This week we’re working and concentrating all our efforts on Odete and her family. I don’t know if I have mentioned this before, but Odete has 5 children and lives with her partner Onze. This family is relatively poor, but nothing like Jocyleida and Andirson. Onze works for the city hall picking up trash from the public containers. Odete sells fish and mostly takes care of the children. When the children are at school, she is out on the streets selling fish. It’s interesting that this is one of the happiest families that I have met on my mission, despite all their afflictions. Onze has a serious problem in his leg which requires a metal plate being inserted, to which he doesn’t have the money or means to do so. He walks and works but with extreme pain. The family lives very far from the church, but has already made it twice without anyone having to look for them.
Last week, we taught them the word of wisdom, as Onze has a drinking and smoking problem, and Odete drinks coffee. Normally it’s extremely difficult to get any man to even want to desire to stop drinking, but Onze has been doing an excellent job cutting down and going many days at a time without drinking and fighting extreme headaches because of this. Odete also is fighting caffeine withdrawal and serious headaches as well. They’re all very humble, and we have grown very close to them. We had just taught them the Law of chastity, and they told us that they would ponder on marriage. They probably won’t be able to get married until after I go, but at least I can do everything to place things in order, so that Elder Fogelberg can carry out the rest.
Abilio and Sandra had a very rough time recently with keeping their commitments, but it seems that they’re finally on track as they’re coming back to church and getting their act together. Interesting thing is that some 4 weeks ago, Abilio passed out drunk on his bed and Sandra sitting by his side with a scowl on her face. We did not even know at the time that Abilio had a drinking problem. We asked if we could pull Sandra aside and talk. She agreed. She talked about how Abilio was going to have to make some major changes before she would agree to marry him, like stop drinking being priority number one. We found Abilio that next day and taught him the Word of Wisdom. He reacted much more humbly than we had expected and promised that he would leave the habit. He seemed to do it with great ease and has not touched a drop since. I love this guy. He has some real humility, and it touches my heart how important the Gospel has become in his life. He receives us with such warmth, and we have spent ample time just talking with him and getting to know more about his life. Hopefully we would be able to mark a date for their wedding soon.
Joana was baptized this weekend, and everything went really well. Joana has suffered quite a bit in her life, now living alone with 2 children. I have seen the difference in how her afflictions have humbled her. She does everything by her feelings, so the Gospel was music to her ears seeing how the spirit played such a big role in her life. I’m really proud of her and how far she has come. Many times we’ve walked by her front door and have caught her reading the Book of Mormon by herself. She has a very strong spirit, and I have no doubt that she’s going to grow quickly in this magnificent Gospel.
This weekend was District conference (like stake conference) and all the members of Mindelo were there. I saw most of my recent converts, and I am glad to see that almost everyone is active. Andirson is still preparing to get the Melchezidek Preisthood and is strong in the church. I saw Anna and Margarida and some other members that I was close with. Mindelo 1 is one of my favorite branches that I have worked with in my mission, and it was so great to see everyone again.
As for the feeling of going home...it’s a bitter sweet feeling. My heart is like a washing machine right now. There are so many great things that I know I’m going to enjoy going home, but a big part of my heart though is also preparing for one of the biggest shocks I’m going to have in my life and having to cope with the fact that it’ll all be over soon. I’ve converted to this mission so much, and it means to me what words cannot describe. This mission has such a profound impact on my heart, and it’ll be over in three weeks. I’ll never live a part of my life like this again. I’ll never be in this country again as a missionary. So right now, I am happy as happy can be and sad as sad can be. I wonder if that is even possible, but that’s what I believe I feel.
The friends that I’ll be leaving are the most painful part of this journey. All these wonderful people… I know the Lord will be taking care of them, but how I wish I didn’t have to say goodbye. I love these people like I have never loved before. My heart has gone through the ends of the world for these people, and I have lost myself in service to them. It hasn’t been easy, but is an experience that I’ll never, never, NEVER take back.
I’m the most proud of the fact that I believe that I have the necessary tools to be an active member of this Gospel for the rest of my life. I’m proud that through all the joy, pain, and hard work, I’ll always feel that I did my best with the knowledge that I had. I’m the most proud that I know God so much more than I used to and that now I have a true reason to be a member of this church, and definitively, I’m proud of the fact that now I’m stronger, more mature, and numb to life’s problems. I feel that through the Lord, I can handle anything!