Wow this week was crazy, hectic, stressful but awesome all at the same time! Gotta love the life of a missionary! This week were the Consejos for the Zone leaders of the mission so basically all the Zone leaders came in from all over Panama to be capacitated on how to be better missionaries and especially how to be better leaders. Being in the office we have to go and speak about a few things that are going on in the mission and talk about how we can help the missionaries and their zones more effectively. It was a good meeting and we were lucky to have Elder Drake (the area doctor) with us in the meeting. He capacitated us about our health and talked about how our physical and spiritual health are linked and if one or the other is off it´s going to have negative effects on the other. Another point that he hit a lot was stress. He talked about all of the negative affects stress can have on our bodies but then went on to say that one of God´s principle purposes of sending us here was to put us under stress and to see if we would handle it well. We talked about how there are two responses to stress one negative, and the other positive. Dealing with stress in the negative way will cripple us and make us absolutely ineffective whereas dealing with stress in a positive way will help motivate us and make us more effective. The way that we can know how we´re dealing with stress is what we say when a big pile of stress is put before us. We can either respond saying "Why me? I already have so many other things to do, poor me" or we can respond "Ok, what does God want me to learn from all of this?" After the meeting I thought a lot about that point and how a lot of times when stress is introduced into our lives it suffocates and makes us want to just throw our hands in the air and quit. I got down to thinking about how I dealt with "stressful" things before the mission. I noticed that when "Stress" was put onto me in terms of school assignments, family issues, work problems I seemed to just not want to do anything and would throw my hands up. But then I got to thinking about my time playing sports and playing in important (stressful) games that really truly meant a lot to me. In the big games I almost always was able to up my performance level and do a little bit more than I would have under normal circumstances. As I realized this difference and thought a little bit about the "why" behind the two i realized that my attitude was the difference. I was ALWAYS excited to suit up and get out to play a soccer game but wasn´t always excited or even mildly happy for that matter about sitting down at the computer to write an essay. I truly learned in this moment that stress is a good thing, I know I sound crazy but I know that it is! I came to understand that really it depends on us and the way that we choose to take it! Those of you have served know that the mission is stressful and when you have special assignments and extra responsibilites that stress level can be doubled. However you also know that this stress can be fueled and converted into energy which can then be used to do a little bit more than you would have been able to otherwise.
Besides the consejos, standing in the mail office for four hours two times this week and going to the U.S. embassy to take out my drivers license this week was rewarding on the missionary end as well. Little Camila was baptized today and couldn´t have been happier about it. Saturday night we went to her house and finished teaching the word of wisdom and then at the same time did the interview. She did so well and passed everything! The only thing that we forgot to do was ask who she wanted to baptize her. We figured we would choose someone from the ward that would be there to support her so we called our stake patriarch and made the appropriate assignments to have him perform the baptism. Everything went well in the chapel and they showed up (unlike our baptism last week) and finally after church came the moment of the baptism. The patriarch was getting dressed when Camila came up to me almost hysteric telling me that she didn´t want to be baptized by him and that she wanted me to do it. I explained to her that it didn´t matter who baptized her and that it would be cool if he did it because he´ll always be there to so support her whereas I´ll be leaving in a few months and may never see her again. She insisted that I do it. Camila´s mom came up to me as well and insisted the same thing. By this time the baptism was supposed to start in about 10 minutes and I didn´t even have baptismal clothing. So we made a choice, explained to the patriarch what was happening and then kind of had to invent. He was so nice about everything and told me I should just baptize here if that´s what she wanted. I ran into our tiny bathroom, rifled through some baptismal clothing, found a dirty pair of pants that didn´t fit very well and by some miracle even found an extra white tie. I got all dressed while Camila did the same and finally we walked in and got the meeting started. It was weird and super late notice to have to get ready to baptise someone but what could I do? Haha after the initial confusion everything worked out well and in the end Camila got baptized. I couldn´t have been happier for her or the decision that she has made to join the church. Even though she is young I´m faithful that she´ll receive the proper support from her mom and from her leaders that will help her to remain active in the church. It´s a neat story because Vanessa, Camila´s mom is recently activating herself. She took the step without any type of visit or anything just decided that she needed to be back in the church. I´m so proud of her decisions to come back and to support her daughter in her baptism.
As for all of you chumps I sent you a package this last friday so you should hopefully receive it before Christmas. I hope with all my heart that it will get to you before the big day! I´m starting to get excited for Christmas in the next 23 days and it´s crazy to think that it´s the last one that I´ll spend as a missionary. I´m excited to be able to see everyone and to talk to you all face to face with some skype. It would be nice to know what would work well for all of you on that end so that I can plan ahead for how I´m going to do it here on this end. The blessing is that we have permission to skype you guys from our computers here in the office. Thank you so much for all of your love and support it really means so much and is so humbling to know that so many are praying for me. I´m praying for all of you and I hope that all is well and that this Christmas season gets going just as well for all of you as it has for me. I love you all so much !
Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!!! I´m glad you all got to go down to Richfield with Grandma and Grandpa Hawks and I´m not going to lie I missed that it´s one of my favorite traditions that we have as a family. Thanksgiving was honestly awesome for me because sister Ward invited our whole zone over to eat at her house and then have a short little devotional. Unfortunately we didn´t get to help cook because she had a "couple companionship" and her ayudante help her out the day before. We did get to help set the table and do a few little things like that which was fun! The best part of the whole meal may have been that she has a dishwasher (that´s something you NEVER see in Panama) so we only had to rinse the plates and stick them in there:) She cooked us a real American Thanksgiving dinner with a turkey that she made in the oven, mashed potatoes, stove top (my favorite), yams, gravy and even wheat rolls. I must say she went the whole nine yards and ended up cooking for about 26 people. Ah it was so dang good but I´ve found that my stomach is accustomed to rice so I was STUFFED after just one plate. I know it was so unlike me haha. It was such a fun day and we were so blessed to get to go! After we ate dinner we sat down and had a small fireside type thing where President Ward taught the importance of being thankful for everything that we have. He challenged us to pray that night without asking for one single blessing and to really take time and thank God for his goodness towards us. After that challenge we went around the room and all said one thing we were thankful for. Mom I said I was thankful for you because of the way you raised me to be patient and loving so thanks mom I´m so blessed to have a mom as awesome, fun, loving, patient and caring as you you´re the best!
