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!
Thanks for the emails this week it was great to hear from everyone and I loved all of the pictures from the zoo those little girls are just so dang cute I can`t even handle it sometimes. I`m amazed at how much they`ve changed during the time that I`ve been here and can`t hardly believe how much more they`re going to change before I get home! Mom you had a few questions and since I have more time on the computer I`m going to take time to answer all of them. First of all we don`t have a maid we have to clean the house on our own which means that it doesn`t get cleaned all too often. We do clean the bathrooms about once a week but everything else waits a little longer. Our house is an apartment on the third level and as a result our mosquito, mouse, and bug problem is literally non-existent. In my whole 6 months here I literally haven`t seen one single mouse in our house it`s great! Food is tough because being here in the office we don`t have anyone in the ward that cooks us lunch or anything like that so we end up eating out just about every day and on the days we don`t eat out we cook something simple in the office like Mac and Cheese, grilled cheese, eggs, or anything else quick and easy like that. As a result I think I`ve gained around 15 pounds while I`ve been here in the office and I think it all shows in my round, chubby face!
This week we saw incredible progress in a few of our investigators. A few weeks ago when I was on divisions my companion and one of our ZL`s were in our area and they found a family(Familia Herrera the mother, 3 daughters ages 13, 11, 10 and a son 2) of pure gold. In the first lesson they challenged them to be baptized on the 30th of March and we have kept teaching them since. On Saturday a member of our ward invited them over to have a noche de hogar in their house and they showed up and loved it!! Sunday morning they got up late because a huge fight broke out at a house next to theirs and the police came and had to break up the fights and so they didn`t end up sleeping much. They came late to church though and loved it to death. The 12 year old girl went to young women`s and was invited to go to a campout that they`re going to do on the 28th of March. It was amazing and the ward did a great job just pullilng them under their arm and helping them feel welcome in the ward! They are still planning on being baptized the 30th of march and if everything goes according to plan we could have 8 baptisms in our ward that day! 4 from us and then 4 from the other missionaries in the ward so keep praying everyone that it will work out!
I feel like everything is falling into place right now for me to have a wonderful exit from the office with some baptisms. That would be the absolute best way for me to possibly leave and I know that it would be sweet to leave and go get out to work after helping out this area and ward so much! I love the mission and the work that we`re able to do blesses so many lives and blesses us more than we could ever describe it`s the best :)
This week should be another good one and then before we know it I`m going to be out of the office and back to the life of a normal missionary. I`m super excited but nervous that it`s going to be a little bit of a tough transition but I know that I can do it and that I`ll give it my best out in the field until I get home:) Things with me are going really well, I`m safe, healthy, and happy so what more could I really ask for right? I love you all so much and hope that you are doing well and that everyone is happy healthy and moving along! Make sure to give scott a big bro hug and someone should fart in his face for me I think that would be a good present;) Haha
What`s up everyone? Thanks for the emails and all the love it`s so great to hear from everyone on Monday`s I love it so so much:)
This week was good and the highlight was that yesterday we had our baptism. I think I already told you guys about Arturo and how his wife is a member of the church and he spent the 5 years they were married telling her that he would never be Mormon but suddenly had a change of heart and decided to be baptized. It was so cool to see him take this step in his life and know that he`s doing the right thing. He`s becoming the person that the Lord wants him to be. During his testimony he talked about how through the past little while he`s come to know that his family and the other non-material things are what`s really important and that he loves the focus of the church on families. I know that he`s going to be a great addition to the ward here and I wouldn`t be surprised if he was working with the young men in the next little while!!
This week also brought about good things in the field. It`s great to watch Elder Smith pick up on his responsibilities here in the office and get faster at doing them. The more he knows and quicker he can learn all that he needs to do the better we`ll be at getting ourselves out of the office on time. I`ve loved my time here in the office and looking back the biggest lesson that I`ve learned is time management and how having a plan before doing things makes them go much more smoothly and is always good to help you accomplish everything you need to accomplish. Due to our smooth time management this week it allowed us to have at least 5 hours in our area every single day and it was glorious! It`s cool to see how much you can get done in that amount of time.
