I have often spoken in this blog about how I hate transfer day. President Bennion made it clear that it will only become more difficult as I have had a longer time to love these missionaries. I can certainly see how that would be true. This transfer we had 22 missionaries return home. We only have 10 who have come in.
Our wonderful Elder and Sister Residori went home. They have been such a delight to work with. We will miss them, in fact, we do already. Their replacements, the Underwoods, are already hard at work.
The last few weeks, some of the young Elders and Sisters we have grown to love have also gone home. Two extended for a time to help other missionaries. Unfortunately, some have had to return for health reasons.
Elder Aubrey is an amazing young man and a great missionary. He very quickly convinced Elder Sousa that he really loved him. Elder Sousa felt an amazing bond with Elder Aubrey. He had fun, did great work, and loved being on his mission.
We laughed when we were talking to Elder Aubrey one day and he said something incorrectly in English. He turned to Elder Sousa and asked "What have you done to me?"
A new Elder arrived from Brazil who is struggling with English. Elder Aubrey (the tall one in the picture) and Elder Sousa were assigned as his companions and Elder Aubrey extended on his mission to help train the new Brazilian.
But the Lord had other things in mind. Elder Aubrey was injured in a rugby game and had to return home before the plan. Elder Sousa will now be the trainer.
When Elder Sousa told us how sad he was and how much he loved Elder Aubrey, I reminded him of the story of David and Jonathan in the Old Testament. Most people remember David for killing Goliath or for his actions with Bathsheba. But one of the beautiful stories of friendship is that of David and Jonathan. Jonathan was the son of King Saul and so was the rightful heir. He had no jealousy over the successes of David and the people's love for him. In the scriptures it says "Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul." Jonathan put his own life in danger several times as he worked to save David.
That kind of devotion and friendship is truly inspirational. Elder Sousa intends to return to Brazil and so he is worried he will never see Elder Aubrey again. There will be a way. Friendships like that continue.
When we speak about the amazing young missionaries, it is because we know people like these two. Elder Aubrey is very American, about 6 foot 4 inches tall and has a testimony that has been nurtured in a home where he had the gospel. Elder Sousa is very Brazilian, around 5 feet 3 inches tall and was converted to the gospel as a youth. Together, they became a force to declare His word among His people that they might have everlasting life.
The other young man in the picture is Elder Coleman. He was an Assistant to the President, then was our Zone leader, then became a traveling missionary who helped other missionaries before he went home. Another power-house. I don't have a picture of his companion in the traveling missionary assignment. Elder Smith was his equal.
Our sweet Elder Castro has returned to the Branch to work with Elder Cruz. They have both learned so much in their last assignments. It is so great to see them grow!
We haven't seen any roaches for a few days and had begun to sigh in relief. Then, one morning, I went into the bathroom to see this:
There was, literally, a swarm of bugs about the size of ants with wings. Turns out, we were infested with a "termite swarm", which is apparently not uncommon in Georgia. Termites generally live in the dirt, but when the young ones break off to form a new colony, they will seek a higher location. They are not very smart, and get confused. So, instead of getting to a new spot, they landed in our apartment where they quickly died because of lack of water and not being in the dirt. I guess we are just appealing to bugs! Don't let this dissuade you from serving a mission. It is just us. Kaitlyn reminded us the other day that when our sons served, our appliances broke down, when she served, we had a fire and our car was totaled. It is just life for us!