I couldn´t be more proud of Scotty and his choice to serve a mission. I love that kid to absolute death and know that if he puts his mind to it he will be an excellent missionary. His call is way cool and pretty relaxed cause he doesn´t have to worry too much about any type of language barrier and can just get out and hit the ground running. I think this is the week that Korban goes back out on his mission and I couldn´t be more proud of him. He will be one of the best missionaries this world has ever seen and mom make sure to go and see him before he leaves if you can!
Other than our wonderful Thanksgiving day this week was one of the more disappointing of my mission. Due to our office duties and an increased load of things to do because of the Christmas part coming up it was hard to leave when we wanted to and as a result we had less time in our area and with our investigators. Camila ended up not being baptized this week because we were unable to get to her house to finish teaching the commandments. It´s ok we just moved her fecha back a week to this Sunday coming up. Yesterday she and her mom came to church and participated in everything. It´s neat to see how the mom took the initiative to reactivate herself after a few years of inactivity. She told us one morning she just woke up and knew that she needed to get going back to church and without making excuses about the members or worrying what they would say or think she got herself up the next week and came to church. I love how the Spirit can work in people without them even realizing it sometimes. Our other investigator Neri was supposed to be baptized yesterday as well. Saturday night we didn´t even go to the area because we were running around our area looking for her baptismal clothing, Sunday we got to the church and the bishop didn´t have the key so we had to take two taxi´s to and from the office to pick up ours, we cleaned to font (It was nasty and when we started the water it came out brown) and had absolutely everything ready. Her family didn´t show up...After Sacrament meeting we went outside and called them and it turns out that she randomly went to work and her recent convert husband who was going to baptize her had run off to Colon (a city about 30 minutes from Panama city) to go fishing with his friends. Ah it was tough man because we had already filled up the font and everything. Oh well what can you do sometimes. It will be interesting to go by their house this week and see what happens and what they say about the baptism. I know she wants to it may just be a lack of support from her husband who is also really new in the church and obviously doesn´t understand 100% the importance of this covenant.
Some people have asked me about the influx of missionaries that we´re going to see and the truth is that it´s dramatic. We have a group of Elders and Hermanas who are coming in the 19th of December and it´s the biggest group of missionaries to come into Panama at a time at 29 missionaries. It´s super exciting but being in the office it´s been fun and stressful to do the logistics of where a group like that is going to stay, what they´re going to eat and what we´re gonna do to keep them from getting too bored. We´ve had to be really clever with this one and we´re gonna have them stay at the hotel the church has right next to the temple and they´re going to go to a session and everything their first day it´s going to be really cool. Turns out a girl from Kenzie´s stake got her call to this mission and it was funny because I receive the information and recommends of all the missionaries and she showed up on my system this week. Sometimes it´s fun being in the office:)
Our office was a mess this last week because I got a shipment of folletos and books of Mormon but the best thing that came in this shipment was 200 miniture Preach My Gospel´s in Spanish!!!!!! They are literally the coolest thing in the whole world and are going to be so useful! I´m sending you two pictures the first is one Sister Ward took of me and Elder Echeverría one of our assistents at the Thanksgiving dinner and the second is Elder Wade, Julian, Camila and I! Enjoy:)
Thank you so much for everything you all do for me I am so blessed to have such an amazing family with so much support and love from everyone I´m excited to be an uncle again and to have all of these things going on at home. I´m getting really excited for the Christmas season and it´s gonna be sweet to decorate the office with the stuff you sent me mom so thanks a ton for that:) I love you all and hope you have a wonderful week full of all kinds of happiness!!
First of all this storm sounds like it was the real deal and that picture of Stephen did not make me miss home...haha being in Panama has made me realize that realistically the snow is only good for skiing but otherwise it can be a little bit of a headache. Dad make sure to be safe on your trip and thank heavens it´s the rental car and not the Fusion!! I´m glad everyone is safe and enjoying the wintery weather. Truth be told it´s been hard to accept that it´s November due to the extra little heat and humidity wave we had this week. As you guys are making the transition into the winter Panama is going to start coming out of their "winter" and into summer. As things cool off for you all the ovens gonna start heating up down here:)
Wow sorry again for the email last week it was a bummer to say the least. Hopefully this week we can improve that a little bit this time around! Life in the office is getting a little bit hectic because this Thursday we have our changes and as the secretaries we´re in charge of doing a little capacitation for the new missionaries and making sure they know all the ways they can utilize us for their benefit. In turn it´s stressful because I have to put together boxes of materials for all of the Zones in the mission and make sure mail is going to people in their new Zones! Things are going to get really interesting in the next few weeks with our influx of 29 missionaries coming the next change and all of the mail that´s going to come in correlation to the Christmas season. Yay. Haha it´s a fun time to be in the office to say the least:) Another thing that I´m in charge of is a publication we do in the mission called the "Forever Strong" it´s usually full of missionaries and their spiritual experiences but due to the lack of response in this area I had to make some things up and take some iniciative. It´s something totally new and that I never thought I would have the opportunity to do so needless to say it´s stretching my abilities as well as my patience! Sometimes I feel as helpless as mom on the computer these days...
On to another note. In my time here it´s been really suprising how little I´ve been around and for that matter even seen President Ward. He is a really active person and truth be told I think being in the mission office is something boring for him. This week, on Tuesday, he left to go to Costa Rica and have meetings with all the other mission presidents of Central America and a few General Authorities. The trip lasted until Friday which meant that we got to use his car! Yes. I´m going to need to get my license in the next little while here. On Friday Elder Wade and I got to go to the airport and pick up President and Sister Ward from their trip and we were stoked because we knew he would be getting off that plane full of new ideas and new ways to make the mission better for all of us. We were right. The minute he got in he just said "Elders the mission is going to change a lot in the next little while" The first big change that´s coming is he´s getting an Iphone (I only say that because he is literally technologically handicapped), second in the office we´re going to have more ready access to a car (Thank heavens for me in this time of year), we´re going to meet with Pres. and Sis. Ward every week in their house to make sure things are running smoothly, and we´re going to receive a new secretary. It goes without saying that I´m excited for my time here in the office and for the change and growth that our mission is going to experience in the next few years. It´s an awesome time to be serving the Lord!!
