So this week President Heyman called to give me news and a somewhat new assignment. On Thursday afternoon he called to told me that we have until the twenty-eighth of January to find a local member who can be the branch president or else they're going to close the branch and take the missionaries out of the city. That doesn't mean that we have to have someone set apart by that date, but it does mean that we have to have someone who is willing and available to accept the calling and is preparing them self to become the branch president. On top of this search, President Heyman said that he would be taking action according to my recommendation.
So we've been on the search, looking for all the Priesthood holders in the city, telling them what the situation is, inviting them to come back to church and inviting them to prepare themselves to become the future leaders of the Church here in Campo Largo. It sounds so easy, but it's turning out to be much more difficult than expected; sometimes we just can't find the people when they're home and sometimes other people get in thew way of us talking to the Priesthood holders.
So far we've been able to talk with and invite to Melchizedek Priesthood holders and talk to them about what is happening: Luis Perez and Elias Cardozo. With each of them we had very different experiences.
We first talked with Luis Perez. We eat lunch with him every Thursday and he's twenty-three years old and a really cool guy, but he's been pretty wayward for the last year. However, we've been working with him and he's come to church for two weeks in a row (a new record since who knows how long).
Well on Thursday night, after receiving the news, he was the first one that we talked to about being a leader. We shared a couple of scriptures with him and talked to him about his duties as a Priesthood holder. At the end we shared this scripture:
And now my beloved brethren, I have said these things unto you that I might awaken you to a sense of your duty to God, that ye may walk blameless before him, that ye may walk after the holy order of God, after which ye have been received. (Alma )
He accepted the call to prepare himself; to give up the things that he shouldn't be doing. He said that he always knew that this day would come because it's written in his patriarchal blessing. His motivation to change is definitely the members, because he said that he was going to do it for the branch and not for himself.
When we met with Elias it was a less successful meeting. We went accompanied by Sister Duarte, one of the sisters from the branch who teaches seminary and young women's class. There in the conversation present was also his wife Martha. Elias was previously the branch president, but was released from the calling years before (not for reasons of unworthiness though). However, he is now much older and has trouble hearing and isn't up to traveling around to go to meetings.
Really we were just hoping that he could be a counselor to help whoever would end up as branch president because he already has experience, but his wife already said that she didn't want him to be branch president again and that she wouldn't support the idea. So that puts us in a tough situation because he was supposed to be our fail-safe.
As far as the rest of the members are concerned, we've been letting them know what's happening one family at a time; we figured it was better that way than announcing it in sacrament meeting. So not everyone knows yet, but we're gathering everyone who already knows to help in the search. As we tell the members, however, they've all had different reactions. One of the young women cried and walked away, one of the sisters said that we should just shoot all the men who don't want to come back to church, some are more realistic and say, "well that's obviously what's going to happen if no one wants to work.
I'm going to finish this week with a short story:
We went to go visit a less active family (the father could be a potential leader as well) and when we talked with the mom we set an appointment to go back the next day. So we went back the next day at the designated time and knocked on the door. We waited for a bit and then some woman who we don't know stuck her head out the window and told us that the family wasn't home. She then proceeded to leave the house by putting a chair outside, stepping out through the window, and then putting the chair back in the house through the window. Now we knew that there were other people in the house and they were just avoiding us, but I wanted to stop the woman and say to her, "So you're telling me that there is no one home and you're here leaving the house out the window. What are you doing, robbing the place?"