Hello All, We spent a wonderful week in Panama with Andrew and were able to visit some tourist sites, meet with the wonderful members who took care of him and attend the Panama Temple with all the returning missionaries. IT WAS ALL AWESOME! Andrew and Rob then flew to Mexico City where they are staying with Andrew's first missionary companion and are attending the sealing of a family that was baptized at the beginning of his mission. They are scheduled to arrive home tomorrow night at about9:00 pm. BEST CHRISTMAS PRESENT EVER!!!!! Andrew will report in the Lone Hollow Ward on December 29th at 9:00 am. We are very grateful for the experiences he has had, the friends he has made, the lessons he has learned and his testimony that has been strengthened and shared with others. Thanks to all of you for your love, support and prayers. We hope to see you over the holidays. Merry Christmas, Carolyn
We had an uneventful trip to Toluca where we met the Barrera and Dascon (the couple getting sealed) families and had a real Mexican taco dinner. Andrew and I both ate til we were sick. We both decided that it is the tortillas that really make the difference.
Today, after church, we made a trip to the pyramids at Teotihuacan. It was an amazing experience. We hired a Mexican guide ($42 split three ways :) and listened to the tour in Spanish.
The Barreras have really taken us in and made us feel a part of their family. We even had Choco Crispies (Mexican name) for breakfast.
Barrera family with Andrew. Elder (Jacob) Barrera is the one with the glasses.
Andrew with the Dascon family. The wife (her head is right behind Andrew) couldn't stop hugging and kissing him on the top of the head. Very awesome reception.
I can hardly believe that two years have come and gone and this great journey of my mission is coming to an end...anyways. This last week is going to be full of things to do. We are going to have mission leadership training and we had a few new investigators in church today so we´ve got plenty to do don´t worry I won´t quit yet!
Today was special because Yovani got baptized. It was seriously an amazing experience and you will have the opportunity to meet him. He wants to take us to lunch one day while you guys are here I just haven´t really made plans as for what day it will be...
Thanks for all the support that you´ve given me in these two years it´s crazy to think that I won´t be sending any more emails home...Well I did it haha. We´ll see you next sunday!
Thanks a lot for the emails it´s wonderful to hear from you all even after 2 years. Thank you to everyone who has been writing me it means the world.
This week was great we did our capacitacion in Chiriqui and everything went really well. The zones out there are working really well and it was a pleasure to work with the leaders there. In our mission we have a lot of sisters and so what has happened in our mission is that certain sisters have been assigned to be "sister leaders" and they do basically everything that the District Leaders can´t: Divisions, comp study, and all of that good stuff. It´s been an interesting experience to work with them and in these capacitaciones I´m working with them. What we´re doing to train them is teaching but more than anything having a conversation to help them understand that their main focus with the sisters has to be to help them baptize. It´s funny because companionships that baptize are happy, they get along, they´re obedient and everything goes well but a lot of times when they don´t see results for their work they lose their focus, get frustrated, fight and the things go down hill a little bit. The sisters in this mission are great and they work really really hard in every aspect. I´ve gained a lot of respect for them.
This week that´s coming will be a great one because Jovani is going to be baptized on Sunday. He was a reference that we receieved almost two weeks ago and he´s super super excited to be baptized. He´s about 50 years old and has been a very successful businessman here in Panama. He´s dating a girl name Shantel from Utah and she´s going to be coming down here in January to marry him and then a year from now they´ll be getting sealed so it sounds like I´m going to have to save my pennies to maybe make the trip a year from now. He´s a wonderful man and has a very impressive ability to understand the doctrine and why it´s important in his life quickly. I love getting to teach him and it´s going to be amazing to finish the mission with a baptism.
I´m really looking forward to seeing mom and dad in a few weeks here and the rest of you as well. I can´t wait for them to meet all of the people that I´ve worked with and the people that mean so much in my life. I love you all and hope that you have a great week.
Tell Grandpa Hawks to get better soon and that I´ll be praying for him while he recovers and then once I´m home I´ll be down there to visit him!
Here's a quick note for you to let you know that our traveling went safe. Tonight we're staying with a senior couple here in the mission.
Our travels went really well and we spent the day in a town called Boquete. If you ask the Duffins about it I'm sure that they'll tell you it was their favorite place in all of Panama. It's gorgeous and in a way reminds me of Park City in Utah with all of the little stores, restraunts and all that jazz. I took some pictures but I think the fail of this man's parking takes the cake as the picture of the day. I love you all and hope that you have better luck parking your cars this week than this guy :)
Hey I`m writing you tonight because tomorrow we`re going to be leaving to do some training meetings in David. I just wanted to let you know that things are going really well with me and it`s getting closer every single day the moment that you guys are going to be here and I can show you all around this country that I love.
