Monday, April 30, 2012

Elder Devin Pfister Letter on April 30th, 2012

Hola Fam,
    How´s it going? :)
This week was not too interesting of a week in terms of missionary work, but i´ll give ya the run down. Monday we went to the causeway which is a nice relaxing p-day. We rented bikes and rode up this man-made strip of land that connects this island to the mainland and it has some great views and it was a nice ride. On Tuesday we had interviews with the President which went fine, but our district ended up being last so we left the church at like 5 pm and got on the bus for our 2.5 hour ride home, so that kind of ruined that day. Wednesday we spent the whole day doing different service projects for people. We started the day painting this investigator´s house and did that until lunch. When we arrived after lunch she told us how she´d like it if we could move everything out of her house and fumigate it for her. So that took a while then we went back to try to finish painting the house after that for a while, and we didn´t end up finishing the painting, so we´re going back this Wednesday. I decided i kind of like painting, it´s pretty easy and you can see your progress instantly. Then the rest of the week was kinda normal with just a few random things happening.
    One of our investigators named Florencia is a fun investigator to deal with but a real challenge too. She is super smart and knows the Bible very well;  she has her own church, but she knows that the church she is in right now has flaws in it and that it´s not the right church. So she argues with us over Bible scriptures on every point of doctrine, but if we can prove it to her using the Bible, then she accepts it really easily, so it´s been a test of my Bible knowledge and ability to listen to the Holy Ghost to guide us to the right words to help her the most. Another person we´re teaching also is knowledgeable about the bible and we went to teach him one day, and we found he was having like a Bible bashing meeting at his house, so that was super interesting to listen to. There were 2 LDS members, a few Catholics, a bunch of Church of Christ people there and some that don´t belong to any church, they just read the Bible. Someone picked a topic and everyone just argued about it with scriptures till they wore the subject out. Lots of the topics are targeted at Mormons, like Joseph Smith, living prophets and things like that.
    So as for the Skype (Mother's Day call), what day would be the best for you guys? Because, we´re probably just going to this Mall to use Skype so we´re not going to do it on Sunday, is Saturday or Monday better? I can´t believe it´s already time to Skype again, it feels like we just got done with the Christmas one! In fact it feels like a few weeks ago that you dropped me off in the MTC, haha. And for the packages... still not here. Can you tell me what name and address you sent them to so if they don´t come for a while i can go to the post office looking for them? Because i was talking to the missionary that deals with mail, and he said that there is no house or office delivery. They just put all the mail and packages with "Mision Panama" in the same spot and the office elders just go pick up all those, so if it doesn´t say 'Mision Panama' it´s probably just sitting there in a random corner never going to be moved.
     As for grocery shopping, when i shop here we go to a pretty big grocery store that has lots of things, however, it just doesn´t have a lot of common items for some reason, like brown sugar, powdered sugar, or powdered pudding, which are some of the things I look for to make a treat for our lunch. There is this one store, can´t remember what it`s called, but it´s American so they say they have everything, the only problem is it´s only in the city, and out of our area.
    Good job on you guys´ talks in Church! I wish i could´ve skipped mine and listened to yours instead! I really don´t like giving talks, it´s not one of my talents, haha.
     As for bugs and creepy crawlies here, in the apartment we don´t have very many, but in La Chorrera we had everything from cockroaches to spiders, mosquitoes, ants... pretty much everything, not very fun. In our current apartment, one really cool thing though is we have geckos all over and they are super fun to catch. They feel super cool crawling on you and they will just jump off you to the ground and they make a really funny sound when they hit like a ´splat´ haha.
    Tell everyone hi for me and that everything is going good for me! Life is great and time is flying. I love you all and i´m super excited to be able to see you on Mother´s Day!!

Elder Pfister

Monday, April 23, 2012

Letter from Elder Devin Pfister April 23, 2012

Q` Xopa Locos!

