We received this email today from our friends the Duffins who served as Mission President in Panama about 4 years ago. Awesome to have some connections to Andrew in Panama.
Dear Hawks Family,
Here is an email I just received from Brother Hugo Lopez (Murray). He is the former stake president of the San Miguelito Stake in Panama an served as my counselor for two years in the mission presidency. So he is a dear friend. I won't translate it, because Rob can read it just fine. As you can see, he met Andrew and is VERY impressed with him and the quality of his Spanish. Just thought you would like to see this. We are excited to receive Andrew's emails. Thanks for sending them.
Best wishes, Mike
Mi estimado amigo,primero que nada espero que el señor le este bendiciendo a usted y la familia, que bueno es saber que tenemos unos grandes amigos que aunque lejos sabemos que allí están, gracias por su amor y amistad.
Ahora el señor nos los trae al recuerdo, sabe en nuestro barrio hay un misionero que pertenece a su unidad es el Elder Hawks el cual es muy especial y es un caso fuera de serie con 3 días de llegar a Panamá, se le asigno servir en nuestro Barrio pero lo raro es que domina el español como si estuviera al final de su misión.
Los días miércoles comen en mi casa y fue un verdadero placer escuchar su deseo de trabajar junto a su compañero el Elder Barrera de México.
Bueno cuidense mucho,
Hugo A López Murray
Hi Brother Duffin,
THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! How thoughtful of Br. Lopez to take the time to write to you about Andrew. Thank you for forwarding his email to us. Rob had fun translating it for me. We actually had the sister missionaries over for dinner tonight at our house and it was wonderful to feel of their sweet spirits and hear their testimonies. It is comforting to know that others are doing the same for Andrew.
Do you know the Iglesias family that is feeding Andrew? I assume they are members, but I am not sure.
Hope your trip was fabulous!
I do not recall the Iglesias family. But I may have met them before at a stake conference, if they were members when we were there. We got to know the members a lot better in the mission districts than we did in the stakes.
I'm glad that Andrew is doing so well. It sounds like his Spanish is coming along very well. Bro. Lopez and his wife, Ilca, are excellent people! Cream of the crop! You can see them in the attached photo taken in the fall of 2006 at a missionary couple retreat that we had in the mission. Hugo and Ilca are the couple right in the middle in the front row. She has a blue sweater draped over her left arm and he is standing to her right.
Buenas!! Oh man thank you everyone for the love and support!! I opened up my email and had 15 emails!! Wow I felt special and the Elder next to me looked and said WOW good luck writing everyone back!! haha well sorry I don´t have a ton of time for writing on the email but I´m printing all of them off and everyone will get some hand written letters in the next few weeks! Honestly thank you everyone for the love it is so awesome to hear from all of you. Sounds like things in Utah are the usual in February. So we went to the temple this morning and it was my first session in Spanish...I suprisingly understood almost everything! Ok so this week in the land of sun, sun and more sun. So people have asked questions about this and the answers are that my comp and I live in the house just us two, the only meal that we have to do ourselves is breakfast and then all of our lunches and dinners are provided by the members in the ward. Yes I know I´m very spoiled. We are actually in the process of painting the house where we live for the land lord which has been pretty fun. Ok so we had a very neat experience with the family Martinez. This week we taught them the Gospel of Christ. The Spirit was so strong and even though I stumbled over my words the message got across. At the end we invited them to prepare to be baptized and they accepted. Every single one all 9!! They only need to come to church now and then hopefully we will be able to bring them to be baptized. Wow it was amazing I could hardly believe it. Speaking of church. This week has been the carnivals and the whole world is partying and drinking here and everyone that isn´t is in the interior with family because they all have the next five days off from work. All of our investigators were out of town and so none of them came to church...It´s tough because not many of the members have cars so they all get there by bus or taxi and we are unable to pay for them or use the help of the members. Yesterday we had a neat experience. We went to the Hospital in the city to give a blessing to one of the brothers of a member in the ward. He was in a horrible crash and so we gave him a blessing of healing. He felt so much better and could hardly thank us enough. Afterwards we took all of our pamphlets and went into one of the waiting rooms where people were waiting to go and see their sick family members or friends. We stood in front of all 100 people and talked about the gospel and bore our testimonies of the love that God and Jesus have for us and that in these hard times they can seek the support of their Heavanly Father. We then gave the pamphlets to as many people as we could. It was something I will never forget because all of the people listened so closely and all thanked us after we finished. Sorry there´s not a ton to report this week but as the week goes on I´ll writed letters to Jen, Kylan, Julianne, Jayson, Courtney, Jason, Stephen, and Michael. I love you all so much and am always praying for and thinking about you!! Elder Hawks
Ps the picture of me and Brigham he´s the cutest. The son of Hermano and Hermana Iglesias they feed us all the time.