We have a few investigators with fechas for the 30th of March and a few especially are looking pretty positive. As with all other panamanians the only tough part is getting them to come to church for some reason they are the laziest people when it comes to making a 9 o`clock sacrament meeting. This week one of our goals is to take members to meet all of them so that on Sunday morning the members can go and pick them up Sunday morning to help them get to church. I would love for the support and prayers in behalf of our investigators so they can get baptized on the 30th, their names are...
and unfortunately I don`t know the other little girls name she`s only 11 and it was impossible to understand her name haha. Things here are going really well with me attached to this email I`m going to put up a picture of the baptism yesterday!
I love you all and hope that you have a wonderful week:)
Good monday morning! The sun is shining, clouds are on the horizon and rain is in the forecast. Our happy Panamanian summer is going to be ending in the next few months and we`re going to start moving into the rainy season which is great and all but I would much rather sweat under the sun then get soaking wet under a torrential rain! It`s ok though the best is that it`s just part of the experience and it`s something that you have to love and enjoy. Thank you everyone for the emails and love it was awesome to hear from Stephen about his date to prom and how "well" it ended. He`s such a stud I love that kid to death, and also congratulations on starting with your papers that`s so exciting that you`re going to get going on them and at least give yourself the opportunity to go a little bit earlier! Dad sounds like you`re on the road all the time these days but I must say I agree with you in the sense that meeting with people face to face is more effective than just phone calls and that way you can build better relationships with the people with whom you work. I still haven`t gotten an email from mom but I`m sure it will come in the next few hours but mom thanks for rushing and sending that little package down to Panama with Blanch Linton it was so fun to get something that had been put together that very week!!
This week was a lot of fun and had a lot of things happen. Yesterday alone was crazy enough to write a whole email about but I`ll give you the low down on the whole week. Elder Smith and I are working really hard at getting out of the office at 3 so that we can have as much time as possible in our area and to tell you the truth the results have been wonderful and almost therapeutic. We`ve been able to get out contact, teach and be normal missionaries which has really felt nice. We have a few good investigators that I want to tell you about...
Arturo: He`s the husband of an awesome woman in our ward. She is the primary president and these two have been married for over 5 years. He`s not a member and has gone so far as to tell his wife that he "will never be mormon". Recently he`s started to have a change of heart and all of a sudden he has a burning desire to be baptized and to ultimately get sealed in the temple with his wife. It`s been crazy to watch him turn around and from the nothing decide that the church is what he needs in his life and that it`s what their family needs for the rest of eternity. He will be getting baptized next week on the 10th so I`ll be sure to send pictures so that you can all see next week!!
Alexandra: She is the girlfriend of one of the members here in the ward and isn`t a member. She`s come to church a few times and has obviously really liked it but last week in church we went up to her and asked if she would like to meet with us. She was happy and excited and told us absolutely. On Saturday when we went to the appointment that we put with her and we talked a lot about baptism and why it`s necessary to be baptized in the true church by someone who holds the priesthood authority of God. She gave us the classic Panamanian answer that she had already been baptized once by the Catholic church but that she didn`t remember it and that she would love to baptized again as her own decision. We put a fecha with her for the 16th of March and she accepted. The only thing that could be a challenge for us is her mom. Her family is split between hardcore atheists and then hardcore Catholics, I know weird combo but we`ll see how it turns out and hopefully we can help her to get baptized.
Yesterday was wild and there`s a saying that a picture is worth a thousand words so I think I`ll just send you a few words to let you know how it was...Haha I love you all, I love the Lord, and I love my mission. It`s amazing to watch the Lord`s hand in my life as a missionary and how much he works in the lives of others to prepare them for this Gospel. I`ve come to know better and better as time moves on that this isn`t my mission it`s His. Without God none of this would be possible and thankfully it truly is his work and with his help we can become so much more that what we would be otherwise.
