Hello All, We spent a wonderful week in Panama with Andrew and were able to visit some tourist sites, meet with the wonderful members who took care of him and attend the Panama Temple with all the returning missionaries. IT WAS ALL AWESOME! Andrew and Rob then flew to Mexico City where they are staying with Andrew's first missionary companion and are attending the sealing of a family that was baptized at the beginning of his mission. They are scheduled to arrive home tomorrow night at about9:00 pm. BEST CHRISTMAS PRESENT EVER!!!!! Andrew will report in the Lone Hollow Ward on December 29th at 9:00 am. We are very grateful for the experiences he has had, the friends he has made, the lessons he has learned and his testimony that has been strengthened and shared with others. Thanks to all of you for your love, support and prayers. We hope to see you over the holidays. Merry Christmas, Carolyn
We had an uneventful trip to Toluca where we met the Barrera and Dascon (the couple getting sealed) families and had a real Mexican taco dinner. Andrew and I both ate til we were sick. We both decided that it is the tortillas that really make the difference.
Today, after church, we made a trip to the pyramids at Teotihuacan. It was an amazing experience. We hired a Mexican guide ($42 split three ways :) and listened to the tour in Spanish.
The Barreras have really taken us in and made us feel a part of their family. We even had Choco Crispies (Mexican name) for breakfast.
Barrera family with Andrew. Elder (Jacob) Barrera is the one with the glasses.
Andrew with the Dascon family. The wife (her head is right behind Andrew) couldn't stop hugging and kissing him on the top of the head. Very awesome reception.
I can hardly believe that two years have come and gone and this great journey of my mission is coming to an end...anyways. This last week is going to be full of things to do. We are going to have mission leadership training and we had a few new investigators in church today so we´ve got plenty to do don´t worry I won´t quit yet!
Today was special because Yovani got baptized. It was seriously an amazing experience and you will have the opportunity to meet him. He wants to take us to lunch one day while you guys are here I just haven´t really made plans as for what day it will be...
Thanks for all the support that you´ve given me in these two years it´s crazy to think that I won´t be sending any more emails home...Well I did it haha. We´ll see you next sunday!
Thanks a lot for the emails it´s wonderful to hear from you all even after 2 years. Thank you to everyone who has been writing me it means the world.
This week was great we did our capacitacion in Chiriqui and everything went really well. The zones out there are working really well and it was a pleasure to work with the leaders there. In our mission we have a lot of sisters and so what has happened in our mission is that certain sisters have been assigned to be "sister leaders" and they do basically everything that the District Leaders can´t: Divisions, comp study, and all of that good stuff. It´s been an interesting experience to work with them and in these capacitaciones I´m working with them. What we´re doing to train them is teaching but more than anything having a conversation to help them understand that their main focus with the sisters has to be to help them baptize. It´s funny because companionships that baptize are happy, they get along, they´re obedient and everything goes well but a lot of times when they don´t see results for their work they lose their focus, get frustrated, fight and the things go down hill a little bit. The sisters in this mission are great and they work really really hard in every aspect. I´ve gained a lot of respect for them.
This week that´s coming will be a great one because Jovani is going to be baptized on Sunday. He was a reference that we receieved almost two weeks ago and he´s super super excited to be baptized. He´s about 50 years old and has been a very successful businessman here in Panama. He´s dating a girl name Shantel from Utah and she´s going to be coming down here in January to marry him and then a year from now they´ll be getting sealed so it sounds like I´m going to have to save my pennies to maybe make the trip a year from now. He´s a wonderful man and has a very impressive ability to understand the doctrine and why it´s important in his life quickly. I love getting to teach him and it´s going to be amazing to finish the mission with a baptism.
I´m really looking forward to seeing mom and dad in a few weeks here and the rest of you as well. I can´t wait for them to meet all of the people that I´ve worked with and the people that mean so much in my life. I love you all and hope that you have a great week.
Tell Grandpa Hawks to get better soon and that I´ll be praying for him while he recovers and then once I´m home I´ll be down there to visit him!
Here's a quick note for you to let you know that our traveling went safe. Tonight we're staying with a senior couple here in the mission.
Our travels went really well and we spent the day in a town called Boquete. If you ask the Duffins about it I'm sure that they'll tell you it was their favorite place in all of Panama. It's gorgeous and in a way reminds me of Park City in Utah with all of the little stores, restraunts and all that jazz. I took some pictures but I think the fail of this man's parking takes the cake as the picture of the day. I love you all and hope that you have better luck parking your cars this week than this guy :)
Hey I`m writing you tonight because tomorrow we`re going to be leaving to do some training meetings in David. I just wanted to let you know that things are going really well with me and it`s getting closer every single day the moment that you guys are going to be here and I can show you all around this country that I love.
