Thanks a lot for your emails and especially the pictures of Stephen leaving for Spain. I got his first email and am so happy that he´s doing well and that so far everything is going well with him! I couldn´t be prouder of Jason for having ridden Lotoja again that´s honestly an amazing feat and it´s a goal that I have so when I get home we´ll have to get my riding butt back into shape ;)
I´m going to be short because we have a meeting with President today about changes and then a few appointments. This week has been a good one and it´s been different but in a good way. We haven´t had the car since Thursday because they´re in the process of fixing EVERYTHING (don´t worry mom I didn´t crash it´s damage from before) and as a result we´ve had the whole time to work in our area. It´s a ton of fun working with Elder Laurino because we´re both to the point in our missions that we finally feel like we have a grip on how we want to work and especially how to help our investigators make and keep committments. We worked hard these past few days and were able to have some decent success. We had our investigator Amparo in church today the only bummer is that her fecha for baptism got moved back because she feels like she wants to learn more about the Book of Mormon. My companion and I feel good about it because it means that she understands how important baptism is and she wants to be sure about the decision that she makes but also that she´s willing to do the work to know for herself. It´s gratifying working with people like her because they listen and put attention to what you´re saying and truly seem to understand the importance of this Gospel.
This coming week is going to be pretty busy because we´re getting ready for our transfers (18th) and this week we´re hosting a mission tour with Elder Ochoa from the area presidency. He gets here on Tuesday and Wednesday we have a meeting with missionaries from 4 zones, on Thursday we´re flying out to David to meet with 3 zones out there and then on Friday we´ll be here in the city with the other 6 zones in the mission. It´s going to be a lot of fun but obviously pretty heavy. It´s ok though these are fun times when we have the chance to help out the missionaries. I´m excited to learn new things and to take as much out of this experience as possible. The longer I´m here in the mission the more I love it and understand how important it has been to me and how much it´s helped me become the person that God wants me to be. I love you all and am thankful for all of the sacrifices that you´ve made in my behalf so that I can be here. I promise that I´m doing everything to make the best out of my time here and help as many people as I possibly can! I love you all and hope that you have a great week! Until next Monday!
Thanks a ton for your emails. I love hearing from my family it means a whole lot to me and I couldn´t ben happier with the way that my mission has gone and all the support that I´ve felt from home. I know a lot of missionaries who´s parents fought with them not to come and haven´t written them the whole time they´ve been here so I couldn´t be more blessed to have the family that I do!
Well Stephen is heading out on a mission it sounds like...dang I´m not going to see him for 4 years that´s kind of sad but I think I know just as good as anyone that it´s worth it. I know that he´s grown up a lot in the past 2 years that I´ve been here and I can´t wait to hear about all of the experiences that he´s going to have it´s going to be amazing to serve the Lord in Spain. I already talked to President Carmack and he´s given me permission to call Stephen before he goes into the MTC.
This week has been another good one. I think the reality that my mission is coming to an end is hitting me as I hear about Boston and John getting home. Sooner than I know it it´s going to be my turn and I don´t know how I feel about that quite frankly haha. Don´t worry I´m not counting days, or laying in bed thinking about home it´s just hitting me that I have to take advantage of these last months in the mission because it´s a time that´s never going to be given back to me so I have to make the most of it! Things are going well with me and my companion and it´s picking up in our area as well because these last 2 weeks we´ve been able to plan all of our other things around our appointments in order to get more work done and it´s showed its fruits.
We´re working with the family of a single mother named Alina. She is from Cuba and has 4 little boys and 1 little girl. Every time we go to their house we have to fight in order to create some sort of atmosphere where you can feel the spirit. It went well this week because she, two of her sons and her little girl all came to church today and really liked it. We´re going to visit her this week and try to put a fecha with her so that she can start preparing with her family to get baptized. Pray for her please!
Another lady that we´re teaching is named Amparo and she´s from Colombia (in this area I feel like we teach every nationality besides panamanians). She is here visiting her daughter Lorena who is a 24 year old girl who wants to get baptized with her whole heart but can´t because her to be husband still doesn´t have papers to get married in panama and they can´t afford to go to Colombia for them to get married so we´re just waiting for the process to finish there to get them all baptized. Amparo had never heard of the church before but being here with her daughter and coming to church the past three weeks has helped her out a lot. Today we visited her and she told us that in Colombia whenever she would go to church she would leave feeling the same as when she had entered but that coming to church with us she´s felt better. She explained it that our church has something that she just couldn´t quite explain but that she likes! It´s awesome and we´re hoping to meet with her this week and put a fecha with her as well.
I´m having a ton of fun right now. I love the work, I love the missionaries and I love just about everything else that has to do with Panama! I´m doing well and doing everything to make sure that I give it my all! I love you all and hope that you have an awesome week!!
P.S. When I call, I want to talk a little bit about you guys coming to Panama to pick me up!
First of all Stephen congratulations on your farewell I`m sure that you absolutely killed it and I hope that what I sent you was worthwhile and could help you out a little bit. I`m so proud of you for choosing to go on a mission. It will change your life, but only if you let it. Thanks a bunch for the pictures everyone looks great. Send me more! I`m glad to hear that everyone is doing well and especially to know that Grandpa Hawks is recovering well from his knee surgery. I sounds like things are really going well on the home front which makes me happy. Knowing that my family, the most important people in my life are doing well is always a good thing!
So this week went real quick but it was a great week. We`ve been busy helping President do interviews but it`s nice because we don`t have to go with him all the time so it`s giving us more time to work in our own area and to do divisions with some of the elders in the mission. We`ve also helped the sisters with a few specialized trainings that they`ve done which has been good as well. Doing divisions is a lot of fun because we get the chance to go out with companionships that are maybe struggling a little bit and help them figure it out. It`s a lot of fun to get out and work with the missionaries because that`s the best way to help them is to put yourself in their shoes, in their area, with their people and then help them find solutions to some of the difficulties that they have. This week I went to an area in Colon called Nuevo Mejico and then did divisions in my old area in Tocumen called Cabuya. Both days were awesome and I felt like I could help the Elders find new ideas of ways to work, teach and do all the things we do as missionaries. My day in Cabuya was especially fun because I got to go back and see a lot of people that I had taught and worked with over a year ago and they all remembered me and my name (it`s almost impossible for people to say Hawks here) haha. I loved it!
Having lots of new sisters in the mission has meant that they have to step into leadership roles and it`s been really neat to watch the sisters take it all in stride and then do wonderful things that we elders can`t do to help the sisters. This week one of the companionships of sister leaders decided to do a specialized sister training meeting and asked us to help them out. As I`ve gotten the chance to watch the sister missionaries do missionary work it`s obvious why the Lord wants more of them in the field. They have so many special abilities and talents that we Elders just don`t quite have haha but it`s great because they help the work move forward.
