June 18, 2012
Week 13 in Yaguate. Transfers have torn my previous companion from me and I am now privileged to work with Elder Domine. Elder Domine is from Tonga and is only 6 weeks younger than me in the mission. He lives in Los Angeles, speaks perfect English, loves Lord of the Rings, and enjoys reading...needless to say, we get along very well.
These last few weeks we have been focusing very heavily on less-actives, as always. We have spent a lot of time helping them set goals and realize their duty as members. It is slow work and we very often don't see results, but little by little they are progressing. With the less-actives we have decided to focus on helping them to read scriptures, pray, and go to church. Essentially bring them right back to the primary principles. We are doing the same with the strong members but we also push them to get involved in the mission work by providing references and doing home teaching.
Elder Domine and I have decided to focus on 5 less-actives in particular:
The Garcia Family is comprised of three sisters and their mother who all live under the same roof. They all have relatively strong testimonies but are struggling to attend church on a consistent basis. We believe that they will be an asset to the Relief Society here if we re-animate them to get involved in the work.
Rosaura is a 16 year old girl who is the only member in her family. She was once a strong member but with time fell away from the church. When we visited with her she immediately told us that she would return to church and has begun to read in the scriptures once again.
Marilexis has a similar story to Rosaura as she is young and the only member in her family. She has also shown a desire to re-activate but is rather sluggish in doing so. With time and patience she will return to activity.
Omar and Bairum are two young boys who have recently lost focus due to the distractions of summer vacation. We don't plan on letting them relax for too long. If we have to drag them to church in their underwear then so be it. It's about time the missionaries didn't pass the sacrament.
Katarin and Henry were baptized around 1 year ago and slipped into inactivity. Katarin is 18 and Henry is 14 which would make them a great addition to the youth program here. Katarin was eager to return again but Henry absolutely refused to return. After some discussion we learned that church bored him and that he saw little value in spending time there. With some work we finally got him to open up and he has decided to return to church.
This last Sunday we had a total of 30 people in church, 10 more than last week. Both Katarin and Henry came along with 2 of the Garcia Family sisters. My companion and I gave talks and we hope to have an even greater attendance next week. Working with less-actives is an amazing opportunity, though often difficult. We recognize that those attending often don't have strong testimonies, but we also trust that the spirit will one day infiltrate their hearts and help them to understand the blessings that come from faithful activity in the church.
Whenever we aren't dragging children to church activities or sternly reminded priesthood holders of their neglected duties, we are usually found pounding down giant mangos or lying around the house waiting for the electricity to come back. The renowned Caribbean heat has returned and is just as relentless as I remember it being. We have now memorized every point in Yaguate that provides shade on our commonly used routes and freezing cold bucket showers are more than welcome at the end of the day. As difficult as life is, I have really grown to love this area and the wonderful people who live here. Our Basic Unity is, yes, basic but I have come to recognize it as a strong foundation for what will be. The church in Yaguate may be basic, but the people are very much unified.