I haven`t heard much but I just want you to know that I`m ok and that I`m happy. This week was great because we received a reference of a man named Giovani. He`s dating a woman from Salt Lake City who`s a member of the church and as a result he`s started to find out a little bit more about what we believe. He`s accepted a fecha to be baptized on the 30th of November and even came to church today which means that he`s making good progress. I like to teach him because he has a real desire to learn more about the church and to make the decisions that are going ot make his life better. It`s refreshing to teach someone like that that`s so interested in what you have to say and the blessings the gospel can bring to their lives.
I love you and hope that you have a great week and we`ll be in contact next week! Also, if you can get back to me about me going to Mexico that would be awesome because the date of the sealing is going to be the 17th of December so that I can be there and participate with them. Thanks again! I love you all lots and lots and we`ll see you soon! (I feel really weird saying that)
Hey thanks a bunch for the emails and for the packages from last week. I´m happy to know that you guys are doing well and that everything is going good on the home front. I love you all!
So I´m feeling really lazy to write letters because in a few weeks I´m going to be able to tell you about all the stuff that´s happening here so this is going to be short. This week was good as always and i´m sure that the next week will be good too. Having four of us has been a huge help because we can cover a lot more space and see more of the missionaries in the week. This week we visited 3 zones and in all of them things are improving. Something that we´re discovering is that as a whole the Sisters are better teachers but the Elders are better at challenging their investigators. I´ve noticed that a lot of us are afraid to invite our friends or family members to learn more about the church. My favorite scripture for this subject is in 1 John 4: 18 because that´s where we learn that we need to show our love for God and for the people around us by teaching them the gospel.
Yesterday I got to speak in church which was kind of fun. It´s weird to think how comfortable I am giving talks now and especially in Spanish. Before the mission I would get terrified to do something like that and now it´s just natural. I love that. Things are going well in our area as well. We received a few references this weekend and now we´re going to have to get in touch with them so that Laurino and I can baptize in our last change of the mission.
I love you all and hope that you keep doing well. I´ll be sure to be praying for my friends in the Phillipines and I know that what´s happening there is kind of like what happened to Ammon when the Lamanites started to scatter the sheep of the king. It´s all about how we see the situation and we can use it to our advantage as an opportunity to work with the people and have new finding and teaching experiences. I love you and hope you have a great week!
Dad this is an "Asado" that we did last night. Hopefully it brings back a memory or two from your mission!
Sorry for writing a little bit late I was really busy partying the whole day away ;) Haha no just teasing. Thanks for the emails and the news about Halloween. Latin America still hasn`t caught onto the idea that Halloween can be a lot of fun and really cool, as we say here in Panama "ellos están en panga!" Halloween isn`t really a big deal at all here but it`s ok I`ll get over it! This week was crazy as we had our changes week and brought in two more companions. Changes went pretty smoothly as it didn`t require staying up too late too many nights! On Thursday we had to get up early to be to the airport at 5 in the morning to see off the missionaries and hermanas heading home. It`s crazy to think that`s going to be me in 5 weeks. Don`t worry I`m not counting but it`s kind of impossible not to have that in the back of your head at this point haha.
Well today was my birthday, thanks a ton from everyone with all of the birthday wishes and emails I felt really popular today ;) It was a good day and started nice and early. At 4 this morning we had to run some missionaries to the airport so that they could go to San Blas, right after at 5 we headed to take President to the airport in Tocumen so that he could make it to his meetings in Guatemala, and then we went to sleep for a little bit, my comps made me breakfast and then we headed out! Today is a holiday here in Panama and I don`t know if you all remember but they do parades and march around in the street just about all the day so we left to come and check it out, then we headed off to Tocumen to have lunch with a lady from my old ward there. It was sweet cause her husband drew a cartoon version of me and put it in a frame. I`ll send you a picture of it so that you can see me cartoon style haha. After hanging around there and eating a TON of food we headed off to visit some of Elder Escelantes converts there close in Tocumen. It was fun and they gave us even more food haha we were bursting. Then we went to visit a lady from my first area in Brisas del Golf because she had bought me a cake! So we got there and ate even more!! I don`t know what it is about birthday`s but the whole world just wants to feed you!! It was a fun day though and it felt good to be with people that I love and that have made an impact on my life.
This last change of my mission I`m going to have 3 companions which is going to be a lot of fun! I`m staying with Elder Laurino but we`re adding Elder Duron and Elder Escelante.
Elder Duron: He`s from Honduras and has 13 months in the mission. He`s awesome, speaks perfect English and is a ton of fun to be around. It`s fun to be with him because he`s young in the mission and has a lot of new ideas for us to be able to work with all of the new Elders and Sisters.
Elder Escalante: He`s from Colombia and has 18 months in the mission. He`s absolutely awesome and from Colombia that`s about all that you need to know because Colombians are the coolest, friendliest, nicest people in the world.
It`s great to be in the mission and have the chance to finish my mission strong. I love you all and can`t wait to hear back from you next week!