I haven`t heard much but I just want you to know that I`m ok and that I`m happy. This week was great because we received a reference of a man named Giovani. He`s dating a woman from Salt Lake City who`s a member of the church and as a result he`s started to find out a little bit more about what we believe. He`s accepted a fecha to be baptized on the 30th of November and even came to church today which means that he`s making good progress. I like to teach him because he has a real desire to learn more about the church and to make the decisions that are going ot make his life better. It`s refreshing to teach someone like that that`s so interested in what you have to say and the blessings the gospel can bring to their lives.
I love you and hope that you have a great week and we`ll be in contact next week! Also, if you can get back to me about me going to Mexico that would be awesome because the date of the sealing is going to be the 17th of December so that I can be there and participate with them. Thanks again! I love you all lots and lots and we`ll see you soon! (I feel really weird saying that)
Hey thanks a bunch for the emails and for the packages from last week. I´m happy to know that you guys are doing well and that everything is going good on the home front. I love you all!
So I´m feeling really lazy to write letters because in a few weeks I´m going to be able to tell you about all the stuff that´s happening here so this is going to be short. This week was good as always and i´m sure that the next week will be good too. Having four of us has been a huge help because we can cover a lot more space and see more of the missionaries in the week. This week we visited 3 zones and in all of them things are improving. Something that we´re discovering is that as a whole the Sisters are better teachers but the Elders are better at challenging their investigators. I´ve noticed that a lot of us are afraid to invite our friends or family members to learn more about the church. My favorite scripture for this subject is in 1 John 4: 18 because that´s where we learn that we need to show our love for God and for the people around us by teaching them the gospel.
Yesterday I got to speak in church which was kind of fun. It´s weird to think how comfortable I am giving talks now and especially in Spanish. Before the mission I would get terrified to do something like that and now it´s just natural. I love that. Things are going well in our area as well. We received a few references this weekend and now we´re going to have to get in touch with them so that Laurino and I can baptize in our last change of the mission.
I love you all and hope that you keep doing well. I´ll be sure to be praying for my friends in the Phillipines and I know that what´s happening there is kind of like what happened to Ammon when the Lamanites started to scatter the sheep of the king. It´s all about how we see the situation and we can use it to our advantage as an opportunity to work with the people and have new finding and teaching experiences. I love you and hope you have a great week!
Dad this is an "Asado" that we did last night. Hopefully it brings back a memory or two from your mission!
Sorry for writing a little bit late I was really busy partying the whole day away ;) Haha no just teasing. Thanks for the emails and the news about Halloween. Latin America still hasn`t caught onto the idea that Halloween can be a lot of fun and really cool, as we say here in Panama "ellos están en panga!" Halloween isn`t really a big deal at all here but it`s ok I`ll get over it! This week was crazy as we had our changes week and brought in two more companions. Changes went pretty smoothly as it didn`t require staying up too late too many nights! On Thursday we had to get up early to be to the airport at 5 in the morning to see off the missionaries and hermanas heading home. It`s crazy to think that`s going to be me in 5 weeks. Don`t worry I`m not counting but it`s kind of impossible not to have that in the back of your head at this point haha.
Well today was my birthday, thanks a ton from everyone with all of the birthday wishes and emails I felt really popular today ;) It was a good day and started nice and early. At 4 this morning we had to run some missionaries to the airport so that they could go to San Blas, right after at 5 we headed to take President to the airport in Tocumen so that he could make it to his meetings in Guatemala, and then we went to sleep for a little bit, my comps made me breakfast and then we headed out! Today is a holiday here in Panama and I don`t know if you all remember but they do parades and march around in the street just about all the day so we left to come and check it out, then we headed off to Tocumen to have lunch with a lady from my old ward there. It was sweet cause her husband drew a cartoon version of me and put it in a frame. I`ll send you a picture of it so that you can see me cartoon style haha. After hanging around there and eating a TON of food we headed off to visit some of Elder Escelantes converts there close in Tocumen. It was fun and they gave us even more food haha we were bursting. Then we went to visit a lady from my first area in Brisas del Golf because she had bought me a cake! So we got there and ate even more!! I don`t know what it is about birthday`s but the whole world just wants to feed you!! It was a fun day though and it felt good to be with people that I love and that have made an impact on my life.
This last change of my mission I`m going to have 3 companions which is going to be a lot of fun! I`m staying with Elder Laurino but we`re adding Elder Duron and Elder Escelante.
