Sunday, July 24, 2011

Allegory of the Olive Tree

We went to the mission home in Brampton this morning to meet with President Brower. He informed us that he will be pulling the Portuguese missionaries out of Toronto this coming week. There are about 20 missionaries going home that will not be replaced in the mission. There is a need for missionaries in many areas of Ontario. The work with the Portuguese has not been progressing very well. I reviewed the baptisms over the past 9 years. Out of 51 baptisms 60% have disappeared from the ward. Of the remaining 40%, half are not attending meetings at all. As we were returning from Brampton we were reminded of the allegory of the olive tree in Jacob 5. The Portuguese constitute about 12% of the ward and most are inactive or less-active. They have "waxed old, and began to decay". The "young and tender branches (the elders) "will be grafted "whethersoever I will" and the branches of the wild olive tree (that's us) will be grafted into the olive tree to preserve its roots. It is now up to the members to take charge of their eternal life and not let the missionaries do everything for them. After a season it is anticipated that the Portuguese missionaries will be able to return.
Elder Lima, Sister Wheeler, and Elder Workman at the mission home
We had a hot day on Monday arranging the Books of Mormon in the missionary supply room. We also picked up the mail from the Family History Center in the building to get to the missionaries. Unfortunately we put the mail for other zones (we kept the mail for our zone to give out at zone meeting)  in the mission office. Since the supply room has no air conditioning we would take breaks in the mission office. During the week they changed the lock to the mission office so we can't cool off and can't get the mail for the other missionaries.

We had ESL classes again on Tuesday night (taught in Portuguese) and on Saturday (taught in Mandarin). We have the beginning class so the students know very little English. We only have one student for Portuguese and one for Mandarin.

All the missionaries for zone and district meetings were dragging on Wednesday. We think it is because of the heat and anticipation for the big transfer coming up. President Brower plans to shuffle the deck and completely mix up the missionaries from the former east and west missions. Everyone will be affected (but hopefully not as much as us by loosing our security blanket in Elders Lima and Workman). It seems everyone is leaving us. Sister Stebar, Sister Sellers, Elder Herycz, and Elder Blomfield will all be returning home from our zone.
Hermana Wheeler gets a long-awaited package at zone meeting

Sisters in PINK: Sisters Stebar, Phillips, and Sellers
Thursday was the hottest day for July in the recorded history of Toronto at 37.9 C (101.22 F). The hottest day ever was 38.4 C (only half a degree hotter). The portable air conditioner can't keep up with the heat so we purchased a second air conditioner to mount in the bedroom window. It has really made the apartment bearable.

Friday was our touring day with the Dodges and Bolins. We went across the border into New York (yes, with President Brower's permission) to take a boat tour on the Erie Canal ("Low Bridge, Everybody Down"). We thought of Lucy Mack Smith leading many of the New York saints on the canal on their way to Kirtland.
Approaching Lock 34 on the Erie Canal

Sister Dodge (head turned), Sister Bolin, and Sister Wheeler on the boat

Door of the locks opening
We were able to get buffet lunch at a casino on the US side of Niagara Falls. Fortunately they had plenty for me to eat. We didn't even stop to play the slot machines. We then went back across the border to the Canadian side of the falls.
Elder and Sister Wheeler in front of one of the many tourist traps at Niagara Falls

American, Bridal Vail, and Horseshoe Falls

We actually get to wear P-Day clothes

Elder& Sister Dodge and Sister & Elder Bolin

Sister Wheeler with humidity-curled hair

Water Lily pond
On our way back we went along the river to see a whirlpool, a floral clock, and take a peak at Fort Erie from across the lake. It was used during the war of 1812.
Fort Erie in New York as seen from Canada
Saturday evening we were invited for dinner by Joaquin and Fatima Verdasca. They joined the church about 25 years ago in Portugal. She is the stake young women's president and he is in the high priest group. They also work in the temple. The Bishop of the Christie ward is Brazilian and there are a few other strong families. There is a need for more core strength for the work to progress here in Toronto among the Portuguese-speaking members.
Fatima and Joaquim Verdasca
We will be starting a new chapter of our mission next week being the only Portuguese-speaking missionaries in Toronto. It seems we start a new chapter about every month. Once the heat leaves the cold will soon follow, then we will be needing space heaters instead of air conditioners.


AZ SMITHS said...

That is one hard thing about being on a mission, forming great friendships and then having to say goodbye. I think I cried at every transfer. Take care. We love you!

Janus said...

Keep all those posts coming....we're enjoying all your missionary experiences!!