Monday, February 1, 2010

Mission Week 20/Panama Week 11: Redefining My Expectations

Hola Familia,
Alright, things are running a little better than before now.  Still rough, but I'm hanging in there.

Now about the missionaries around here, I don't have a problem being a junior companion.  I'm already pretty used to the fact that what I say doesn't get taken for much.  However, that doesn't mean that I'm wrong on some of this (referring to missionaries not performing the work, extended stay at members home lounging, etc).  Am I being critical?  You bet I am.  But I'm critical because it's important.  We're responsible for the eternal welfare of the people of Panama and given that things out here have been nothing short of mind-wracking for me, when I see everyone else out here treating this like a party, I get irritated to say the least.  If I really was just looking to have fun, I wouldn't have turned in my papers.  But I'm polite and tactful about the way we do things.  Besides, I'm probably going to be given another new companion next week.

All in all, I'm still redefining my expectations.  As for the language, it comes along fine. I think I'm beginning to understand how a lot of the people here think in terms of religion.  I think this next change will be much more successful as I plan for the people that enjoy listening to the word of God, just for the sake of it.  And we got plenty of people like that.  Sometimes I don't understand, especially when we're talking with people with wierd accents and when we're talking about specific subjects.  But every day, I move a little further.  I don't know if the people here are just trying to butter me up when they compliment my Spanish here, but I'll get the hang of this.  I just need to expand my vocabulary and I think I'll have this language set.

Now, I mentioned getting a new companion the next week.  I'll explain.  In this particular mission, it's not uncommon for greenhorns to get moved around frequently in their first couple of changes, as you can clearly see from what they've done with me.  This next week, one of three things is going to happen:
1. They up me to a different part of the country.  Unlikely because of the next option.
2. They pair me up with one of the incoming missionaries as they divide up my current area in two.  This is probably what will happen because I know the area a bit and can help to orientate the next missionary here.
3.  I stay with Elder Castillo.  Unlikely, just because he already knows the area and will probably be orientating one of the other other misisonaries.

Just so you know, the general plan is to pair a white boy with a Latino.  They do that to encourage gringos to learn their Spanish and to help Latinos learn English, even though many don't practice.  Elder Castillo can understand some English but doesn't speak it. 

A funny thing happened yesterday.  We were looking for a wayward youth that had apparently been baptized.  He was obviously inactive now, but had really fond memories of the missionary that baptized him;  He even teared up.  So when we swung by his house, he wasn't there, but his landlady was.  Big time Catholic.  She immediately told us which houses we COULD'NT contact because they were already Catholic and told us all about how she was married to a Bishop and she's been Catholic her whole life.  Immediately afterward, she told us which houses we COULD contact and invited us to visit her later on the next week.  She walked us up to one family, introduced us, and walked off.  This family will probably be baptized, I'm thinking.  Score one reference for the day!  Hmmm. 

Oh, tell Grandma Lois I got her letters.  I had to pester the Zone Leaders alot to get them early. 

Well, that about covers the share of stuff for this week.  I think about you guys alot out here, but not too much.  Every time I hear Lady Gaga or Beyonce out here, I remember the car rides I had with Des, too.  I hope you guys are keeping up well and that house hunting goes better later on.  And Dad, you're probably right.  It's really difficult for a teenager like me to really appreciate what a sacrifice like this really means for a father.  So I proably won't really be able to fully understand how appreciative you are until I've got kids of my own.

Keep Yourselves Well.
Elder Austin Michael Ascura

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