This week we have two new sisters on their way to the mission. It`s kind of a pain because it`s in the middle of the transfer which means that we need two trainers and two new areas for sisters. It`s amazing to be a part of this change because there are so many sisters coming to the mission. In about a month at our next transfers we are receiving a grand total of 23 sisters and not a single one is going home. That means that we have to open at least 12 new areas to sister missionaries and that is no easy task to ask. It`s a lot of fun to be a part of the work right now and even though it`s a challenge getting started a year from now the fruits of having more missionaries will be significant.
I love the mission and couldn`t be happier in any other place than what I am right now right here. I know that this is the church of God and that nobody can take that knowledge away from me. I love you all and hope that you have a wonderful week!
Thanks a ton for the emails. From what dad mentioned it looks like we´re going to build a new house? That´s pretty sweet but what´s the deal where is it going to be? When did all this go down etc? I can´t believe that Stephen is getting so close to leaving on his mission is he really old enough to be doing this?
This week was a really good one to be honest. Being the week of transfers it was a little bit stressful to try and have everything done but we did a really good job of planning out what we had to do and by when it had to be done so there were no big problems and I slept 8 whole hours the night before the changes (that´s a miracle ps) haha. Everything went really well and people seemed happy and content about their changes which should hopefully mean that they´re excited to work and to start having baptisms! After changes we spent a good amount of time with the sisters from San Blas (sister Ericson) to help them do all of their grocery shopping to be able to go back out to the island. It was a lot of fun to get to spend some time with her and she seems like she´s doing great! I loved getting to spend some time with her and see how her mission is going. It´s crazy to think that she´s going home the same day as me!
The rest of the week has been pretty good. We have had a lot more time to work in our area and are being blessed finding new investigators. We had a good lesson with a lady named Alina. She´s from Cuba and has investigated the church for about 5 years. I don´t know what we did but she just trusted us and started spilling us everything about her life before and how she´s come to know God. It was a really neat story but helped me realize that a lot of times the pain that we feel in our lives is a consequence of our disobedience to the commandments. The good thing about her is that she understands that concept and knows that by being obedient the Lord can bless her. It´s tough because the only thing holding her back from getting baptized is herself. We talked a little bit about baptism but felt like the most important thing we could do was listen and as a result we came to understand her and her problems much much better.
Things are going well with me. I´m happy and doing the work of the Lord so what else can I complain about? I love you all and am so thankful for your emails and support it means so much to me! Until next week.
Thanks for your emails I´m glad that you had a good trip to Richfield and that´s really exciting that Stephen got to go through the temple. I´m sure adjusting to that new life style is going to be fun but he´ll learn quickly how much of a blessing it really is. I´m glad to know that he´s doing all the things that he needs to in order to be ready to go on his mission. He´s going to bless the lives of so many people.
This week was a good time for me but it was rough at the same time. AhKiong and Barrera both went home this week so it was a little bit of a crazy week. They were saying goodbye to all of their people and as a result we were all over the place. Something that I noticed is that they had huge impacts on the lives of the people they served. No matter where either of them went they were loved by the people whether they were members, investigators, and even non members...I hope that at the end of my mission my companions will be able to see that I had the same effects in my areas. Tuesday we had leaderships council with all of the Zone Leaders in the mission and it was good. I felt lonely because I had to conduct the meeting, I was the only Assistant that taught and was in charge of basically the whole meeting haha. Tuesday in the same meeting President told Elder Laurino that he would be my companion. You should have seen his face it looked like he got hit by a bucket of cold water! He came in on Wednesday and then that same night all of the Elders and Sisters that are going home stayed in the temple. That night was crazy and nobody slept that night...President Carmack stayed there all night doing interviews for them and didn´t leave until 4 in the morning when we had to take them all to the airport. It was fun being there and getting to say bye but I have a lot of friends that went home in this group.
My companion´s name is Elder Laurino and he´s from Rosario Argentina. He´s super awesome and is very different from my two other companions because he is a lot quieter and does a lot more listening than talking. It´s fun though to get to talk to someone that really listens to and takes your ideas into consideration. I´m excited and know that we´re going to work really well together.
Thursday after we dropped them off we took some time to go home and take a nap but we had to be right back to work at 12 because we had a meeting with the staff from central services about all the stuff here in the office etc. We were dead. Ever since then we´ve been in meetings with President Carmack doing the changes. It´s hard because he doesn´t know anyone here in the mission and so my companion and I basically did the changes. It was a really neat experience though because as we did it we would all receive impressions from the spirit to know where the Elders and Sisters need to be assigned. I loved how at times we wouldn´t know what to do then one of the 3 would feel something and as they mentioned it we would all receive the same good feeling. It was amazing to watch how God made us instruments in his hands in that moment to help know where people need to go.
My companion and I will be heading out in the next hour to pick up the new missionaries. This is one of my favorite things to do with this whole new job because they come so happy and excited but so nervous and innocent at the same time it´s a lot of fun :) Changes are going to be on Wednesday and as a result we are working our bums off to make sure that everything turns out well and to try and help as many people as possible go where they can be happy, get along with their companions and work hard. Something that is really true is that if you get along with your companions is that you can be happy and get a lot more work done. I¨ve been blessed with great companions and wonderful areas which has made it a pleasure to work and have success in the mission. I love my mission I always tell everyone that it´s been perfect because I really feel like it has been! I love you all so much and hope that you have a great week and that everything goes well with you guys this week!
Sorry for the lateness of my letter it´s been a crazy little while because we got sent out to San Blas by President Carmack and we just got back yesterday. Thanks a ton for all of the letters that you sent me I´m glad to know that everything is going well with the family and that the move is officially out of stage one. Sounds like the next move is going to be getting a new house and then making the other move! I may be home to help out with that one we´ll have to see ;)
So this week was good. We´re starting to get things ready for changes which is kind of crazy because President Carmack still doesn´t know anyone in the mission so he´s relying a lot on us to help him know what to do and who to put people with. It´s been nice to have Ah-Kiong and Barrera with me because they have both been assistants for at least 6 months and know everyone in the mission which helps us out a ton. Then on Friday we flew out early to go to San Blas in order to see a few of the branches out there and no I didn´t go to the island of Sister Ericson so I wasn´t able to see her. First we flew to an island to an island called Nargana and then Friday afternoon we took a two hour boat ride to an island called Playon Chiko. Ah it is so beautiful there I could hardly believe it. The beaches are full of white sand, blue crystal clear water and there are palm trees EVERYWHERE. While we were there we got a chance to see a few of the branches and it really taught me a lot. We had the chance to see a few islands, sleep in hammocks, walk around in sandals and do all kinds of other things. It was quite the experience and I now understand a lot better why the elders that go there have to be tough, why they always come back smelling bad, hungry and craving a shower with running water haha. Don´t worry I took a lot of pictures and will send you a few so that you can see how amazing it really is!
