Hello everyone! I'm glad to hear that all is going well over there for you.
Baptisms here are usually never stressful because everything works out the way that they should, even if the services start about thirty minutes to an hour late. The baptism of Sr. Terrez, however, was the most frustrating yet. First of all, the baptismal font wouldn't fill up with water due to a problem with the pump. We went to the church earlier in the day to fill up the font with water so that when we came back it would be filled. The font was being filled as we were leaving; however, shortly after we left, the water stopped coming out.
When we arrived to the church and started to set up everything in order to get the baptismal service started, we saw that the font was empty and that the water pressure pump stopped working.
The brother-in-law and sister of Sr. Terrez who brought her to the church with their vehicle started freaking out when we told them that the font wasn't able to be filled due to the lack of water pressure.
They began saying that we were the missionaries and that it was our responsibility to fix this problem and that we needed to do something about it. Quick pause in the story -- you must realize that the church here is still really undeveloped. In fact, the church has only been here for about ten or so years. That being said, the responsibility of organizing things that should be organized by those who have the calling to do so sometimes doesn't happen the way that it should.
In any case, everyone looked to me in order to figure out what to do. I ended up calling two missionaries in my zone who thankfully had a baptism on the same and at the same time. I asked them to keep the church doors open and to keep the baptismal font filled so that we could hold the baptismal service there. Fortunately, the other missionaries were still there and had not yet emptied the font. I told Sr. Terrez, who was also a bit unhappy, along with her siblings that we would be going to the Souzza Chapel in order to hold her baptism over there. They collaborated without question and we split up so that we, the missionaries, along with a few kids who came to the baptism could take a taxi to get there.
We ended up taking two taxis to get there; however, the only problem was that I nor anyone else with us knew how to get to the Souzza Chapel. I called the other missionaries who would explain to me that they would meet us at big hotel not too far away from the chapel in order to show us the rest of the way. Addresses here don't really exist which is why land marks with which many people are familiar such as the hotel are used as a means of getting from place to place. However, as we made our way to the hotel, our driver got lost and we ended up driving all over the place until we finally found it. Once we got to the front of the hotel, the taxi man threw a fit about having had to drive so far in order to find the hotel and then kicked us out of his vehicle by refusing to take us any further.
Thankfully, the other missionaries, as promised, we there and waiting for us. Those who were in my taxi and I along with the other missionaries were able to hitch a ride in the other taxi that was containing the rest of our group to take us the rest of the way there.
When we arrived, the first counselor in the Bishopric named Fr. Thomas along with the brother-in-law, who got there before we did, came to me demanding to know who was going to baptize Sr. Terrez along with what we were going to do to start. I was on the verge of bursting out due to my frustration, but I didn't and remained calm. I told Fr. Thomas that as a member of the bishopric, he is the one to preside and to lead out the baptismal service. As for the brother-in-law, I invited him to baptize Sr. Terrez, but he refused and said that I can do it because he wasn't prepared. Due to how I was feeling, I really didn't feel like doing the baptism. I asked him if he thought that I was prepared and he said yes because I'm a missionary and that I'm always prepared for these kind of things. So I simply asked Sr. Terrez herself who she wanted to baptize her. She ended up picking me to baptize her anyway and so I decided to get my act together, to remain calm and to just do it.
Once all that was taken care of, everything started going a lot more smoothly. It took a couple hours to get to this point, but the service went out as planned, Sr. Terrez was able to be baptized, and we were all able to leave the chapel in peace.
Though I felt awful due to the turmoil of frustration and pride boiling within me throughout the course of this event, I could still feel the Holy Spirit supporting me and trying to help me overcome the emotions that I was experiencing.
Though this mission may be easier in certain aspects and considered to be harder in others, the difficulties have been some of the hardest that I've had to overcome in my entire life. Though I can overcome everything I have to go through, this has been without a doubt the hardest thing I've ever done in my whole life.
As for your questions, as for dental care, I'm not even sure if that exists around here. I do know of a dentist office not too far from here. That's where the missionaries go when they have any serious problems with their teeth. The facility is really small, but it's decent enough; however, I pray and hope that I never have to go there for any reason in particular.
And as far as hygiene is concerned, there are boutiques all over the place selling soaps, lotion (the people love it), shampoos, cosmetics, perfumes, cologne, and so forth. The people love and always strive to be clean, but they live in a very dirty place so it doesn't last long. The children, on the other hand, play in the dirt all day long and are therefore very dirty. They especially love to jump on me, hug me, and put their dirt-lathered hands on me whenever I wear my clean, white, hand-washed, button-up shirts, which would be every day. As inconvenient as that can be, I don't really mind because I love the kids that I teach, they're super fun to play with and my shirts end up getting dirty from the dust in the air in about two days anyway.
Well, I am pleased to announce that relations between E. Joseph and I have improved much better than before and we've actually started to become really good friends. It's not that we weren't before, but we've started to become what I would consider to be true, genuine friends. I'm not sure what kind of change took place within him, but it seems like a mighty one has taken place within his heart because I've noticed that he's been making an actually noticeable effort to speak with me more and to treat me a lot better than he had before. A lot of prayers have been answered within these past couple weeks and I hope and pray that we'll continue to become even better friends.
It's seems that the Lord not only has a work and a plan in store for those we teach but for us personally as well.
Life has been improving immensely since relations have improved and I've become happier and more relaxed than I've been for quite some time. Nothing really seems to bother me anymore and I feel at ease and at peace.
E. Joseph, E. Atherton and I have decided to eat together this upcoming transfer which will be great because I'll be able to eat much better than I have for the past month.
Well, my family, I'm all out time. I love you all so much, you're in my prayers, thank you for keeping me in yours, and I hope that you have a most wonderful, upcoming week!!Sincerely,