    Well this past week being the week of changes the biggest news from me is that.... Nothing changed haha. Elder Brown is still my companion, the only new thing is the new area that was added on which i´m excited to start working in. We´ve visited some of the investigators there and i think we could have 5 baptisms there in this change. This one lady we have now is really positive i guess but she´s so old and fragile that she can´t come to church and her nurse doesn´t know if she could physically get baptized so this will be interesting to work with. We´re talking with President about what he thinks about it so we´ll see. Its kinda weird not having something change, it still feels like the same change, just a really long one.
     We did some pretty interesting things this week, including stealing a bed haha. Ok not really steal, but my bed is terrible and the beds in the house where the Elders moved out has really nice beds. So on Thursday we went there after a service project, so we were in our service clothes so we kinda looked like homeless people. But the best was seeing everyone´s faces as they saw this homeless looking gringo carrying this bed on top of his head on the side of a really busy highway haha.  To understand this, and how funny it is, you have to see the homeless people here, they are really weird. They collect everything! You´ll see a homeless guy pushing a stroller with a highway cone and a broken washing machine in it. It makes me wonder what in the world are they going to do with all that. It´s enjoyable to watch and i felt like one of them carrying my bed haha.
     For dinner yesterday we had a weirdly normal dinner. We had three different types of hotdogs, which is normal but the types were meat, corn and coconut. Who eats ground up corn and coconuts in the form of a hotdog?! Well Panamanians do in case you were wondering. Then for a drink we had this hot corn drink from Peru, don´t remember what it was called but it was nasty. It tasted like a melted candle or those cinnamon pine cones melted down into a really hot gel texture.
    This Sunday i had to give a talk in sacrament meeting so i know how ya feel mom and dad, except they called me Saturday night which didn´t leave me with much time to prepare so it didn´t go as good as i had wished but oh well, they got the point and they important thing is that they understood me. I gave my talk on faith and acting on our faith. The great thing about talks is the opportunity it gives us to study so much about that. Also I used one of the segments from "Missions and Football" by Vai Sikahema about the Bob Duell conversion, and how Bob had to choose between his family or following Christ and getting baptized into the Church. For those that don´t know, he wanted to get baptized but his wife said that if he did, his family will be gone when he gets home. But he followed his faith and went through with it and they ended up having their hearts softened and they remained as a happy family, they even came to his baptism. His family ended up happily in the Church, too.  So that story went really well with my talk and lots of people really like it. I personally love it, that is the ultimate test of faith and he passed it and he was blessed because of it.   
    This week was kinda uneventful because we spent the first half of it visiting cool members, recent converts and our investigators saying goodbye in case one of us left, but then we didn´t. The second half was getting to know our new investigators that live in our new area. But i got a good feeling about some of them, there are some really positive ones there. Plus it´s always nice to just have new things to do instead of recontacting everything that you contacted the last change. If that change you were talking about (from the leaders of the Church) goes through about no more contacting, that will be so weird. I sort of want that change to come during the very last part of my mission so i can experience it.
     I´m excited to see how the NFL draft goes for Robert Turbin and Bobby Wagner, i hope they represent USU good! I saw a picture of Turbin running in the NFL (football) combine and holy cow his arms really are the size of my legs.
     I haven´t really heard anything about Mitt Romney from any Panamanians yet, so we´ll see if that changes in the coming months. It´ll be interesting if he wins because lots of the Diablo Rojos have Obama painted on their buses, you think they´ll paint Romney on there if he wins?? Haha I hope so, that would be awesome.
    So the rainy season is starting here, it´s not too terrible yet. Usually it rains everyday for about an hour or so of complete downpour then nothing the rest of the day. My shoes are still waterproof if the water isn´t more than like 2 or 3 inches high or if it doesn´t get above the start of my laces. But there have been a few days when there has been about a foot of water in the street so you would need waders of something like that to keep dry there.
     It sounds like everything is going good in Logan and that it´s toasty hot which kinda sounds miserable, i´m sick of the heat, i miss the snow!! But other than that sounds like your guys are doing great which is wonderful to hear. Life is just peachy here with the tough days and the great days but still loving it. The mission is great, it is teaching me so much about everything. And my testimony of the Savior is growing everyday as i notice the small but amazing miracles that happen in the lives of the people here, that´s the best part of the mission.

