Tuesday morning I took one of the longest bus rides in my life...thinking about the new assignment I would be receiving, being assistant to the president. There was no way that I could really be ready for what was coming. I don`t feel like I really am as good as the other missionaries that have been assistants here in the mission. Sure, I try very hard to do the best that I can, but am I really at that level?
When I got to the chapel for changes, basically everyone already knew. President was running late, which really suprised me! He`s never late, and he was supposed to interview me before calling me as assistant. However, he got there just in time to announce the changes. `Elder Schofield will be in Piura Central with Elder Muralles serving as Assistant to the President.` The words simply confirmed what was already known.
The changes seemed to go super quickly, and then we immediately had to head off to receive the new missionaries! 18 new missionaries, and 15 of them are from the states! It was pretty cool to see them get here, and it reminded me a lot of when I first came here. There`s so much unknown! So many new things! I was talking to a couple of them, and it was funny how they were suprised by the simplest of things, like the 500 stray dogs that are running around and fighting all the time, or how the taxi drivers drive like crazy in the streets.
The next day proved to be one of the hardest days of my mission! President informed us at about 7:30 am that he wouldn`t make it to the training meeting with the new missionaries. That meant that we would be training all the new elders and sisters by ourselves, and it was scheduled from 8 to 2! President was going to do the majority of the training, we were only going to help him out for about an hour or two with some practices and some basic safety guidlines.
When those kind of moments come...there really is only one thing you can do: pray for help and just go for it. With Elder Muralles, we simply did our best to teach the missionaries what President had planned. We pulled out some examples and experiences in order to try to help them understand how important these two years really are, what it means to really be obedient, and what they are meant to do and become here in the mission.
Honestly, I think it turned out ok. I wouldn`t say it went great, just ok. However, there was a very noticable difference when President finally found a moment to come and make the assignments. His presence in the room was very obvious. I could feel the spirit very strong, and knew that it was because he really does have the priesthood keys for the mission. He is directing us, and it can literally be felt. I know that God really has called him and he really is capable of leading us.
So...you may be wondering why President showed up late to the changes and couldn`t be there the entire training for the new missionaries. Well, what happened is that there was an elder that was very sick, Elder Litano. He`s from Lima and is actually supposed to serve in Argentina, but was waiting for his visa here. President was spending as much time as he possibly could with him. His parents were flown up from Lima to be with him.
The day after, on Friday morning, we got a phonecall at 6:20 am. Elder Litano had died. Honestly, it was one of the toughest phonecalls I`ve ever received. We had to hurry to the airport to change flightplans. The parents were going to fly out that very morning, but arrangements had to be made so that they could take the casket with them. We quickly ran to the airport to do that.
If receiving the news was hard, having to deliver it is even worse. At first, we weren`t supposed to tell anyone, but then President told us that we were allowed to tell people if they asked. Time after time, I had to pronounce the words: Elder Litano is dead. The silence that followed. The silent screams of `No...` and then the questions of how? Why? etc.
Today we held funeral services for Elder Litano. Honestly, it was a very humbling experience for me, and also very spiritual for me. President Rowley shared with us some of his feelings and the experiences he shared in the hospital with the Litano family. His mother and younger sister arrived at the hospital first, and President Rowley shared with us how Elder Litano lit up when he saw them, and he testified of how powerful family relations really can be. However, what touched me even more was the blessing that Elder Litano`s father gave, sending him on to the next life.
Could you imagen sending your son on to the next life? Giving the last priesthood blessing that he will ever receive here? It brought tears to my eyes, thinking of how sacred of an experience that must have been. I am so grateful for the priesthood. I`m so grateful for revelation, and how God really can tell us what His will is for us and for those that we serve. I know that it was His will that Elder Litano is in the spirit world. He has a plan for him.
Being Assistant really isn`t what I thought it would be. A lot of people have the secret desire to be Assistant. Honestly, I never have and never will. However, I am here and am doing my best to be an example for the Peru Piura Mission at this time. I hope and pray that God will be able to strengthen me in my weaknesses and that He will work through me to bless the mission and help others come unto Christ.
Thank you again for all of your prayers, and I hope that you all know that I love you and am praying for our family.