Monday, February 20, 2017

Week 39: In which I journey to the swamp, befriend the White Knight, and retrieve a mattress

The Elder Chronicles, part 2: Journey to the Center of The Swamp

"Puede encontrarme en la caye de la canal", (you can find me on the canal road) the mysterious lady said. We didn't know where she came from, or where she lived. She was a wanderer, and came and went as she pleased. We had seen her before, of course, but we did not know where she called home. We only knew her as Christina. When she told us where to find her, our hearts were filled with fear. She was from The Swamp.

The Swamp is a place of many legends. It is guarded by many fierce giant rats, or dogs, no one can tell. For many years, the townspeople have tried to enter its depths and drive out the people who dwell there, but to no avail. The people of The Swamp have always mysteriously returned, and it is believed they always will. There are no roads that lead there, but only a small, overgrown path along the lesser canal of Othello.

Some days later, I was with Elder Favila as we made a small scouting trip into The Swamp to assess the conditions. Not half a week after scouting the area, on Wednesday, Elder Ramirez and I mentally steeled ourselves as we prepared our pedaled mounts to make the journey. As we rode down to the borders of the outer town of "Mexico Chicito" (Little Mexico), we found a very persistent dog. It was not one of the tiny "rat dogs", as we call them, but was a full-grown bulldog. We dubbed it "The White Knight", but soon found that the White Knight was intent on slowing us down. While friendly, this giant of a dog continued to leap towards us, and would occasionally grab our legs and not let us walk without dragging it behind us.

It finally came time to enter The Swamp. Without delay, we found Christina's makeshift house. The area was littered with discarded tires, rims, bottles, hoses, plastic, and all manner of trash. However, she was not there. She was truly a wanderer, but we found another resident. He was very friendly. Elder Fordham and I later returned on Saturday to find that Christina was again not there. However, we met with the same man again and taught him some principles about who God is and His plan for us. He was very open, and his dwelling very humble. We said a prayer and he invited us to come back later. Again on Saturday, we encountered the White Knight and learned his name is Grey. We talked to his owners, and they were also very friendly and interested in the family values of the church. Trying to leave the outer town, we had to battle the White Knight as he tried to dismount us.

As we reminisced today over our earlier adventures, we were shocked to see the White Knight in the town! It was very far from his normal haunts. However, he charged towards us across a busy byway and continued to follow us. He has grown far more accustomed to us and friendly. However, his kind is not allowed to simply wander in town, and so someone from the local Dog Prison ("The Pound") captured him. Thankfully, we knew what his name was, where he lived, and who his owners were. Lucky dog.

Brenda and Crystal are also doing really well. They are preparing to be baptized on the 28th of this month. Also, Noemi and Ana are doing great. As I recounted in a dispatch to President Lewis,

Ana is Noemi's mom, and Noemi is a 17-year old who is friends with one of the priests in the Spanish Ward. She's been doing really well, especially since her friend taught her how to pray, and is really interested in learning more! She's been feeling the spirit, and we think she's also starting to recognize it. She's even come to church with her friend a couple of times, and when she can come, she always goes to Sacrament Meeting. Her main challenge is remembering to read, but has expressed that she really wants to and just forgets. She asked for our help reminding her by text, so we'll be doing our best to help her out that way. Her mom, Ana, has been going through a rough winter, but has started going to Daily Dose. A local member has been taking her to the classes, and she has been sleeping better and feeling better on the days she goes! The coolest thing, though, is that Noemi readily accepted the invitation to prepare for baptism! Her mom was also willing to continue preparing. It was after a powerful talk about the Atonement and the Gospel/Doctrine of Jesus Christ.

One small miracle connected Brandee and Ana/Noemi. They don't live very far from each other. Last night, we stopped by Noemi to follow up with her and her mom and set up another appointment. After asking if there was any other way we could help out, she asked us if we could throw out a mattress they didn't need any more. We took it to the dumpster, and then decided to stop by Brandee (who lives very near by) to check up on her. After talking with Brandee for a bit, we mentioned we had just been by her neighbors hauling mattresses. Her memory sparked, she asked us if we actually had a mattress we could give her. Realizing that those mattresses we had just thrown out were still in good condition and no longer wanted, we said we could help her out. We ran back and grabbed the mattresses we had just discarded, and we brought them back to help Brandee to sleep more comfortably at night. She was super grateful and happy we could help out, and it was a testimony to me of how aware God is of every single one of us and how he provides for us, even in little ways. It was an example of "heavenly recycling", where one need perfectly matches another need.

I love you all, and wish you an excellent and happy end to February. May your lives be filled with adventure.


Elder Adams


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