Monday, January 19, 2015

Empty Chairs at Empty Tables

Dear family,

Well, this week has been one of the hardest weeks of my mission, and it´s all becaue my prayers were answered. That´s right, I was praying that the difficult situation with Elder Barbosa would be resolved, and now it´s resolved. His is now back at home on the beaches of Fortaleza. Let me explain a little bit more.

Monday was awful. I woke up. I was done with being the only one to clean the house while everyone else sleeps. (We have a rule here that we have to clean on P-days between 630 and 930 and then we have personal study and comp study.) So what happened? I got a little bravo. I mad a racket and ´encouraged´ everyone to get out of bed and clean something. Elder Barbosa was no exception. He stayed in bed even after all the racket, so I made more racket. Finally he got up and everyone ´got to work´ doing something. Mostly they just sat in living room, but at least they were awake. I was a little annoyed. During comp study, Elder Barbosa went to the bathroom with diarrhea, so we made plans to get him checked out at the hospital. Then we went to write and receive emails. I was happy because of the emails I got and all of your encouragement and love, but I was still a little icy. After lunch, we went to the hospital. He got registered and they started him on the soro (taking liquids). I sat next to him while we waited for them to take his blood and run the tests. He gets really anxious and enjoado in situations like that, so I started talking to him. I asked him what he had read in his emails. He told me that he had talked with his family and decided that it would be best for him to return home because of his bad health and the bad health of his father. I was calm. I asked a few questions more. I started discussing with him what would be the benefits of going home and what would be the benefits of staying in the mission. He was determined to make his decision. I started telling him stories from my own life when I had made a singular decision that had changed my life for the better. I also told stories of singular decisions that I could nly make once that I still regretted. I was trying to be calm and not freak out so that I could help him. I wanted to be supportive and try to understand what was going on in his decision making. I shared scriptures about small moments of difficulty that are for our good, but he would not be moved. I started to get anxious along with him. I went to the bathroom to be able to have a moment to pray alone. As I was praying, a thought came to my head. The thought was of a scene from a family television program like Full House or some other typical family show. In my mind I saw a kid from the family with his bags packed, ready to run away, then the dad coming down the stairs with his bags packed also, telling the son that they would go together because dads have to take care of their sons. I remember that in the show everything worked out right because the kid realized how silly it would be to run away from home when everyone at home needed his dad. Well, that was the thought that came to mind, and I felt like it was some sort of revelation that I needed to use to keep Elder Barbosa stay in the mission field. Well, the results came back at about 630 pm. He didn´t have anything wrong with his blood, and with that tidbit of knowledge, the foolish Brazilian hospital sent the 3-days-ill invalid away with plenty of liquids inside of him. Anyway, we got home and Elder Barbosa prepared to lay down a little bit. He hadn´t said anything for a little while, and I thought that maybe he had changed his mind until he asked to have the phone to call President Cascardi. I didn´t give it to him. I told him that I would talk to President first. I dialed President´s number with shaking hands. He answered the phone, cheerfully calling me by name. I couldn´t believe that I was doing it, but I would follow through with my personal revelation of Bob Saggett and the Olsen twins. I told President that I wanted to go home. The words killed me; there was no going back now. He asked me what had happened. I told him that a son shouldn´t die before his father, and my son wanted to return home. President was a little confused and asked if my dad had died. I was a really emotional, so I didn´t laugh, but I told him that Elder Barbosa wanted to go home. I thought that Presidnet would chuckled and tell me to stop joking around and get back to work, but he was very patient and kind with me. He told me about the good work that I was doing, that he needed me here, and that I shouldn´t worry about my companion. Then he asked to talk to Elder Barbosa. When I gave the phone to him, he didn´t look at me. I don´t know if the Full HOuse play was exactly what he was needing. I left the room and starting praying and pleading. When he was finished, I didn´t ask what had happened, but I gave a blessing of health to him. I let him rest a little. When he was done resting, we talked a little bit more. He said that he really was going home. I talked his ear off telling him how he would regret this choice and what effect it would have in his life and the life of his family forever. Well, it didn´t change anything. President called later to confirm the travl plans for Juiz de Fora for the exit interview. He told me that I shouldn´t worry about my companion, that the issue didn´t have anything to do with me. Afterward, Elder Barbosa vollunteered some more information. It turns out that he was going home because of a burning fever (Alma 15:3) and despair (Moroni 10:22). I was extremely heartbroken. It probably was the hardest point in my mission. He was my 16th companion. Of all of them, none have gone home early. If he doesn´t return to the mission field in a few months, I will have been his only companion. After thinking much about everything that happened, I have been happy to know that I fulfilled my responsibility to help him resolve any prsonal problem that he might have so that he can have some inner piece.

Sorry, I don´t have any more time to discuss the rest of the week. I found out today that I will spend the rest of the transfer in trio. Now, my district is just the three of us. I have my talent to care for, and I hope that I can take care of him well. Just remember that the choices we make today will have grievous or glorious consequences for us in the future. Be obedient. Seek to be good. DOn´t develop any addiction to sin. Be clean and clear and under control (AKA bridle all of your passions Alma 38). I love you all so much. Know that I am happy and healthy and that you will not be seeing me at home for anyother 7 months. I love you all!

Love, Elder Parker Ayer

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