This week is going to be a good normal week I think so don´t worry you won´t have to wait for an email from your long lost son. Everything is going really well with me and I feel good about everything that I´m doing and experiencing here. The mission has changed my life the way I think, the person that I want to be, the things that are important to me and everything else I can think of. I´m determined to make these last 5 months the best yet. Thank you so much for all of your love and support for me it means the world. I love you all so much and am sorry again for not having written it won´t happen again. Have a great week and know that you´re all in my thoughts and prayers, especially Grandpa Hawks with his surgery.
Wow we moved!! The pictures tell the whole story and it´s amazing we are literally out of the house and in with the grandparents for a little while. I can hardly believe it but know that we were definitely blessed to have sold the house so quickly and to a family that can potentially get baptized that´s awesome :) Not going to lie through this whole move it´s made me think a lot about how lucky I was to grow up in a place like Pepperwood with so many amazing neighbors, friends, ward leaders and just awesome influences that have helped me get to where I am right now. Being in the mission and looking back has helped me realize how the Lord works through other people to touch your lives. I could go on for days about all of the amazing men that were my leaders through scouts, young mens and of course Bishop Clayton and West who both did so much for me to help me make it to the mission. I loved living in Pepperwood but just like the mission things almost always have to change so that the Lord can help us keep on learning, progressing and becoming the people that he wants us to be. I won´t give any special shout-outs or this email will get really really long haha!
This week was a good one just like all the other ones I´ve had in the mission. Seriously to start off I can´t tell you how grateful I am for both of my companions they´re the coolest guys and have taught me so much already they both are going home on August 1st so I´m going to miss them like crazy but don´t worry we´re working and we´re not letting ourselves get trunky! Elder Ah-Kiong is a Samoan and he´s huge like 6´4´´ and 270 pounds but he´s just full of love so I keep telling him I want to hook him up with Shaunie Forte once she gets home so that we can keep hanging out after the mission! Anyways this last week was full of having to run errands and especially taking materials like beds, fans, mattresses and all kinds of other things to missionaries here around the city. It makes me lose a lot of sleep because we always try and do it after all of our appointments in the day and when the missionaries are in their houses. I like getting to go around and see new parts of the country and also get to meet new missionaries. It´s worth the sleep that I end up having to lose :)
One of the things that we do as assistants is that we get to teach in the special leadership training meetings that we have in the mission. This past wednesday we had what´s called "consejos" which is where all of the ZL´s from the mission come into the city and we have a specialized training meeting with them to help them know how to better direct their zones and help the mission have more success. I taught about how the ZL´s role needs to shrink and how the DL´s need to step up and take more responsibility in the success and growth of the zone as a whole. I think that if we can accomplish that we´ll be able to help the missionaries receive more hands on training from their DL´s which will help them become better teachers and learn how to work in their areas in a more efficient way which will help bring us more results.
This coming week we have zone conference which is kind of nerve wracking. We have to teach but this time we have to teach all of the missionaries and not just their leaders. We have two conferences here in the city tomorrow and wednesday and then thursday we have to drive out to David (8 hours away) in order to have our zone conference out their on Friday. So this week is going to be another long and busy one with literally no time in our own area haha but it´s ok it´s going to be a lot of fun to get to go out to a place that I´ve never been in my whole mission.
So you ask about President Carmack. He´s a big change from President Ward who was all animo, excitement and laughing because he has more of a spiritual and business type outlook on the mission so working with him has been different from what we were used to . He´s a very very intelligent man and has three degrees in law, bio-chemical science and something else. I think. Haha and his Spanish is through the roof. He speaks 4 languages (portuguese, french, spanish and english) is here with his daughter and is just a spiritual giant! I love him and am already so excited to get to work a lot with him and help him in whatever he feels we need to do in order to help the mission keep on marching forward!
I love you all and am so thankful for all of the love and support that you show to me. My mission has been an amazing experience and coming down to these last few months is sad but exciting at the same time because I know that I´ve done it the way the Lord wants me to and I know that afterwards I´ll get to have all kinds of new different experiences! I love you and know that this is the only true church of God!
Wow the move is official starting today. Make sure and take lots of pictures and let me know how it all goes. I`m not one bit jealous that I`m not there right now having to help pack up boxes and get things into storage but I`m sure once you find a new house I`ll get to do plenty of unpacking ;) Thanks a ton for the email and the updates about some of my buddies in the mission. I wrote Kylee a letter a while ago but I don`t know if she ever got it. If possible let me know whether that letter made it to her it was a good one. Now that I`m back in the office again mom you can feel free to forward me all of my friends emails and as many pictures as you want. As of right now I`m ok on money, clothes and everything else that you could imagine. In the next few weeks I`m going to start to buy some molas and all that good stuff cause before I know it I`ll be getting on the plane like President Ward did today.
So far so good in my new assignment. It`s a lot of work, I don`t hardly ever sleep but it`s going to be an awesome experience to work with the new mission president and get to do things all over the country! One of the best things is that I have two of the best companions in the whole world but it`s going to change soon because they both go home on August 1st. Elder Ah-Kiong is from Long Beach California and you already know about Barrera being from Mexico. I love these two and it`s been a blast working with them even in just this short time. So to be honest it`s kind of hard to even know where to start. Sunday, Monday and Tuesday were long nights. I didn't get to bed before 2am once those days because we had to make sure everything for changes was perfect and ready. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday we tried to recover from everything that goes on in changes week but a bunch of things happened and we ended up having to take care of a sick sister missionary, move people into their new houses and make trips all over the place.
The biggest news of this week is that President Carmack came on Saturday night. We met up with President Ward at 10 pmin the airport to meet him and get all of his things shuttled to the mission home. They came with two of their kids. One is 21 and has only been home from his mission in Japan for about 6 weeks (he served in President Budge`s mission) and their 12 year old daughter Annie who`s going to live here with them for the next three years. It reminded me a lot of when I got here. They were all sweaty, looked a little bit lost but had the biggest smiles on their faces! Saturday night we took them and all their luggage to the mission home and then let them get to bed. Sunday afternoon we had a meeting with them here in the office where they got to meet all of the office staff and start making plans for their time here in the mission. During our little session President Carmack talked about how excited, nervous and ready they are to be the mission presidents here. It`s obvious just from the way that he talks and expresses himself that he loves us and that he`s a very humble man despite all of the success that he`s had as a business man. He worked as a lawyer for Leman Brothers in NYC, served as a stake president for 10 years and has raised an awesome family of 5 kids. They are awesome people and have brought a new atmosphere of newness and excitement to do the work of the Lord.
