Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day is a time when missionaries call home

Transfers came and went and Christopher is still in Arcade, New York with the same companion.  By the end of this transfer both Christopher and his companion will have  been together about six months in the same area.  But given the fact that they have been very successful in Arcade, staying together for another transfer is probably a good thing.  So far, Christopher and his companion have had ten baptisms in the Freedom Branch in Arcade and they are hoping to have at least a couple more in the next few weeks.  In fact, Christopher told us that the Branch President called Christopher's Mission President to request that he keep Christopher and his companion in the Branch for a little while longer.  Hopefully things will go as well this transfer as they have in the past and they will be able to continue having success. 

Today, being Mother's Day, Christopher was able to call home and we were able to talk to him for a little over an hour.  Again, Christopher told us just how much he loves being in Arcade and how well he and his companion have been doing there.  Christopher told us that Arcade has definitely been his favorite assignment in the mission so far and that his current companion has been his favorite.  There is an interesting twist to this companionship however.  Christopher's companion is mildly autistic and at times this has proven to be very frustrating for both of them.  There are a lot of stories that Christopher has shared with us that I won't include here.  But they are stories about some of their good times, frustrating times, humorous times and progression.  Both Christopher and his companion have both learned a lot from this companionship which has caused them both to progress in the Gospel and in life lessons in many different ways.  This is actually the main reason why Christopher also requested that his Mission President leave them together for another transfer as well.  Their time together as been very rough at times, but the blessings and lessons learned, have been worth it all and more.

Speaking of companionships, Christopher told us a funny story recently about he and his companion.  For those that know Christopher, he has always liked to "dress to impress".  Well, his companion has kind of a different view point when it comes to style and dress.  Christopher told us that after a lot of convincing he was finally able to talk his companion into changing up his style with a new hair cut.  Apparently his previous hair style was a bit military and just wasn't quite up to date, so a change was in order.  To say the least, once his companion decided that he would try out a new hair cut, people really noticed and it seemed to make a big difference.  After the hair style change, the next thing on the agenda was his style of clothes.  According to Christopher, this change basically came purely by accident.  A few weeks ago both Christopher and his companion decided that it was time to take their suits into the dry cleaners.  Of course, they usually only wear their full suits to special meetings such has Sunday meetings or mission conferences.  The rest of the week they just where the normal missionary white shirt and tie.  The problem was that Christopher's companion's suit didn't come back from the dry cleaners in time for the Sunday meetings and fireside that was scheduled for the next day.  Since Christopher's companion only had one suit, this left him without a suit for the meetings.  That Saturday night while Christopher was in the front room reading, his companion walked out wearing this navy blue suite that seemed to fit him perfectly.  The strange thing about it was that it was a suit that Christopher had never seen before and he wondered where it came from.  As it turned out, a previous missionary who had served in the area, had left the suit in the back of the closet after he had transferred to another area.  Christopher said that his companion looked great in this new suit and that it fit so well you would have thought that the suit was tailor made just for him.  The next day when they attended the fireside at the Church, Christopher's companion, sporting his new hair cut and suit, received all kinds of attention by all of the other missionaries.  The Sister missionaries especially loved the new look and even the Mission President commented on just how great Christopher's companion looked and told him that he should stick with this new style.  Leave it to Christopher to make sure that his companion gets GQ'ed up and is "dressed to impress".

Being a missionary and serving in places that might be new and different, presents all kind of unique experiences.  Many if not most of these experiences are once in a lifetime types of things.  In one of Christopher's recent letters home he told us all about one of these experiences.
"So this week I had an extremely unique experience...... I saw a pig be castrated..... it was really something and I can't believe how loud those things can squeal!!!! I actually felt really bad for the poor pig, he looked absolutely terrible after the whole thing was over. But ya, it was really something. That's just how out in the middle of nowhere we are! haha I'm sure I'll probably never see something like that ever again. So that's probably the highlight of the week! haha I also milked a goat this week too! That was pretty fun and another one of those things I might never again do. This coming week we are going to help out on a dairy farm, so that should be fun as well!"
OK, so maybe these weren't the most spiritual experiences that a missionary might have, but they were once in a lifetime experiences none the less. 

Speaking of unique experiences, Christopher also told us about a trip to the Palmyra temple with the youth and several other members of the Branch in his area.  The Palmyra temple is a smaller temple and usually does not have enough people to staff everything like some of the larger temples.  Therefore, they were required to handle just about everything that needed to be done in the baptistery from actually performing the baptisms for the dead, to confirmations, to acting as witnesses and making sure that everything was recorded correctly.  Christopher told us just how special this experience was especially when several of the Branch members brought names of their ancestors in order to perform the temple work for their own family members who had passed on.  Here is an example of another once in a lifetime experience.  To be performing temple work in the heart of the area where the Church was restored is truly unique. 

Anyway, it was great to talk with Christopher on Mother's Day and I know that he was really excited as well.  He sounded really good which has also been reflected in many of the letters that he has set home over the past several months.  His time in Arcade has really been a turning point in his mission and a great learning experience as well.  This will probably be the last time that Christopher is able to call home before he actually completes his mission.  Our hopes and prayers are that the last six months of his mission are just as successful as the previous six months have been.