Andrew Russell Hawks
We got some pictures from Andrew of an iguana. They are attached. This is how he responded when we asked him for more details. Enjoy :)
Yes I did get the picture of Stephen and then Kenzie sent me a few pictures of Kylee set apart and ready to go...That`s all so exciting!! Thank you for what you do for me mom and I`ll tell you now about the iguana.
We were at the church on Sunday and we walked outside and saw it run into the rain gutter. When we lifted the cover off of the gutter we saw that it was stuck inside so my comp was a champ and started trying to save it. As we were pulling it out the tail fell off and it climbed back into the gutter and got stuck again! We had to save it so we pulled it out again and this time we got it all the way out and my comp threw it cause it started thrashing all over the place. When it hit the ground it ran like crazy and wore itself out. While it was tired we took advantage and took a bunch of pictures of it and then we left it alone! It was crazy and I was so happy to see an Iguana for the first time:)
Sorry for not writing last week to say that we were busy would probably be an understatement. Monday night last week I didn`t get to bed until 3 in the morning because we were spending so much time finishing up everything for our changes. Changes were last Tuesday and along with that came 24 new missionaries with the majority being hermanas. It was a fun time and I got a new companion during this meeting. His name is Elder Smith and I`m going to be training him to be the new general secretary which means that I`ll be leaving the office on the 2nd of April. It`s kind of exciting but at the same time looking back on my time in the office it`s been amazing and I`ve learned so much!!
This week with Elder Smith was cool. He`s from Highland Utah and went to American Fork High school. He`s a year younger than me and he graduated in 2012 and then just left right on his mission in the summer. He`s been out for 8 months and was actually Elder Cottrell`s companion in the MTC as a result we`re all getting along really well and weren`t doing a whole lot of sleeping until about 12 or 1 these past few days. It`s so cool cause we all get along really well and he has so much excitement to be a missionary which makes me happy cause now that I don`t have to do the things in the office I`m just itching to get out and go to work! He`s been a champ and we`re working really really hard.
We also changed to the other area within the ward and it`s been a nice change because now all of the members live in my area. We`ve made a big commitment to work with them as much as possible in an effort to work with more referrals and do a little bit less contacting and more teaching. It`s gone well so far and it`s been fun to try and get them involved. It`s really neat to find the members in the ward who are willing to work with us and then use them to bring other people into the church. It`s always interesting to see how within every single ward there are at least 2 or 3 members who are really interested in helping us a lot of times we just have to find them and then ask for their help.
Since we`re whitewashing the new area we`ve had to do a lot of contacting as well which is a lot of fun. You never know what kind of people you`re going to run into and you never know what they`re going to say. When you go contacting is when you have the most crazy stories to share and you never know what you`re going to get to deal with! So far it`s been pretty chill but some of the contacts that we made on Thursday accepted baptismal fechas so we`ll be working on getting them ready for the 30th of March. It`s been good to have a new companion and move to the other area it brings a lot of excitement to the work and helps keep you motivated and doing what you need to do!
I couldn`t be happier about the new mission president. We figured out it was him due to a few clues from Pres. Ward and then our own research and we`re excited it`s crazy to be a part of such a wonderful work. He seems like a good guy but I have a feeling he`s going to be a 100 percent change from what we`ve had for the past little while with Pres. Ward. He`s been pretty layed back and his main talent has been getting us fired up to work hard. I have a feeling that this new mission President is going to be a bit more serious and bring the mission more of a spiritual boost. It will be fun to see how things go but unfortunately I won`t be in the office when he gets here so I won`t have the chance to get to work with him right off the bat. I would imagine that most of the mission doesn`t know he`s going to be our new president and that less know about the 58 missions that have been opened. It`s fun to be in the office for that exact reason, we get a little bit of a head start on a lot of information;)
I`m doing really well and can`t complain about anything. The work moves forward and being a part of it is just a pleasure. Thank you so much for the package, it got here on Friday and was just perfect I was just about to throw a few nasty shirts away and these three will get put right to use and the vans are perfect they fit like a champ and just make me happy I`ve missed my vans. You`re the best mom:)
I hope that you all have a wonderful week and I can`t wait to hear back from you next week!