Today was a sad yet happy day. We had the blessing of picking up President and Sister Ward to take them to the airport. We were at their hotel at 5:30 in the morning and then drove them their. The whole way they went on and on about how much peace they feel for having served a faithful mission and having given their best to the Lord in these past 3 years. President Ward is an amazing man and he`s changed my life I love him to death! I learned so many valuable lessons from him and couldn't have been blessed with a better mission president. It`s ok I`ll just have to take a trip out to Long Beach and have him teach me how to surf! President Ward`s thing for the mission has been "siempre fuertes" it`s something we yell at every meeting because in order to prosper in Panama you have to be strong. You have to be willing to be melted by the sun, soaked by the rain, rejected at doors, etc. He was an example of what that really means up until the day that he left. On Tuesday he sprained his ankle very very badly but he didn't even tell his wife. He went to the airport with us to pick up the new missionaries and seemed just fine until finally his ankle swole up so bad he couldn't even walk. He drove himself to the temple (a 30 minute drive) and then did everything else that he had to in the training of the new missionaries in a wheelchair with his ankle all wrapped up. He could have so easily asked us to take over and do everything, or just said the new ones will be fine but he didn't. He kept on working and stayed strong until the moment he got on the airplane.
I want you all to know how much I love my mission. It`s been an experience that`s changed my life and helped me become the person that I know the Lord wants me to be. Serving him and preaching his gospel full time in the best thing I could be doing in my life. I love you all and am so thankful for your love and support during these two years. Happy packing this week and make sure to send me lots of pictures!
Hey thanks a lot for the emails that you sent me it was great to hear from you and know that everything is going well. I must say that was an amazing meeting about missionary work yesterday the only bummer is that it wasn´t very well announced so the members that needed to come to it didn´t even know that it was going on so now all of us missionaries know about it but none of the members do haha. We´ll have to see if they show up on internet so that we can help all of the members see those amazing messages and get excited to start doing the work. I think that´s a great idea that President Hunt is having the missionaries in our houses more teaching us. Something that´s really important is to be know in your area and have all of the members know who you are and how dedicated you are to the work. If you can accomplish that the references start coming in.
Anyways on to the news about me...So changes weren´t supposed to come until wednesday but I got a surprise call from the assistents at 1 in the afternoon telling me that I had to pack up cause they were going to come and pick me up. I got picked up last night to be companions with my trainer Elder Barrera and Elder Ah-Kiong. Today I had an interview with President Ward and he asked me to be the new assistent to the president when President Carmack gets here and he asked me if I could stay until December. I told him yes and am now in the office again but this time as assistent. Being the week of changes I get to help with all of the stuff that goes on. Contracting buses, making a video of all the changes, buying food, picking up the new missionaries and a bunch of other stuff. In the last 48 hours I think I´m running on two hours of sleep haha it´s going to be an adventure. Anyways things are going to change in my life. My area is right in the middle of the city but we are in charge of all the missionaries in Panama. I´ll have the opportunity of doing divisions with almost all of the missionaries in all of the zones in the mission, teaching in the zone leader meetings, doing trainings for the zones and all kinds of other things. On top of that We´re going to have to help President Carmack learn all about the country, the mission and all the missionaries and all that good stuff. It should be a really neat experience to get to work with him and learn from all of the things that he´s going to bring to the mission.
Well yesterday was my last day in Colon with Elder Aguilar and to be completely honest I was a little bit sad to have to leave because he was one of my favorite companions and we had some really good things going on in our area. Yesterday we had 8 investigators in church which was awesome. 3 of the 8 have fechas to be baptized and I feel good leaving knowing that I did a lot of good things in Cativá and was able to help people be baptized and to have also helped the zone. I´m excited for the change and know that it´s going to bring a lot of new experiences and new responsibilities. To be honest I don´t even know what to tell you all but in the next few weeks as things keep moving on I´ll tell you more about how it´s going to be. Thank you so much for all of the love and support that you´re showing to me and for always making me feel loved and special. My testimony of missionary work has grown so much in the last 19 months that I´ve been here in the mission. I love the Lord and know that He loves each and every one of his sons and daughters in the world and that´s why he wants us to preach his gospel. Thank you so much for the package that you sent mom it was here waiting for me when I got here in the office :) You are the best!
Jen and Kylan congratulations on having graduated from Stanford that is so amazing! Stephen you're a big time high school graduate which means that you now have more education than most of the people here in Colon haha bad joke I know. Thats a lot of fun that you got to see what Colon is like in that t.v. show its pretty amazing to see how poor some of the people are and how content they are living in that state. It makes me sad that they don't do anything to progress they just stay in their same old ways making ends meet when if they could get some education they could change their future.
This week was another good one for us in Cativa. We have a few investigators that we are getting ready for the 28th of June but the key is going to be that they come to church this coming sunday. If not they will have to wait until July. I feel like we are falling into the same routine right now so this week we are going to try and spice things up. Changes are going to be next Wednesday and from what I understand I will be staying here in colon and my companion will have changes so we have to work hard this last week in order to make it a succesful end of the change.
The zone is struggling right now. There are 3 companionships that dont get along all that well and what always happens is that if they dont get along their work rate goes into the ground. Its unfortunate and a bummer when they dont get along because the cause is almost always pride and an unwillingness to find compromises. The more I think about it the more I realize that companionships are like mini marriages (not like the ones in San Fransisco though). When one of the two wants to dominate the relationship the other gets offended and it doesnt work. When neither want to make decisions nothing gets done. But if both can work in harmony and bring together their ideas and forms of doing things there is almost always success. I think the more time I have in the mission the more I realize how blessed I have been with an ability to get along with almost anyone in almost any situation. I dont know why its that way but im thankful that the Lord has blessed me with that ability.
The mission has been an amazing experience and realizing that Im coming down to the last few months just motivates me to work harder and have as much success as possible before going home. But its amazing how what motivates me now is really being able to help the people come to know Christ because I know that when we know who we are and what He has done for us is when we find the power within ourselves to change and become who he wants us to be.
Thank you so much for all of your support and love getting your emails every week makes me feel so good and is a great support, comfort and motivation to keep working and making it through the times that arent so easy! I love you all!
Mom and Dad thanks a lot for your emails it was great as always to hear from you and know that all is going well in the motherland. If I´m not mistaken it´s Dad´s birthday this week and then Father´s day is also coming up pretty quick. Thank you Dad for all that you taught me. Whether it was in the backyard doing yard work, or coming home late on a Saturday night and seeing you reading your scriptures you've helped me become who I am right now and set an example of what I want to become.
Wow this week went by way too fast. Wednesday we had Consejos with all of the other ZL´s in the mission the Ap´s and President Ward. It was a ton of fun to see a bunch of the boys that I came to the mission with. While we were there I couldn't stop thinking about how much we've changed and how much the mission has changed in the year and a half that we've been here. It´s amazing. We learned a lot and mostly about our responsibility to animate, inspire and motivate the missionaries in our zones. My companion and I actually were assigned to teach in the meeting which was a fun experience to share a few of the things that have helped us have success in Colón this past month. I liked the meeting because it filled us with new ideas of things that we can put into practice in the zone in order to have more success and to help the missionaries reach a higher lever of success and efficiency.
