Monday, January 30, 2012

Letter from Elder Pfister January 30th, 2012

   So the best news from this week is we got the medical papers we need to have our family (parents and 2 kids) married, so now we're working on that but everyone says that's fast, so we're hoping to set a baptismal date for the 11th of February. The other good news is we already set a date with this other guy named Angel. He is getting baptized on Feb. 11th. too. He's about 20 years old and super into the church right now. He lives very far away from the church but he still makes it every week to our 9 am meeting in fact he is usually early. I truly believe he´s been prepared by the Lord because he was the one that asked us about baptism after reading about it in the Book of Mormon. We were nervous about teaching him the Word of Wisdom because his aunt told us that he has problems with smoking and drinking, but when we started into it he told us that he had already quit drinking and smoking because he said he just felt that was the wrong thing to do-  so he quit on his own. Also he lives with his Mom and family and they are all anti-Mormon and they said he wouldn't be able to live with them if he got baptized.  So he got his own job and is working his heart out to have enough money in case he has to move out. He told them his personal salvation is worth more to him than anything, so he´s willing to do anything for it. But the good news is that his family has seen a noticeable change for good in his life since he's started living the gospel, and this has softened their hearts so i think everything will work out fine with him and his family. He's proof that if you put your faith in the Lord and do His will, everything will work out in the end. And more good news is that this other man randomly showed up in church a few weeks ago and when we talked to him, we found out that he's not a member, but he was talking to the missionaries where he lived, on the other side of Panama.  He said that he wanted to be baptized but that his wife (they're not married so i guess girlfriend or partner) didn´t want to get married, so he left her and moved in with his daughter here in Chorrera. That would be so tough because he's not young, and i think that they had been together for a long time. Anyway he also wants to be baptized so we´re meeting with him on Wednesday to hopefully set a date for baptism.  So that's the good news about our investigators so far. Rodney still doesn´t know what he wants to do, so we´ll just keep visiting him and hoping he decides to join the Church.
     The other news - which you already know - is that I got a new companion last Wednesday. His name is Elder Figueroa from Honduras. He doesn´t speak any English so it´s been all Spanish with him, but i like that.  So far he's been good; we're getting way more involved with the members and stuff and the work is going good so we´ll see.  However, I really miss my old comp, Elder Barahona. He was a way good friend to me and a good teacher with lots of patience. I wish he could´ve extended like he wanted to. One big lesson i´m learning on the mission is "don´t take the things you love for granted while you have them."   For example, i took our family and all the joys and comfort that it provides for granted and as soon as i didn´t have it, i miss it so much. Same with Elder Barahona, the first while i thought he was ok, just a normal comp, and i didn´t realize till just before he left how good of a comp he has been to me. Now with my new comp i´m realizing how much I like Elder Barahona, but oh well my new comp is fine.
That´s pretty much what happened this week here in Panama. It was great to hear from you guys and i wish i could i reply to everything you said but i´m running out of time, like normal. So to close, i just want to say that i know this Gospel is the true gospel of Christ and if you let it, it will change your life for good and bring countless blessings, we just have to look for them. I´m confident that everyone is blessed every day many times a day, we just don´t notice the hand of the Lord in our lives and all the amazing blessings we receive-  until we don´t have them anymore for some reason. So my personal challenge to myself and to you guys is try to look for the blessings in your lives and you will notice the little miracles that Lord gives us. I love and miss you guys, and can´t wait to see you again but for now I´m serving my Lord and loving it!
Elder Pfister

