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!