Something that I ate either Tuesday or Wednesday didn't fall right with me so to keep a long, gruesome story full of throw up, diarrhea and accidents in the street short I spent most of Thursday and Friday in my bed recovering. Ah it was awful and only the second time in my whole mission that I've been sick enough to not leave to work. It was horrible and to be completely honest really really boring ha-ha. I´m over it but I think in the space of two days I lost 10 pounds which I will probably gain back in this week ha-ha.
Saturday we had a baptism. Her name is Nedelka Gracia and she´s freaking awesome. She´s 30 years old and has gone through so much in order to make it to her baptism. It was an awesome day and she was so happy to make the decision. After being baptized she stood up in front of everyone during the baptismal service and gave her testimony. It was short and simple but the most important part is that it came from her heart. Sunday she was confirmed and is now a member of the church of God.
Things are going well with me and I can´t complain about anything. I love you all and am so thankful for all of your love and support. It´s fun being a missionary right now because I finally feel like I have a feeling of what to do and how to do it. Thank you so much for all of your love and support I love you all!
So thanks so much for all of your emails and love. It´s so good to hear about Stephen being ordained to the Melchesideck priesthood that´s so awesome. I´m glad to hear that the selling of the house is going through. It sounds like there´s going to be a lot more looking done in the next few weeks which will be kind of exciting. I hope that everything goes well and that we can find a new house quickly. Sorry for not writing until today. Yesterday we literally had no time at all so we had to wait until today in order to be able to do it.
This week was a good one for us. We finished the month of May with 18 baptisms in the zone and the fun part is that 7 out of 8 of the companionships had baptisms. It feels good to know that they were all able to have success. It´s been interesting to learn all of these lessons about how to deal with people and guide them in such a way that they all have the chance to succeed. I think the best lesson that I´ve learned is that in this work no matter how weak a missionary is, how disobedient, or how unwilling they are to work every single one has a reason for the way that they are and within each of them is an amazing potential. I think the hardest thing has been finding out how to help each and every one of the missionaries find the best way for them to have success in there respective areas. I love the mission and I know that all of the lessons that I learn within this short two year period are going to be important for the rest of my life.
Ok so this last week in church our ward mission leader(a 19 year old future missionary) decided to make cards for all of the members to use to write down references for us. We ended up leaving church with 7 new names of people to work with and through the course of the week went contacting each and every one. To be honest most of them were pretty worthless haha but the last one that we contacted with was awesome and made of gold. He´s a 21 year old boy who´s the husband of a member in the ward, he´s married (that´s the biggest miracle) and he wants to be baptized! We put the fecha with him for the 15th and now it´s looking like we´re going to have baptisms this weekend the 15th and we´re hoping for the 22nd as well but I´ll make sure to keep you all updated weekly on how things go.
This Saturday we have a baptism of a girl who´s been investigating the church for quite a while. She´s 30 years old single and has 3 kids one of which is 12 (that´s the culture here they just start early haha) Her name is Nedelka and she can´t wait to be baptised and have all of her sins washed away. I can´t wait for her baptism it´s going to be awesome. I´ll make sure to send you pictures.
Family I love you so much and am so thankful for how much love and support I feel from home. It´s great to get emails each and every week from all of the people that I love most and are most important to me thank you for everything:)
Thanks a bunch for the emails and the updates on life. It sounds like things in the Hawks home are heating up and getting going for this move! I can hardly believe it and it will be crazy to come home and have all of my stuff in boxes but that´s OK it´s exciting to make changes and to adapt to new situations that challenge and stretch us. This week was a good chance to experience just that.
In our zone we have the privelage of having 4 sister missionaries and one of the companionships is not getting a long at all. They fight, cry, and ultimately don´t work so it´s become a problem. On Tuesday we had interviews with President and a lot of the problems came out but I guess not very many solutions were drawn and throught the course of the week everything just got worse. On Saturday we decided to bring the 4 in and talk to them about what was going on and figure out a few solutions so that this can stop and they can start working again. We ended up having about a 2 hour conversation and figured out a few areas that we can be better. The sad part is that the grand majority of their problems stem from pride and an unability to adapt to their situations and make it work out with their companion but in the end we gave them blessings and they were all hugging and crying together so I think that was a good sign haha.
Saturday afternoon we had our baptism and it worked out awesome. All three of the girls made the decision and were baptized. The little 9 year old girl was so cute and just looked at me when we were all dressed in white and said "we look like angels". Everything worked out perfectly and we ended up having a good amount of support at the baptism especially from the young men and women in the ward which was awesome.
Saturday night we had an activity for couples called "porque te amo". It was really neat because they planned it so that all the couples came dressed up like a prom with a dinner, activites and even dancing. It was a ton of fun and we participated by doing a "sychronized swim" Haha it was awesome and we had 4 couples of investigators come which was awesome. The only issue is that 2 of the 4 aren´t married so this week our goal is to see if we can start that process for them and help them be baptized in June.
Things are going well for me and to be 100% honest I havn´t had time to buy new shoes but I have my pair of brown shoes that we bought before I left that are holding up pretty well. A little bit of money for souveniers is never a bad thing especially since I´m coming down to the last months of my mission and will need to bring stuff home :) I´m fine on clothes and won´t need anything new before I come home so I´m not super worried about that. Thanks again for all of the love and support that you show me and I hope that you know How much I love you. Little Ruby is beautiful and I can´t wait to meet her!
So the changes affected our zone big time but our companionship no. I´m staying with Elder Aguilar! Can you believe it I´ve spent almost all of my time with Mexican companions maybe the Lord is trying to teach me something? So in our zone all of the other 7 companionships had changes which is kind of weird because finally after the 6 weeks of last change we were all coming together and the unity of the zone was looking awesome and now we have to start over from nothing. It´s fun to see changes though and the new missionaries always come in looking to make a new start, work harder, and be more successful. I love the challenges and opportunities the mission brings to grow and become better you always have to be adjusting and improving or else you get left in the dust.
That´s some big time news on the house it´s amazing how you can go from nothing to sold in the space of one week. Not going to lie I was praying that you would be able to sell it quickly so obviously the Lord heard me ;) That´s exciting and change is almost always a good thing to bring us out of our box make new friends and adapt to new situations! I can´t wait to come home and give my homecoming talk to a brand new ward:)
Things here are going well for us. We had five investigators at church yesterday and three of them were the gals that are going to get baptized on Saturday. We finally were able to set up an hour and day when all the people they want there can make it so it should be a special day. I think in the zone for the 25 we have about 12 more people getting baptized and if everything goes how it should every companionship in our zone will have baptized which is amazing and couldn´t make me happier!! Being a zone leader has taught me that the people who you work with need to have success in order to be truly happy so my job is to do whatever it takes to make sure that they have success. When they succeed they want to work more and when they work more they have more success. It´s funny how it all works and the role that we have in helping them become what the Lord wants them to be.
