Monday, December 26, 2011

Letter on Dec. 26th, 2011 after a Skype session on Christmas Day

It was great to get to talk to you guys and get to see your faces during our Christmas Day Skype session! I really wish i could´ve been there with you but it´ll just make Christmas in two years that much better! So i´m not really sure what to say after that long skype session...
I¨m already doing alot better than my first email, Spanish is a little better but i can understand people a lot better which is nice. I´m starting to make more friends so i´m doing a lot better. I gotta attribute it to you guys cuz your love and support has really helped me! 
I´m glad you guys all had a good Christmas! The skype call was for sure the best part of mine but Christmas eve was really fun. We had 3 dinners on Christmas after our call so i was so stuffed!!
I love you guys and i loved talking to you guys! I can´t wait till Mother´s day now, but don´t worry too much about me, once the works starts it´s all good! Thanks for everything, i love and miss you guys so much!

Monday, December 19, 2011

First email from Panama Dec. 19, 2011

Hello dear family,
So this has been a very different week compared to the MTC and even what the mtc said the mission would be like. I don´t even know where to start... My trainer, or papi as all the missionaries call them, is Elder Luis Barahona from Nicaragua. He speaks a little English and speaks Spanish really really fast, along with every other native here. He´s cool, I like him but it's kinda hard to connect with him like i did the people in the mtc because we can't communicate well- he´s been here 23 months and me a week so we can´t talk about all the things newbies want to talk about. (sorry about my spelling and stuff, this keyboard is hard to use cuz it has a bunch of extra keys for Spanish).  My zone is in La Chorrera and my area is called La Seda. It´s a lot different here then i expected, a lot more poor people. Our house is off the road about 100 yards and is about the size of our downstairs computer room at home, and our house is kinda big for our area. we have a little frig and a sink, with a table in the kitchen, and an entry way. not much to it, and no real way to cook or anything. Recently we taught a lady who´s house was smaller than my room at home, and she didn't have a bathroom or anything. very humble circumstances here for a lot of people. we were supposed to have a baptism on Saturday but that guy, Rodney, backed out at the very last second. we had already filled the font and people were ready when his mom called to say he didn't want to come, so that was sad.

The heat and humidity here are difficult. I´m constantly sweating and hot. Sometime i really like it but sometime i´m dying of heat. the showers here are all very cold and sometimes we don´t even have water for some reason. It is still in the rainy season, as it rains at least a couple times a day as an absolute downpour for around 30 min to 2 hours.

On the first night here, we got in late from Atlanta, and Pres. Ward picked us up with his APs, and we went to the AP´s house.  When we got there (it was really messy) they threw us a pillow and say it´s time for bed, find a place to sleep, so i slept on the floor the first two nights and really didn´t sleep at all. President Ward and his wife are really cool and nice. they have a nice house that we went to on Tuesday for some lectures and other meetings.

For food we make a make-shift breakfast and then everyday we go to this less active member´s restaurant to eat lunch which is really good.  For dinner we always have a dinner appointment with a member, but the weird thing is that they never eat with us, they make the food then we eat alone. I feel bad cuz usually it´s a tiny house and they make a ton of food for us. There are always big portions. Question: is white rice bad for you? In that does is make you tired and slow you down with little nutrients? that´s what Hermana Ward said, but the problem is that half our meals are white rice. The food here is usually rice, pasta of some sort, and meat, with a juice or pop.

Funny story, i was praying for this family after a short lesson, and my comp said their name so i could bless them but i didn´t hear him and so i asked again and he said apellido so in my prayer i said, por favor bendice la familia apellido, which in English translates to, please bless the last name family, but 'apellido' obviously wasn´t their last name. During my prayer i was wondering why everyone was laughing and now i know. apellido=last name. HA HA oh funny times already.

So i don´t have much time this week to email, cuz it took us like 20  minutes to figure out how to get onto the email. any questions for me? apparently normal mail takes a while cuz mail takes about 2 or 3 weeks to get to Panama, then for the mail to get to me, pouch mail and dear elder letters, mail goes to the AP´s i believe,  who eventually give it to the District leaders who eventually give it to us. Ha ha - Dad i got your dearelder letter you mistakenly sent to Panama (not the MTC) on Oct 19, but i also got lucky and i already got your other dearelder at the MTC.  Thanks for mistake, because your letter was a great boost in a hard day.  The mission has been really good and fun, but also really hard so far. Hard physically and emotionally, more than the MTC for some reason, maybe cuz all my friends from the mtc are gone and it´s hard to make friends when you don't speak their language. my Spanish is coming along ok but they all speak so fast its hard to understand anything, even if normally i would understand them. for example i went on splits with an elder from Washington (a gringo) and i could understand everything but a few words just cuz he didn't talk as fast or use as much slang and had less slurring of his words.

