Monday, March 31, 2014
Okay so maybe its not as cold as ice here in Volcan but it is cold. I came here on Wednesday by order of my mission president to see if the colder climate would help my ankle and the good news is that yes. My range of motion is a lot better and it does not swell during the day when we are out working... so that is good. Also Hna. Rios wnats to work and so we basically worked ourselves into the ground these past few days which is some thing I have been wanting to do since Hna. Caldas was with me in Puerto.
Now to tell you some of our experiences this week...
So I am here in Volcan and I think I got a small taste of what it will be like to come home because I showered with hot water for the first time in a year... we also ate lunch with a gringo family that does not speak Spanish and we had tuna fish cassarole... I really felt like I was at home and I did my best to share a spiritual thought but I have discovered that I am not a very good missionary in English. I also had the opportunity and the privilege of translating the Sunday school class becaus ethe first counselor in the Bishopric does not speak Spanish and it was his turn to teach so the whole class I translated for everyone and it was a neat experience... it helped me understand that God has us learn things like our mission language for moe treasons then just to serve in the mission. I was really happy to be able to help and there was only one word that I did not know how to translate.. Hna. Chavez told me that she is proud of me because my Spanish has come a long way from how it was when I with her almost nine months ago...
Now to let you guys know about some awesome experiences that we had this week... I am not sure where to start so i will start at the beginning. Wednesday night we went with a contact that Hna. Rios and her companion had contacted.... we did not have a lot of time because it was already late and every thing but we turned the conversation to baptism and the spirit was super strong as we testified to him that if he wanted to be happy in this life he needed to be baptism in the right way. He looked at us and said... well I have already been baptized but if God wants me to be baptized again I want to... just like that... it was probably one of the easiest fechas I have put in my entire mission and though he was not able to come to church this week because of problems wiht family we are hoping to have come to some of the sessions of General Convference...
Another awesome experience that we had was with an older woman named Maria Louisa... she lives alone and is attending an Evangelical church but she is super sweet and gave us hot chocolate when we showed up Thursday night. We shared with her about the Apostasy and the REstoration and she said some thing like... I have never heard this before... I think it could be true... and she accepted to be baptism if she recieved an answer that it was indeed true. The hard with her is that every time we have gone to visit here there has been some kind of opposition... we are praying that todya when we go she will be there and we will be able to share more the Gospel with her so that she can recieve an answer to her prayers.
Finally, yesterday when we were walking we were looking for a reference from some members and we were passing a house I felt really strongly that we should contact it.... we started to talk with an older guy that was outside with his two grand daughters and only then did we learn that it was the family we had been looking for. It was a neat experience to recognize that the spirit had prompted me to do it and because I did we found a family about ten people that we are going to go back and teach this week...
Now for a funny experience to end. So yesterday Hna. Rios and I had the goal to talk to 11 people because it was what we lacked to reach our goal of contacts this week and I told her that we were not going to enter the house until we reached our goal. So we were heading to our teaching appoitment with Hna. Maria Louisa and we only lacked four people for the 11... and I said some thing like... Ohala that there are other peole there with her so we can meet our goal and so when we got there we started to sing a hymn and all of the sudden two women knock on the door and we çstop. They come in and look at us like... when are you going to leave.. and the spirit was gone so we shared some thing quick about Jesus Christ and left... and Hna. Rios joked with me that it was all my fault that these people showed up because I had wanted to meet our goal of contacts. We kept trying to contact people in the street also but every time we would get close they would go the other direction so finally I just got tired of it and called out to a lady in the street to get her attention and we acted like we were lost, looking for a specific street and she told us and we invited her to church and every thing but I think it was one of the worst contacts ever because I was trying not to laugh.
Anyway thats all for now. I love you all so much. I know that this work is the work of the Lord and that He is at the head. No unhallowed hand can stop it from progressing. I love my Savior and I love all of you. Praying for you always.
All My Love,
Monday, March 24, 2014
This week was weird... we lost a lot of working days... first because we had a training about family history which took up the whole day because it was a four hour round trip plus three hours of training and so yeah we lost that day. Also I got really sick and the mission nurse thougth I had a parasite so we went to the hospital on Saturday but they dont want to do the test because they dont think its a parasite and they told me to come back at like 6am today but I was feeling better yerstday so my companion and I decided to watch it and see. I will keep you opsted on that but the goods news is... I am pretty sure I will live.