I love Colon and it´s been a lot of fun to serve here and get to learn new things about Panama and the mission. We have our interviews with President Ward on Tuesday and I´ll be sure to ask him and sister Ward about when I´m coming home so that you can have a better time frame. I love you all so much and am so grateful for your love and support! I´m so happy for Courtney and Jason for bringing little Ruby into the world she looks adorable!!! Mom my retainer broke and I don´t really know what to do...I think you have the mold of my teeth that you could run into Doctor Skanchy´s office to have a new one made that you could send to me but if that´s not possible I´m not quite sure what to do! Let me know what you guys decide to do. Thank you for writing me every week and always sharing ideas on how to improve. I´ve noticed that sharing stories is always a powerful way to help people feel the spirit. If you think about it the restoration of the gospel is a story about a young man who had a question. Thanks for all that you do and we´ll talk to you next Monday:)
thanks for your emails and all of the pictures it´s a baby having fest out there what the heck happened? Good luck everyone that´s pregnant I´ll be praying that all goes well with everyone. 5 de Mayo has no significance here and even my Mexican comp forgot about it haha. To celebrate I made an orange freeeze for the family that we ate with last night and they loved it. Everyone was amazed at how sipmle and delicious and simple it was. Hopefully they liked it. Afterwards that lady asked if she could have the bottle to make a food storage container and it made me think of mom and all the food storage we have down in our basement. We´re really blessed in this area to have awesome members that bless us with food and their support. All of sudden we´re starting to receive references and things are moving forward.
On Saturday we´re going to have 3 baptisms and the rest of the zone is going to add 16 more. I think it´s going to be a really special week and I can´t think of any time in my mission that I´ve seen a zone do something like that so as you can imagine I´m proud of the chavos and chavas from our zone! I love to see them have success and it makes me almost as happy as when I´m having success it´s funny how that works.
Wednesday we had consejos with all of the other ZL´s from the mission and it was great it was just what I needed to hear in order to help myself as a leader and the zone. They talked a lot about how as ZL´s we have responsibility for all of the missionaries, areas, and investigators in our zone and making sure that they progress and can baptize. We set a goal in our zone that all 8 companionships can baptize and so now we have to do all we can as their leaders to help them meet the goal.
I love this work even when it rains and I get pooped on by birds haha. I´ll send you the picture. Things are really chugging a long and I couldn´t be happier. Thanks for the suggestion dad and it´s so true. We´re trying to do activities in the chapel because when they get to know it and where it is they feel more comfortable coming and participating in things that we do there.
I´m not going to send a big long email cause we´re going to talk on Sunday. I´m going to call probably about 2 in the afternoon here (I´m not sure what time that is at home haha) and we can chat some more there. It would be cool to hook up like we did last time so that I can talk to some of the other chavos from the family. I love you all and will call you during the week to let you know all the details!
Mom first of all it´s obvious that you made dad work way too hard on Saturday the poor guy looks demolished!! Thanks for the update on the house and all the changes that are coming. For mother´s day we´re probably going to call on the sunday of in the afternoon. Hermana Noris offered us her computer and is excited about having us over, I´m not completely clear on what time it´s going to be at but as you know I´ll call you a few days in advance to let you know all the specifics. It will be fun to get to talk to you all and find out more about all the changes that are going on in the Hawks home. Dad it sounds like your change in work will be refreshing and should help you generate some new energy to keep moving forward!
Speaking of change our zone is in need of a little bit of it. In 6 of the 8 companionships we have missionaries that have been here since before Christmas and for some reason or another their desires to work has gone down the drain. We finished April with only 3 baptisms in the whole zone and not going to lie it´s been a HUGE disappointment. I feel like as the Zone Leader I´m responsible but something that I´m learning is that all we can do as leaders is teach correct principles, give the example and then they have to fulfill their parts and assignments. We´re going to have our meeting with all the other Zone leaders in the mission on Wednesday and we should be able to get some new ideas on how to help our zone lift up and have a great month in May.
Things for us are turning around and looking up. Our area is pretty big and a challenge we have is covering the whole area and visiting our investigators consistently which means that they can´t progress the way that they need to. We have the blessing though of having a lot of returned missionaries and future missionaries in our ward so what we´re going to do is work with them and try to do divisions three times a week and work with for of us in the area so that we´re 4 instead of just 2 and that way we can double our efforts and see twice as many people in our area. Also we´ve started english classes and noches de grupo in the ward to get them animated and to generate some references as well. It´s fun to be winding down the mission but frustrating because I feel like I´m finally getting a hold on how to work, teach, and do this thing and my times ticking away. I know that all I can do is make these last 6 months the most effective and successful months of my mission.
Our ward is amazing and is helping us out a lot right now. I´ve found that the people here want to work the key is just simply asking for their help. A lot of times we put excuses for them and just assume that they won´t be able to leave and do visits with us when in reality if we just ask they´re more than happy to and actually waiting for us to ask for their help. Yesterday we did divisions with 2 of the returned missionaries in our ward and it went really well we were able to contact a few references, visit our investigators and then invite more people to be baptized and church. When the members of the church leave the compromise instead of us it´s a lot more powerful and the investigators feel more committed to actually follow through with them.
Things here are going really well and I´m being blessed by the Lord I can see it every single day. I love being here and love having the chance to be a part of this grand work that God is doing and couldn´t feel more privelaged than to be here in Panama. There´s nowhere I´d rather be!! I love all of you and am looking forward to getting to skype with you on Mother´s day. After that phone call the next time I talk to everyone will be when I get home how crazy is that?! Have a great week and Courtney I´ll be sure to pray for you these next few weeeks as you get ready to bring little Ruby in to the world!
Mom thank you for the emails and congratulations on putting the house up for sale that`s crazy news. I don`t even know what to think I`m going to come home to a new house, new ward, new neighborhood but it`s like they say change is a good thing! Just don`t make it like the RM and have me walk into "my" house and see some chinese guy haha. Congrats stephen on turning the big 18 that`s crazy and all of a sudden this whole mission thing is looking more and more real! Thanks a ton for all of the support and love it`s amazing and has helped me so much to stay animated and working hard. For the money for some new shoes it doesn`t matter just let me know how much and when it`s in so I can get going again!
Things with me are going well right now and the work keeps marching forward. Our zone is kind of at a low point right now and it looks like we`re going to have a slow month of April but it`s just what happens sometimes so we`ll have to get things going in order to make May a great month. Our area is being weird right now and it`s tough to get people progressing. As of right now our pool of investigators is about 20 people but nobody attends church. This week I think we`re going to half to cut down to the most positive inv. and then start focusing on them and then looking for news. It`s tough to come into a new area and start from nothing but I know that things are going to keep moving forward.
