I hope all is well at home! To be honest there has not been a whole lot that has happened this last week. The first week of the transfer always seem less productive. However we all are screwed up timewise because recently President has changed the entire mindset of everyone so that we don't think of time in transfers. But in months. This way there will be more pressure in baptizing on a monthly basis instead of a transfer basis. Needless to say the stress and pressure in the mission has gone up! I love President Fluckiger but he is super intimidating. haha. Very powerful man with a very determined vision. He really wants to magnify his calling as mission president to the max. Sometimes I hear stories from other missionaries about what other missions are permitted to do by their presidents...wherein if we do those things in this mission we have to send a "repentance letter" to President Fluckiger confessing what we did and assuring him that we would not do it again. This mission, I feel, is very different from other missions. The good thing about it is that I have learned so much from all of it. We are held to a very very high level of obedience and it is preparing me to do my best to maintain that strict level of obedience for after the mission. So while I may not have as many fun experiences as other missionaries have from other missions, I know that I will be grateful for the standards that we are expected to live in this mission. One of the assitants to the president once said, "be grateful that you are serving here...because in this mission we FIGHT for every single thing that we gain." Which is so true. If anything I have seen on my mission, every ounce of success I have had in my mission has been just a battle! And I'm so grateful for it! During the process it may be hard to be grateful for it...but just as in every trial that we go through, once we are through with it, we look back with a grateful heart. I'm interested to see how all of this will play a part in the post-mission life. I'm excited to put everything into practice.
So that's that. But yes, it has been pretty hard to adjust to someone who isn't Elder Dunford. We seriously were a very unique companionship. We got along really well, worked really well together, I felt we were at the same level in all aspects of missionary work. When I stopped teaching he always had something to continue with...and when he stopped teaching I always had something to continue with. It was just a really nice flow of everything. And we were together for 3 transfers...which happens very rarely. However I'm liking Elder Quimuanga. I came to find out that he is from Angola. He is a super humble and chill missionary. Although sometimes I get tired of speaking Portuguese 24/7 :) I still am enjoying having him as my comp! He's a new zone leader, and I can tell he is pretty nervous. But he's doing a good job. The flow isn't as great as it was with Elder Dunford...but we'll get better together as the time goes on. Elder Wilson is still living with us...and his new comp is Elder Later. haha. I don't know if you remember...but Elder Later was the missionary that lived with me for 3 transfers back in my very first few months on the mission. So it has been super funny and weird living with him again now that we are both much further along in our missions. So far the new zone has been doing better. We are currently increasing in our key indicators...we are still far from what we used to be those first 2 transfers when I came to Viseu. I don't think I'll ever be over a zone as good as that zone was. We saw many miracles and all of the missionaries were just super powerful missionaries. So the zone saw a lot of success. However now we are on our way back up. Still lots of work to do...but at least we are not decreasing anymore :D so that's okay with me! And I am sure that I will get to work with the majority of the zone. Seeing as we have to do divisions with half of them. They all seem like great missionaries. It's funny though...half of the missionaries that were with us in those first 2 transfers (when we had amazing months) they are all serving in leadership positions now. The elders and sisters. So the Viseu zone must be a leader preparation zone. haha.
Investigator wise we are trying to find new investigators. :/ like usual. We have been experiencing some good things with Patricia. I don't know if you remember her...the depressed girl that cuts herself. I haven't talked about her for a while...because she is 17 and she needs permission from her mom to get baptized and she was scared to ask her mom because her mom is just cruel to her. So we stopped focusing a ton on her. But this last week she said that she was planning on asking her mom for permission. This was a huge change in her. It has been incredible to see the difference with her since the first time we met her. I remember that first day...she didn't really know who God was...neither Christ. She didn't have any type of faith, or hope. And today I see such a difference! Her prayers are probably some of the most sincere prayers that I have heard come out of anybody. She really talks as if she were right in front of God, having a conversation with Him. So tonight she is meeting with her mom to talk to her. We are currently reading in the Book of Mormon with her...and yesterday we read through the story of Nephi getting the brass plates from Labin. And we made an emphasis on the fact that it took 3 times for them to be able to get the plates. The first 2 they were unable...and surely they may have been discouraged...but Nephi new that the Lord would provide a way for them to obey His commandments. And so we told Patricia to think of the example of Nephi...and to not give up. If she was persistant, the Lord would provide a way for her to enter the waters of baptism. A great lesson for all of us to learn. Sometimes we need to pass through our "trial of faith" before the blessing comes.
As far as Carlos and Jessica are concerned...they are slacking...again. It's been pretty frustrating. We are all pretty tired of them making us believe that they want to follow Christ's church so much...but then they put it at the bottom of their prioirty list. We are going to try one last thing and if it doesn't work...I don't think we will be working with them anymore. At least for while I am still here.
And that is about it on my week. It sounds like having Josh as the only child is a little bitter sweet. On both ends. But I think it's way cool that Josh is very willing to help out where he is needed. It will be great mission preparation for him. I'm sorry to hear that you weren't able to attend the governor's event. It seems like things always don't go the way we plan for special occasions. They make great spiritual growth experiences...don't they? :) Anyways. I hope all is well with you and the family! I miss you guys like crazy. Thanks for everything! I have not received the packages yet because I haven't been to Lisbon yet. I only go once a month for Jedi Council...and other than that, we only get mail and stuff at zone conferences. So a couple more weeks I will know if the packages came or not! Oh and another cool thing. Sister Fluckiger is making a Christmas CD for the mission..and she asked me if I would record a song for it. I'm kinda excited to do that. Anyways that is all! I love you so much! Thanks for everything! :)
Elder Colton Wayne RIchins