December 12, 2010
It’s funny how things sneak up on you. Last night, Elder Bartle and I found out that President Lifferth had something special in mind. Usually, one Elder leaves an area while the other one takes over. We were anticipating I would leave, since I’ve been here for half a year. As to the rest of the Zone, we just figured the same cycle. We were very wrong.
Elder Bartle and I are both leaving, which we call doubling out. But, Echuca is also doubling out. As is Finley. So is Wangaratta and Benalla. Even the Solomons are leaving. Out of the near 10 companionships in our Zone, only 4 Elders are staying, and the rest are either transferred or going home. Even the Solomons are getting transferred, which is rare. Usually Senior couples are stationed in one area for their whole 18-month service. The only companionship still intact is Elder Nebeker and Elder Born, the Zone Leaders. So, basically, our entire Zone is being replaced. It’s big.
Elder Bartle and I are worried. We know this area front to back, we know the members, and we have a lot of people we’re taking care of. Now we have to make a mad scramble in our record keeping to make sure our work doesn’t go to waste when new Elders arrive without a clue where to go. We also have to say goodbye and pack everything up to make it to transfer meeting tomorrow. Its chaotic. We spent the morning writing up notes on everybody we know, and we even have a few days planned for them. They’ll be surprised.
Mooroopna’s Kiwanis club held their annual Carols by Candlelight tradition last night at which many different church choirs came to perform, us included. Most of our branch was there. By then we had received the news of transfers. They’re all very sad. Many of them were saying, “But it’s so close to Christmas! Can’t they at least keep you for another three weeks? It’s not fair! What happens now?” It really is sad, because they’re so used to having us there. Now everything will have to start over again. Sister Cook was especially upset about us leaving. She’s been having a lot of bad news pop up, so us leaving makes things worse. I just hope the next Elders can care for this branch like we have.
It’s funny how you don’t realize how precious everything is until it’s gone. I felt like I was just going to be here forever. Now I have to leave it behind and start again. Even the thought of having a new companion is somewhat disturbing. Elder Bartle and I are the best of mates. We understand exactly how we think. We work well together. I don’t even know when the next time is I’ll see him after Christmas. I haven’t seen my trainer except for brief glimpses at meetings. Everything is just a big fog now. Elder Bartle and I do have contact info, so we will at least get to reconnect in 2012. But that’s a long ways off.
Here’s some other news about the week.
We had exchanges again for both Finley and Echuca. I was driving up to Finley with Elder Mitsvotai, cruising quickly because a) it’s a long drive, b) it’s flat, c) it’s straight, and d) it’s the country roads. Who’s gonna find out? Well, probably the unmarked police car with the radar gun that lit up its lights as it drove past. Panicking, I watched my mirrors hoping he caught somebody else in front of him. To my horror, he reeled around and came back my way at the speed of light and I had to stop. He wasn’t pleased with my Massachussetts license, informing me that, “You’re in Australia, mate! You’re in Victoria!” As if I didn’t know. However, because I am on a temporary visa, my license was valid, so he couldn’t do anything about that. But he still gave me a ticket over $200. So now I know to be careful. There are heaps of unmarked police cars in Australia. They’re watching!
Other than that, we have made outstanding progress this week. I can’t walk through each one, but I will tell one good story because my time is running short. On Sunday, we had 2 less active members who were having a rough time. I stood up in Elder’s Quorum and asked if we could have 2 volunteers to come with us to visit them and invite them back to church. After a pause, one of the older Elders volunteered two of the youth, 16 and 15, to go. They were the more rowdy ones. They remind me a lot of youth I got to be with when I was their age. It was great though, because they now had to go with us, and we were in control of the situation. We had the authority. Tuck in your shirt! Go on, don’t be shy! Didn’t you have something to say? It’s funny how such fidgety, goofy high school students go stone cold as soon as you put them in a missionary-type situation with another person. The best word to describe it is GREEN AS. But, it gave them a chance to see what missionary work is like, and they also were very helpful just by being there and timidly saying, “We’d like to see you at church.” We gave a blessing to one of the members, and it was a very powerful experience that they got to witness. By the time we finished, they were more interested in how missionary work goes, and we also learned a lot about their testimonies and trials they face in their youth. I think the youth face the most challenges out of any other age group. We gave them an afternoon they won’t forget.
Well, my time is up. Not just for writing, but in Shepparton. My mission is taking another huge turn. Do you realize I’ve been here for half a year? A quarter of my mission! Now I get to spend Christmas with strangers. Yippee! Well, you’ll hear all about it next week. I love you all! Talk to you later.
-Elder Scott Baker