I feel like there`s not a ton to report this week because things just kind of are moving slow. Haha on sunday we had stake conference and it really was a great spiritual meeting. One of the first speakers talked about love in the home and how important it is for us to cultivate and them demonstrate love within the walls of our home because outside of our homes we`re not going to receive that same kind of love and support. As the man spoke I couldn`t stop thinking about how much love and faith are related. When we love someone or something we have faith that it`s going to work, that the word of that person is valuable and vice versa. It really made me realize that it`s impossible for us to love someone if we don`t have faith in them and it`s impossible to have faith in someone that you don`t love.
Today we went to the temple and it was so great. It`s a huge blessing to be able to go into the temple and step out of the world. As we do so we can just feel the spirit of the Lord and know that he loves each and every one of us and every single time you go to the temple you can find answers to your questions and inspiration for the things that are causing you trouble. I love it so much and will be sure to make a habit out of temple attendance when I`m home and close to one at all times!
I love you all so much and hope that you have a wonderful week. I love you!
Thanks a ton for all of the emails now that I´m out of the office I don´t really have time to write everyone back but I´ll do my best to answer everything in a general email. Things are going really well right now and it´s been a lot of fun to lose the stress of the office but on the other hand it´s been tough to take on the stress of being in charge of a zone. It´s been a lot of fun and it give you the chance to work with all the missionaries in the zone and learn from them.
Thanks for accepting Noris as your friend she´s an awesome lady and takes really good care of us. I´m impressed with dad´s ability to understand and translate Spanish still and Stephen better whip out his old spanish books and practice!! Haha everything here is going really well so I couldn´t be happier. Dad your spot on with the name of Colon and to be honest it´s city number 2 but doesn´t even compare. It´s small, dirty and full of bad bad people. It´s the most dangerous city in the mission and in the center they never send north american missionaries because they would get robbed...When the americans invaded panama about 20 years ago while noriega was in charge things were really ugly in colon because the people tried to fight back and it didn´t go well for them...
The work is moving forward. It´s different to leave the house at 11 because it´s a time of the day when not many people are home. We´re doing our best to use that time to visit less active members and to teach the people that we know we can see at that time. Our most productive hours are from 5 to 8 because most of the families have gotten home and it´s easier to find them all in the same place at the same time. We´re working with a list of less active members in order to activate and complete families. The Bishop isn´t the happiest with the missionaries that have been here lately because they´ve strengthened the primary a lot for the last few months and he wants us to be teaching families.
The weather here is great and has dropped maybe a degree or two as the rainy season has started but it´s twice as humid so it actually feels hotter ;) I love the tropical weather it´s the greatest! Today on our way to our pday activity we ran into a swiss couple and a girl from hawaii that were going to the same place as us and so I got the chance to talk to them. The couple from Switzerland were DYING of heat it was so funny and reminded me of when I got here over a year and a half ago and how I felt like I was sophocating! It´s crazy how fast the time passes and how much you learn and grow in that short amount of time.
Mom with the shoes I think you´re right. To put some money in my account would be awesome for new shoes and I´ll just buy a pair here to last me to the end of my mission. Thanks so much for all you do and for all of your prayers and support in my behalf it means the world and I promise I´m working hard to make all of you and my Father in Heaven proud. Have a great week and I´ll talk to you next monday!:)
Elder Aguilar is in the red shirt on my side and the other Elder is Elder Perez from Gautemala! This beach was on an island called "isla grande" it was awesome and ps happened today whose jealous? ;)
Thanks a ton for your emails and for the video of Stephen opening his call that was so cool! I´m so excited for him but he´s going to learn the ugliest Spanish in the whole wide world!! Haha my comp and I have been walking around since Thursday speaking in Spanish accents. So I couldn´t go to internet myself but I called my buddies in the office and had them hack my account to tell me where Stephen was headed off to! I´m so excited for him and honestly can´t wait for him to get out and experience the joy that there is in the work of the Lord!
My companion is from the city of Mexico and went to that school that they just closed down to open a new CCM. He´s a great guy and has the same amount of time as me in the mission. He´s super awesome and maybe the most tranquilo person you´ll meet in your whole life. I´m going to really enjoy this change and am excited for the chance to be a Zone Leader here in Colon. Ask the Duffins about Colon they´ll be able to tell you really well what it´s like :) Haha
I don´t know the members hardly at all yet and the investigators either because of conference. On Wednesday when I got here we ate with a man that was more vulgar than anybody I´ve ever heard of in my whole life but this guy was so funny I can´t even explain it to you! Haha the rest of the week we´ve been focusing on finding and working with the less active members of the ward. Things have gone well and we´re going to start doing FHE in the houses of the less active members and leaving with them to invite their neighbors to come. It´s going to be a finding, teaching, and reactiving effort all bundled up into one thing.
Dad thanks for your advice about service. It´s so true that when people feel needed and important they are more likely to be receptive and join in on what we´re doing. Conference was really impressive and the amount of talks focused on missionary work was amazing. The work is really taking off and going through the roof, it´s such a blessing to be a part of this great work and it´s crazy to think that in the next few months my time will be up and I´ll be on the team without a badge. I think the talk that most impressed me was that of Elder Perry. I´ve never heard him speak so strongly. I could feel his passion and was struck by his statement "obedience to the law is liberty" that really affected me for some reason and I know that obedience is what brings us blessings and the miracles that we need in the work.
I don´t know what else to tell you cause theres just so much! To be honest I would love a pair of Ecco church shoes to finish up my mission but I understand that may not be possible but other than that I´m doing well and don´t have a big need for anything:) It will be better to copy and paste the letters from my friends in Dearelder.com and send them that way cause I don´t really have time to read them here at internet. Thank you so much for all of your love and support on my behalf I love you all so much and am so thankful for all the prayers in my behalf you are all amazing!
I watched all 5 sessions of conference on this bad boy :) Haha
Wow I can`t believe Stephen is going to get his mission call this week that`s insane. It`s going to be so cool for him to find out where he`s going and to know where he`ll spend the next two years of his life. Make sure and shoot me an email Thursday night and I`ll have the Elders in the office check me email to let me know! This week that passed is called the "semana santa" and it starts Thursday and ends on Sunday. My companion put it well when he said "even though it`s supposed to be about Jesus all the Panamanians use these days off for is to drink beer" ha-ha.
