So, in order to get this out the way, I want to just say that Elder Palma is, indeed, INSANE. I have had very obedient companions before, but I've got to say, Elder Palma takes the cake, by far. I've personally never seen a missionary so dead-set on obeying the rules and regulations to a T, as he is. In fact, it's honestly scary, for me especially as his companion, as to just how strict and serious he is about pretty much everything. He was super calm his first week here with me in Balzar, but then like a coin, his personality just flips, and he cracks down HARD. I've tried talking to him, and letting him know that he's barely got two weeks here, and doesn't quite know what he's doing or saying, but I think his pride gets in the way of him seeing that. He's very stubborn, he's very impatient (including with himself, which also scares me), and as a result, I really can't see us being a companionship for much more time. It may sound a little irrational, but I kind of have nightmares of no one wanting to come to Church, just because of how direct he can be. I apologize greatly, if I sound like I'm simply judging and complaining, but I find myself to have all the right to draw these kinds of conclusions.
So, I wrote in my weekly letter to President Riggins how I've been considering what it would be like to finish my mission here in Balzar. I really love this place, and even though it's obviously not perfect, I can't find any other missionary (other than my ex-companion Elder Reilly) understanding this place and its members as well as I do. It's funny, because for that reason, President Riggins doesn't like to keep missionaries in the same sector for more than 5 months. However, I only have 3 months here, and I'll admit that I've already fallen in love with working in this place. What I've found to keep me from having "100%" of the success that I can here is my taking the initiatives, as Elder Palma has admittedly helped me see. I can't lie to you guys, I hate contacting (for my still-existent fear of public speaking, as well as rejection), and despite having a year and a half in the mission, I still find my Spanish, in polite terms, low-par. I do agree, however, with Elder Palma's constructive criticism to take the initiative more often. Him, like the rest of my companions, are absolutely right; if I truly love the people as I say I do, then the only thing that's stopping me from expressing that is myself.
It's starting to open up my eyes as to how much time I have left as a missionary here in Ecuador. I may not have had absolutely, without a doubt in my mind, 100% of the success that I probably could've had in my mission, but I do know both in my heart and in my soul/spirit that I did some good in the world. I may not have baptized as many people as I would've liked to, but as my good buddy Elder Reilly states: "Most of the time, we're just planting seeds." It does bug me that other missionaries have baptized and rescued more than I have, but the Holy Ghost assures me that so long as I can fearlessly kneel down at night and let my Father in Heaven know that I'm doing my best, then I am, and I have nothing to worry about. It's a bittersweet feeling to be slowly but surely coming to the end of my mission, but I couldn't be more grateful for the things that it's taught me. I love you guys so much, and I can't wait for our Mother's Day Skype Call. Until next week, take care!!!
Con Sinceridad y Amor,
Elder Conner Duane "Poderoso" Parke