Our work as missionaries is being blessed as well for our diligence and doing our best to get out of the office at 4 every day. We have 4 investigators with fechas for baptism and they´re looking really really positive. The moment of truth is always Sunday to see if they can make it to church and we were blessed to have 4 investigators in Sacrament. It was such a huge blessing I was really so happy! It´s amazing to have seen the hand of the Lord in the work because even though we don´t have the same hours as the other missionaries we are still able to get out and do some damage in the field. I know that ultimately it´s going to come down to personal integrity and getting our butts out to work when it´s time to work and not wasting time in the office when we don´t have to!
I´m happy, safe, and well fed. What more could I possibly ask for? I love you all so much and am so thankful for all that you do for me! Mom I got the Christmas package and am ashamed to say that I opened...everything...I know I´m really impatient but you know how I am with presents. Thank you for everything it couldn´t have been more perfect! If there´s anyway that in the next little while you could send me a new Moleskine notebook that would be awesome I´m almost out of space on those! I love you all so much and am praying lots for you. Have a great week!
P.S. Sorry mom I couldn´t help it...(opening all my Christmas gifts)...the puzzle of the plan of salvation was the bomb because it helped us teach our little colombian investigator:) I´m so glad Elder Biesinger went over to the house he is such an awesome kid and was one of my favorite missionaries! Speaking of me being in the office you can tell any and everyone who wants to send me stuff to do so now because I have such open access to the mail. Thank you so much for all that you do mommy I love you!
Wow it´s real I´m no longer a teenager. I broke the barrier yesterday and have made my way in to adulthood haha. Honestly this birthday was kind of weird and made me feel a little bit older and different. Thank you so much to everyone for the birthday wishes and for all the emails, pictures and even the little video from Jason, Courtney and Eloise. Mom thank you SO much for the package it was so awesome and I loved everything!! I must say the "Avengers" sheets are a huge hit and EVERYONE in the office is way jealous! Ah you guys really spoiled me big time for my birthday thank you so so so much!
Ok well you may not know but the 4th of November in Panamá is flag day and it´s a pretty big deal. To celebrate this holiday all of the schools in the city prepare their students to march in parades beating drums, playing horns and doing all kinds of other things. It´s really really cool. Our mission office is really close to one of the main roads that goes through the city and so we got to see the parades from a birds eye view (the roof of the office). It was a lot of fun and I kept telling everyone they were celebrating my birthday;) Haha I know I´m way funny. Some of the members in the ward here were awesome and brought me a cake here in the office.
Saturday was Independence day from Colombia with also meant another big parade of the same thing! If you want to know more you can look it up on the internet I´m sure they would have more pictures and videos and stuff to give you a better idea. Overall it was fun but the truth is that it was nothing like an american independence day. It was fun though and seeing some of the Panamanian culture is really a good experience.
Our investigators, or at least the two most positive bailed on us with church yesterday and so now we´re going to have to change their fecha for baptism. I don´t know it´s tough but we´ve done everything we just need them to feel the importance of it and to come.
Sorry this email is short President Ward just came in and is giving us news about a bus that crashed here with a bunch of missionaries in it so it´s hard to focus but here are a bunch of pictures from the last few days and from my birthday!
Thank you again for everything I love you all so much
Thanks a lot for your emails and your support I know I say it every week but it means a lot to have all of the support and love that I do from my family back home. It´s always good to know a little bit of what´s going on at home and that everyone is doing well! I love you guys to death. To me it´s crazy to think that Halloween is this week and all the normal traditions are going on at home. One year ago I was dressed up as a dead soccer player, Kenzie was a cave-woman and Eloise an octopus haha classic! Here in Panama Halloween is literally nothing except for the rich people and they just go to parties dressed up and that´s all. Whenever I tell the members about our tradition of "trick-or-treating" they are fascinated and most of the time don´t believe me haha. This week is going to be interesting because Panama won their independence from Columbia the 3rd of November in 1903. I´m excited to see how Latins celebrate Independence! It will be fun because the 4th is Flag day here and from what everyone tells me it´s a really big deal but I don´t know I´ve never seen it I´ll make sure to fill you all in with the details next week. Thanks Dad for the bank information it worked and now I can keep an eye on my accounts thanks a lot!
As for me life is good and I´m feeling good in the swing of the missionary routine without letting it get boring. This week was a good week in terms of our investigators. Something that has come up between Follette and I is that he is a very careful teacher and I like to be direct in terms of inviting these people to be baptized in the first or second lesson at latest. We have a few investigators that we´ve been teaching for a while but that just have´t been progressing the way that we had hoped or prayed and so we sat down to make a game plan. We came up with the goal to put fechas (dates) with them to help them progress a little bit more and to get them excited about coming to church and doing all the things they need to do to come unto Christ. It was fun on Thursday we left the office without a single fecha but Thursday night we got home with 2. It was such a fun day and super neat to see the Lord´s hand in the work and how he touched the people with the spirit so that they would be willing to accept the goal to be baptized. One of these investigators is a lady named Nary. She is the wife of the man we baptized at the beginning of the change and if she can make it into the waters of baptism the family will be completed and then we will need to put the goal of them being sealed. I love this gospel and know that it´s the only way for us to get back to God and live with Him. My favorite part is the unity of the families. There is no other church that preaches eternal families the way we do and I´m so grateful for the blessing that I have to be sealed to my family but also the opportunity I will have to be sealed in the temple with my future wife!
The other investigator who we put the fecha with is named Howard. He´s from Nicaragua and speaks perfect English. He´s got his roots from the Caribbean and is a really humble, willing to listen type of person. It´s been tough to teach in English just because our custom is to teach in Spanish and so to switch the words gets confusing a little bit. I know that we´ve been blessed and as a result have been able to teach him pretty well.