Aura did not come to church yesterday but we had a nice family home evening with her and she is excited to read the Book of Mormon. We tried to call her to find out why she did not come and we could not get ahold of her so we are going to go see her tomorrow to see whats up.
I am also going to Volcan this week on exchanges to see if the cold will help my ankle. The heat is killing even the peole who live her in Puerto and a lot of people are getting sick and going to the hospital. Lets pray that the missionaries are immune to that.
This week I prayed to know my Savior better. I always want to laugh because it was a week full of trials in almost every sense... but we know that what doesnt kill us makes us stronger... I am sorry this is such a short email.. its just that we lost a lot of time because I was sick but yesterday when we were walking itn ehs treet we found a lady that knows the Bible forward and backward. I had the wonderful experience of beeing able to cite the scipture she was quoting and then respond with another scripture.. but we have to study really hard to teach her because she wants to have an educated discussion about what we teach so we are going to stay home today, study and relax.
Anyway, I love you all so much. I want you all to know that I know this work is the Lords work. That its true and that is the only way that we will ever be truly happy. Before I left on my mission I asked God to change me so that the people that I love most will not recognize me when I come home. I like to think that with all these trials who is doing just that. I still have a lot to learn. But its the process of life and I am grateful for all my experiences. The good and the bad.
Love You All,
Monday, March 17, 2014
How are we this week? I hope every thing is just excellent and that this email finds you all well and happy and enjoying the cold there in the states... here in panama... more specifially in Puerto.. it is so hot that within five minutes of being outside I am so wet I feel like I have just stepped out of the shower... so here we are... cooking in Puerto but the work is picking up again so that is a good thing.
We actually had two investigators in church this week so I will go ahead and tel you about them. The first is Aura Concepcion... she is 15 years old and has a 1 year old baby. Her sister is a member and so she kind of already has that support system. She lives with her grandma and she is super receptive to the Gospel. We are hoping to se eher baptism the 29th of March.
The other investigator that came to church is Susana. Her mom is a member in Arrijan in Panama and her mom asked us to talk wit her. She had gone to church once in Arrijan last year and came to church with us this Sunday. I felt bad because it was a broadcast and she got kind of bored but there is not much we can do about that. We tried introducing her to a girl her same age but neithe rof them we that interstied so we will pray that she comes the next week and likes it more. She also is preparing to be baptized the 29ths so we will pray that it goes well...
Another investigator that we have that cannot come to church because of work is Midaline. She is 18 years old and has an 8 month old beby. Fortunately for us and her baptisimal date she is separated from the dad and wants nothing to do with him. We went and taught her on Saturday and found her with the lady that watches her baby, Ana is her name. I sat and talked with Ana and her daughter. She taold me that she was Catholic and that they went to church every Sunday. I asked if we could visit and she said no because she works and her kids are in school. So we invited her to stay for the Joseph Smith movie... and Satan works his magic... frist the cable borke for the DVD so Hna. Silver and i decided to run to a members house to ask to use their DVD player. When we got back Midaline told us that the volume on her TV always goes in and out and when we turned on the movie we could not hear any thing so we decided to teach the end of the Plan of Salvation. We had good participation from both of them and then I decided to ask Ana if she would get baptized. She looked at us for a minute and then said... Hermanas I need to say some thing... and we thought... okay... she already got baptized in the Catholic and doesnt think she needs to get baptized again.. then she says... I got baptized in your church over 15 years ago.... and we were both in shock. She told us she was not going to tell us but that she felt she needed to and so we talked for a long time about why she did not go to church and she told us she was going to help Midaline change her turns in her work so that she could go to church. I told Hna. Silvera that I felt like life was a lie.. but at the very least she accepted that we come to visit her and her family because she is the only member. We will see how that goes.
