These weeks in Mindelo have been the most intense moments of my mission. Every lesson is different in this area. There is no such thing as routine, and it’s truly a blessing because it really gives us a chance to grow and, as we say "Teach people, not Lessons."
This week has had a few disappointments, but overall, there were more miracles than there were not, and I think we’re finally starting to turn the place around and reach the objective to which we were placed here for.
As I mentioned before, finding investigators here is quite difficult as people in Mindelo are the least receptive to the Gospel, compared to all the other islands. Street contacting is completely useless here. That being said we have to be super smart and work with the members, members, members. We have been working with a few of them for a few weeks, motivating them to look for their friends, and finally we were able to get results. Our area has turned from dead to strong, and there are a good number of people that we’re now working with. We have a beautiful family, as well as some other investigators, and we were busy as busy could be last week. I have never been so tired in my life hahaha. Just this morning, my companion went to take a 10 minute shower, and I sat on my bed for a few seconds, and before you know it, Fernandes is like "Hey....hey...Cuestas" as he was trying to wake me up. Ha-ha. This has been an intense week.
It feels really good right now. I have fought like I have never fought on my mission before to get these new investigators. We have tried more than we have ever tried to find the potential in this area. What a blessing that the Lord has given us to be able to finally have found these elected souls. It proved to me that there are people everywhere in this world that are being prepared to accept this marvelous gospel. We came in this area to show everyone, as the zone leaders, that finding, teaching, and baptizing in Mindelo is possible. We’re far away from the final goal, but we finally got the train going.
So, that being said, Mindelo is becoming my favorite area on my mission. As I said, here in Mindelo, baptisms don’t come that easy, but because we have to work so hard, we’re learning life lessons. After a few good weeks of struggling and not giving up, we realized how much we have grown and how much better we can teach, feel the spirit, and love the Gospel because of all we have been through. That is what Mindelo has done for us so far. Fernades and I were talking this week, and we were just marveling on how much our teaching has improved, and how much more we feel the spirit in our lessons, just because of all that we have endured here. We have suffered big time, but I would never go back, and if I have to suffer even more to keep picking up this area, so be it. I love the work that the Lord is permitting us to do here. Our accomplishments feel 10 times bigger because of how much harder it was to get them.
We taught our wonderful family three times this week. Imagine this. Jocyleida doesn’t know how to read. She said that when she was little, her mom told her that she was stupid, and as a result she was denied schooling. She never had the opportunity to go to school. It was something that was so heartbreaking to hear. Her mom used to abuse her and enslave her to whatever she pleased. She was like a little mule for her mother, and as a result, she has a true hatred for her mother, which we’re trying to help her with. Her husband, Andirson, being the amazing man he is, is reading the Book of Mormon out loud to her, so that she can learn the things that he’s learning, as well. I would never imagine something like this happening on my mission. We taught them about the restoration this week. At the end of the lesson, we committed them to be baptized in due course, and they accepted.
The husband said something very interesting: "My whole life people have been telling me what to do about religion. I don’t believe that you should do something just because people tell you to. How do you know that they’re right? This is different. You didn’t come in my house to convince me. You came in to teach me, and I feel the truthfulness of your message. I feel that this is right, and I, my wife and my children will be baptized in this church. I feel that I’m doing this out of my own free will, and that’s what is making such a difference".
This is a man that truly ponders about the things that we have taught. He thinks for himself and asks questions. He has a genuine curiosity and has the true desire to live the Gospel. The big lesson/obstacle is coming up, and that is that this couple has to get married. We’ll teach this lesson this week. We hope that everything will go well for this family and that they’ll accept to assume the hardest commitment in this country - The law of Chastity.
We had a major change as well with Valdevino this last Sunday. We came and visited their house with the counselor in the District Presidency and his wife, as well as another member to show the love that we have for him and the desire that everyone in the branch has to get him to come back to church. His countenance was so different this time around. He said to us that he was happy that his wife was going to church, but he was discouraged that he wasn’t finding it possible to go. He was on the verge of giving up, but after the visit, he felt rejuvenated to start up again and try again to start coming back to church... a true miracle.
Aldina was our major disappointment. Being that she has low self-steam, she didn’t reveal one crucial thing to us. Last Tuesday, she finally revealed that she lives with someone, and they aren’t married. Let’s see what happens, if this man is willing to get married, so that she can be baptized. This is going to have to take some time thought.
On the other hand, Gualdino made it to baptism this Saturday. A 57-year old man finally put behind years and years of drinking to change his life and accept the Gospel. This baptism completed his family of all members now. I’ll admit there were certain points in his progress that we thought that he was not going to make it just because of how many relapses he has had, but the Lord knows what he is doing. Gualdino was an elected one, and he is ready to begin a new life as a member of the Lord’s church.
Yes, indeed it was a super intense week… Let’s just say that, although a very small light, the light at the end of the tunnel has, indeed, begun to shine. These are weeks of fasting and prayer, and I know that the Lord is watching out for us and working with all our imperfections and setbacks to make us the missionaries that we need to be.