Ok the moment of truth was Sunday because we put the fechas for the 11th. Saturday night we called and called and called but couldn´t get a hold of anyone so we passed by Howard´s house and everyone in his family was drinking like crazy which just made us so sad. He however did tell us that he would come to church the next day but when we called in the morning he couldn´t. We even passed by his house but he was hung over and just kept telling us that he felt so bad and had taken the wrong path. I was bummed but we went back to his house in the afternoon and he was doing better. He is really positive but it could be tough because he´s going to have these influences from his family the will pressure him to do things he knows he shouldn´t so I pray that he will still be able to progress and be baptized.
Other than that this week was pretty normal. President Ward has come in the last few days to do the changes and being in the office we get to go in afterwards and see the changes that he does. It´s kind of fun to be able to see but we´re under strict oath not to tell anyone haha. It´s a lot of fun here in the office and the more time I stay here the more I like it.
I love you all and am so thankful for you all and all of your support. I want to congratulate Courtney on being pregnant and I´ll keep her in my prayers that everything will go well and the baby will be born healthy!!!!! Have a wonderful week everyone and I will look forward to hearing from you all again next Monday!!
Good morning everyone! It´s fun to get emails from people and receive some news on the family about the outside world and what kinds of things are happening with all of you in the wonderful, happy land of Utah! I ask myself sometimes if there´s going to be snow there soon. It´s hard for me to imagine something as crazy as season because here it´s the same every single day...HOT, HUMID, and RAINY!!! Wahoo. I really do love it though and I´m not one bit jealous of the cold weather you´re experiencing:)
Sounds like everyone had a fun time down at St. George. The hike sounds like literal insanity, the golf cart story is classic Stephen and Scott, and Michael took Allie? I´m glad the house down in St. George is still being used, that´s always a really fun trip to make and it´s always always good to get out of the cold and go see some sunshine! Thanks dad for the sports update, it sounds like the Cougars are the best worst team in all of college football and like always don´t know how to close out the big games and get the wins. One of the Elder´s here in the office is from Oklahoma and is a huge fan of their football team and his dad just wrote him saying that OK whipped up on Kansas so it sounds like our buddy Jake Heaps is doing just about the same as when he was with the Cougars.
Ok well on to some more serious things. The office life has settled in and I´m feeling really quite comfortable in my new role as the President´s secretary. It´s fun to have some new and distinct ways of serving the Lord but also the missionaries here in Panama as well. I´m in charge of taking the calls for people who need things like garments, books of Mormon, journals and pretty much any other thing missionaries may need. It´s been a new learning experience to have to talk in Spanish and learn a few new vocabulary words to be able to please the "customer" it´s fun though and gives my work a literal "business" type of feel. It´s funny to see the difference between a happy and an upset customer and I hope I can keep all 200 of mine happy;) I just realized that I´m in charge of buying the missionaries underwear...that made me feel kind of weird haha but it´s fun I´m loving it!
One big advantage yet disadvantage to being in the office is that I´m in front of the computer all day long. It can be an advantage because if there´s a gospel thing I want to look up I have free range at that but it´s a disadvantage because as we all know it´s easy to waste time on the computer doing good things when in reality there are maybe better things to be doing. I know that it´s going to be good for me to learn time management skills and using my time effectively. In my short time here in the office I have learned how to do a lot of little things that I never knew before for example sending faxes(I didn´t even know that existed before). That´s a funny story because President Ward called me the other day and said Elder Hawks I´m going to email you the information from a disciplinary council and I need you to fax it to Salt Lake for me. Haha two thoughts went through my head. 1. That´s some pretty sensitive information you´re trusting me with President and 2. How do I fax? He was in a hurry and hung up leaving me thinking ok well how am I going to do this. My Companion and office trainer had only sent a fax one time so we fought with the machine for a good 30 minutes until we could finally get it sent. There are lots of funny little things like that that happen and keep me on my toes. I love it though and have been blessed so much already!
Yesterday we had Stake conference and it turns out that my ward is in the same stake as Brisas del Golf. For those of you that don´t remember that´s the area where I started my mission and spent the first 4 and a half months in Panama. The conference was held in that chapel and so I had a rare opportunity to go back and see many of the people that had been in my first ward! I was so excited and when I got there it was almost like coming home (ok not quite but in a different way ahah) and everyone there was giving me hugs and happy to see me. It was cool and I was happy to know that they even remembered who I was!! One of the absolute neatest thing to see is that every single person that I baptized in that area is still active and one of the men who I had the privilege of baptizing will be receiving the Melchizedek Priesthood soon. That was one of the best surprises I could have possibly hoped for. My Colombian family is doing well and staying as active as ever which made my day. I found out that they´re planning on being sealed the middle of March and so I´ll definitely be looking forward to being there when that happens!!!!
This week was a little bit slow in the field because things REALLY picked up in the office which made it tough to be out of here on time. A new missionary from Mexico came in on Tuesday night and we had to capacitate him in terms of who we are as secretaries and what we can do to help him out in the mission. It was fun to see someone so new and think back almost 10 months ago when I was starting my mission and the way that i felt. I could tell he was nervous so we talked for a little bit and I try to help him feel good about the mission being fun and being whatever we make it. As for our investigators it was a rough week and we didn't get to see them much but this week is going to be better and the plan is to put baptismal dates with everyone seeing as how right now we don´t have a single one. We should be able to put dates with them and get them ready to be baptized on the 4th and then again on the 11th. I love this work it´s a lot of fun.
I just received an email about a missionary mom website for the Panama mission so mom if you want to join that would be a good thing to help you stayed updated with the news and going abouts of the mission! The ladies name is Jill Fowlks and her email is email@example.com if you want to get in touch with her and find out a little bit more of what it is.