As for skype and the Christmas call home, i haven't heard anything so i don´t know what to do, but I'll figure it out.

I love you guys so much and i miss you more than ever now! I think about and pray for you guys everyday! I love you and appreciate everything you do for me!
Elder Pfister

Saturday, December 10, 2011

2nd and final letter on Dec. 10, 2011 from the MTC

Como estan?
So i'm sorry to hear you guys have been sick lately; i'm nervous my first few weeks or so are going to be rough for me with all the new food and culture shock.

Brit, i don't think i got your letter because i remember nothing about a pepto bismal octopus, please enlighten me!

Dad, thanks for the frisbee, it'll work great! And yes, i got my second hepatitis shot a few weeks ago so i'm covered.

So hosting new missionaries was way fun. We were to greet the families as they got out of the car and help them unload. We would ask if they had a few needed items and escort them to where they get their tag and we waited for them outside. We then would guide them to their residence rooms; two of the missionaries i hosted live right below us. After that we bring them to their classrooms where we depart to usually never see them again and we go back and do it all again. It doesn't sound that fun but i enjoyed talking to them & seeing how they were feeling. I liked comparing how they were compared to me on my first day. Most didn't know what was going on and had a blank stare on the whole time. One was watery eyed the whole time, and one wouldn't really talk, and he seemed kind of awkward and really nervous. But overall it was fun, especially just getting out of class to be outside for a while. Being in that small classroom all day long can make me go crazy alot of the time.

So that all was wednesday afternoon, then in the evening, Atuake and I had to be example missionaires for the new elders and show them how to begin teaching. What we did was- there would be a big room full of new missionaries and an investigator. We would knock and go in and start a lesson as if we had 45 minutes to teach it. After about 10-15 minutes the teacher would stop and dismiss us and we would leave while the new missionaries would try to take over and teach them based on the needs we discovered. It was ok, not super fun. I did a couple of dumb things like for example, we had a mic on and i knocked on the door and as a nervous habit  I always started talking in spanish right before so everyone heard me (we taught in english so maybe no one understood me); and then a funny one was Atuake. Right outside the second door after we knocked and turned on our mics he asked what her name was cuz he forgot it, and she opened the door laughing along with a ton of new missionaries. Overall it went fine, and i don't remember the missionaries who did that for me on my first day so probably they won't remember us!

So i might try calling you guys twice, once in Salt Lake,  and once again in Atlanta depending on how much time i have between flights. I did most of my packing today and didn't realize how much stuff i have. Our 2 checked bags can't be over 50 lbs. and our carry on can't be over 40 and my checked ones are 47 and 45, and my carry on is 36 lb. So it's a close one but i think i'm ok cuz i literally put everything in them when i weighed them.

I don't know if you don't know this already or even want to but the mission office address is
Calle 53 y Calle 50
Marbella, Panama City
Republica de PANAMA

(507) 213-3180, mission office telephone;
6612-6738, president Ward's cell phone.
just in case you need them.

I guess the best thing to do now is just email each other because i heard dearelder costs a dollar so email sounds best. hopefully i have more time there than i did here.

I heard that my p-days in the field are going to be on mondays but i won't be able to write this monday because i'm getting in so late. I'm going to miss getting your letters everyday but now it'll make it that much better having to wait for them.

I love you guys so much and can't tell you how much i appreciate everything you've done for me while i've been in the MTC.
Les amo mucho,
Elder Pfister

