Sunday, February 1, 2015

Set Goals & Celebrate Little Successes . . .

February 1, 2015

Dear Family,

This week was a great week.  We have been working super hard, and even though it doesn't seem like it to us sometimes, we are accomplishing a ton of things out here for the mission.  We have lots of big goals and things that we are trying to put in motion, and it is a little bit hard for me sometimes, because we aren't going to see the success immediately... However, it is always great to see the little successes that we have, that let us know that we are progressing.  One of the best success stories that we had this week was that we had transfers, and that is always a very hectic time for all of us here in the office, especially for us as the assistants.  Everyone seems to need something, and because there are only two of us (and most of the time we are always together) it makes it a little bit hard to be able to get everything done.  In the past, transfers has just been this huge, draining endeavour.  This time it was very different.  Everything just seemed to go more or less according to plan, and everything was planned out to the letter of what we needed to do.  For me that was a great accomplishment, because part of my specific role as one of the assistants is to make sure everything for transfers is planned out.  It was amazing, because everything was finished and accounted for by 3:00 pm.  Hopefully that will make it easier for the assistants in the future to be able to use all of the planning formats and things that we have come up with to continue to have smooth transfers.

So on Monday, in the devotional that we always have, it was Elder Van Katwyk's last time.  He is one of the Office Elder Secretary type people, and was getting transferred after being there for six months.  He was in charge of the baptism records.  We got to hear his testimony and it was really good.  He was getting transferred to Bani to be a district leader out there, so hopefully that all is going well for him now.

On Tuesday we had the actual transfer of everyone, and for the most part things went really well.  We had one person who got mixed up on the times, and she got there late and missed the bus that goes out to the South, but we just immediately called to her area, set up an exchange with the companion that was going to wait for her, and then set up the way for her to get out there as well with one of the trainers and her companion.  All of that went really well.  We also got to meet all of the new missionaries who just came in.  There were only 9, and 7 of them were sisters.  It was a really good group.  They all seem really excited to work, and the three latina sisters seem really prepared as well.  One of them, a sister from Costa Rica, even knows english perfectly, so that was really cool.  Anyway, we had our meeting with them and it all went great.  Then, when all of that was done, we just went and bought the pizza for the people who were finishing and then just sat at the house waiting for the president to come back from the temple with the people who finished....  We just kept waiting and waiting and waiting, with no word from anyone.  Turns out that they missed their session at 5, and had to wait until the 7:00 pm session.  Then we ate with them, and received a little bit of bad news...  The flights to New York had been cancelled due to inclement weather.  We made the plan for all of that, then went to bed.

On Wednesday, we basically just spent the whole day running back and forth to the airport with people, and it just consumed the entire day with all of the traffic.  It is always interesting to see how airports work!!  For example, with a sister who was going home to Argentina, she had a layover in Colombia.  They told her that she had to go through the immigration process in Colombia because her layover was a certain number of hours, and it didn't matter that she wasn't immigrating to Colombia, she still had to do it!  We called to the Travel Agent, and he was able to do all of that stuff on line, so she was totally fine.  When we finally got home, we just crashed!

Thursday I also completed a small goal of mine...  I have now officially visited every zone in the mission.  San Juan was the only one that I had never been to, and we finally were able to make it out there.  We were closing an area that was really far away and not having much success, and moving the missionaries in the area to a different area that needed to have 4 instead of 2.  We got out there pretty early, at about 10:00 am.  It was a three hour drive, and we were hauling.  It is about the distance from Salem to St. George, so we really made some good time.  We finally got out there, stopped at the Zone Leaders house to drop some stuff off, said hi to them, and then keep going.  Something that really surprised me about San Juan is that it was legitimately cold...  What?  Yeah, it was a little bit chilly up there!!  Any way, we got to the area that we were closing, and started loading stuff into the trucks.  We just had the two pick up trucks of us and the Office Elders, and we just went to work.  We were loading in tons of stuff, and we realized (as the good dominicans that we now are) that we could fit every single thing into the back of those two pick up trucks from this house.  There were a bunch of desks, beds, mattresses, tables, boxes, dressers, and suitcases, but we managed to make it all fit.  We took everything apart that could be taken apart and made it fit.  We got them all moved and started back to the capital.  It was a long day, especially because I had to drive over 600 kilometers and help move, all in the space of about 8 hours.  Needless to say we were drained.

On Friday, we started another small goal that we have, which is to do exchanges with all of the Zone Leaders to help them to become even better leaders.  We started with the Zona Central, which is probably the most difficult zone because it is right in the heart of the capital.  Every appointment that we had fell through, so we spent the whole day contacting and teaching when we could, and still ending up teaching 3 lessons on my end with Elder Merrel, and Elder Peña taught 4 with Elder Mendez.  It was really interesting, and we found some people who are legitimately interested.  It was also really weird because I came across the first person that I have ever met that is Atheist....  It was weird because he told us he was atheist and all of that, and I asked what he was abstaining from being atheist.  He turned on me, asked me if I was stupid, and told me that being atheist means that he does not believe in God.  Obviously I knew that, but then I told him that he was acknowledging the existence of God by denying to believe in Him.  I told him that he was just abstaining from believing in God, but not denying that He existed.  It was very interesting because he just got this really weird look on his face and said that he had never though about that before.  We left a card with the number on it to call if he would like another visit.  We found a woman who didn't want to accept any commitments because her husband wasn't going to change, and so I basically quoted to her almost an entire movie from the life of Brigham Young, who is one of my favorite prophets...  A little weird, but we just went with it!!  Overall it was a really good day!

Saturday was pretty normal, just trying to get everything ready that will happen in the course of this next transfer.  We have Zone Conference, Zone Leader Conference, our training meeting, and all of that!!  We also have an upcoming visit to our mission from Jeffrey R. Holland on the 12th of March, so that will be amazing!!  Very excited for that.  So we spent the day planning everything, then we went to the store, bought what we needed, and came home and slept.  Overall it was a great week!!

The most important thing that I learned this week was with the little success stories that we have.  It is often hard to think that we are progressing because there are not a ton of visible results, but we should celebrate the little things in life.  We should realize that even the little victories lead up to something greater!!  It is always amazing to me how all of that is prophesied in the Book of Mormon, and that we can just learn more and more about as we study from different points of view.  When Captain Moroni was trying to take back the lands that had been stolen from the Nephites, it doesn't say that they went in and did it all in one day, in one week, or even in a year.  It says that through the course of several years, they began to march, overtaking one city at a time until they reached their final goal of having all of their lands back.  It was amazing to me that over all of that time, and all of those different battles, that they named ALL of the cities that they overtook.  They celebrated their small moments, their small accomplishments, and they were able to finally reach the end goal. I encourage you to put goals, and then put smaller goals to reach the larger ones.  Celebrate the completion of a goal every day.  Look for ways to become better, and I promise that the Lord will bless you.

Well, I hope you all are doing well.  Love you lots.


Elder Garrett McEwan

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