Thank you all so much for your love and support I appreciate it a lot and am so blessed to have you be my family. I pray for you all and hope that you have a wonderful week! Until next Monday!:)
Good morning to everyone right now in Panama it´s a balmy 90 degrees and there isn't even a single cloud in the sky...are you all jealous yet? Ha-ha thank you everyone for the emails and the suggestions and words of encouragement it´s been nice to hear about Jayson and Kylan´s time in the offices of their respective missions. Something that I have already seen is the fact that even though we´re in the office we are able to leave and to get some serious work done at night once we leave so I´m not too worried about this time! That´s really so exciting about Brea putting in her mission papers and it´s going to be fun to see how many more girls from the ward and stake will put their papers in and get to work for the Lord. I´m happy to hear that you guys are going to have a long weekend and are going to be able to spend some quality time together and St. George would be nice to escape the cold!
Ok my companion is Elder Follette from Springville, Utah and he has about 16 months in the mission. He´s a really cool kid and has been really easy to get a long with but the truth is that after eight and a half months only being with Latins it´s been a huge change to have a gringo companion and speak English most of the day...He graduated a year before me and spent some time at UVU before he came on the mission. He´s a good missionary and is going to teach me a lot about this new job and the work as a missionary. I´m excited for this change and know that we´re going to have a good time together. He comes from a part member family with his mom and siblings being active but his dad isn't a member and he is the first missionary in the family. He´s really dedicated and is good about getting out of the office on time because one of the big temptations that we have is to stay here and waste the whole day.
As for my job I´m learning it little by little but I´m coming to know that my knowledge of Computer programs is pretty dang basic...I´m in charge of designing a few things and making like a ward mission letter every 6 weeks with missionaries spiritual experiences and such and I really have no talent or knowledge of graphic designing so it´s going to be a lot of fun to learn how to do these kinds of things and I know it´s going to be something that will help me out after the mission as well! I have a lot of small responsibilities and am kind of the errand boy for President and Sister Ward but you´re right I´m going to have a lot more interaction with them and it will be neat to serve more closely with them and to learn from them as well! Another fun little side note is that I´m going to get my Panamanian drivers license and am going to be out on the streets with these crazy people! But no I do not have a car sometimes president lets us borrow his or we get to go in the assistants car!
Things in the area are going well and the work is gonna chug right along. On Saturday we baptized a man named Pedro Velasqo and it was a very neat experience. I don´t know him super well because I don´t have much time but his story is a neat one and was interesting because God literally got tired of trying to whisper in his ear and literally had to use lightning to get his attention. Pedro works in construction but also fishes on the side (my area is ghetto and ridiculously close to the ocean). He had a baptismal date but was offended by something the the interviewing elder said to him and so he decide to skip his baptism and go fishing in Colon. While he was there snorkeling looking for his fish a literal black wall of storm started to move from the coast out towards the ocean and he was out stuck with his tiny boat fishing and basically stranded. As the wall of water came down it started to rain like crazy and started to lightning and thunder. He and his buddy were stranded and were going to be struck by lighting because they were the tallest thing out in the water so they decided to jump in the water (They use rubber suits in case of things like this) and hold on for dear life. He told us that in this moment the only thing that he was doing was asking forgiveness for not being baptized and he promised God that he was going to be baptized as soon as possible if he would be spared and be able to live. He said that after this prayer not 5 minutes passed and the storm was gone and it was calm again but that he went home with a 100% conviction to be baptized. Pedro was baptized on Saturday night and then confirmed a member of the church yesterday in the Sacrament meeting. He is rock solid and going to be a great member. Now we are going to focus on his wife and getting her to be baptized because she is the only one that hasn't yet and once she is they can start their preparations to be sealed in the temple.
The Ward here is awesome and a TON of people speak English it´s crazy. The area 70 that Sister Duffin is talking about is named Hermano Garcia but he was released as a 70 and is now the stake patriarch. He served as a mission president in Chile from 1999 to 2002 and yesterday pulled me aside asking if I have any family that served in that mission during that time because he said he had an Elder Hawks in his mission. So do I have any relatives with the last name Hawks that were in Chile from 1999 to 2002?
Thanks mom for the package it was the bomb but as you get ready to send other things please do not send food items they aren't allowed to pass through. I know it´s retarded but when we go to pick up mail they open up all of the packages to look for food because apparently they have had problems with drug trafficking through the mail or something. But thank you so much for looking out for me and being the best! Kenzie sent me a Joseph Smith ring a little while ago but with the fattening that has happened to me it doesn't fit...I think it was an 8 and half but if for Christmas it would be possible to send me one that´s like a 9 and a half or 10 that would be the bomb! Honestly I´m doing well in terms of things and am actually going to send home a Christmas package to all of you in the next few weeks! I can´t think of anything else that I need or even necessarily want but if anything comes up I´ll shoot you an email. I love all of you and am so thankful for you and the blessing that we have to be sealed together. It brings so much comfort to me and should to all of us especially because of what happened to Courtney´s son. I know that he´s okay and they will be able to see him again. I´m thankful for the Gospel and for the hope that it brings to our lives even through the hardest situations and times. I love you and hope that you all have a wonderful week, can´t wait to hear from you next Monday!
Wow it´s always so good to hear from the family and know that everyone is doing well...First of all this big change in the missionary service is going to affect our mission here in Panamá and depending on what Stephen does we may not see each other for almost 4 years!! That was kind of a sad yet fun thought. I know that all of this is inspired and there are already a lot of 18 year old missionaries here in Panamá so it´s not going to make a huge difference, the change with the sisters however is dramatic and it got me thinking that technically Kenzie could get up and head out on a mission right now if it was what she wanted to do!! Crazy!!!
Ok so as you noticed I had changes. I have been made the new general secretary of the mission and am now an office rat. Last wednesday in the changes they announced it and I started immediately. The honest truth is that this is going to be a 180 degree turn and change from what I´ve been doing in the mission field up until this point. Some of my responsibilities concern buying the tickets of all the missionaries that are coming and going, for President Ward when he has to make flights inside of Panamá, collecting the mail of 200 missionaries, and receiving other little chores. I don´t know what all of my jobs are going to be but I´ll let you know more about it as I get going in the job a little bit more.
