Well, we found something we REALLY do not like about missions: Transfers. We have experienced our first since arriving here. I didn't really know I could grow so fond of these young missionaries so quickly, and then hate losing them so much. One of our Zone Leaders went home this transfer as well as did one of the Portuguese-speaking missionaries who had been serving in the Branch. Our beautiful Sister Adorable was given a new responsibility to be a Sister Training Leader. All of them are progressing and moving on in their lives, but it was still hard to lose them.
I learned a new appreciation of a tradition that missionaries have. Each of my missionaries, including my daughter, collected ties. My understanding was always that it was simply a fun time of finding the ugliest ties you could find. Some missionaries collect a hundred ties. Before Elder Hales left, he invited Elder Dixon to participate in the tie trading. Elder Dixon had not brought any ties to trade (so if you are inclined to send a package with a few ugly ties, we will put them to use) but the Elders included him and donated to him. I watched as the Elders looked at the ties and shared memories of the people who wore those ties and the number of doors that particular tie had seen. It was a touching time.
We had a conference of the leadership in the Mission on Friday and Saturday. To look around that room and see the future of those young people is amazing. They are powerful examples of faith and commitment. There were great messages of testimony regarding missionary work. At the end of the day on Friday, they had arranged for the missionaries to work with missionaries and members in that area. When our training ended, the skies had opened up in a downpour. It came down so hard and quickly that when Elder Dixon went to the car to get the umbrella, he came back totally soaked (including his suit). Despite the torrential weather, those young missionaries went out to carry out their assignment. They experienced miracles.
On Saturday, we held the much anticipated Festa Junina. It was another outstanding event. There are some awfully special people in the Branch, and they work hard to make things work well. They did not disappoint. Unfortunately, the non-members we invited did not come. It was a well-attended event, however. Our missionaries came in force to support and clean up.
I hope that the Branch President will soon post his pictures because my battery died. The food was wonderful. We tried to make pasteis, but failed miserably! We took other things instead. The people in the picture below are two stalwarts in the Branch. They feed the missionaries and do everything they can to support the Branch activities. They always come dressed up and make it fun.
The event is like Sadie Hawkins Day. Here, the Branch members translate it into "redneck" day. Even little Noah had a mustache!
A big part of the festivities is a "shotgun" wedding in which the father of the bride and the father of the groom make the groom marry the bride even though he does not want to marry her. It is done with great comedy and fun.
They also do a sort of "square dance".
It made me regret the many activities at home that our Ward held but I did not support. I have learned here that those activities are really important ways to share the gospel with our neighbors. They are ways to strengthen each other and fellowship the saints.
I am learning so many things here. . . .