We found out about transfers last night. Hermana Vargas is leaving for an area near Montevideo and Hermana Ocampos will be my new companion. From all accounts she is "divertido" (fun) and "capo" (cool) so I'm excited. I've been with my trainer so long (4 months) it's hard to imagine working with anyone else. Hermana Vargas has a special assignment from President Armstrong. She is going to work with one of the other Hermanas to be a "Traveling Hermana." Since sisters can't go on exchanges with their Zone and District Leaders (obviously) we have very little training and the exchanges we do have the opportunity to do are mostly just to get a break from your companion/area for a while, not for training purposes. So Hermana Vargas and another sister will be going around doing exchanges with the other sisters and training, etc. President wants all of us to be ready when the tsunami of hermana missionaries arrive in April and May.
We also moved. We now are living in a house 25 minutes on foot from our area. It's complicated how it came about, but the situation is "temporary" at least until June when the lease is up. I'll probably be gone by then, though.
These transfers are bringing lots of changes to our Zone. We get new Zone and District Leaders, and a lot of missionaries are being transferred. Our new Zone Leader is Elder Harris from Kaysville, just around the corner from Cherry Hill :)
I'm glad to hear you guys had fun at Desiree and Christopher's. Every time I see little kids I think of Ethan and Ryker and miss them a lot, even though Latino babies look nothing like them (blond hair blue eyes, etc)
It's during the transfers when I seem to miss home the most. Take care of each other. Remember that I love you and think about and pray for you often.
We finally had another baptism! Ramon was baptized and confirmed this weekend! I'm really happy for him. I never imagined that the conversion process could be so drastic nor so visible as it was with him. He was found, taught, and baptized in 3 weeks. He's devouring the Book of Mormon, and is willing to live all the commandments. His prayers are incredibly beautiful and humble. And most importantly, he's happy and he knows why.
Before the baptism our branch mission leader was working so it fell on us to get everything ready. There were crickets in the font so we decided to scrub it out. The water heater is broken, so the water was cold. It's a good thing it's only for a few seconds...
At his baptism I sang "If the Savior Stood Beside Me" and one of our other recent converts, Gabriela, gave one of the talks. She also gave one of the talks in Sacrament meeting yesterday, and she said that from this experience, she was able to see her own baptism in a new light and committed to attending every baptism possible in our ward from then on to help welcome the new member. She is the best! Another recent convert, Pablo, baptized Ramon (he was so nervous he kept messing up the prayer, and we had to do the ordinance twice.) My companion and I really wanted the recent converts to be involved in baptisms of new converts, because it helps with fellowshipping.
I have a hard time thinking of things to tell you about while I'm sitting at the computer, so I make a list during the week of things that happen. This week, the only thing on my list was "basket trees." Let me explain:
For some reason, Uruguayos seem to really love lawn ornaments. Everyone has ceramic frogs and turtles in their little front gardens, and many have these giant lawn gnomes that appear to be drinking matte. These aside, what seems to be the stranger tradition to me is cutting hedges and bushes into the shape of baskets. Is this common? I don't ever remember seeing this in the States.
Also, could you send some money? One of my pairs of shoes died this week. The information about the weather in my call packet was a little misleading. Thus, I have a lot of clothes for temperate weather (Uruguay is not temperate.) I don't know how to coordinate money sent to me from home, though, which I will investigate more.
I have five minutes to tell you all about my week. Everything is closed for Carnival and so the senior missionaries are letting us use their computer today. I love working with them. When we get back I'll have to invite them to my homecomming so you can meet them.
I had never seen Carnival before, nor known what it was. From all appearances it seems to be a giant party in the street with really loud drums, lots of colors, and lots of dancing. The drums and the colors I loved; the dancers I could have done without. Carnival in Uruguay is not the biggest in the world (nothing in Uruguay is the biggest in the world), but it is the longest. It lasts for all of February.
We finally had an investigator come to church!!! His name is Ramòn and he will be baptized on February 16. At first neither of us thought he was interested, but he actually read what we left him, the introduction to the Book of Mormon. He liked it a lot and is making a lot of personal efforts to understand the gospel. It's because he knows he needs it. He is separated from his wife and living with his sister's family. They don't want the missionaries in their house, so Ramòn meets us at a nearby park for the charlas (lessons).
This transfer we got a new district leader, Elder Sierra from Honduras. Hermana Vargas and I really like his leadership style. He gives us challenges every week; for example, "find a new investigator among one of the (many) old investigators." Last night he told us he would be asking every night to tell him about a spiritual experience we had during the day. These things really help me because I've been getting bored and frustrated lately during the day doing the same things every day because I can't think of anything else to do or a different way to do it. This transfer is going to be awesome!