Monday, April 26, 2010

Mission Week 32/Panama Week 23: Changes Are A'comin'

Hola, Familia!
Mom, please don´t overwork yourself out there. Although I´m glad to hear that you´re still holding the fort down in New Jersey. As for the Peeps, I´d be happy to get more. I just handed them out to kids and missionaries alike to remind the gringos of home and to give Latinos a taste of American confectionaries at its finest. I can imagine that the family is eagerly waiting our move to Oregon. They´ve always looked forward to our visits. Although, I´m sorry to hear that grandpa is getting harder to care for. I hope you guys don´t get too stressed out with him.

Well, I´m glad to hear that you didn´t need to head back to the sun, sand, and searing heat, Dad. I didn´t actually hear anything about the volcanoes until you all wrote me. It´s really beginning to feel strange as I´m beginning to be set further and further back in time. I expect that I´ll readjust just fine when the time comes, but it sure feels weird out here. You sent me pictures of the Eagle Project, but it´s not finished, yet? What more is there to do? What with only about a month left on it, Braden better jump on it.

Battle of the Bands? I didn´t know Harry Wagstaff had one. I´d look it up if I could but Youtube is on the list of Missionary computer no-nos. Show ´em how we do things, Dad.

Haha, no, no, Adrian Rojas isn´t 24 years old. He´s more like 14 or 15. Sadly, though, I won´t be visiting his house very much now. I´ll explain a little more later on that.

I heard that Mom was getting ready for the move, but I was under the impression that that would be the last move...as in Mom bought the house and that will be where you retire to. I didn´t know you had another move in mind. Well, Dad, marriage is all about give and take, right? You give twenty some years of service to the army and Mom takes the opportunity to choose where you retire, right? But seriously, Dad, she hasn´t been around with her family for an extended time for quite a while now. I don´t know if you could convince her to go to a neutral state, but Oregon isn´t that bad.

Missionary work here is improving, albeit strangely. We are teaching more and more people and are finding more and more people who seem like they might get baptised one day. However, that day looks like it might be a ways down the road. We have one baptism scheduled for this coming Friday, although a practice interview has made it evident that that baptism might get pushed back. We´ll see when he gets the real interview done. Although, I think their interviews are kind of shoddy sometime.

As for passing something (as was the old missionary discussions, which you had to pass off to your companion before you could be a senior companion), no. And the discussions do not exist anymore, Dad. Those are a thing of the past. Now we have "Preach My Gospel". You ought to get a copy and read it, Dad. I think you´d like it. It´s funny when the Returned Missionaries here try to impress us by reciting us the first discussion. We just tell them it doesn´t exist now and they don´t know how to respond. I thought the idea of memorizing lessons always was silly, but that´s just me, and my companion, too.

Being a leader here is still weird, although I think I´m growing steadily. Although my potential might be great, I still won´t consider myself a good leader until I understand how to work efficiently out here. But once I get that under my fingers, I´m letting everyone know how much game I got.

A side note on the very strange series of things occurring out here, as well as something I mentioned earlier, is that we won´t be visiting half the ward now, for food or anything. President Madrigal has instructed the sisters to remain in their areas and for us to remain in ours. Only for very small exceptions are we to cross the dividing line (each missionary companionship is assigned a certain area to proselyte in.  They are directed not to proselyte or leave their areas of responsibility without permission from District or Zone Leaders, or the Mission President). I suppose it isn´t appropriate for me to divulge all the details, but I think it would suffice to say that we are certainly having problems with the members and the talk amongst them.

One of my concerns that, as surprising as it is, has grown drastically is for the Nicaraguan sister we have here. As sneaky, arrogant, and quite frankly, disagreeable as I consider her, my companion and the other sister might be getting a little carried away in their talk. I understand that neither of them like her and that sometimes she kind of deserves what she gets, but even then, getting as personally antagonistic as it´s gettings isn´t merited, nor very missionary-like. I think I´m going to have a talk with them to see what I can do. Even if she kind of deserves it. Maybe when I get home I can complain to you guys all about it.

Well, you want a progress report of my testimony and feelings of the Church? Well, alright. As far as I am able to tell, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Sants is exactly what it claims to be. Joseph Smith saw what he said he saw and was called as the restoring prophet of our dispensation. President Thomas S. Monson is an authorized successor of Joseph Smith and has the same authority that the Twelve Apostles called by Jesus Christ had. I certainly don´t like some of the things I see sometimes and I´m sometimes skeptical of what could be considered as more "mystical" parts of the doctrine, but I find no fault and can give no comprehensive explanation for the Church´s existence except for the testimony that the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve give.

You guys are going to kill me because I don´t take many pictures and I still have to get that letter done. Changes are coming up and I might leave. Time is running out on the computer and I´m wrapping up.

I love you all and hope you all are working hard and keeping well. You´re in my prayers.

Your Missionary in Panama,
Elder Austin Michael Ascura.

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