Sunday, October 20, 2013

Pottery and Parasites

Dear family, 

This week has included a lot of hard work in our still new area, and I think we are beginning to see some of the fruits of our labors. We still don't have a lot of new investigators, but we have begun to develop a pool of menos activos that we're trying to visit and work with on a regular basis (including 4 young women and 7 familias). 

We have one investigator named Wilky, who is a young mother with a newborn baby girl. She enjoys listening to us, isn't shy about offering prayers aloud, does a really good job and pretending she red the folletos (pamphlets), and she absolutely loves the hymns we sing with her (she insists on singing 2-3 every time we visit). We're going to try to get her to come to choir practice. 

We have another investigator who is a young man named Esfrain (referencia from a member named Maximo). In our second lesson with him, he drove up on a motor just as we were about to leave his mother's house, carrying a bag that was covered in dirt. Before we began the lesson, he said that he had something he wanted to show us and held up the bag. He told us that eh had just come from the mountains where he likes to spend time searching for Taino Indian artifacts. He opened the bag and began pulling out fragments of pottery that he had dug up that very morning. He told us that he thought that they were at least 500 years old. I was absolutely fascinated and so thrilled that Esfrain let us hold and examine each piece. They were made of rich, dark brown clay and had geometric designs etched into the sides, there was even one fragments that boasted the crudely sculpted form of an eagle, its wings spread out and stretching around the sides of the rounded pot. 

Esfrain told us that he sells the artifacts he finds to collectors in the capitol. Sometimes he finds complete pots or other things, like stone tools - which he has been able to sell for as much as 35000 pesos. According to him, the mountains around Azua are full of ancient Taino artifacts - you just have to know where to look. Where? He wouldn't say.

Once we began the lesson, we used his interest in the ancient inhabitants of the Americas to introduce him to the Book of Mormon. He seemed quite interested and said that he would like to learn more, so we have promised to bring him his own copy of El Libro de Mormon for our next lesson. 

On Friday morning, we got a call from Elder Aguiniga (former AP) who told us that Manuel was supposed to get baptized the next day, but they were unable to do it as planned because Elder Robinson had a "stomach full of parasites." So now it was up to us to get a baptism together in one day.

That afternoon, we hiked up the mountain to Manuel's house to finish teaching him everything he needed to know (half of the Plan of Salvation, tithing, and fasting), fill out his baptismal form, explain the interview process, and plan the program for the service (including finding someone to speak, someone to baptize him, someone to conduct, and 2 witnesses). We even agreed to sing a special musical number. 

After descending the muddy mountain, we spent the next while inviting member to the baptism and verifying that the people that Manuel had specified for the program could indeed come the next day. We also had to find two elders to who had time to give him his baptismal interview the next morning.

Once we had finished with that, we decided to go to the church to check on the pila (font). As expected, it was like a swamp (it doesn't drain all the way, and despite our best efforts, we haven't found anyone to fix it). So bright and early the next morning, we arrived in our service clothes and spent several hours emptying the font with a trash can (including the removal of several tarantulas and cockroaches) and scrubbing it down with a mop that was probably older than me. I'm really glad that our investigators never see the pila before their baptism, or some of them might have second thoughts. 

The baptism itself went off without a hitch. There was even a pretty good turn out of about 15 people, including the unexpected visit appearance of our investigator Wilky, along with her husband and baby (of course she loved our musical number of 'Divina Luz'). All in all, we were quite proud of being able to pull a bautismo together in only a day - and tired as we were - the smile on Manuel's face and his heartfelt (if not a bit unorthodox) testimony made it all worth it. 

Best wishes, 

Hermana Kaitlin Olsen

P.S. Today marks the beginning of the last week of the transfer. And because Hna Nodal and I are done with our training, this means that really anything could happen. (Oh, and if I have to go the capitol to pick up a new companion, this may mean that I would miss P-Day next week - so don't worry if you don't get a letter next week). 
Herman Matteson and Kaitlin

View of the mountains

A member

Wilky at the baptism

In the new area

A day at the finca

Sister Matteson and Kaitlin

New area

At the finca

More coconuts

Kaitlin got the chicken heart in her sancocho

The chapel

At a members house

Manuel's baptism

Cleaning the baptism font

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