I finally got transferred out of Fogo. Now I’ll be serving as an Assistant to our Mission President with Elder Humphries.
President Oliveira came to Fogo on Thursday for a Zone conference, and he asked us to meet him at the Hotel where he was staying right before he left. We met and talked about the Zone and helped him get ready to get in the taxi to go back to Praia. Right as he was about to get into the back seat of the taxi, he turned around and looked at me and put his hand on my shoulder…”Elder Cuestas, you know that you’re going to be transferred this time, right?"
"Yes I do President"
"You’ll be my new assistant. I’ll see you on Monday" Wow!!!
He got in the car and drove away. Needless to say, I was speechless…
Two days and a flight later, I’m now in Praia, in the mission office, writing this letter. To be honest, I feel a bit nervous about this new transfer. I guess I’m thinking in my mind "How in the world am I going to do this? Me…? Assistant to the Mission President?" Someone got that transfer mixed up… I know that everything is going to be ok in the end and that I’m going to grow in ways that I couldn’t have any more in São Filipe...
My proselyting area will be in the city of Praia in the Zones of Palmarejo, Tira Chapeu, Monte Vermelho and a few others that I’m not quite sure, yet. I hear that our area is huge.
Now here is a recap of these past two weeks in São Filipe.
We prepared two very special people for baptism. Their names are Aleida, and Vanuza.
Vanuza is one of the poorest people that I’ve seen, and she lives under some appalling circumstances. She is one of ten children. Her mother is a prostitute and has several men both in and out of the city. The results of the mother’s work are 9 brothers and sisters to which Vanuza is the oldest. Since her mother is not capable of anything, Vanuza has to take full-time care of her brothers and sisters, as well as her nephew, which was another unplanned pregnancy from her brother. Every day, she wakes up very early and gets 10 little boys and girls ready to go to school, makes them breakfast, washes clothes by hand, and gives them baths. Right after she gets them going to school, she immediately starts cooking lunch for when they get back. By the time they get back, and she has fed them all, it’s time for her to go to school. She comes back and makes dinner for the children and puts them to bed.
Her life is completely controlled by these 10 brothers, sisters, and nephew, and her mom just walks in and out of the house as she pleases. It’s indeed heartbreaking to see all this, and that Vanuza is only 16 years old. She is taking these responsibilities well, and she is among one of the most mature people I have ever known. It’s indeed incredible that she did not follow the example of her mother, and instead she is working on her schooling and making sure that these 10 children are being taken care of. If she doesn’t do it, then no one else will.
Their house has nothing, but a few foam mattresses to sleep on, 3 chairs, and a gas tank, not a stove, with a spout for the cooking. I’m so proud of her for making it all the way to baptism and putting so many chores aside, just so that she could go to church, even if it means walking around the hallways to soothe her crying nephew. I love her so much, and her baptism was incredibly spiritual, and it’ll have a special place in my heart forever. She's doing very well coming to church and activities whenever she can. I feel sorry for her mother and how much she's going to have to suffer at judgment day for her lack of responsibility for these 10 children.
Aleida is Alisio’s sister. We have been working with her for a while, and she would have been baptized some 3 weeks ago, but her mother insisted that she waited a bit longer, just to make sure that she was getting baptized for the right reasons. The mother of these two kids is a completely different story. Her name is Tutura, and she runs a beauty salon from her house, which is how most of them work here. She works all day to support her family, and her husband, their stepfather, is a carpenter. Tutura loves her kids very much, and you can tell that she dedicated much time to raising and educating them well. The result is two very well turned out kids, Alisio is 17 and Aleida is 14 years old.
Last week, we went to Brava to explore and analyze another village to determine if we could open missionary work there. The place is called Nossa Senhora do Monte. As we explored the area, we felt a pretty warm spirit to the place, and we felt that indeed missionaries could come and start working there. I’ll report that to President Oliveira as soon as I get the chance. I love the spirit of Brava. It’s a place where the work is struggling quite a bit, just like it was in Tarrafal, but nevertheless, we have to keep trying. The elders there, elder Gunnarson, and elder Reeser are people that I care for and love very much, and they're very obedient hard working elders. They deserve so much.
Last Tuesday we were preparing Olympia for baptism. She is 7 months pregnant and married to her husband from the island of Santo Antão. Her husband works at the hospital, and they were both very open and accepting to our message. Everything would have gone perfectly, except that she was checked in at the hospital due to complications with her pregnancy. I’ll continue to pray that all goes well for her and her husband.