Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas With Elder Ascura

Christmas Day is only one of two days that Austin is authorized to call home, the other being Mother's Day.  It was a long awaited call for us to hear his voice again.  And what a surprise that was.  From the moment he spoke, we could tell he was a 'different' man.  His voice was deep and steady; and he was calm and confident in conversation.  His voice sounded as if he spoke with great authority.  We each took turns wishing him a Merry Christmas and spent a few minutes reacquainting and sharing stories from our own little corner.  It was also fun to watch and listen to Braden, Carissa, and Desiree attempt to speak Spanish with him.  They are all Spanish students, Braden having taken 4 years of Spanish and who could maintain a steady conversation.

Austin was issued a prepaid cell phone, which he pays for the minutes and is only used strictly for missionary business, and the two authorized annual calls home.  It was so exciting for us to hear him talk about his mission, which was a recap of all his previous letters combined.  His district recently had a Christmas Party and they each exchanged gifts.  His current companion is from Honduras and we told Austin to ensure that his companion received a Christmas gift of his choice from us. It was easier for him to buy his own presents there rather than us sending him presents and risk having it stolen by the Panamanian customs. 

He expects to be transferred sometime next week as is normal practice, to assign brand new missionaries in training to be trained from multiple missionaries to ensure he gets a wide perspective about the mission and missionary work in Panama.  He is looking forward to the transfer, mainly because of his frustration with working in such a small branch, not having alot of missionary activity, and the complexities of a companion who is difficult to communicate with.  Although having a non English speaking companion is helpful and forces him to learn the language much quicker, he hopes his next companion speaks English for communication purposes.  They do get along and are working well together and that was important.  As for his Christmas Holiday, he had one meeting today at 10am and then they were going to have dinner with one of the members.  He did say that there are only about 50 active members in his tiny little branch.  But every night, they have dinner with a different member family.

Unfortunately, we did not spend alot of time on the phone with him.  We lost communication after about 15 minutes and he was not able to call again.  So the few minutes we spent with him this morning really was the highlight of our Christmas Day celebration.  We miss him dearly and Christmas just wasn't the same without him here with the family.  But, we are comforted by the knowledge that he is where he is by divine Priesthood inspiration and calling to serve the people of Panama in the service of his Heavenly Father.  For that, we are eternally grateful for his sacrifice and desire to serve.  We wish him a blessed and wonderful Christmas.

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