Elder Duron: He`s from Honduras and has 13 months in the mission. He`s awesome, speaks perfect English and is a ton of fun to be around. It`s fun to be with him because he`s young in the mission and has a lot of new ideas for us to be able to work with all of the new Elders and Sisters.
Elder Escalante: He`s from Colombia and has 18 months in the mission. He`s absolutely awesome and from Colombia that`s about all that you need to know because Colombians are the coolest, friendliest, nicest people in the world.
It`s great to be in the mission and have the chance to finish my mission strong. I love you all and can`t wait to hear back from you next week!
Thanks for the emails and the pictures of the new house it looks my new room is coming along nicely ;) Haha it`s good to know that in just a few short months the house will be done and we`ll be making the move in. Not going to lie not super excited about being involved in that part but it will be fun right?
Well anyways happy halloween this week I would love some pictures next monday of everyone decked out in their best halloween gear especially the little girls. Mom thank you for the package it made it here, for some reason or another was opened and I`m enjoying my new socks this very moment. Thanks I love you sorry for being impatient...Everything is looking good for me and I`m excited to start my last transfer. This week is another crazy one with the new missionaries coming and all the work that has to go into the changes but the good thing is that this is the last time I have to do all of this stuff! My companion and I had a good week but the only bummer is that Kevin, the 17 year old kid we`re teaching, couldn`t get baptized this weekend because his mom wouldn`t give him permission. We`re going to work more with him this week but also with her so that she can feel sure about the decision her son wants to make.
Our ward celebrated it`s last sacrament meeting yesterday in the chapel because they`re going to tear the building down and build a huge 2 story building in the next 2 years. So our chapel will officially be a bunch of rubble in the next few weeks and we`ll be attending the chapel in Cardenas (right next to the temple) for the next few months. It`s going to be a great opportunity to be close to the temple every sunday and when we have investigators it will be neat to walk out from the meetings and then take them over to the temple and show them around right away!
Well I love the mission and am happy where I`m at and am feeling good about finishing my mission in the best way possible. I got thinking that this week I could have been coming home but I feel good about deciding to finish out my mission and take advantage of the amazing once in a lifetime opportunity that it is. I love you all and hope that you have a great week. Until next monday!:)
A fun fact from Sister Carmack: Panama is one of the first missions in the church to have more sister missionaries than elders!
Thanks for the emails. Everything went well this week in our travels and we made it to all of the zones safe and sound. The capacitacion that we´re doing is really helping animate the missionaries to work and move their focus to baptizing more people. I drove over 2,000 Kilometers this week and it was exhausting not going to lie but it was worth it. We got to drive through some of the most beautiful parts of the whole country and I never cease to be amazed at how much I love this country and how beautiful it really is. I love being here and having the chance to serve the people here.
I can´t tell you a lot because tomorrow we´re heading out to Chitre to do another capacitacion. I love you all and will write you a little more on Wednesday or Thursday when I have some more time!
Sorry to be short but my companion and I are heading out to "el interior" to do our capacitations with the zones out there. It`s going to be about a 5 hour drive and we have to get there to pick up President who`s going to be flying in this afternoon. Thanks so much for your email and all of the love that you`re showing me and thanks also for all of the help with school. Yesterday was a good day because one of our investigators Kevin accepted a fecha to be baptized. It`s a neat story because I contacted him over a year ago one night when we were playing soccer with some other investigators and now he`s getting interested.
Yesterday and Saturday was stake conference and the stake president (jorge amaya, a famous commentator here in Panama and the bishop of the ward in Brisas del Golf when I was there) asked my companion and I to teach in the priesthood session how the priesthood can help in missionary work. We talked about working hand in hand with the priesthood to do visits. In our stake only 19% of the families receive visits and one of our main goals is to work with less active members to reactivate and baptize those in the families that haven`t had that opportunity. It was a different experience to stand in front of a bunch of bishops and elders quorom presidents instead of a bunch of missionaries but it was fun and I think we did a good job!
I love you all so much and can`t wait to hear from you next week! Make sure to send me pictures from Disneyland please!
Thanks a bunch for the emails and pictures that I got from Kylan! Happy late birthday to Jason yesterday and it´s good to know that he´s still alive even though he´s getting so old these days ;) Thanks again for the love it´s good to hear from all of you and know that you´re doing well!
