Monday, April 7, 2014

Loose cannons and cramped spaces

Dear family, 

At the beginning of this week, one of the elders in our zone finished his mission and went home 1 week before transfers. We weren't exactly clear as to why he went home a week early because that left his companion alone for a week. Obviously he wouldn't be alone though - we were thinking that he'd probably just get stuck in a trio until transfers...but, as usual, life is surprising. 

We showed up to the Trainer/Trainee Meeting on Thursday excited to talk to all the other missionaries and also interested to see what had happened with the companionless elder. A few minutes after we show up, he walks in with a large group of elders and we notice from afar that he does seem to be with a new companion. As we looked closer, however, we were surprised and more than a little confused to clearly recognize his new companion as none other than Yordys: our recent convert of less than 3 weeks!

To explain how this is apparently quite possible, there is something called mini-missionaries. They are normal members (young single adults) who volunteer to spend anytime from several days to several weeks in the mission field when the need arises (until a full-time missionary can be brought in). During this time these members act essentially as full-time missionaries, including living in the same house and living by all the same rules. 

We're still not exactly sure how Yordys ended up as a mini-missionary because he's being frustratingly evasive about it, but we do know that he was absolutely thrilled to be there. He smiled and laughed more during that morning than I'd ever seen before (including his baptism...because that was just a stressful day for everyone). 

He even participated in the meeting more than probably any other full-time missionary present. Every time his hand shot up into the air to answer a question, we would all exchange looks with each other as if to say, "Oh no, what's he going to say?" (Because, of course, everything he says would be reflected back on us.) His comments we actually pretty solid though, and Presidente Rodriguez even commended him on his knowledge (I don't think he realized that, at this point, Yordys had only been a member for 19 days and a priesthood holder for 4). 

It was a rare and strange experience to be in the same meeting with one of my recent converts who was serving as a missionary in my zone. The whole time I felt a mixture of pride (because of his evident enthusiasm for missionary work) and apprehension (because he's still so new and has the tendency to be a slightly narcissistic loose cannon). Everything turned out great in the end though: he seemed to adapt very well and love every minute of it.

As I talked with him after the meeting, he said that he was upset that his time in the mission field would only last a week. He admitted that, when Presidente Ramirez called him to tell him that his service was needed as a mini-missionary the following morning, he misunderstood what that meant and immediately began packing as if he would be gone for a full two years. That's the kind of person Yordys is: although he still has a ways to go in the humility department, he has a profound desire to share the Gospel that seems to have bloomed overnight, simultaneously with his own conversion. And I have no doubt that, as soon as he hits his year mark, his papers will be in as soon as possible. 

Interesting things that happened this week:

- General Conference! I was happy to find how much more I could understand compared to 6 months ago. I actually found that, if I was paying close attention, there was very little that I couldn't understand. 

- The number of rats in the house has been significantly reduced. Mice, though... don't need very big holes to get in, so are a little harder to keep out. But it's definitely progress. 

- We received transfer calls last night. As expected, I'm staying in La Venta to finish training Hna Stanton. The only person leaving in our house is Hna Jorgenson. The biggest shock though, is that we were told that we would be receiving an ADDITONAL 2 hermanas into the house, to total 6. We're all a bit stressed because there really isn't space for 2 more - in the house, and especially in the area (there simply isn't enough work for 6 hermanas in tiny La Venta). But we'll see how everything works out...

Until next week, 

Hermana Kaitlin Olsen :)
Trainer/trainee meeting 

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