Ok so to give you the lo-down on Easter here in Panama. It starts on Thursday with parades of Jesus and a lot of the people actually carry crosses in the street and have the roman guards behind them whipping them (that`s something I didn't see last year), Friday there are more parades, Saturday is normal and then Sunday Easter. To be 100% honest here in the city it`s not huge because most of the people that live here go to visit their family members in the interior of the country and out there it`s completely insane! Yesterday being Easter Sunday was awesome. Our bishop caught wind that it would be my last Sunday there in the ward so when we got to the Chapel he called me into his office and asked me to speak. I was assigned the topic of the atonement and I think it went pretty well! Ha ha sometimes I feel like I`m in a dream because a year and a half ago if someone would have asked me to give a 10 minute talk in Spanish I never would have been able to do it but now it`s almost something routine! I`m so blessed to have come here to this country and to have learned this language.
Ok so being in the office I do know my change. I know where I`m going and who I`m going with and it`s actually a really weird feeling. I`m going to be a Zone Leader in a Zone called Colon. It`s about an hour away from the city but just directly across the country. Panama City sits on the Pacific ocean and Colon sits on the Atlantic side. My companion is going to be Elder Aguilar, from Mexico, and it`s going to be super fun because he`s been in a few of the same zones with me in the past. I`m excited and honestly a little nervous for the opportunity to get out and be the leader of an entire zone but I`m looking forward to the new challenge and the change in lifestyle from the office.
The highlight of this week has been yesterday with our baptisms. Between the 4 Elders here in the office we had 6 baptisms yesterday and it was wonderful! Our family of 4 that we've been teaching progressed all the way to baptism and we couldn't be happier about it. Iris, Kaitil, Hidekel and Nilka were all so so happy to be baptized and the most amazing part was to hear Iris (the mom of the three girls) bear her testimony after being baptized. She got up and said how grateful she was and then with tears in her eyes said "I know this is the church of God and it`s where he wants me and my daughters to be" It was such a simple yet powerful testimony and not going to lie it made me a little teary eyed as well. I feel really good about my time here in the office and for as unhappy as I was when I got here it`s going to be just as hard to leave. Once I decided to make my experience in the office the best it could possible be things started working out and I learned things that I never could have learned in another spot in the mission. I`m so thankful to my mission president for having the trust in me to take on this kind of special work in the mission and to my Heavenly Father for doing everything to get his children baptized and just using me as a tool in his hand.
I think the biggest lesson I've learned in the mission is that this work has nothing to do with me. It doesn't really matter how many lessons I have in a day, how many people I contact, or how many references i receive as long as I`m obedient and do what the Lord asks he blesses us with baptisms. He lets us be first hand witnesses of the change and happiness that the gospel brings into the lives of people. I`m so grateful for everything that the Lord has given me and for the blessing my mission has been in my life. I love you all so much and am so thankful for all the support and love that you have all offered me.
Hello everyone!! I couldn`t be happier with Scotty and his decision to go on a mission I`m sure that he did a great job on his talk. Sounds like Uncle Richard is doing some big time farming I didn`t really know that was what he was doing...(sounds like it`s been a little too long since I went out to Fallon) Haha. It`s crazy to hear about all of Stephen`s friends getting there mission calls, I hope one of them comes to Panama that would be awesome! On Saturday we had a meeting with President Ward to get ourselves ready for transfers which are going to be next Wednesday. In that meeting he told us that Panama is going to get up to 250 missionaries with half of them being sister missionaries. It`s amazing to see the growth that`s taking place in our mission and in the rest of the world. It`s a fun time to be a missionary and to be honest I couldn`t be more blessed to be here.
This week brought a lot of good things. We`re still teaching the Herrera family and they are actually progressing really well. We only got two lessons with them because being a single mom here in Panama isn`t cheap and Iris (the mom) works the longest hours. Sometimes she`s gone from 7 in the morning until 9 at night. I respect her so much for making the sacrifices that she does and it makes some of the sacrifices we have to make look like nothing. This week we taught her about the restoration and we made the best decision of our lives by just showing them the hour long Joseph Smith movie. They loved it and really felt the spirit. Tonight we are going to the temple with President Ward and so that should also be really special, there`s just something about the temple here and all the temples in the world. They have a different spirit that you can really feel and it just helps people want to be baptized. This week with them is going to be cool because the 13 year old daughter is going to the camp out with the young women this week and then the day after she gets back will be their baptism. I can`t think of anything better it`s going to be so cool to watch her testimony grow as a result of this experience! Their baptism is going to be the 31st of March (my last Sunday in this ward).
Yesterday we had a stake conference in Brisas del Golf (my first ward). Everyone there was ecstatic to see me and it resulted in a lot of hugs and happiness. I was so proud to see two of my converts there and active and that both of which were worthy Melchizedek priesthood holders. There is literally nothing better than knowing that you helped someone find the gospel and that through your example and the spirit that you could help them feel they could change their lives. Elder Valladares and Martino from the 70 were both there which meant a reorganization of the stake presidency. The old stake president, President Lamb, was from the U.S. and a great man. The new president is a Panamanian, the first one to be the president of the biggest stake in the country. The new president is Jorge Amaya and he was my bishop when I started the mission. He`ll be great and I know that he`s going to help the church make the growth that it needs to make in the next 10 years. It`s funny cause he`s actually a famous commentator here so everyone that sees him recognizes him in an instant!
I think the highlight of the week was the visit that we received from Elder Duncan. One of the advantages to being in the office is that when General Authorities visit we get to drive them around, get them to the airport and meet them individually. It was cool cause Elder smith and I got to meet him personally on Wednesday at President`s house! On Friday we had a zone conference with him and it was amazing. His message was focused on having a vision but not your own vision but the vision of God. He taught us that God has an individual vision for each and every pair of missionaries and for every ward, branch, stake and district. We learned that to have the greatest amount of success we have to capture the vision that God has (that every ward can become a stake) and that after we`ve captured the vision we have to set goals in order to to achieve the vision and then below goals we have to make specific plans. His teaching really inspired me and helped me to realize that for the rest of the 9 months I`m here I need to "capture God`s vision" that means stop thinking about what the ward, people, leaders are but what they can become. Every single area, companion, ward, investigator has a celestial potential and that we have the responsibility to understand that the only way they can reach that potential is through repentance and baptism in the name of Jesus Christ. What I loved about his visit is that we`re always taught that we need to work with our heads before our feet but that never took on a whole lot of meaning until Duncan came because he taught us HOW to work with our heads and gave us a formula for success. To be 100% honest his visit changed my mission and it`s just too bad he didn`t come 9 months ago! Haha
Vision...the overall view of what something can become not what it is
Goals...the steps necessary for realizing our vision.
Plans...a list of works that have to be done.
1. What has to be done...
2. Who has to do what...
3. And when do they have to have it done...
Really if you think about it this formula is what we need to put into practice in our lives as well. If we don`t have a vision of where we want to end up and then don`t set the goals and make the plans to make our vision a reality we`ll never really get anywhere. I feel so blessed to be here on the mission and having the opportunity to learn so much about my Lord and and Savior but to also learn lessons that are going to help me for the rest of my life. I love you all so much and hope that you have a wonderful week!