This week the big time highlight was conference. My favorite session was definitely the Sunday morning session and my number one favorite talk was Richard G. Scott. I loved it because it gave me a clear idea of what to do when I get home to make sure that I can keep doing what the Lord wants me to do. Conference is always amazing because it helps us to put into perspective where we are spiritually and then evaluate what we can do to improve and keep progressing. For these sessions we were all over the place in our own chapel, Brisas del Golf (the chapel in my first area) and President and Sister Carmack invited us over to their house on Sunday to eat roast beef and mashed potatoes for lunch and then watch the last session of Sunday in their house. It made me just a little bit trunky not going to lie. haha I loved it and the most important thing is that our investigators made it and they felt the spirit. We are teaching one lady, Alina from Cuba, who has had a past with the law of chastity and not really understood why the church has the strict rule that it does but after hearing Elder Oaks she started to cry and said that she finally understood why it´s so important to God. I love conference and the fact that it´s one of the ways that God talks to us and answers our prayers.
On this last wednesday we had our leadership council in the mission and it was successful in the sense that we got down to what´s going on and why our number of baptisms is going down. Something that Elder Ochoa taught is that the number of baptisms in the mission is the responsibilty of the assistents so if the numbers are down they´re the ones that need to get things to change. What´s happening is that right now we are lacking strong leaders with initiative to make changes and help their zones move forward. What is happening is that instead of looking for solutions to their own problems and difficulties they automatically look for the easy way out and call us for answers. Something that the best leaders do is that instead of seeing problems they find solutions. It´s been a big time learning experience to have the opportunity of serving all of the missionaries.
This week that´s coming we´re going to start doing special zone training meetings in all of the 11 zones in the mission which will give us a good chance to help all of these new sisters and elders learn how to teach and help their investigators progress towards baptism. It will be fun to get out and travel and then also do divisions with lots of the missionaries in the next few weeks and I know that if we do it right we can bless the missions of a lot of people.
I love you all and am so thankful for all that you do for me. Mom if you´re thinking about sending me a package for my birthday I think it would be better to just send me money in my account so that you don´t have to worry about it. Also I´m thinking it would be cool to buy a new suit before coming home so I don´t know what you think about that but it´s something that would be sweet. Thank you again for everything I always loving hearing from the fam on Monday´s. Have a great week and until next Monday!
Thanks for your emails it´s always fun to hear from you and weird to think that in a few weeks I´ll be sending those emails to Stephen in his mission. What the? Haha anyways it´s good to hear that everything is going well and I knew it was just a matter of time that the police would be after Ty! Mom I`ll make sure to get in touch with the family this week and finalize dates so that you guys can come and pick me up. Everyone that`s going home in December has their release date as the 12th of December but it`s flexible. If they already have plans to come and pick her up earlier or later it will work out just fine.
The big news this week is that Amparo was baptized. To answer your questions mom she is about your age and is here from colombia helping out her daughter by taking care of her kids while she works. When she got here to Panama she wasn´t a big fan of the church because of what she had read online. Her daughter finally convinced her to come to church and ever since things just started going better, she felt the spirit and has gotten to the point where she decided to be baptized. I`ve been amazed at seeing how powerful of an experience it is to take investigators to the temple because they always feel the spirit and almost always end up getting baptized. She was so excited and felt so good after her baptism that she just decided to stay and watch the relief society general meeting it was awesome!
On a little bit of a tough note yesterday it rained really really hard and a few members from my old ward in Panama Viejo called us asking for help cleaning out their flooded houses. At one point the water inside their house got almost up to my knees. The funnest part is that the water was pretty brown from all of the fun surprises that were in it haha my companion and I the Zone Leaders and the four from the office spent the whole afternoon yesterday helping members and a few of their neighbors clean out their houses! It was a lot of fun by the end to be honest and we were able to help them out a lot which felt really good. I`ll send you a few pictures!
Overall things are going really well here. The mission as a whole is in a strange moment of change and adjustment to all of the things that are happening in the mission. Bringing in a lot of sisters has made a huge impact on our mission as we now have more sisters than Elders and about 70% of the sisters have 6 months or less in the mission. This change has meant a lot of areas where elders were working were closed and then reopened to sisters and it`s slowed down our monthly number of baptisms. This month we finished with only 73 baptisms in the whole mission which is a low low number for the second month in a row. I think that as things keep moving forward and we settle into a little bit more of a groove with the areas and who`s going to be where it`s going to help that number go up.
Mom to answer your question for my birthday don`t worry about sending any type of package if you could just put some money into my account that would be the best. Honestly I`m doing really well right now and am happy to have the chance to finish out my mission in the best way possible. I love you guys and am so thankful for all of the love and support that I feel from all of you! Have a great week and until next monday!
Thanks for your emails with all the love support and good news! I`m glad everyone is doing well and I love hearing from all of you.