On wednesday when I found out the honest truth is that I was pretty dang bummed. It´s a huge difference to get off of the streets working and sweating all day to help people and then moving into an air conditioned office building and sitting in front of a computer all day. I was sad because I just thought I´m not qualified for this, and why would you take me off of the streets when I have been having success and helping the work move forward? It´s going to be a big change because we have to be in the offices from 8 am until about 4 or 5pm doing all sorts of things. As a result we get back to our area and have only 3 hours to try and find people to teach, bring to church, and baptize. The truth is I was really big time bummed because it just changed my fast paced life as a field missionary to an office rat, or so I thought. I am being trained by Elder Follette who is finishing up his 4th change here as the general secretary and he has been awesome about helping me out and teaching me all of the things that I have to do. He also has been good about getting all of the things done in the office so that we can leave and still go to work in our area. We are actually going to baptize the father of a family that was baptized this last week. He has put his own baptismal date for this Saturday at 6 so that will be a good way to start out my time here in the area. Something else that´s going to be new is that we don´t eat meals with the members so it´s going to be tough to build relationships with them here but I know that this is going to be a new experience with lots of things to learn and new ways to grow. I´m thankful for it and will look forward to doing the best that I can!
General Conference was awesome as always and we were blessed to be able to see all 5 sessions in English. We only missed out a little bit on the Saturday afternoon session because of a big time rain storm that knocked out the satellite power in the chapel where we were at. We went to a stake center and got to be with a bunch of other missionaries to watch conference which made it even more fun! I loved this conference so much and received a few answers to questions and prayers that I had had. The honest truth is that all of the talks were wonderful and have helped me out in one way or another but the talk that Uchtdorf gave Saturday morning about being happy and not having regrets really made me think a lot. To be honest when I found out I was coming to the office I wasn´t happy or excited because I just thought what the heck i´m going to be wasting so much time here int he office doing nothing when I could be out in the field bringing people to Christ but as Uchtdorf starting speaking and talking about coming to the end of life with regrets it made me think about my mission and how if I go through with a bad attitude I´ll miss opportunities to serve and to become better and I´ll finish my time in the mission field with regrets, which is something that I don´t want at all. I realized that I have to always have a positive perspective and to learn what i can from every change and opportunity that I have. I know that there is a reason the Lord prompted president to put me in the office and now it´s up to me to find out what I can do to fulfill with the Lord´s expectations and the potential that he has given me. Conference is such a huge blessing in our lives and being able to hear the voice of the prophet and apostles of God is amazing and a guide to us in our lives. I love how no matter what questions you may have, what challenges you may be facing if we go in to the conference praying for guidance and revelation we will receive it.
I love you all and am so thankful for your love and support in my behalf. I got the package that you sent me on Friday mom and it´s going to be super hard not to open the presents until my birthday!! Thank you so much for thinking of me and for always loving me and raising me to love the Lord! Have a great week and we´ll talk next monday!
Hello everybody and thank you very much for your love and support. I especially appreciate the email from Brother Duffin about helping the ward members become involved in the missionary work. It was wonderful and is going to help us out a lot! Dad thanks as well for your suggestion. That´s a great idea and would be more of a pressure free approach to get to know the friends and families of the members! Thanks mom and dad for the emails and it sounds like everyone is doing really well! The honest truth is that I don´t need anything and it´s hard to know what to ask for...ties are always nice because I use them every single day and garments because I´m running a touch low on those. Thank you for everything and honestly you don´t need to send me anything!! This week comes home an Elder Biesinger and I´m going to send home my memory card with him with all of the pictures and videos from my three changes here in Cabuya. I have another memory card and will get to work on filling it up!
Well my time here in Cabuya is up because I got the call that I have changes. I won´t know where I´m going until Wednesday in the morning and then they ship us out on Wednesday afternoon. It´s been a good experience to be here and learn so many new things. The honest truth is that I don´t want to go because I love the members here so much and to leave them I almost feel like I´m leaving my family. But it´s part of the mission and at the same time I´m excited for a new companion, new start, and new place to work for the Lord. It´s neat to know that no matter where we are going we will be doing the same work and that there are people prepared waiting for us.
I´m going to be leaving 2 super positive investigators that just need to be married and then they will be baptized. The difficult part is that we still don´t have the family support of one of the couples so my companion is going to have to work to gain more and more the confidence of them. The other couple Mario and Angela are doing great and are so excited to get married they just need to do their examins and then are good to go because of the contact we have here that helps us with the marriages.
I´m going to keep this email short because there isn't a whole lot to tell you but this weekend my buddy from the mission should be stopping by to drop off a few things. Make sure to save my pictures. I love you all and am so thankful for your support and love, I hope that you all have a wonderful week and I´ll talk to you next week!
Thanks a lot for the sports updates and the news about the Brigham City temple that´s really so exciting to know that there is a new temple in Utah. The people always ask me how many there are in Utah and sadly I don´t know...it would be fun to know so that I can tell the people an exact number. Sounds like things are going well in the homeland and the world is marching a long. That´s so fun that Whitney is going to have a baby and that Cline had his first kiss. Ah I love those fools so much and it´s always so fun to hear these little stories.
Well for the update from me this week...to be totally honest there´s not a ton to report. After our baptism we find ourselves in a position of finding new investigators who are excited to work with us and find out more of the gospel. We have a really good Mission Leader in this ward that is good about working with us and he hates it when we contact because he wants us to be working to get more references from the members. It´s been interesting to try and work hand in hand with the members but in the sense of squeezing references out of them. The honest truth is that it has been hard. The members here are either lazy or shy because they have a hard time sharing the gospel with their neighbors and family members. I totally understand though because I never talked about the church with my nonmember friends either. I would love some suggestions on how we can excite the members to get involved a little bit more in the work here.
The investigators that we have and are working with stay the same. Angela had her baby and it was a c section and they took out her parts all at once. Yeah she´s been out of commission for a little while...It´s been neat to watch the ward get involved with her because since she had her baby the relief society has gone to visit her, the bishop went and yesterday we did a visit with the elders quorum president. I love it when the members take initiative and do their part and it´s been so good for her to feel loved and like she´s important. The only detail with her is that she has to get married. They´re working on it but with the birth and everything we've had to take a step back and wait but I´m sure that in the first of October her and Mario will be married and she will be baptized.
