Monday, March 29, 2010

Mission Week 28/Panama Week 19: Senior Companion--Some Unique Challenges

Hola Familia,
Alright, this last week has made a couple things clear.  This change is probably going to test me beyond what I've already gone through.  First, your speaking opportunity (at Youth Conference).  I think that's way over the top and no one's going to forget this one for a while.  It's a pity I'll have to miss it.  You should get it filmed and put it on youtube or something.  Sounds like it will be quite the spectacle. (Mike will be using some soldiers as a demonstration of courage-an eye opener and attention getter).

Now, some really simple stuff from the mission.  My companion's name is Jose Fernandez from Costa Rica.  He and I have had a bit of a rough start together, given the condition of the area and some other lovely complications, but I think we're going to get along better and better as the change continues.  And, he's not the senior companion; I am!  And no one told me until the day after he got here.  But he's a real laid back missionary that likes to work using his smarts.  he works hard, although a tad unorthodox, and is going to teach me a ton about organizing the mission work here.  He was transferred from Colon, which is basically the Gangster Central of Panama and as such, speaks Maliante, or Panamanian Spanish Gangster.  No one but other Maliante Speakers understand it.

Second off, our friends getting to know the church are numbered somewhat few, and all have quite a bit of work for us to do.  But I'm confident that with my new companion, we'll be able to get things done a little better.  We have about seven houses that let us in regularly and maybe another ten that we'll be checking up on in the coming week.

So Dad.  Remember that lovely little bit about the sister missionary you sent me? Well, I basically just got the same, except she's a sister from Nicaragua.  Since I'm the only person of the four missionaries here that knows the area, I'm basically the leader.  And we both know that when there's problems of any kind, Dad, that it's all the leader's fault, even if he didn't plan it or wasn't informed.  Everyone here has done a thorough job of reminding me of that during this last week.  I have to show them where they eat, where to buy stuff, their area, and tell them things that my companion didn't tell me before he left. 

Given that the culture's different, she was present in my first area and still tries to treat me like an idiot.  She's an overbearing female.  All in all, I'm trying to use service, patience, and caution to try and get along with her, but she doesn't make things easy.  And the fact that I've already had to put up with a bunch of foolishness before she had even arrived doesn't help.  Between showing her where to eat, how to get around, and the actual task of organizing my part of the area, all the while trying to institute new ideas in the ward to try and boost the mission work has proven to be a difficult task.  If things get any more difficult, I might start losing my patience and I'm trying extremely hard not to explode out here. 

Aside from the stress from some of the aforementioned tasks and then a little more with other things I'm not thinking of, I'm actually in fairly high spirits.  My Spanish is good enough that I'm now able to understand about 90% of anything said to me with almost no problems.  I actually interpret for the new American Sister in our area, Hermana Kennedy, sometimes.  She's quite likeable and will get along well in the zone, I think. Better than me, at least.  My teaching is getting clearer and I'm generally able to do what I want without depending on anyone. 

As for the pictures, I'll work to get a data stick filled up for you all this week, and I'll write the ward a letter and send it in a second email soon. 

Ahora, en espanol, si todo de lo que escribio es totalmente suyo, soy impresado.  Casi perfecto y esta usando tensos muy dificiles.  Cuando you regrese a Los Estados Unidos, voy a hablar mejor espanol que los Mexicanos.  Yo creo que las oportunidad de servir una misio seria maravillosa para Madre, por causa do todo lo que ha dicho a cerca de su deseo que ella habiera servido.  Quien Sabe? Carissa, Tambien.  Todo esta bien, mas o menos, aqui y no hay muchos grandes problemas sino arreglar este area.  Buino, voy terminarlo esta carta porge no hay mucho mas tiempo.  Siga practicando su espanol, Padre.  Esta progresando.

Well, I didn't get to all I wanted, but there will hopefully be time for it all next week.  Take care and work hard.  You all are in my prayers.

Your Elder in Panama
Elder Austin Michael Ascura


  1. From Austin's MTC Instructor: Hermana Dezzeo

    Hola Elder Ascura! Como esta?

    Su padre me mando un email para saber como esta usted. Tambien he leido su blog, y me anima mucho el saber de que usted esta progresando muchisimo en la obra. Gracias por servir al Senor, y a Dios. Es lo mejor que esta haciendo ahorita. Entiendo que tiene una prueba con una hermana misionera de su distrito, yo vi eso en mi mision, y espero ayudar un poco por medio de mis experiencias.

    After praying and pondering about your situation Elder Ascura, I feel to tell you that you need to ignore this sister, and do not pay attention to her when she is being negative. Tell your mission president about it during interviews so that he can counsel you better, as well as your zone leaders and/or the APs. I know you are about to lose your patience with her but just ignore the negativism, stay strong, and love her. Pray for her, and the Lord will give you the patience, charity, and the strength you need. One of my favorite scriptures is in Moroni chapter 7: 45 "Y la caridad es sufrida..." The Savior went through situations in which people hated him, and thought that He wasn't the Son of God, that He didn't have the authority of the priesthood, etc. People did not respect Him, and even some betrayed Him. Elder Ascura you are representing the Savior, and this experience is a portion of what the Savior went through. So keep following His example, and He will help you and bless you, because He knows how it feels when there are people that are mean to you, and that does not respect you.

    When I was a sister missionary I remembered that I felt very close to my districts when the district leaders assigned us to do things during the district meetings. I felt that they trusted us also and that they wanted to work together.

    I read that there are new missionaries in the district, and you have done so much to help them. You are there to serve them but also remember that you are not there to babysit them. They need to rely on the Lord. Do not feel that you are the one to blame because they are accountable for the district too. Let them know about that. Ask for their ideas, and suggestions; and if some of them are not aligned with what the Spirit is telling you, do not feel bad about it, and do what the Lords thinks is best for the area.

    I love missionary work so much. I know that the Lord is taking care of you. I hope I could help a little with what I wrote. I am not an expert. You do what the Lord tells you to do, and follow your heart because it is where the Spirit usually is, as well as in our minds. I am sorry I wrote too much.

    Mucho exito en la obra! Oramos por usted y su familia.


    Hna. Dezzeo

  2. From Nieves Ascura Spotted-Elk (Cousin)

    Dear Austin
    I am so proud of your service and I understand your struggle. Sometimes it is really hard to get along with other people, each of us has our own differences and sometimes one person can be very difficult. When I was on my mission I have several companions or fellow missionaries that I don't get along with. Some are just too difficult others are just plain weird and had no desire to work. What I do personally is and I don't know if it will work with you, is during our companionship inventory ( of course if it's your companion) I share my love and ask my companion what can I do more to make our relationship better and our service effective. Then I strive to be better and of course I try to be open up and make suggestions as well how my companion can do the same.
    If it's not my companion I would write the missionary my feelings and my testimony and share the things that disturb me and what I expect from them. I believe in communication a lot and I think this experiences trully help me a lot. And of course prayer as the best communication I have. I have some missionary friends that I didn't get along with in my mission but now were very good friends. These experiences will help you mold you as a great individual. Hope all goes well and I am happy for your dedication and desire to serve. Take care of yourself and we love you.

    Nieves and Jared Spotted-Elk

    P.s. The family I lived with in Orem before Jared and I got married, their son is serving his mission in Micronesia Guam Mission. He just reported at the Mtc earlier.