Every time I write to you I think, "You know...this letter's going to be pretty outdated by the time she gets this." But oh well! The important thing is that you know I love you and I am so very grateful for your faithful letters to me :). I don't get letters very often because everything has to go through our mission office first and it is a pain. But it makes it all the more special when I do get letters. Speaking of, have you heard/seen much of Marissa and Scotti? I have yet to hear much from them here in Panama. But I understand it's a busy time for one and all. I just hope you all know how much I love and appreciate you even though I'm "out of sight/out of mind." It's pretty pathetic - I keep the three pieces from all of your blankets (the ones I gave you, M, S @ Christmas) by my pillow and the other night I couldn't find the piece from your blanket. I had a mild panic attack: "WHERE'S JAMIE??" Luckily I found it. :) Just know I think of you often.
Have you found a job yet??? What are you and Shehan planning for your first summer together? Any good movies out right now? I think I barely realized it was summer time in Utah. Crazy thought! Just in case you want to know, my return date is June 28, 2011 - this time next year I'll be coming home! Yikes! WE both know how fast a year goes so I better make the most out of this mission while I can! My greatest fear is coming home and feeling like I didn't do anything or that I didn't give it my all. I'm not going to let that happen. These next 12 months will be well spent!
I know I wrote to you about my companion in the last letter but I don't remember what I said. But oh man...Jamie...if you only knew the stories I have for you :). These past 5 weeks have been... well, I can't even describe it! But have no fear because I've been writing down everything I plan to tell you someday. You and I will have a ball recounting my 2nd transfer in the mission, I promise you. Hna. Chevez...ha ha ha...just remember to ask me about this particular period in my life, ok?
Anywho, I think I' finally adjusting to mission life in Panama. This is starting to feel more familiar to me and the language is getting there. I still feel like an old woman asking everyone to repeat things but it's almost always impossible to discern every word of the Panamanian dialect. I'm pretty sure they've erased the letter "s" from the alphabet. My companion loves to correct my pronunciation (among other things.)
Hna. C: "NO. !RrrESTaOOracion!"
Bless her heart...always so patient. (All right, the sarcasm is still pretty prevalent. I'm working on it."
We've had a fair amount of challenges in this area. WE have tons of people who throw doors in our faces and we have trouble getting people to commit to coming to church. Lots of people think that a place like this would be humble and receptive but Panama is very different from other countries because it's so diverse. Especially in my area, Chorrera, where it's busy and close to the city. Personally, I'd prefer to go somewhere more quite and peaceful, but the mission isn't about what I want or what would make me most comfortable. I'm called to serve here and if there's only one person in the whole city whom I can help, my duty is to find that one person. Easier said than done, I know, but it's good to remind myself every once in a while of why I'm here.
If there's one thing I've learned from my comp (and believe me, I have learned many things) it's that Satan's greatest tool is devastation. (Actually the word in Spanish is: "desarimo" but I can't think of the English equivalent for some strange reason...) It is so true. If we feel discouraged we can't do much. That's only one thing I'm extremely grateful for - even when I'm at my lowest point here, there's always a glimmer of hope in my heart." I recognize the challenges as they come and just say to myself, "All right, Lord. I know good things are coming!" I've always trusted in that. There's always something good on the way!
Another thing I've been grateful for is the constant feeling of support from the Lord. It seems like the more difficult the situation, the greater I fell the Lord's presence in my life. I think maybe that's why we pass through trials. We need something to prove to us that we're never left alone. I was reading an old conference talk by Elder Holland about ministering angels - both the ones we can't see and the ones we can. He says the Lord always sends help to us in our times or need. We're never left alone. Before I went into the MTC my dad gave me a blessing that morning and he told me that during the blessing he felt the presence of family members beyond the veil more strongly than he ever had before. That has given me so much comfort, Jamie. I can't tell you the number of times I felt comforted from an unseen source. I'm sure I have help from family members but I'm also sure that you are behind that too. You're one of my angles, too. Every time you pray for me and every time you write to me I feel so uplifted. I promise you I can feel your prayers and that they really are helping me.
I'll never be able to tell you how much that means to me. I pray for you every night and I hope the Lord's pouring out all the blessings you deserve or being such a fantastic friend to one of His missionaries.
I'll try to send you pictures soon so you can see how utterly beautiful I am with my crazy hair and makeup-less face (it just melts off here. There's no point.) You might get a good laugh! Ah, humility...I just hope some man will still want to marry me someday after viewing my mission pictures.
Well, love, another P-day draws to its close. Heigh-ho Heigh-ho...back to work I go!
Hope this letter finds you happy and well. Never forget how much I love you!
p.s. Our neighbor speaks English and always puts on Disney movies for her kids. Ahh! The temptation!
Satan knows my weakness..