Finally, to end... we met a family this week that basically told us to leae and never come back. It was because we sat down with her and talked about authority to baptized. Explained the Apostasy and the Restoration and she asked... so you are saying that the Pastor of my church does not have authority... and I tried to explain it nicely with an example but she was not getting it... so my comanion just out of now where says... we know that Christ only established one church when he was on the earth... thus only one church has the authority... while every one else means well there is only one baptism... like it says in the Bible... that has value to God... because it has to be done in His way... not in the way of men... and she was like... I need to pray... and prayed that we would be protected as we left... basically very nicely through us out... but we both left feeling we had said exactly what she needed at the moment and we will probably never gho back but at the very least she knows the truth... so there are no regrets there.
Things are progressing in the work her ein puerto. I am hoping that things will continue to progress... thank you for all your prayers and encouragement... this is all I have fo ryou guys this week... I love you all so much... I know the church is true.... keep on keein on...
Monday, March 10, 2014
It is true that when it rains, it pours. Especially here in Panama. While it has not rained in Puerto for almost three weeks I have come into contact with rain of a different kind. Suddenly the hardships have just kind of piled themselves on. I am still here in Puerto and with the same companion which is fine. To be honest this week I really came to realize how much I love my companion. She is a good sound board and she also knows how to keep going when things are hard which is what we needed personally and as a companion this week.
Many who know me know that I express my thoughts and feelings better through writing and so I took the lesson the Lord talk this week and wrote a poem. It is the first peoem I have written since the MTC so no one laugh okay... my companion scolded me for not writign it in Spanish... maybe before I go home I will be comfortabe in Spanish to do so... anyway.. here is the poem.. I hope you all like it...
I stood before our Father
In a distant Heavenly Home
Bidding my goodbyes
Before His Mighty throne
I knew the hardships I would face
And all that was to come
There was nothing else to say except
Thy will, not mine, be done
A young Virgin Mother
Holds her newborn Son
She too had told the angel
Thy will not mine be done
A man we know as Peter
Responded to the One
Who I invited Him to fish for men
Thy will, not mine, be done
Every day I wear my tag
And walk beneath the sun
I accepted this call to serve
Thy will, not mine, be done
Yet today I feel the pain
Of those who cannot see
All that the Creator
Knows that they can be
And I do not want for me
What my God desires
Because I feel the flames
Of the refiners fires
I share with Him my heart
But He feels so far away
And angry I do wonder
If Hes hearing what I say
Because he seems so distant
And the love I once did feel
Is only just a dream
This moment that I kneel
The tears they stain my face
For I know my pride has won
I do not want to say
My will, not thine, be done
Then I remember in the Garden
Christ who knelt alone
Bleeding for my sins
Thy will, not thine, be done
If He who suffered just for me
and felt my every pain
Can accept the will of God
I too can do the same
And though it may seem long
The race Im called to run
I can hear hear Him at the end
Well done, my child, well done
I have such a strong testimony of the love of our Savior. Of His desires for us to achive all that is good and righteous and sweet. He may not give us what we want... but He gives us exactly what we need so that we can grow and learn and be better. Our purposeon this earth is to become like Him and our Father in Heaven and the only way we can do that is kneeling with Him for a momwent in Gethsemane and walking a few cross laden steps toward Calvarly. I know that the trials and the difficulties, the afflictions and the pain, help to know Him better because it is in these moments of confusion and pain that I have felt Him that much closer.
This week I had to make an effort every day to keep up and go out and work. Tuesday was not successful because my companion ended up sick and sleeping the whole day. I spent a lot of time on my knees... praying for help.. for comofrt and peace nd understanding. Somet imes I wonder if I share these weak moments with you guys but thats okay. I can say that God answers these prayers in many ways.. in some ways I am still waiting for an answer but I know that God will not leave me alone. I recieved a blessing from my District leader in which he blessed me with every thing necessary to keep going.. despite the pain... despite the frustration... God is never far away... we just have to look at the little miracles...
This week we went up to a part of our area that is really far way.... people had not been there for years and so a lot of people thought we were Jehovahs witnesses... we found a 21 year old girl that is living with a 47 year old guy... she wants to get baptized but does not want to get married and we explained to her that she has to either get married or separate from him.. we will see what happens with her... I know the Gospel has the power to change hearts and lives and she is not an exception. We will see what happens.