As for me personally I´m doing really well. Changes are coming on October 3rd and considering that this has been my third change I´m almost sure that I´m going to be leaving. I've learned a lot here and am thankful for the experiences that I've had and the truth it´s going to be hard to leave there are so many people here that I love so much but that´s just how the mission is I´m sure. I love you all and am so thankful for your love and support. How is Korban doing and also if you could get me Spencer´s email address that would be super awesome!!
Thank you for your emails everyone and what a bummer about the Cougars...I´ll be honest during our service project on Saturday morning I was thinking about them and hoping they could beat those Utes but it´s ok hopefully in the near future our cougars will stop playing like house cats against the Utes. I´m excited for Stephen to get started on this missionary class that was such a fun memory with my friends and to realize right now that almost all of my friends who went are now on missions is excellent and so satisfying. I remember Kylan, Jason and Michael being some of my favorites just because they´re family and really know their stuff. One thing that would be good to do would be to leave the boys with a commitment in between. For example a reading assignment in the book of mormon, an activity from Preach my Gospel or something like that. It´s important that they develop their own testimonies and aren´t leaning on the testimonies of others when they get into the field.
Ah this week was so satisfying. Priscilla was baptized yesterday at 330 here in the time zone of Panamá. It was so neat to watch her make the covenant of baptism yesterday and even more neat to hear her testimony afterwards. She talked about how she has been investigating the church for two years practically and the first time she committed to be baptized two years ago she really wasn´t ready. It was neat because she told everyone how happy she was to have been baptized but that she realizes that it´s just the beginning. She said she wants to be sealed in the temple for time and all eternity with her husband and that she wants us there with her one year from now. It almost made me cry !haha.
The honest truth is that this week we focused almost exclusively on her and getting her baptized. I hope you all enjoy the pictures!
Happy Monday....Today is a rainy dreary day in Panama but I cant take the smile off my face. This week Hector and Priscilla got married and they couldn't have been happier. The significance of this even is that Hector can once again receive the blessings of the priesthood that he holds and that she will be baptize this next Sunday. One year from now they will have the goal to be in the temple of the Lord here in Panama being sealed for time and eternity. Cool huh?
Ah its always so good to hear from all of you and to know that everything is going well in the homeland. I'm honestly so stoked that Utah State beat Utah...This Saturday Ill be cheering for the Cougars to do the same!! Finally Stephen and Michael let me know they´re alive. Speaking of those two I sent them both letters a few weeks ago and so they should have gotten there by now and it would be awesome for them to write me back! Mom it would probably be better to mail me the emails from my friends because I don´t have a ton of time on the computer and it gets expensive to be printing off 10 pages of emails! Thanks so much! It would probably be nice to have some vitamins because rice and chicken only offers so much...haha. I honestly am doing well on everything else and am just happy as can be:)
More good news is that Angela, one of the investigators that we´re teaching, had her baby this Thursday and everything went so well. Last night after church we went to their house to congratulate them and when I saw her I hardly recognized who she was!! They are so happy and she really wants to be baptized so the new goal with them is that they have to get their bums married. It was really neat because Mario came to church with all of his kids while his wife was in the hospital and during priesthood meeting he leaned over to me and said Yo quiero sellarme en el templo con mi familia, que tengo que hacer. When he said that it was so neat and I just told him you have to get married, Angela has to be baptized and you have to wait a year. He looked at me with so much sincerity and determination and asked me what he has to do to get married so now we got to get to work with them in the marriage process. It was honestly a wonderful week and so much fun to watch the Lord and his hand in the missionary work here. The ward here is being blessed and I pray that the members will recognize it and get into helping us just a tich more by giving us a referral or two.
I love you all and am so thankful for you and all the support that you offer me! I promise that I´m doing my best to help the people here come unto their savior. I love it here and every day ends with me tired and sweaty but happy.
Hello everyone and happy Labor day! Today unfortunately isn´t technically our pday because tomorrow we are going to the temple and so we are just getting out of our district meeting. I´m happy to hear that everyone is doing well and that you are all enjoying a day free from the monotony of the work schedule that we live day to day.
Sounds like you guys had fun and that Kenzie got to meet Elder Tholen. Haha classic he´s a funny guy and that makes me laugh that his English wasn´t too good. I´ve been noticing that my English isn´t the best either and I still have a ways to go and for it to get worse. This week in the life of Elder Hawks was nice. The highlights have to be that we had interviews with President Ward this week. It was good to talk to him and curiously enough I was the only gringo that got the interview in Spanish...I don´t really know why but it was funny two gringos in the same room speaking spanish. He congratulated me on the success that we´ve seen and commended the work that we are doing due to the fact that the area had been killed before we arrived. Sister Ward told me that I will be coming home on Thanksgiving day of next year which was weird to think that they already have all of that stuff planned haha I wasn´t even thinking about that.
Our next highlight is that one of the couples we are marrying has the date set and are going to tie the knot tomorrow at 2 o´clock. They were gracious and invited us to come so I will send you pictures of that next week:) I´m so thankful that they made the choice and that it´s finally going to happen!!!!! Priscila, the wife, put her own baptismal date and is going to be baptized the 16th of August! I´m so dang excited it´s crazy.
Next, we received a reference this week from a lady that lives in the city. She is a Kuna who referred us to her sister here in the area. The sister is already a member but her friend who lives there isn´t. We taught her the importance of baptism friday she accepted the baptismal date of the 23 of august and then came to church on Sunday! She is excited and obviously so are we. Funny story is that she is 17 and from San Blas, she came and is already married...Yeah tell that one to Stephen that I met a girl younger than him that is already married...crazy huh?!
Third, we have run into a complication with Johnny and Carolina, another couple we are marrying. The issue is that johnny is 16 (also younger than stephen) and Carolina is 19. She is pregnant and they want to get married so that there son grows up in a functional family but the parents of Carolina aren´t being supportive. It was a hard blow because I really love them so much and they know that marriage is how they are going to repent and put their lives back in order. This Sunday we fasted for them and I have faith that we are going to see a a miracle with thelm and even if they don´t get baptized in this change while JI´m here I´m sure it will happen soon.
