Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Spiritual/Fun Activity in Sao Filipe

We had been quite busy organizing a spiritual/fun activity that took place two Saturdays ago. We asked 5 people to participate in a couple of international dances that I learned at BYU. They dedicated four weeks of their time to practice, so they could show them to the community of Sao Filipe. We told our members to invite EVERYONE. This was a great opportunity to teach Gospel principles and have some entertainment as well as attract new investigators.

Following is a recap of this activity.

Satan did everything in his power to try to ruin everything as he usually does, but he lost, and God went through as always.

Everything started on Friday. We went to Cova Figueira for some necessary interviews with the elders there, and we didn’t realize that that Friday was a holiday and that there were no Hiaces/Vans working for our way back to Sao Filipe. We needed to be in Sao Filipe because that was the dress rehearsal, the final rehearsal for the activity. We had been practicing 4 times a week for the past 4 weeks. Elder Abularach said, well we’re not going to let this activity go to waste and not show up, so we left everything in the elders house, in Cova Figueira, except for our money, and we started walking back to Sao Filipe. It would have taken us 7 or 8 hours to get there, and we were ready to do it, so that we could be back by 8pm for the dress rehearsal.

Sometime into our walk, God tested our faith and rewarded us. A car that had not gone through Cova Figueira picked us up, and we didn’t have to walk the whole way back after all.

That same day a senior missionary couple arrived in Fogo to stay for 10 days. They’re the Adams, and they don’t speak Portuguese. So of course, we, the zone leaders, have to show them everything. As soon as we got back from Cova Figueira, we helped the Adams get into their hotel and then showed them around for the assignments that they were going to do.

At this point, it was 7pm, and we were extremely tired. The dancers showed up at 8pm. Satan’s second attempt. Minutes before we set up speakers and sound system for the performance, two of the dancers got into an argument, and one of them said that she was no longer dancing. Everyone was heated up by the argument, and elder Abularach and I spent some 20 minutes trying to calm everyone down. I don’t know how we did it, but we remained calm the whole time, and we managed to help them get over the silly little thing they argued about and to forgive and forget. After the girls had shed a few tears, they hugged and made up, and we started the dress rehearsal 30 minutes late, but we did it. A few of the kids that go to seminary were there to watch. They clapped and shouted, and that made everyone feel better. I really don’t know how we managed to help the dancers get over their little dispute, but I know that the Spirit of God was there in rich abundance and that they felt it and realized how trivial the whole situation was.

Satan didn’t prevail.

After the rehearsal, we all sat down and had a lesson. We taught the dancers how Satan made his presence and that if it weren’t for their will to forgive, Satan would have won, and everything would have been ruined. Abularach suggested making pizza for the dancers, kind of to calm things down, and to meet them the next day at 1pm.

Saturday came, and Satan tries again. The entire city was without power since early that morning. No power… no speakers… no music…no sound. I just prayed and prayed and prayed. I said, God we cannot worry about this. We’re exhausted and didn’t sleep. We’re just going to trust that you’re going to put the power back in time for the activity. I forgot to mention that Saturday morning, we woke up early to clean the whole house, so that the senior missionary couple could inspect it, which was one of the reasons as to why they visited Fogo. We started cleaning at 6:30am and ended up at 10am, and then we helped the Adams buy tickets to Brava, as well as ran other errands with them.

We finished right at noon, and we had only one hour to make pizza for 5 people. We ran to the store to buy the ingredients and went home to make the pizzas. We finished around 2:30pm and ran with the pizzas back to the church. Everyone was there, and there was no sign that an argument had taken place the day before. Everyone was laughing, joking and throwing pizza crumbs at each other. We were already exhausted more than we had ever been, but we were happy for them. We then told them to go home and start getting ready.

Power came back at 3pm, three hours before the activity. I knew God was supporting us in this.

Satan’s next attempt - all the leadership that we had invited to help us did not show up. We had been abandoned with just two members that showed up to help us set up chairs, to help with the sound system, and to direct everyone to their seats and to serve as security.

By 7:20pm there were 120 people in the chairs or otherwise standing. All the dancers were in the bathroom doing makeup and getting ready. They were able to look a lot better than we had originally thought given their conditions. They were all ready to go, but since the branch president was not there to conduct the show as planned, my companion and I had to manage to get everyone quiet to share the spiritual message and to get everything ready.

Not a single thing went wrong throughout the performance. The music worked. The dancers did as practiced, and the audience loved it. After everything had been said and done, the audience had asked to see the second dance again, so they did it again. They clapped and shouted even harder. It was then that the best moment of that weekend came to me. All the dancers were glowing with happiness and feelings of confidence and accomplishment. They did it. They pulled it off! Everyone loved the activity. Everyone thought it was great.

Then we met in a back room of the church, and we gave them water and took pictures. We taught them how powerful the Lord is to have gotten them to this point. From 5 clueless people that did not think they were going to learn this, to 5 dedicated, loving, and incredibly coordinated dancers. They did it! Abularach and I with dark circles under our eyes and so tired, we could hardly see straight. We left and went to the store, bought some cokes, and went home to make pancakes and went to bed. I had never been so tired before, but we did it, as the activity accomplished its purpose.

All the bad spirit from New Years and all the conflicts were done away with, and the spirit of friendship, church activities, and gospel principles was back in Sao Filipe. We showed everyone that Satan never wins. We showed them the power of the Lord and that through dedication and desire, anything is possible. We showed them who really has the right of way. It’s the Lord. No one can stop him. No one will mock him and get away with it. His work continues to press forward.

NOW... this week

Monday started out with our P day gone because we had to help the Adams. We helped them rent a car and drove with them all the way to Mosteiros (about 2 hours away) to inspect all the apartments of the zone. They inspected and installed new water filters, along with meeting with the branch presidents of every branch. After everything had been done, we got into Sao Filipe at 6pm, without been able to buy food for the week or write home. Exhausted, once again, we taught one lesson, wrote our families and then went to family home evening.

The activity secured some investigators and two strong baptisms this week. They’re Roger and Luizao. They went to the activity and started attending Institute and Seminary. Both made it to their interviews and to their baptisms. The service was very spiritual and reverent. I had a rejuvenating feeling as I sat there seeing them both in white ready to make those covenants.

It has been two crazy weeks, and it’ll get even crazier as we have to go to Praia this next weekend for Zone Counsel, but we’re happy. It’s all good!!!

Elder Cuestas

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