I am getting old. And writing each week is getting harder and harder. :) But the thing that keeps me going is the knowledge that if I ever didnt write home I would probably get beat up hard core by my mother...or you would probably find a way to beat me up from out here...heaven forbid me getting a phone call from President Fluckiger giving me faca for not writing my mother. That is probably the scariest thing you could do to me.
Anyways...this last week was absolutely insane. I do not think I have had 1 normal week here in Lagos. So the drivers stuff was resolved...as much as it could be. We have to go back in a couple weeks for Elder Wilson to finalize the process. He has to practice driving stick shift as well...it is bad enough having to drive in Portugal...but with stick shift...yikes. haha. So we are playing around with the idea that we are probably going to die on the last week of our missions. haha. Just kidding mom. Dont freak out.
I started doing tithing settlement interviews this last week. Man. Those things are interesting. I remember being on the other side of the bishop when these happened. But performing the interview is a whole other experience. I know that there are few full tithe payers in the branch...and I am really trying to focus on doing better in teaching the doctrine of tithing and fast offerings in the branch so that people will feel motivated by the spirit to pay. I have been sharing parts from Elder Bednar's most recent talk on Tithing during my interviews. I have done about 4 so far. And I have some this weekend...and the weekend after Christmas as well. So I will be doing tithing settlement interviews for the next couple of weeks. It is a great opportunity. It confirms to me that a leaders biggest job is to be a teacher. I have to look for opportunities to teach in every situation. Speaking of... :/ Yesterday...I don't know if I have already explained to you the complicated situations of those rebellious members from the Portimao branch that come to Lagos to attend church because they don't support their leaders...well if I haven't...you will have to wait until Christmas. But they always stick together. Yesterday this lady came to me from Portimao and said that she wanted to pay her fast offerings. She started crying as she explained to me why she wanted to pay. I looked at her and told her...I am sorry. But I cannot accept your fast offerings. Then the rest of the Portimao members congregated around her and the ex- branch president of Portimao asked me why I wouldn't take her money. That when he was branch president he would accept tithes and offerings from people outside of the branch. I told him that I do not have their records in the branch for MLS. And he said. "Well just create a new folder for them." I told him, "I am sorry. But I have received instruction from my mission president that I am not allowed to accept tithes and offerings from people outside of my unit".....they werent very happy about that. They kinda turned the situation so that they looked like the victims. Fun situation. Another one of those ''leadership is sometimes a lonely calling'' type of situation. But I felt good that I stuck to the instructions of the district presidency and President Fluckiger.
This last week me and Elder Wilson created our Branch Vision. I have never made such big plans for a branch in my mission. This is my 3rd branch in my mission (out of 5 areas). I wish I could explain to you in depth of everything we are planning on doing...I guess that will be for the skype conversation. Our overall vision is that this branch be self reliant...spiritually. This branch is completely run by the missionaries. And we want to build up the branch in a way that if the missionaries were suddenly taken away...the branch would not fall to pieces. We had an INCREDIBLE talk with the 1st counselor in the district presidency, Luis Melo. He lives in our branch. People sometimes talk about this guy as someone who never wanted the Lagos branch to open, and as someone who is a rough person and stuff. After talking with him yesterday, I am totally on his side. We really understand where he was coming from. He opened up completely to us, and there was this humility about him that I had never seen before. In a way...he was pleading for help from me and Elder Wilson. He seemed to have said with his actions ''will you be the missionaries that understand where I am coming from? Will you be the ones to take my advice and make LASTING changes in this branch?'' It was such a cool experience. And after he gave us the information of 2 families that he would like us to go visit! And now me and Elder Wilson are even more pumped to just give EVERYTHING that we have. Everything that we have learned on our missions seems to have prepared us for what is coming up. It is going to be hard. Very hard. But we are ready. It is time to see miracles. Time to leave everything on the table. And time to fight. We are praying a ton that we will be able to carry out the plans we have made. It is gonna take VERY careful planning. Everything has to be perfect in order to work. Pray for us!
So that is a portion of what happened this last week. As I have said it is truly impossible to include everything that happens here in Lagos. It is quite the adventure. I hope everyone has a great week! Thanks for everything that you have done for me! I love you and I DID receive the package and I am SO grateful for it. :) Nothing is opened yet. Dont want to ruin the surprise! haha. THanks mom! Hope you have a great week!
Elder Colton Wayne Richins
p.s Yes I will be calling in the morning! Won't have an hour until next week. But I will be calling in the morning.