First of all Stephen you looked like a stud at that Sweethearts Dance! Michael I hope that you had a fun time at your tournament this weekend. Jason and Courtney have so much fun at the All star festivities and the rest of you keep being awesome. Dad I absolutely loved your story about having the missionaries over to do splits, literally while I was reading it I could see very clearly in my mind how you would be during a practice like that and I´m glad you were forward with the missionary and gave him some constructive criticism. I loved what mom said about getting to know the people and really getting them to talk about themselves and then go into teaching the gospel from what they say. Something that I have learned and love about Preach my Gospel is that we have the liberty to do exactly that. We don´t have to worry about teaching the whole lesson we just have to be able to connect with the investigators and from their start to teach depending on what they need to come unto Christ. Something that I think about a lot is how we think they need to know everything before their baptized but it´s really not like that at all. As long as the people have the desire to be forgiven of their sins and begin to live a better life they´re on the right path. I love the simplicity of the Gospel but have also come to understand that no matter what knowledge you think you have can be increased.
Dad to answer your question about having given priesthood blessings the answer is yes I´ve had to do that a number of times. It never ceases to amaze me how randomly they come up and how we have to be prepared at all the time to be worthy to give them.
This week was one of those fast ones and it´s because there was a lot that was going on. On Tuesday we got a small batch of 5 new missionaries and it was really complicated because it´s the middle of the change so President had to move a lot of people around. It was fun though and as always with the new missionaries we had the opportunity to train them before they went out into the field. This group has a lot of really sharp new kids and it´s going to be fun to see if I get to be one of their companions when I leave the office. Another fun side note is that my son (in the mission sense) Elder Hinojosa is training one of the new ones with only 7 months in the mission obviously I did something right when I trained him;) Haha I´m really excited for him to have this chance to get to help a new missionary have a great start to their mission. Training was so much fun and I figured that one of the best thing that I could do was help him to have a good experience by baptizing and working hard. He´ll be great because he´s so happy and upbeat so it would be impossible for a new missionary to not be happy with him.
In terms of investigators we´re struggling right now. All of the people that we´ve been teaching have stopped progressing and as a result we´ve had to basically start over with what we´ve been doing. It´s tough because for the first time in my mission we literally have nothing going on in our area and it´s not our fault because we´ve been working the people just haven´t progressed. We´re doing ok though and have to keep working and trying some new things to get new investigators and help the ward. We took out a list of all the members in our ward and we´re trying to work with the less actives in order to find new investigators. It´s going to be interesting because our area is divided in two with the other elders who are here in the office and their area is the part with the grand majority of the members active and inactive so we´ll see how it goes but I think we can have some success if we work in that way!
Yesterday I got permission from president ward to go back to Cabuya and baptize the daughter of one of my favorite members of all time. It was a typical Panamanian baptism hot, lots of loud little kids, loud fans but full of the spirit. It was interesting because the whole reason I baptized this little girl is that her dad isn´t worthy right now to do so because he´s been inactive. It was hard and I think it made him sad to not be able to baptize his daughter but hopefully it will motivate him to start going to church and become worthy to do so with his last daughter. It was so spiritual and Noelia (the little girl) was so cute, reverent and happy to be baptized and just gave me a giant hug afterwards. I´m so glad that President let me go back and have the chance to baptize her it was really a great experience!
Things here in Panama are going well and the work continues to move forward. I love being here and couldn´t be happier about the work that I have the chance to do. I love you all so much and am so thankful for your love and support in my behalf it means so much!
