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 !