Angela didn´t have her baby because she still only has 8 months and so they decided not to go ahead with the operation. She is doing well and they are making strides to be married but they just lack the money necessary right now. Pray for them that the business of Mario, the husband, will pick up and they will come up with the means to provide for the examins that they have to have done.
I´m busy here which makes me happy. I know right now that the Lord trusts me with his souls and as a result we are seeing success. I love it here and am finding that I come to love these people here in Panamá. They are so special to me and I want the best for them! I love you all and can´t wait to hear from you again next week!!
Thanks for the emails and freak Stephen is all geeked up in his SBO stuff that´s super cool tell him to be super careful not to fall off the school today!! Haha Í´m proud of him and I know that he´s going to have a lot of great leadership experience this year that are going to help him grow and when the time comes be a great missionary. Tell him I love him!
This week the changes came and went and my companion and I are staying in our same area and we´re staying together until at least the beginning of October. I´m excited and it should be a good change with at least a few more baptisms and hopefully some marriages:) This week my comp finally is feeling a little bit better and so we jumped out and got back to work. This week we set a new goal that we we´re going to put a baptismal date in every single one of the first lessons that we have and if they don´t accept the date we´re not going to continue to teach them. Something that happens a lot in missionary work is that we become satisfied "planting seeds" and we can lose the focus of finding the people that are chosen and truly ready to accept this gospel. I know it sounds harsh but the truth is that if they don´t accept the date it doesn´t mean they´re a bad person or anything just that it may not be there time. As a result we contacted a lot and we´re putting baptismal dates like crazy but the people we contacted in this week we´re not the select. It´s ok I´m excited and I know that with the faith we are exercising to find these people who are really truly ready the Lord is going to bless us and in 6 weeks we´re going to see miracles.
We are still marrying these couples and one needs the prayers of you guys this week. Mario and Angela are going to have their baby this week. Angela was diagnosed two weeks ago with a urinal infection and the doctors are nervous that it may have affected the baby that´s on it´s way. They´re going to do a c-section this week and so your prayers would be awesome.
Hey I love you guys so much and will be looking forward to hearing from you in the next week. Here comes a picture of a tiny tree cutting project we did in this week. Not quite on the same scale but enjoy!:)
First of all I´m happy my memory card made it to Kenzie and found it´s way to the house. I hope you all enjoy the pictures! It sounds like this tree cutting was a pretty big deal and when I get home I may not recognize the house!! I´m glad everyone is doing well and hanging in there without me;) Mom it´s always fun to receive little treats so if there´s something cool in San Fran send it my way!! Thanks also for putting money in my account I bought new shoes already and am enjoying that they don´t have gapin holes in the front!! haha ps mom I got your package this week on Tuesday and thank you so much for the books they are fabulous! on thursday we used one of the games from the black book for the noche de grupo and it was a huge hit thank you thank thank you a million times! Jason Hawks a shout out for having found missionary pal!!
To be honest there´s not a ton to report because my comp was sick again this week and so me being the nice trainer that I am gave him some time to rest because he´s come to Panamá in a time of lots of sickness! It was pretty normal and we´re still in the process of having the couples married. It looks like one couple is going to be married the end of this month and then the woman will be baptized a week afterwards. One of the other couples is in trouble because the wife is having her baby today which makes all of the examines she did this week invalid...But we´re excited for her to add number 6 to their family and will hope to have them married by the end of September!
The new missionaries are in Panamá today so Rachel Ericson has already landed, arrived and is doing all the fun stuff the new ones do with president in their first few days. I don´t think I have changes so unfortunately I won´t be able to see her for a while probably. I will most likely be staying in my same area with my same companion and we´re going to have to keep working on finding new investigators and getting these couples married. The truth is I don´t have a ton to say but would love if mom could send me a few recipes of cookies, cakes, etc so that I can make them with the members!!
I love you all and am so thankful for your love and support! You are all so amazing and I love you all to death!
Wow to start off this week absolutely flew by I can honestly hardly believe that it´s already monday again!! Dad I loved your email and it would be a fun idea to do some talent shows and stuff like that to get the family involved. Sometimes we have to push people out of the box and force them to have fun if that makes any sense. I´ll be excited to be there the summer of 2014:) Sounds like as the summer comes to an end and real life kicks back in everyone will fall back into the routine of life. The honest truth is that I haven´t gotten the other package that you sent me but this wednesday the assistants are coming to our district meeting so it could come then!
Ok well this week was 100 times better and we didn´t have to spend any time in the bathroom which made me a happy boy. Haha we are still in the process of marrying these three couples and we hope that they will be married and baptized by august 26th but we´re going to have to see if all the paperwork goes through. I pray that it will but as you know things concerning the goverment tend to take a good amount of time to go through! Yesterday in the chapel was tough and only one of our investigators could come to church but what can you do sometimes things just fall through.
Other than marrying the whole world we found a new couple that we are now teaching this week. We went to a part of our area that we´ve never contacted and started knocking doors. One of the first doors we knocked was of a young girl named cesilia. She´s 19 years old and married and really opened up to us in the first visit. In the course of us teaching she stopped us and told us a story about how she had been pregnant at 16 but had aborted the baby without really knowing better. She was holding back tears as she told us how her little baby would be three years old now and that she just has felt so bad and wants to feel forgiveness. It´s hard because Preach my Gospel teaches us that when someone describes a sin like that we can´t promise blessings because the mission president has to come and do the interview and approve the baptism himself. We wrapped up and that night (Thursday) I called president and explained to him the situation. He told me to go ahead and teach her as a normal person and that he will come and do the interview when the time comes! On Saturday we went again to her house and explained the atonement and how when we repent we can be forgiven and made clean and the smile would not leave here face. They accepted baptism and now we just have to keep visiting them and help them get to church!!
The mission is wonderful and it has been an amazing experience. I know that it´s going to keep being amazing and that I´m only going to learn more and become the person that my Father in Heaven wants and needs me to be!