receiving a new companion tomorrow.
It was pretty much what I had expected (we all wrote out our predictions and read them out at the bonfire). Of course, I'm sad to see Hna Matteson go, but I'm actually glad for another transfer here because there is so much work to be done in this new area. My prediction for myself was that I would stay and receive a Latin, of course this is mostly wishful thinking based on the fact that I would love to improve my Spanish, but I guess I'll find out tonight... and you'll find out next week.
|Colmado beneath the apartment|
|Watching church videos|
|The Relief Society|
|The Young Women|
|Bonfire on the roof|
|Bonfire on the roof|
|Hiking in Kaitlin's area|