Monday, December 2, 2013

Dang. Fam, I don't know. The mission life is pretty DANG good. I think I just came off one of the best weeks of my mission. Such a CRAZY week. But so many incredible things. In one week, I was in Santiago, Penonomé, Chitré, Chorrera, and the city. Holy cow. So many unbelieveable blessings. Just a tiny example of this - last Monday (I wasn't able to write it last week), I went to visit Monica in Penonomé I don't know if you remember her but I taught her for like 5 months and she never got baptized)? Anyway I was estatic to find out that she's now preparing for a mission and her entire family is attending church and her parents are getting married soon to get baptized. WOW! The branch too just in general out there is growing so much! The weekly attendance is now like 110-120.... when Elder Aguirre were there it was like 60! So incredible to see the church grow. They'll be getting that long-awaited new building before they know it.
Another fun thing I was able to do on Wednesday was go to Chorrera for a leadership conference, and I visited Hna. Carmen, la flia. Lou and Bonilla and the rest. So dang fun. 
Thursday: Thanksgiving!! Great day for me. We had two baptismal interviews with some buddies from Aguadulce - Elderes Fisher and Peterson. I also sent home a pic of our Thanksgiving lunch - idea courtsy of Hermana Lesher! We had it with the hermanas. To finish the night after the interviews, we all went and ate our Thanksgiving dinner at KFC to celebrate!!! Whoooo. Hahah. 
Friday was perhaps the weirdest day of all. We did two service projects - one in the morning cleaning up trash and stuff and the other cutting down a HUGE tree with an AXE. Yes. Elder Teichert and I switched off, made a great team, and took out that tree. TIMBER......boom! Then, we headed off to Chitré to do an interview for a SICK man - Davis. 23 years old. I loved interviewing him. What a guy. Then we came home, and Elder Teichert and I were able to go on a youth sleep-over activity!! Got special permission from Pte. Carmack and everything with our mission leader. It was so sweet - we slept in the back of a storage truck.
Then, Saturday, you know what´s coming...... pool party!!!! (Aka Miguel's and Artemio's baptisms) It was so dang sweet. I think we might possibly baptize Miguel's bro, Galileo, this weekend. Pray for us! It felt so good to get some baptisms like this, opening an area. I love Santiago and Elder Teichert and I'm gonna miss them both. I kind of don't want to come home! But I do at the same time. It's a win-lose kind of thing. Those two young men were confirmed yesterday and also received the Aaronic priesthood! And the leaders already showed them how to pass the sacrament for next week. So stoked. Seriously, pray for Galileo for us for this weekend.
Elder Clarke with Emilvia at the Panama City Temple
So yesterday, I left after church to come to the city. The reason? Hna. Emilvia Castillo de Binns, from Juan Diaz, that I baptized last year with Elder Whitcomb, received her endowment this morning, and I had the privilage to accompany her in the session. It was also my first time to see first-hand the changes that have gone on in the temple. WOW. Wow wow wow. I couldn't contain myself this morning. I can't express the joy I felt as I watched Emilvia there in the temple, and talked to her in the celestial room. DyC 18:14-16. Temple ordinances are the greatest salvation attainable. I am so grateful The Lord let me be part of her life. I was simply a tool in His hands. She even has a niece attending BYU! I'm anxious to meet her and talk with the rest of Emilvia's family over the phone that live in Ohio. After we left the session, Emilvia just bore the sweetest testimony as we talked there outside. I love her so much, and admire her. She talked to me about how the gospel has given her an identity and purpose in life - a compass. She also said something after leaving the temple that I want to quote her on - something like "la pobreza mas grande en el mundo no es la de dinero ni niguna otra cosa, sino la de conocimiento." Translated: The greatest poverty in the world is not that of money or any other thing. The greatest poverty found in the world is the poverty of knowledge among us. Really think about that. Even for those that have gone through the temple, there is SOO much we don't know. The new changes in the temple really opened my eyes and helped me see many new things in a different light. I love life. 
I also had a super spiritual experience on Friday as we rode to Chitré, and Mom, it has everything to do with the scriptures you left me to read for Thanksgiving. I bore my testimony about this yesterday in fast and testimony meeting, and I cried like a baby! Last time bearing it in Spanish like that made me SO SAD!! You don't have any idea. I don't wanna leave this! I must come back to Panama again. 
Anyway, I did the activity though, Mom, thank you so much. I'll tell you all about the experience next week. I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving. I love you all so much!!! So dang much. Have a good week and see you in TEN DAYS!

Elder Clarke

P.S... last awesome blessing was last night I met a mini-missionary who has been working in Marcasa lately, where Elder Whitcomb and I worked to baptize Ruth and her daughter, Sofia. Well, they (and her comp.) have been visiting them for a time now. I guess they had gone a little inactive, but she told me that yesterday they went to church and bore testimony and everything! So dang awesome. 

P.S.S... I wish I had heard Dad bear his testimony yesterday.... I´m so stoked to spend time with him. Love you Dad!

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