At the beginning of this week, my throat felt sore. Because of this, the first half of the week we tried to stay indoors as much as possible. The Zone Leaders said we should not leave until I feel better, but I just became too stir crazy. We stayed in most of the time but went to our important appointments. After telling our neighbors, I was feeling under the weather, they checked up on us to make sure I was doing alright. Then they got me some weird unlabeled medicine and I have no idea what that was, but I feel better now. To be fair in Panama anytime you order medicine at the pharmacy they take the box of medicine and just take the pills out of the box. A lot of what I remember from this week was staying inside studying and sleeping but my thirst for knowledge has only grown this week. I closely relate to the words of Phil Collins’ song ‘Strangers Like Me’ from the movie Tarzan, ”I can see there's so much to learn. It's all so close and yet so far... I want to know; can you show me. I want to know about these strangers like me. Tell me more, please show me.”
Now I studied about a lot of different subjects this week. I want to talk about the importance of teaching youth. I was always told that youth are important and that their opinion will shape the world when they become older. Now at times, it's funny to think that these kids will be our next generation of leaders. We had a kid we interviewed for Baptism. One of the questions for baptism is: “Have you ever committed any serious crime?” He squirmed a little in his chair and said, “No… H-h-have you?”. I have never heard my companion laugh that hard before. I was outside in the backyard and I even think I heard him fall out of his chair. Apparently, he asked his brother and received the same response.
Our Mission President understands the importance of teaching youth, as he was a convert. I have a testimony that when you teach someone the principles of the Gospel from a young age they grow up with the peace and the answers to a lot of the big questions in life. When we teach them the standards and principles of the church a lot of the worldly habits become undesirable for that individual. And I have such a great opportunity to teach these precepts to youth as I had been blessed to have learned them when I grew up in the church. The Prophet Gordon B. Hinckley always stressed the importance that nothing is more important than raising your kids. I recently read a talk from him entitled “Stand Strong against the Wiles of the World”. If you’re looking for something to read while you’re at a bus stop or on a lunch break, it’s not very long and by all means, print it out. I’d like to share a quote from him.
“Set an example for them [Your Children]. That will mean more than all the teaching you can give them. Do not overindulge them. Let them grow up with respect for and understanding of the meaning of labor, of working and contributing to the home and its surroundings, with some way of earning some of their own expense money... I do not hesitate to promise that if you will do so, you will have reason to count your blessings.”
I can’t tell you how many church talks there are about teaching the youth. I can’t tell you how many studies have been made about raising your kids in this environment versus that environment. I can’t tell you how many teachers and leaders have influenced my life and my decisions. I guess what I’m trying to say simply is don’t shy away from your opportunities to teach; especially as a missionary.
Now I will answer a question by popular request… “How is my Spanish coming along as I am to the end of my training?” Umm… Well, I don’t sound much different. But I understand so much more. I understand a decent amount of conversations when I pay attention. I definitely understand more about religious conversations than normal small talk. It is a process but I’m learning. I know you will ask, what are some of my stories? Well, let me tell you just about this week.
· Last night, we had a taxi driver who misheard us when we said we wanted to go to Calle Negra, but I guess he heard Calle Larga. There was already someone else in the car so he said he would take us there right after we drop off this woman. But we kept going and going and we soon hit the boundaries of our zone. We called the zone leaders and they just told us to get out of the car. We stopped him and reminded him that we just needed to go down five blocks. That was when we found out he wanted to take us to a city about a 20-minute drive away. We got out and paid him, had to take a bus back to where we got the first taxi and then flag down another taxi to get us to Bishop’s house that night.
· We had an investigator who told us on Sunday that he had a divine dream confirming that baptism was the right decision. He asked us to come by his house on Tuesday to hear about it. That was the worst news you could have told me. For those two days, I didn’t think about anything else. It’s was like I was a kid again on Christmas morning. Just sitting under the tree waiting for my parents to get up so I could open up presents. Knowing full heartedly that even if I waited another minute, hour, or day it wouldn’t change what was inside. But nevertheless, the thought was always in the back of my mind as to what it would be? Finally, we went over and let me tell you, I was so excited. While we were there his son kept asking me questions and I became distracted at the beginning of the lesson. I didn’t realize he was talking about his dream and by the end, he realized I didn’t hear the story. He decided to retell the dream again but I thought he was just talking about this weekend and didn’t realize it was his profound dream. So right as we were leaving I said, “Oh you didn’t tell us about your dream”. My companion just died a little inside. He then went and told in incredible detail for about 10 or 15 minutes about this dream… for the third time. My Spanish is not quite there yet, but ehh I’m getting there.
I would love to bear my testimony about how the Lord is all-knowing and sometimes his way isn’t in line with our ideas. There have been many times where I have been prompted to say something I normally wouldn’t have said to an investigator or gone down a path that I didn’t even think was a path. When we listen to him he blesses us and uses us to bless the lives of others. Oddly enough, our neighbors were sick as well and a decent amount of time we were over there and kept them company and comforted them. They helped us and we helped them. I just have a feeling that we were supposed to be there. I am just very grateful this week I was sick so that I could be used as his instrument and also that I had the chance to study more.