We also found a family that has seen a lot of miracle in their lives... they have a strong faith in God and the best part is that the couple is married. We taught them about Joseph Smith and you could see in their eyes that they felt the Spirit. I told my companion that I felt like if we gave them a Book of Mormon and they read it... they would be converted.. they are prepared... we just need to work with them...
Also this week an investigator is her baptism when she was a baby was valid. IN the moment it occurred to be to try and avoid that answer but I remember that sciprutre in Doctrine and Covenants that says we should not fear to say the things that God puts into our mind and heart. So I looked at her and said... the truth is no hermana... and the spirit was so strong as I explained why... she did not accept a baptisimal date but she said that if she really felt she should be baptized she would do it. We left her thinking over those things and we are going to go back tomorrow. If nothing else I could feel that God was satisifed that I had not let my fears get in thte way of teaching the truth. I know that is the ony way that the Spirit can touch the hearts of the people. If we are not afraid to teach what we know to be true.
Thats all I have for you guys right now. I love you all so much. I love this work and while this was a hard week there were also plenty of miracles. One of our recent converts shared with us the dream that she had which convinced her to be baptized. She said in her dream Christ appeared to her... full of light and dressed in white.. and told her taht she needed to find the church that would teach the fullness of the Gospel... and that is what we teach... she told us she knew that she needed to get baptized. There is a quote that says.. teach that God is, not was... that He speaketh, not spake... by Ralph Waldo Emmerson... and that is our mission. That God is active in our lives... that He loves us.. everyone of us... that He desires all of us to return to His presence. We invite all to come unto Christ and to partake of salvation. May you all have a great week and look for opportunities to share the Gospel.
Monday, March 3, 2014
Well its mango season here in Panama and especially in Puerto.... and the mangos are so good... we buy them at the store almost every house we go to gives us sacks of them we are pretty happy campers...
Alright this going to be short because I really distracted... I just found out that my companion and I do not have transfers... I guess God still wants in Puerto but I would lie if I said I still felt like I needed to be here... honestly I have felt recently that my work here is ending but I dont know... the Lord has a plan for every thing and maybe some thing will change.
We had a couple miracles this week that I wanted to share with you guys... first we found a woman named Beatrice... we were looking for a reference from members and we contacted the wrong house. Before I could even finishing introducing myself she opened the gate and let us inside. We sat down with her and started to talk and she told us that the night before she had been praying that God would send her someone that would teach her the truth... and that morning we showed up... by accident.. but we showed up. We gave her a Book of Mormon and she accepted a baptismial date for the 15th of March... she told us she was going to do every thign possible to come to church on Sunday and while she did not come I have hopes of seeing her get baptized...
The other big big miracle that we had this week is when we found an Hermana named Sara. We found her looking for another lady that we had contacted waiting for a bus and we shared the Restoration with her. She almost cried as I bore my testimony about Joseph Smith and teh First Vision. She told us tht lots of churches had come and visited... lots of people had shared their concepts of God and religion with her but she had never heard or felt what we shared with her. We testified that it was because what we shared with her was true... she accepted a fecha for the 22 of March.. she is married and has 7 kids.. five of which live with her so its a little hard for her to come to church but I am hoping that the more we teach her the more converted she will become and the mroe she will want to do what she needs to do to recieve an answer....
We also taught another sister named Mayanil... she has been Catholic all her life but we watched the Joseph Smith movie with her and she said she felt really confused because she had never felt that maybe she should change her religion until now... we left her a book of Mormon and invited her to pray and her daughters are members and call to make sure she is doing what we ask her to do so we are going to go visit her on Tuesday and see how things are going...
Just so you guys can laugh... we met a woman this week named Navidad.. in English that means... Christmas.. so I asked her what day of the year she was born and she said in December. I had a relaly hard time not laughing but she is going to take lessons from the elders because she lives in their area...
We also had a conference this week with President Amado.. he is the area 70 in Central America and has a really strong spirit and I learned so much... among them was that we need to be full time missionaries... all of our time, thoughts, feelings, and energy should be directed toward the work and I am hoping I can do a better job at that...
Anyway, thats all I have for you guys for now.. know that I love you all... tht I know that this is the work of the Lord and that He is at theh ead of it... I am hoping and praying for help to accept His will always.... until next week...