Things here are going really well and we made it out of our changes week and all of the missionaries are sleeping on beds so I feel good about that. It`s been a long week with a lot of late nights but it`s been worth it to help out the missionaries. Happy missionaries are missionaries that work harder and in turn baptize more so we work hard to make sure the missionaries are happy! Changes was smooth and we welcomed 22 new sisters into the mission and the poor elder that came was feeling a little lonely surrounded by so many sisters. It feels good to have finished our visit with Ochoa and done changes all in the same week and having things gone well. "Work to be a little better today than what you were yesterday" Elder Ochoa (I really liked that quote)
Things with me and my comp are going really well. I absolutely love working with him because we have a lot of things in common but at the same time we have enough different talents that we`re able to balance each other out really well. Teaching with him is super super fun!!
Next Saturday our work is going to pay off and we`re going to have a baptism. Her name is Amparo and she`s the lady that we took to the temple last Sunday night. She`s rock solid committed to being baptized and it`s amazing to see how excited she is to make this decision that is going to change her life. It`s fun to work with her because she wants to change and wants to repent. Something that we learned from Elder Ochoa is to be more direct with people. Doing that is tough sometimes because it requires telling them straight up that what they`re doing isn`t ok in the eyes of the Lord and that they need to change but always in a loving helpful way. I`ve seen that by helping them understand that what they`re doing isn`t ok helps them to understand that they need to make changes in their lives.
I sometimes wish I could start my mission over with all the things that I know now but I understand that would be against the point. It`s fun to think about the missionary that I was almost two years ago and realize how much the Lord has changed me and tried to make me an instrument in His hands. I love missionary work and want to be a part of it the rest of my life! I love you all and hope that you have a wonderful week!
Elder Hawks (the one in Panama)
P.S. Mom could you send me the recipe for your homemade brownies I want to make them for some recent converts here! LOVE YOU!
Thanks a ton for your emails it`s always good to hear what`s going on at the homefront. I hope that everyone is doing well and that life just keeps on moving forward. I feel like it must be kind of weird to not have any kids at home and to have two in different countries! It`s fun being a missionary mom right?:) In terms of familia tascon (the ones from colombia who are in Mexico) they are actually out of town right now so they haven`t been able to answer their phone or email and so I`m still not sure as to any kind of date. I think they get back this week and I`ll get a hold of them and let you guys know!
Well to be honest life is pretty stressful for us right now because we just finished our mission tour with Elder Ochoa and now we have changes this Wednesday. Tomorrow there are 22 new missionaries coming and only 4 went home se we`ve ended up having to open a total of 9 new areas. When it comes down to the logistics that`s 18 new beds, 18 new mattresses, dressers, tables, chairs and everything else that a missionary will need in order to live. It`s going to mean a lot of work from our end in the next few days...Anyways.
The meetings that we had with Elder Ochoa were very neat. It always amazes me how long these guys can speak and how strongly you can feel the spirit from the things that they teach. We learned a lot about our mission and a few things that we need to change. One of the main thing that`s happening in our mission is that we spend too much time working with people that arent`t going to progress and actually end up wasting time with them that we could be using to find the "escogidos". As a mission we need to have the love to tell someone that we`re going to stop teaching them because they don`t want to repent and join the church and spend our time looking for and working with those who are ready to repent and be baptized today. It was something that made me think a lot and it`s so true I`ve done just that a lot of my mission is spend too much time working with someone who wasn`t going to progress and losing time that I could have spent looking for new people to teach.
This is going to sound corny and maybe clichè but one of the things I`ve spent a lot of my time studying and trying to learn about during my mission is love. That kind of love that God and Jesus Christ have for us. The kind that leads us to act and do whatever is necessary for our brothers and sisters. During this conference I learned that having love for God and our fellow men means that we`re willing and excited to do anything in our power to help others repent and come unto Jesus Christ. To me that`s true love because it`s doing whatever is in our power to help people be saved and to make their way back to live with God. We never need to be afraid because true love overcomes any fear that we could possibly feel. I had a few other special experiences while Elder Ochoa came but it`s enough to say that I know that he was sent by God to help our mission and to help me personally.
Another of his teachings was simple but true. "Try a little harder to be a little better every day". He talked about how we much constantly be working on being more obiedient, working a little bit harder, teaching a little more effectively and being better people every day. It`s a simple formula but if we live to it we`ll never stop progressing and eventually we`ll become who the Lord wants us to be. I`m so thankful for the mission and for all of the experiences that I`ve been able to have because of it. I feel like I`m the same person but then I take a step back and know that the Lord has changed me quite a bit in this past little while haha.
This is Christ`s church and I`m so blessed to be in His service! I love you all and am so thankful for your support I pray for you all every day.
P.S. The picture is of us and the Zone Leaders who live in our house and some investigators that are planning on getting baptized on the 28th of this month!
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!