Monday, January 23, 2012

Hola Fam,
     So this week has been kinda crazy but a fun week. We went to Panama City nearly everyday for different reasons. On Monday  we went for p-day and just hung out at Albrook mall, which is huge but fun to just chill in. It reminds me of America and Walmart because you can actually find things you're used to having... But i didn't buy anything. Then on Wednesday we went to the mission office because Elder Barahona needed to take an English test. I guess every latino takes an English test at the end of their mission and if they do good enough they send them a certificate that helps them get better jobs and into better universities. So we spent most the day there... Well, i just sat there and did nothing and he took the test haha, kinda boring but it was something different from my normal day which i liked. 
And then on Thursday we went again to Panama City to listen to Elder Russel M. Nelson which was awesome. That was by far the best part of the week. We had the meeting in the stake center right next to the Temple so when he got there we took a group photo in front of the temple. We also got to shake hands with him and have a tiny little chat with him. We listened to President and Sister Ward and then Elder Martino of the Quorum of the 70 and his wife, and then Elder Nelson and his wife. The Wards' pretty much talked about the normal things we can do better in with a few nice stories from the mission but nothing too special. Elder Martino and his wife were good, they talked about how to improve our mission, but it was in different ways than the normal things so i enjoyed those talks. But Sister Nelson and Elder Nelson's talks were amazing, especially Elder  Nelson. He talked about coming closer to Christ, and we pretty much studied a few scriptures with him.  There were only like 100 people there, so we were asking questions and stuff, it was great. He said how we need to be more like Gordon B. Hinckley and always to be demanding more of ourselves, and never settle for ok or just enough. Then he gave us a blessing of protection through obedience, and a thirst for more knowledge of the gospel. The amazing thing for me is how he seemed to answer every question i had, even ones i didn't think i had. For me Elder Nelson's talk was one of the most powerful talks I've heard, mostly because it was in person and applicable to me and my life.
    So in other news, this Wednesday i get a new companion so that's exciting. But i really like Elder Barahona so it's sad to see him go too. And he's really sad to leave the mission. I always thought it was weird to hear people say how sad they were to leave and go home. I always thought that at the end of  my mission i would be so eager to get home, but the more time here and the more friends I make, and the more I start to love the work, I can see how it's going to  be hard to leave it all behind.
   As for the baptisms, they aren't going to happen before Elder Barahona leaves which is sad, but we think we're going to have the Trujillo Family (but the doctor still hasn't given us the medical papers), Rodney, and another person named Angel to baptize soon. We have taught Angel 2 times i think but yesterday he came up to me in church and said how he really knew that the church was true and how much he loves the Book of Mormon and i was like great and then he said so when can i be baptized? Haha, which is great because we hadn't really talked to him about baptism yet, he read about it in the Book of Mormon. So i hope that works out. Other than that, our other investigators are going pretty good, except we had this one family who were really progressing and getting into it and we went over there for another lesson and the house was completely empty, they just picked up and moved without saying anything - so who knows where they are now. Hopefully they find the missionaries where ever they are.

To wrap up, i can't believe it's already been 6 weeks here in Panama, and I'm getting a new companion, time is flying! My Spanish is getting better slowly but surely and pretty much the mission is great, i love it!! I think that's the key, you gotta love it and find joy in everything. I know that The Church is true and it's the same church that Christ established when He was on the earth and it's been restored through Jose Smith. I know that if we have faith in the blessings of the Book of Mormon, it will change our lives for the better, I have seen that for myself, both in my life and in the lives of my investigators. I know that Christ lives and is always with us to help us. I'm so grateful for all you guys and all  the love and support you give me, thank you so much! I love and miss you!
Love, Elder Pfister

