A new transfer has begun and I am now with Elder Schaffer from Kentucky. Together we have been working hard to rejuvenate the area after a stagnant holiday season. We work hard and we eat better because Elder Schaffer is also a wonderful chef. Maybe I can learn a thing or two from him in these next six weeks. If I don't then it's back to rice, beans, and chicken every day of the week.
In recent weeks the tragic story of Santa, her kids, and her abusive, alcoholic husband has developed further than we may have anticipated. When I was with Elder Van Moos, we desperately tried to meet with Santa and her husband together to try and discuss a peaceful solution to the matter. The man needed to leave the house in order for Santa to be baptized, but he absolutely refused. During the first week with Elder Schaffer we were miraculously able to meet with them both. I didn't necessarily know what to say and Santa was looking uncomfortable, so I took a deep breath and just shared a short message about the importance of families. I was able to commit the entire family, including the husband to attend church the following Sunday. It was a step in the right direction.
On Sunday, Elder Schaffer and I went to pick up Santa and her family so we could walk them to church. We found the family of three girls and one boy ready for church and Santa's husband blazing drunk. We left the husband at the house and brought the rest of the family along with us. All throughout Sacrament Meeting I was distraught about the fact that we would eventually have to walk this family back to their home to a drunk man who has often been violent towards them. After church all we could do was pray for help and support Santa with our testimonies. As we were walking back from church we were stopped by a woman who knew Santa and who told us that her husband had kicked in the door to their apartment and was threatening to kill the family. The situation had officially escalated out of our control so we called the police, waited for them to arrive, and then got ourselves away from the area. Missionaries are obligated to avoid being near situations involving the police so we could only make sure she was safe and then talk to her after the fact.
When we met with Santa the following day we found out that her husband was still living with her even after the police had shown up to look for him. Apparently he had hidden from the police and Santa could only get a warrant for his arrest. Santa told us that she was waiting for him to be drunk to call the police so that they would have a better chance of catching him and would have evidence of his abuse. On Sunday, January 1st, we walked her home with 2 other Elders for safety and found Santa's husband among a group of friends and very drunk. We left and called the police, but this time we found a distant roof to watch from. We saw the police arrive and the man ran into a nearby apartment to hide. We were astonished as the police searched the entire apartment complex for him and left empty handed. From our distant perch we could see exactly where he was hiding and were thirsty for justice and so when the man retreated from his place of hiding we called the police once again and had them return. This time he was caught by surprise and, after a small chase, was apprehended.
When we met with Santa a few days later we were once again surprised to hear that her husband was back living with her. Once she explained what happened we understood why. When her husband was arrested, Santa didn't have enough money to pay for her husband to go to jail so instead she got a restraining order that, if broken, would send him to prison for life. She figured that this would be better since having him go to jail would eventually mean he could return with a vengeance. He now has until the 20th to get out of the house or Santa can call the police and have him forcefully removed. We currently have January 27th set as the date when Santa and her children will be baptized. It is a miracle that we could even set a goal with her. Our entire experience with Santa has often been terrifying and trying, but it is hard not to look back and see traces of divine guidance and protection throughout the ordeal. Hopefully this story will find it's happy ending at the end of this
With the holiday season over and with our work engines on turbo, we have recently found great success and have many potential investigators who I have hopes will progress towards baptism. We have seen our fair share of rejection and disappointment, as Paula became too busy to meet with us and two of our strongest investigators, Amalfi and Fior, insisted that they did not want to continue receiving the lessons, but we have only been inspired to work harder from our rejection and have found many more prospective investigators. We have found multiple families who are very eager about our message and we even found one less active member who had been praying for help just as we knocked on his door. The city is waking up and the work is moving forward once again. I don't expect the font in our chapel to be dry for much longer.