This week has been so great. I love being a missionary. This week was FILLED with service. We didn`t spend one morning in the house. We went and served or did something every single morning. So sweet (except for the downside that we didn`t get to study too much). The gran mayoría of our service projects included PAINTING. An awesome Christmas tradicion panamanians have that I really love is that everyone paints their house once a year at Christmastime. Isn`t that awesome?? I love it - so we helped a lot of people paint their houses. We have one more painting project left tomorrow and then maybe I`m thinking we`ll take up the tradicion ourselves and paint our own house! Tal vez Christmas Eve. The other great service project we did a few days ago was go help an old man member in the branch clean up his yard - cut his grass, yardwork, etc. (Ya don`t worry there`s no sign of snow anytime soon). This guy lives like 45 - 50 minutes away from the chapel and he`s made the trip every Sunday in bus or on foot for the past 20 years!!! He is so dang cool. I sported his sombrero while working. Short experience with the service I`d like to share: so for some time I was assigned to cut down all the weeds in his yard with a machete.... (yes, my new favorite yard work tool of choice). I just started hacking away, and I was loving every second! Then, it occurred to me what I was really doing. Using a machete to cut down weeds....... in Panamà. I was in Panamà!! Using a machete instead of a lawnmower! I was doing the kind of thing that I`d dreamed of doing on my mission my whole life. It then occurred to me that I was living the dream. I was so so very grateful in that moment to be able to be a missionary. To express my joy, I started singing out loud "I hope they call me on a mission" while hacking away with the machete. It brought back a lifetime worth of dreaming about my mission. Once again - I love being a missionary.
So apart from the service-filled mornings, I`ve had some great experiences this week. I`d also like to say I received much personal revelation and answers to prayers. The Lord has helped me quite a lot this week. I wanna tell ya all real quick about a great lesson we had this week with Agustin. He is the father of a family we are trying to help, and he was a missionary for a different church in his youth. He is an AWESOME man, and his family is really great too. Everytime I go there I just see them as a member family. Pray for the Rodriguez family if you can. Anyway, in this lesson we taught The Restoration. I loved it - the high point of the lesson was when we quoted The First Vision and bore testimony. I totally felt The Spirit working through me as I testified. And The Spirit was felt so strong!!! It made an impact on Agustin too, and he said he`s gonna pray about the message of The Restoration. We`ll see what happens :)
Allright well I`m wrappin` up here but two things I wanted to share from personal study this week. 1) Luke 6:26 made an impact on me this week and helped me realize that it doesn`t matter whether or not people talk "good" of you, but rather that you do the right thing. and also 2) a quote that I REALLY liked this week in my quote book. "We will change the world. For the better. For this journey to great heights isn`t any ordinary journey, any more than was Sariah`s. Ours is a quest to change ourselves, to become even truer disciples of our Lord and Savior. We will lift our eyes to the mountains and move ceaselessly toward exaltation." - Elaine L. Jack.
Ok, last thing. GREAT story. So last Sunday, a gringo couple visited our branch for Sunday meetings. Seeing as this never happens, I went over and asked them what they were doing here. They are an elderly couple from St. George, Utah, and came here to Panamà on a vacation. (something I`d love to do someday with my elderly wife) Anyway, after talking un ratito with them, they told me they are currently preparing to go serve a mission. When I asked them where they were going.... you`ll never believe what they told me? The BULGARIA mission!!!! I then proceeded to tell them that my very best friend was currently serving there, and I wrote down my name so that they could tell Matt hi for me. Isn`t that sweet?!? One in a million chance. The mormon world is a small one.
Well, that is all for the week. I am SOOOO excited to talk to you guys this weekend. I`d love to use Skype again if we can. My preference, pues. I am also willing to call on Christmas Eve instead if it would be more convenient for everyone. I think Christmas Eve might be easier for me to locate a computer too. But we will see. I get really excited thinking that I`ll be home next Christmas. Have a wonderful week, everyone. Que pasen una Navidad increìble y inolvidable. :)
-Elder Steve Clarke