Allright, so on my 3rd day here in Panama (the 17th? I think it was) Elder Rich and I were out contacting with a recently baptized member named Carlos. Carlos is Chookie´s brother - he is a STUDLY 16-year-old. Elder Rich baptized him the week before I arrived here. Anyway - we were on a bus going out to a random part of our area far away, because we had an appointment drop. While we were on the bus, Carlos was holding a church pamphlet to fan himself (cuz you know, it´s a million degrees here). So.... a man behind us asks Carlos if he can buy the pamphlet he´s holding. What?! Haha. So of course Elder Rich and I turn around, and tell him he can have it for free! He was very grateful, and started reading the pamphlet. Then, Elder Rich turned back around and asked the man where he was going, and if he had time to talk. The man replied that he was just getting off of work and was headed home for the night. Elder Rich then told this guy "Ok well we´re gonna come to your house right now and talk with you then." It was really random, and almost kind of forced. Ha... the man was like "Right now?" and Elder Rich is like "Ya - right now." I was just thinkin´ "What is this guy doin....." haha. So we proceeded to get off the bus with him at his bus stop and walked (Yes Mom, to answer you question, we walk a good portion of our day :)) back to his house with him. When we got to his humble abode (I´m serious, it was humble. Made out of tin), we sat down on his front porch and asked him why he wanted to buy the pamphlet or something like that. He then responded with this anwser (and forgive me I´m paraphrasing here - my spanish still isn´t that great):
"Well I recently moved here from Bocas about a month ago, and I had seen you guys (talking about missionaries) before, but I never had a chance to talk with them. I know you have a message about God, and I want to hear it because I had a dream about God." Before we started the lesson, we asked him to share with us his dream, and this is what he said........... "Well about a year ago, I had a dream that God appeared to me and showed me a man. The man was really important in my dream, and I wrote his name down when I woke up so I wouldn´t forget it..... I don´t know if you guys have ever heard of him or anything, but his name was JOSEPH SMITH."
WHAT?!?!? Was that for real??????? It really happened. I had heard countless crazy stories like that before in church and stuff, but this thing happened right before my eyes!!! We were completely stunned. I was lost for words. Haha. So we then taught him real quick that WE DID, INDEED know who Joseph Smith was, and we taught him the lesson of the restoration. During the lesson, he also told us that in this same dream God told him that he had a gift to give him. When the man woke up, he went and told his cousin that in about a year, messengers from God were going to come find them. That´s when things just got crazy. A legitimate miracle. The Lord made me an instument in one of his miracles!!!! I feel so so blessed and honored that I was part of fullfilling that miracle in that man´s life. At the end of our restoration lesson, he told us that he would do anything he needed to do to get baptized in our church because he knew our church was true. Like, really? We didn´t even have to ask him to be baptized! He asked us! We told him we´d be pleased to baptize him after he´d heard a few more lessons, and that we thought baptism might perhaps be the gift God was telling him about in his dream. This man´s name is Narciso, and his cousin Regoberto. And we´re baptizing them this upcoming Sunday!!!! Crazy right?! I was so lucky to see a miracle like that so early in my mission. I really feel so blessed. I can´t wait for his baptism next week! I´ll send pictures! That experience just helped me to know that if we will edify ourselves, The Lord will make great tools out of us and work miracles among us (Remember Josh 3:5). My latest favorite scripture on miracles is found in Mosiah 8:18 (thanks for Elder Rich - he found it :)) Ahhh. It was soo cool.
In other news, we´ve started a sweet workout program, Elder Rich and I. We run to the nearby waterfall (It´s the waterfall that our city - Chorrera - is named after) 3 times a week and do our studying there. It is absolutely beautiful. It´s really peaceful and quiet too. I´m tellin ya, you haven´t read King Benjamin´s address in Mosiah until you´ve read it next to a sweet waterfall haha... it´s the best. I will send pictures sometime if this computer starts reading my SD disk - internet pubs aren´t always the most reliable computers, haha. I am particularly excited about this running stuff though--it´s fun to run here in Panama though because we´re right by the sea, and it´s much easier to breath than it was in Utah - I feel like I could run for days! Ha yep, nothin like a good early mornin´ run in Panama...... sometimes I still can´t believe I´m on a mission. It´s the life.
I am getting accustomed to everything here in Panama - I love it! Remember how I always said I wanted to live in a little shack with dirt floors? It´s not quite that bad, but it´s still definately a lot different from the states haha. For example, we share geckos and cockroaches as roomates in our home, and I have a cold shower every day (I like the cold shower though - it cools me off). Now Mom, to answer a few questions, no I haven´t seen Elder Alley. We do have changes in a few weeks, but I think Elder Rich and I will be staying together for another change. As for the food, I haven´t had to cook for myself once since arriving. We have a cocinera once a day for lunch, and then the ward members take turns feeding us for dinner. As for breakfast, we have a panderia (bakery) closeby our house so if we´re ever hungry in the morning, we go buy some bread or a donut. Dave would LOVE the bread here. It´s amazing. Also, my buddy Matt Maddix would be happy to know that I eat RICE with every single meal. Haha. It´s super sweet.
Anyway, my time is up, but I will start writing back to all you individually soon! I promise! Do you think you could send me Scotty´s and Katie´s individual emails? That way I can just write back to them individually. Oh, and tell Dave to check his email.
I LOVE YOU ALL SO MUCH!!!! Be good!!
Love, Elder Clarke
P.S...... shout out to my boi Jeremy Evans!!!!! Scotty told me he won the dunk contest!!!! Way to represent them Jazz. That´s how we do.