Letter from MTC Dec. 10, 2011

Hola Amigos!
Que Paso? I'm sorry I didn't write yesterday, I forgot to tell you that yesterday was In-Field Orientation and that today is P-Day for Elders leaving next week. In field orientation was good, informative, exciting, but also extremely long. We spent all day in a few different classrooms getting lectured about everything they can think of about the field. I don't remember very much since there was so much information. I do remember i need to plan very well, make good goals, work with the members a lot and do everything with tons of faith that it will work out. I'm super pumped to get out of here and really start my mission. It feels like I haven't even started my mission yet, I've just been at an extreme gospel camp where I read scriptures and learned Spanish. It's exciting because I finally get to put to use everything I've learned into the real world. I'm comparing it to graduating from college and starting my career because I've been in school like 15 years and never really got to put all that to use for me and I've been in the MTC 9 weeks but haven't truly got to use it yet so I'm excited. I've actually grown to kinda of like it here. I love how much scripture study i get, I really love reading the Book of Mormon now. I won't lie, before this I didn't really like reading scriptures all that much, but now it's like, when it is personal study time, I have to read and find out what happens next! Yeah I know it makes me sound like a BOM nerd but hey, I'm a missionary. The definition of a Missionary is BOM nerd so I'm just trying to fill my role well :)  I'm almost done with Alma and I started over around the end of October so for me, I'm cruising.

So today we went to a temple session in Spanish, it was sweet. I understood about 25% of what was said. I figure that's probably more than I'm going to understand when I first arrive in Panama and I'm still adjusting to how fast they all speak. I feel like my Spanish is pretty good, especially when talking about the gospel. I'm pretty sure I'll freeze up the first time I try to say anything but it's all in the learning process and I'm sure some funny stories will come out of my Spanish, plenty already have. Elder Atuake and I traded shirts, a sweet Tongan rugby shirt for a Ragnar shirt. And he got me an awesome tupenoo, aka a lava lava. (skirt like thing islanders wear) I'm pumped to wear it on hot p-days.

Dad and Mom,
Today I sent home a package of stuff I don't need in panama so I hope you get it. Thanks for all the packages; I'm sorry to say the camera charger you sent didn't work for Atuake's camera, but another Tongan had an extra camera so he gave him that so i think he's ok. Also I also sent home my MTC schedule so you can see what my schedule was here. Also I haven't opened that card yet so I'll have something to open on Christmas morning. And THANKS a ton for the ipods!! I really enjoy them! I think with those and the CD's and the lack of time I'll have to listen to music anyway, it should last me! Who knows maybe I'll get some sweet Panamanian music.

Thanks for all the pictures and stuff! I hope ya liked the pictures. Can I make a request for my blog? Put the picture of only me in front of the Provo temple as my main picture, I really like that one. I have on my glasses and a new hair cut in that photo.

So I forgot your letters in the room so I'm going to send another email later tonight answering questions.

Thanks for everything all you guys have done to support and show your love for me while I've been here! I love you guys! I realize it'll be a lot harder to send packages and physical mail when in Panama so I'm not expecting anything. You guys have sent enough for the whole 2 years already! From here on out I'll be receiving the Lord's gifts in the form of baptisms and other awesome things! (don't worry Brit, I'm not a super awkward missionary yet calling everything celestial). I'll be writing another letter later tonight. Also, don't send anymore letters through here cuz I won't receive any more here and they said they just throw them away.

Les amo mucho! I love you guys so much! Thanks for everything!
Elder Devin Pfister

Friday, December 2, 2011

Letter from MTC Dec. 2, 2011

Hola Fam!
I got some good news!! I got my travel plans! I leave on December 12th at 10 a.m. I have to be at the travel office here at 6 am. We are going to fly to Atlanta then down to Panama. We should arrive there around 10 p.m. and then I really start my mission!! Oh i'm so excited!! :) I feel pretty confident in my gospel spanish skills, i know i won't be able to understand what people say, but maybe when my companion gives me the sign, i can give a decent testimony and prayer. Also i'm super glad i'm going to be in Panama for Christmas instead of the MTC.
Today has been kinda strange so i don't have much time to write a good letter. My companion went to Temple Square and did a session in the temple because he is an international missionary. I'm jealous, i wanted to go but i'll get to when i get back and he may never get to again, so it's ok.
So this next week should be pretty eventful with packing, hosting new missionaries, and my companion and I were selected to be missionary examples to the new missionaries so that should be interesting -teaching in front of a ton of new missionaries.
Dad & Mom,
Thanks so much for the package! It's nice having some good food to come back to in our room. It was very nice and we had a fiesta with it! Also i really like the ties, they are very nice, Gracias!
I sent the camera chip to you today so hopefully you get it soon. Thanks for the letter with the Panamanian traditions, it made me really excited to go, maybe we'll be able to participate in some of them.

I'll make sure to write a good letter next week. Oh and I've heard that we get to call home from the airport so i'm not sure but i may get to, just so ya know.
Les amo mucho! I love you guys and miss you tons! Thanks for all the love and support I appreciate everything!
Elder Pfister
Elder Devin Pfister