Wow another week down here in Panamá. Thank you so much for all your letters and it sounds like you´re all going to have a fun, but quiet Valentines day this year.
Dad, to answer your question, yes we tract a ton and it´s all walking...it´s tough because most of the families work during the day so it has been tough to find families at home during the day. If anybody has some ideas of possible things that we can do please let us know because we are up for trying new things always!!
Ok so our area. It´s about the equivalent of Draper and Sandy in Utah. We live about thirty minutes away from the city and it´s the richest part of the city. As a result we encounter a lot of people who have good lives as is and don´t really seem to think that they need the gospel in their lives. This week was interesting because we had good lessons with both of our most promising investigators.
The Family Martinez was a good lesson but they hadn´t read the book of mormon much. So we taught them the Book of Mormon and how it can answer the questions of the soul and also work hand in hand with the Bible because for real so many people here think that we don´t believe in the bible...But they committed to keep reading and to come to church on Sunday. Unfortunately they are a very poor family and have 8 people so even to take the bus is a lot of money and so they didn´t make it...Hopefully this week because once they get to church they are going to be baptized I know it.
Hermano Martinez, our other golden investigator, is so freaking awesome. He has such a strong testimony of prayer and it´s power and has seen a big time change in his life and relationship with his family. In our second lesson with him this week he invited his family to listen and we talked about prayer. It was funny because he ended up doing most of the testifying about prayer for us!! It´s so neat when the people have faith and then act on it; changes come every time.
Ok so a few funny experiences. First of all my Spanish is coming...however slowly it´s coming. Haha but this week we were tracting and ran into a woman and it was my turn to take the lead with the contact so I started it and we talked for a minute. I´ve developed a bad habit of saying sí when i don´t understand. So she was talking and I had no clue what was happening and I just kept saying sí. But she invited us up to her house and Elder Barrera asked me if I understood what she had been saying and I confessed no. He looked at me and laughed and said, "She said she heard that we don´t believe in Christ and you said sí" ...yikes that made me feel dumb haha but it´s ok I quickly told her yes we definitely believe in Christ and then we went on to teach her a quick lesson. Another is that we were teaching with a member, Caesar, and he was talking and explaining the Book of Mormon to the family Martinez when all of a sudden in through the door came a huge cockroach!! The nasty kept coming towards us and without skipping a beat, or even a word for that matter, he stepped on it and smashed the cockroach!!! It was classic and it took everything I had to not bust out laughing.
Overall we had a tough week though and unfortunately we had no investigators at church. This area has had some not so great Missionaries for the past year and so we are doing a TON of our own finding and teaching. So this change may not be the highest baptising but we´re setting the stage I think for the next few changes.
Finally we eat dinner with la familia Iglesia all the time. OK to be honest the only time we eat at the house is breakfast and the members feed us every other meal. We have some good luck I know...But they are Kuna and actually the grandma is the head priestess of the San Blas islands and so last night we talked about their traditions and how they are similiar to those of the Nephites and Lamanites. It was really so fascinating and the best part was that I understood about 70 percent!!!
Well that´s all for this week. Pray for us and also for our investigators that they can come to church. This gospel is true and to be honest I´m so thankful for the power it has in our lives and for how true it is in every single way!!
