It being the final week of my first transfer, all were eagerly awaiting the phone call Saturday morning. No one expected what happened in this call...
Normally, in the beginning of one´s mission, the "newbie" receives their "father", or trainer, and stays with them for the first two transfers (12 weeks). However, with me, nothing in relation to the beginning of my mission has been "normal". Ten weeks in the CTM, three of which were spent in the hospital, two weeks in my area already working before my training began... And so, in accordance with the previously established pattern, I can´t have anything normal. This being stated, what was announced in the phone call?
"Elder de Paula, you have been transfered to Barreto and will be a trainer again."
"Elder McHardy, you will stay in Tijuca and will be a trainer."
Everyone went crazy upon hearing the news. The missionary "born prematurely" (arriving before a transfer begins) already is going to "have a son" (train) in his youth.
Hold up, me? A trainer? Alright, listen here... One, my training isn´t even over. Two, I only have four months of language study under my belt. You think I´m ready to train? Making phone calls, leading the work, training a new missionary, leading in lessons... Caraca! Nonetheless, the Lord knows all, and thus He knows I´m prepared to do this work.
And so ends the era of me and my companion, Elder de Paula; meu pai. When important or memorable periods of time like this come to an end, I like to reflect over the good memories, the hard trials, the lessons learned. What is it that I learned in my short training? If I had asked myself before arriving in the field, "What do you expect to learn in your first 12 weeks?" the answer would have been something along the lines of, "I will learn much more how to speak the language, how to organize my daily planner, how to work with the ward, how to use the telephone, how to do weekly planning... etc." Now, in hindsight, I see that this isn´t what I was to learn in my training. Wait, what? Why not?
In relation to work and organization, I see that I had already been prepared and taught before my mission (thank you Mom and Dad). In relation to the language, God has taken care of that part. Everyone, I mean everyone, is impressed with my ability to speak, write, and understand the language. I don´t understand how or why I have the skill with the language already - all I know is that the gift of tongues is very very real. Once again, I thank everyone who has prayed on my behalf, be it now or in my time in the hospital. Your faith has blessed me, and by so doing will bless the lives of many others.
So, Elder McHardy, if you didn´t learn thing a "normal" training would teach, what DID you learn?
The answer is very simple. I learned just a little bit more how to love others. What more matters? After all, as I have said in an earlier email, my purpose as a missionary is to cry repentance, which is always founded upon love. With love, it doesn´t matter if I know how to perfectly plan and organize a day; it doesn´t matter if I don´t understand everything that others say; it doesn´t matter if I struggle to deliver a simple message at times. With the love of the Savior in my heart, I will change lives. This is an undeniable truth. Thus, with this just one lesson, I have been trained how to be a missionary.
Oh, also, we had our first baptism this week. Yay!
I forgot to mention a fun little story of last week´s Pday! All the Elders in the zone decided to gather last week for some god ol´ churrasco (BBQ). Oh man oh man was it delicious. We consumed 10 kilos of carne and who knows how many liters of Guarana. The Americans were in charge of preparing the food. We attempted to make some mesquite seasoning (which the Brazilians loved) and started the fire the Eagle Scout way - one match. It was funny to watch the others attempt to start the fire by soaking everything in oil and alcohol, using way more paper than necessary, smothering each fire they started, using countless matches... I´m glad I learned this important life skill! We all had a great time mixing cultures, having American style churrasco, drinking Guarana, and playing futebol.