Monday, September 22, 2014

Pruning the Vineyard

Dear family, 

So we got transfer calls on Saturday night. And guess what? I'm staying in Ocoa with Hna Martinez for another transfer! We're both really happy about it. When we got the call she gave me a big hug and said that it would have been too soon if I had been transferred.

We're actually not receiving any new hermanas in the house, but 2 are leaving, so there will be only 4 of us in the house now. It'll be a change, but a good one I think. Several other hermana houses are downsizing as well simply because we're losing quite a few hermanas and not many new ones are coming in. 

We also found out that they took all the hermanas out of La Venta because of serious leadership problems in the branch. It makes me sad. They did replace the hermanas with elders though, so at least there will still be missionaries there. 

Leadership problems are kind of everywhere in the south DR - it's partly the culture and partly lack of capacitation (sometimes I wish they could all just visit a ward in US and see how things should be run). In Azua we didn't really have any leadership, in La Venta ambitious leadership had mutated into practical apostasy, and we're even having our own struggles here in Ocoa: people are refusing callings and the branch seriously lacks unity, fractured by picking sides and pointing fingers. (It's no wonder we visit 6 past branch presidents, all either inactive or excommunicated). President Nuckols is coming up next week to talk to the members and capacitate them. 

We also received the news that Parra is going to be shut down (at least for a while), meaning no more church meetings there and no more missionaries visiting. It's an isolated village of 350 members, basically all inactive and all unwilling to change, despite our best efforts. It's like Jacob 5 tells us: when a branch, after much care and pruning, still produces bad fruit it must be cut off for the good of the tree. "And the Lord of the vineyard said: Behold, this long time have we nourished this tree, and I have laid up unto myself against the season much fruit. But behold, this time it hath brought forth much fruit, and there is none of it which is good. And behold, there are all kinds of bad fruit; and it profiteth me nothing, notwithstanding all our labor; and now it grieveth me that I should lose this tree... And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard wept, and said unto the servant: What could I have done more for my vineyard?" It's sad but necessary. The members there can still come to church though, they just have to walk into town... but for many that's just "too big of a sacrifice." That's really what it boils down to: the people there are unwilling to sacrifice for their faith.

But despite some of the disheartening changes in the mission, I remain wholeheartedly optimistic about this upcoming transfer. Our area is progressing, we're working hard, and we're putting our trust in the Lord - it's the perfect recipe for miracles.

A Wonderful thing that happened this week:
- I learned that Manuel, Miguela's son got baptized last Saturday!!! When I read the letter, I burst into tears. I'm so happy for him and Miguela!!

Until next week, 

Hermana Kaitlin Olsen :)

A trip to the salon to get some traditional Dominican 'rolos'.

A Dalmation on the roof

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