Monday, January 9, 2012

Letter from Devin January 9, 2012

¡¿Que Tal?!
So I forgot to tell you guys about New Years Eve here! It was pretty tight here, a party of course but they have some pretty wild traditions here. Everyone here makes this scarecrow like thing, but here are more details… I should’ve taken a picture of one but I didn’t think of it but anyway they make these dummy like people and dress them up and make them look cool and then the best part, they stuff them with really flammable things and fireworks and firecrackers and bombs and they set them ablaze at midnight along with all their fireworks too. And that I do have pictures of, our neighbor’s dummy exploding with fire and fireworks, Haha. Anyway so for New Years Eve we couldn’t sleep just like Christmas because everyone is setting off fireworks and playing music and stuff, pretty much partying hard and as loud as possible. So we couldn’t sleep so we went out and watched the fireworks which was way fun because everyone has the huge fireworks like the kind the city sets off for 4th of July but the thing is everyone in every direction has them, so everywhere you look there are huge fireworks going off. The whole sky was just lit up with tons of fireworks, it is quite a sight, and really noisy too because they all love setting off bombs that don’t light up or anything they are just really loud, like bombs, and they shake your house if they are close… I wanted to explode some but I couldn’t find them cheap. So like I was saying along with all these fireworks, you look down the street and in front of most of the houses are these burning exploding dummies. It was cool to see and very much unexpected. The whole week I had seen them sitting in people’s yards but I didn’t really think anything of it, and then I came outside on New Years Eve and they were all setting them on fire. Next year I’m definitely making one! So afterwards when all the dummies were dead and gone and most the fireworks were done, you could barely see anything - the whole city was covered in smoke and smog. It was cool… kinda an orange mist that covered everywhere with the occasional fireworks in the distance. So after all that we went and visited a member who lives like 30 seconds from us and just like Christmas, everyone has a huge meal at midnight. As we arrived they invited us to eat with them and they had sooooo much food for how many people were there! It was a family of 2 brothers, 2 sisters and the parents so 6 people total and they had 5 big hams, a huge turkey, the biggest thing of lasagna I’ve ever seen, and tons of cake and cookies and sweets. So much food and it was so good! But I was already stuffed from our earlier dinner appointments so I didn’t eat a ton.  So that was New Years Eve for us pretty much, I think that’s the interesting stuff we did.

So I got some mail from you guys this week and that Christmas package. The Mail was addressed on the 18th of December so a little late getting here haha, and I’ll be sure to use those Christmas ornaments next Christmas, so no need to send another package next year because I’m already prepared! That’s the boy scout in me, prepared 353 days before haha, but thanks anyway for the package, I’m sure we’ll find an unproductive use for that fake snow like covering someone’s house in it during divisions. We’ll find a way to have fun with it. And thanks for the mail too. And Brittany, I got 2 letters from you, one saying a short message and another being worried if that short message went through or not, so I’m not sure how many you sent but that’s what I got. Oh and I am going to try to email you guys pictures this time so I hope you get them and I put all my  pictures on that hard drive so I’ll send my memory chip home eventually… So did you guys ever get my package I sent from the MTC?
The only thing i want right now that I can´t get here is a 50 states quarter collecting board because it´s kinda a game or challenge here to collect all 50 states quarters while on your mission without cheating at a bank or something. But i don´t need this anytime soon, just sometime the next package whenever that is, no rush at all. 
So this is the address that they told me is the best address to send physical mail and packages to:
Elder Pfister
Misión Panamá
Entrega General 0834
Panamá, Republica de Panamá

I’m pretty sure this address will work for my whole mission so you don’t have to worry about getting new addresses. And if I do happen to get a house with an actual address and house number maybe we can experiment sending a letter there to test their mail system to see if I get it, who knows.  