Happy 4th of February 2013 on a nice, sunny warm morning looking out onto the ocean...Is anyone jealous yet?;) Haha I´m glad to hear that everything is going well in the mother land and I´m pretty glad the Ravens won that´s cool that Dennis Pitta had some success!! I didn´t even realize it was the super bowl until late last night when our neighbor (white guy from Idaho) started yelling his guts out about some play. I think it´s better that way anyway that must mean I´m doing something right and keeping myself out of the world:) I´m glad dad had such a fun time on the Klondike (that was always my least favorite campout too haha), that mom is chugging along in work, that Michael is moving on after his heartbreak and that Stephen is being the classic kassanova I know and love! Hearing about everything reminds me that 2 years is a long time but in reality not too much changes and the people you love keep being the same people you love! Please tell Michael to email me about his feelings and what´s going on I would love to hear from him especially right now!
Ah this week was a good one. Elder Wade was sent away to Tocumen it´s the zone that´s right next to the airport so he´ll have a nice finish to his mission watching planes fly in and out all day long! Cottrell and I are excited about it cause now we won´t have to be in a trio and teaching will become a lot easier. It´s not too hard for two people to get in sync and teach together but when you throw in a third voice it´s a little bit more complicated! Another small, fun piece of news is that this week I was made emergency District Leader haha. It´s emergency because this last week a small group of Elders went home and all of them were Zone Leaders so the District leaders in our zone all had emergency changes to go be Zone leaders and we were left without a District Leader haha. It´s fun and the only thing that changes is that I have to report numbers with all the areas in the zone and then I have to teach in district meetings on Tuesdays! I also get to do divisions with the Elders and help them be better and then do all the interviews for the people that are going to be baptized.
Our area is doing OK to be honest. It´s tough because we have two parts within our area. One is very very rich (the President of Panama lives there), and then the other part is a small slum. Obviously it´s much easier and effective to work in the poorer area because they´re more receptive to God and actually feel as though they need him in their lives. The only issue is that this part is very small and all the other missionaries that have been here have felt the same as us so the area has been worked a lot. Another thing that makes it tough is that we share our ward boundaries with the two other elders in the office and unfortunately all the members live in their area which makes it difficult to work well with members. We´re open to any ideas to help us out and get things cooking but meanwhile we´re doing our best to contact and work with our old investigators.
Unfortunately nothing more has happened with the boy we played basketball with because they´re just always always working and so in order for us to get the whole family together is tough but we´ll keep trying and see if we can figure it out. This week we were doing our rounds in our area, contacting, visiting people and we went down to the house of a lady we´ve been teaching for the last little while. When we walked in a young boy walked in and started asking us all kinds of questions about who we were, what we were doing here and why we always had on shirts and ties. It was funny to talk to him and just look at his 18 year old face marvel at what we were doing cause if we think about it for non members the life we live as missionaries is completely different than anything any other young man is doing with their life. It´s refreshing when people talk to you and understand a little bit better why we´re here because they really come to know that we´re doing it for them that we want to help them have a better sense of purpose in life, and that most importantly we just want them to know their Lord Jesus Christ. It´s fun being a missionary and having the chance to talk with everyone about Christ is amazing and something that just makes me happy!
This week I learned an important lesson about open communication and how important it is to make sure that we´re understood. When we´re in relationships with family, friends, girlfriends etc the communication is critical and if we don´t have it feelings get hurt and small issues turn into large problems. This week our communication was not very good in the office and it caused a lot of issues this last weekend. On Saturday night we got home, all sat down and talked the whole thing out. Hurt feelings were repaired, the bad communication was resolved and in the end all the issues that had come up were resolved. I stayed up thinking for a long time about that and realized how important it is for us to be open with each other and not let small issues build and simmer until they become big and finally explode. By just sitting down and figuring the small things out we can avoid large issues and our love for one another grows because we know we can trust and confide in those that surround us.
I love you all and am so thankful for your sacrifices to help me be here on the mission. It makes me so happy to hear from you all and know that you´re thinking about me and that this mission isn´t just important to me but to all of you as well. I love being here and am so thankful that I was able to make the necessary decisions to be here!
Thank you again for everything I´m so lucky to have such a wonderful family! I can´t wait to hear from you again next Monday have a great week:)