All my love especially during this Valentine season,
Thank you mom and dad for your emails this week. The Duffins also wrote me emails and gave me some good advice with the mosquitos and the possibility of dengua fever. I do not want that!!! But this week was good and however much you all think you want the heat I have here it is crazy. I have literally been sweating since the minute that I walked off the plane and am hoping that my body will adjust so that I don´t have to be dripping sweat during the lessons!! But I´m doing great no sickness, no diarrhea, nothing bad has happened yet (at least that I could understand) and I´m already getting my beautiful golden tan:) Haha so all of my cousins decided to get married this summer while I´m gone huh. So when is Michael´s turn? Just teasing!!
So everyone telling me about the super bowl I have a confession...I watched the game. Ok just kidding but I was really close. We had dinner at a members house last night and they were watching so of course I snuck a peek but I only saw that the Patriots were up at halftime and then we were out and back to work. I really thought I would be sad and it would be hard to miss but I guess having two teams that Í don´t really like helped!!
Ok so I realize that my email last week was very scatter brained and so this week Í wrote down some highlights that I thought you would all like to hear. First, Hermana Iglesia feeds us a lot and she made the most amazing papaya drink I have ever had. Don´t ask what was in it cause I have no clue but it was freaking awesome!!
Second, we are teaching a family. La familia Martinez and they are very special. There are eight of them and we have taught them twice now. This last time we focused on the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith and prophets. It´s the main thing that people have problems with because it´s hard for them to accept another Bible and they think it´s so crazy that God would appear to a boy. But this family took it and ran!!! They accepted the Book of Mormon and committed to get started that night. It´s crazy because the whole time all eight of them were so focused and listening so attentively!! The downside is that they live far away from the church and couldn´t make it. That is our goal for this week.
After this lesson we went straight to a lesson with an Hermano Martinez. We invited him to baptism last week and he said yeah if I receive an answer sure. So we had planned to talk about that and then the Plan of Salvation. When we were starting we had asked and had the prayer and then all of a sudden my mouth was open and I asked him if he had prayed specifically to know if baptism is what he needs. He confessed that he hadn´t but that he would this week. I´m praying he does cause he´s so awesome and he wants to change sooooo bad. But, also, he was unable to come to church this week. I´m sure this is going to turn into a pretty common issue with the people here.
So this week the biggest news is that we had our first baptism. It was of a young boy named Michael. He´s ten years old and a ball of energy. Truth be told the only reason we got to teach him and Baptize him is because he is the grandson of one of the ladies in the ward and was ready anyways so we taught him all the lessons in three days and he was baptized yesterday. The baptism was an event...He has a fobia of water. Yes for real a fobia and as a result he was TERRIFIED. Haha Elder Barrera baptized him and it took 5 tries because everytime his elbow or leg or hand or something would fly up so eventually he had to basically force him under but it worked!! I guess it doesn´t matter how many times it takes the salvation is the same right?:)
Also this week I got to give my first two blessings of healing...in Spanish. That was interesting and very hard but thank heavens for the priesthood and I know that even if I said the wrong words or something Heavanly Father knows what I meant and the blessing is the same. I´m really grateful for my worthiness to hold the priesthood and it´s pretty crazy to think that the little deacons who only have 12 years have more power than the president of the US.
Well family Ï love you all so much and truth be told I miss you all dearly. But I have faith and know that this is where I need to be and no matter how hard it still is to understand or to talk with the people here that my mission here is one that will bless their lives for eternity and I´m thankful for the opportunity. Please send me Macy´s address next week I would like to write her a letter in the next little while and congratulate my BCF on her engagement and soon to be marriage.
¡Con Amor de Panamá!
duh I forgot to tell you about my comp!! He´s native Spanish but speaks english very well. He however knows that I need to learn Spanish so in two weeks I think I´ve heard him say about 10 words in English!! He´s super smart and super funny. We work really well together and are getting along too it´s been a lot of fun to have him as a comp. He´s so smart though it´s crazy. He was studying at MIT before his mission and is going to be a person that I want to keep in touch with after the mission. I´m really thankful for him and his obedience and hard work with me. Well I´m getting kicked off and forgot my chord to send pictures so I´m sorry you´ll have to wait till next week. ´