So random other stuff that has happened here… We found a rat in our house, well more like my companion found it. I was reading one morning when I hear my companion screaming, “Pfister! Help! Come quick! I need help!” so I go running in to see him on the bed next to our dresser freaking out because there is a rat under it, but it was more like a mouse or a tiny rat but it was funny to see him freak out over it haha. And we eventually caught it took pictures and all, but I figured out that he does not like animals. Another time when we came home there were 2 bats just chillin on our front porch and I wasn’t sure if they were dead or what so I kinda tapped one and it jumped up and started flying towards my companion and he started freaking out and yelling and it turned away from him and flew right into the wall and just dropped, it was great. Anyway we poked them a few more times to try to get them off our porch; my companion wanted to just kill them but I wouldn’t let him, and eventually after lots of running into the wall they flew away. 
In teaching I feel pretty good, if they are talking about normal gospel topics and I can usually understand most of it and I teach about a third of the lesson usually. I feel good with my spanish if i know that words i need to use, the grammar is there for the most part i just don´t know enough vocabulary. Elder Barahona goes home the 26th of this month but i get a new comp the 25th. I feel ok about the area but we´re really working on learning it. I lead us everywhere now and Elder Barahona only helps if i get really lost. So yeah i´m getting in more study time now, and I ask Elder Barahona if i need help with spanish so it´s all good now. 
There is this gym owned by a member who lets us in free when he´s working so we went there and worked out and it felt way good! Way sore the day after, i could hardly walk, but we´re going to go a few times a week now. 
The family we´re teaching is an unmarried couple around 30 years old i think with a daughter who's 11 and a son who is 8 and my comp has been teaching them for a while now and i really like them now that i´m starting to get to know them and teach them. They seem to have good testimonies and are ready for baptism. 
Tell Delma happy birthday for me! 
So yeah, everything is going good for me here now. Spanish is coming along, teaching is good, i like the people and the food and the other elders. I´m nervous about my next comp but i think i´m going to be nervous about all my new comps. 
I love and miss you guys so much! I had a little testimony builder yesterday in church, singing I know my savior lives. I challenge you guys, next time you sing that, to really pay attention to the words because they are powerful. ¨I know my Savior lives, what comfort that sweet sentence gives¨ and it´s true, we should take great comfort in that He lives. I know that He lives!
I love you guys so much!
Les Amo muchisimo,

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Letter on January 3, 2012

Hey Guys!
Things are going pretty great right now¡ I just got back from a way fun p-day!(that is why i did not write yesterday, we changed p-day so we could go to the temple today).   We woke up early and went to the temple which was awesome! The Panama temple is sweet cuz from the outside its really white in a really green jungle, and then inside the the temple is so quiet and the celestial room is bright and peaceful, while everywhere else in Panama is really noisy and loud- so it was great to be able to sit in peace and quiet. After that we went to a huge mall in Panama City and ate lunch and stuff there and shopped around; they have so many stores! It was fun fun fun in the sun. Anyway then we went to this causeway and rode bikes there and took pictures and just relaxed. It was sweet!  Then we went to a bridge off the Canal and took more photos and messed around. Overall it was a way sweet day!!
So other good news is that we might have 5 baptisms coming up soon, a family of 4 and Rodney who didn't show the last time we scheduled him for baptism . We have been working to get this family baptized for a while but they needed to get married, and to get married they had to pass a physical. The doctor who did it, who is a member, lost the results the first time, and the second time put the wrong name on the paperwork so there was tons of confusion with some other random person in Panama, so anyway the results took about 2 weeks to get which was a pain, but we finally have that step done so we are working on their marriage this week! 
To answer some questions:  we can play soccer on p-days if we want to, we usually do things as a zone or at least as a district so whatever everyone wants to do. We had another 'no water day' in town but it was when we were out working and the water was on by the time we returned. We do laundry at a laundry-mat a few blocks away from our house. But there are no dryers so we have to carry our wet laundry home to dry... no fun.   We have district meetings and zone meetings on Tuesday mornings (not on p-day). First we have zone meeting then we split into districts. We have 4 elders and 2 hermanas in our district and there are 3 districts in our zone with the same number, so we have 20 people in our zone; one district might have 4 companionships... not sure, but 20 in our zone and we are pretty big for Panama i have heard. We go on splits once a week. Our area is big, it takes about an hour or so to walk from one end to the other and i think that it coincides with our ward boundaries too, that is why it is tough to get some people to church because they live so far away.  My feet are sore and tired but fine, no problems. And i think we walk probably 10 miles a day, not really sure. Depends on how much tracting we do. And nope, no sick days from the food or anything yet :)
I am very grateful to everyone for everything and all the support you guys give me! I am glad you had a great Christmas and i hope a great New Years! I love you guys very much and miss and pray for you everyday!
Les Amo Mucho!!
Elder Pfister