Thanks for the recipes and all the love and support. I love you guys!
Elder Pfister

P.S. Britt if you want to just start emailing me again i´m cool with that because i usually get your letters on Tuesday and forget what i was going to say by Monday, and that way i can reply to your letters in the week they actually happen instead of like 3 weeks late haha.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Letter from Elder Devin, April 16, 2012

Hey Fam,
   How´s it going? Things here are great! The two baptisms went  great! I sent the photos i hope ya got them, along with some other  random ones of my feet problems that i´ve had here, but don´t worry  because my feet are all healed up now. I decided to wait until the problem was over to tell you this time so you can´t worry about it :)

But to explain the baptism photos, with the two older men, the one next to me is Vicente (Bisente as i had been spelling it) and his friend Carlos who introduced him to the church and baptized him. The one with the short and tall guys, the short one is Carlos the kid who
decided to talk to us after his aunt died (his mother is a member but his father is not). And the tall guy in the photo is his cousin Jose who baptized him. Vicente was the most amazing investigator ever! He accepted everything and did everything we committed him to because he had seen the way his friend was and he knew that only the church and gospel could make someone like that. He said all us Mormons have a way about us that make us stand out from everyone else because of the way we present ourselves, act and live the standards of the church. Vicente is also very talkative so he had like half the ward at his baptism and he was great friend with everyone. He really adds alot to the ward and already he´s not afraid to share the gospel with anyone he meets.

Carlos the kid is really happy and content now, he had an extreme fear of death, now he knows that there is a plan for him and that he has entered the path of following Christ that, if he continues to follow, will lead him to eternal life where he will once again see his aunt. So pretty much the baptisms made all the work we've done worth it. We have been working hard without much success except for these two people so it felt super good to see them enter the waters of baptism. It really reanimated us and helped us finish strong.

    Some interesting changes are coming this week, for one changes are on Wednesday so i may be getting a new comp or even moving myself, but that´s unlikely. And our area got alot bigger so now we have a ton of places that we´ve never been to so it´s kinda exciting to get to go there but overwhelming a little too because our area pretty much doubled.

    Let´s not worry about the iPod thing yet, we´ll talk about it on mother´s day. And i´ll let you know when any of the packages get here.

    Britt, I got your letter where you were talking about planning your trip to DC and how you said,´´i hope we get to see the Cherry Blossoms because i pretty much planned the trip around that´´ hahaha that made me laugh for some reason, so i hope you got to see them!

    Few random questions for you guys. Since we don´t have dinner alot of the time and we´re poor we´ve been eating alot of top ramen but i´m getting sick of that. All we have to cook stuff is a weak stove top that barely boils things. So my question is, do you guys know of any recipes for good, cheap meals that you can cook with only a cheap stove top? If so i would love them, i never thought i would say it but i don´t think i can live off top ramen like i used to be able to. I actually get sick of it now haha.

   I had some things i wanted to tell you guys but i left the note in the house so next week i should have more. Everything is going good here and i hope it´s the same for you guys! I´m excited to see if Elder Brown goes and who will come in if he does go, and just all the fun
things about missionary transfers. To finish off i would just like to say, that i know that this is the true church and like it says in the scriptures, it´s such an amazing feeling to watch someone you´ve grown to love enter the waters of baptism and make those promises with the Lord. The joy and happiness you see on their face as they come up, clean as can be, is amazing. I love this gospel and being on a mission and being able to watch as people receive the blessings of heaven that come from living the gospel that I, having been born into the Church, kind of have taken for granted.

  I love you guys and thanks for all the support and love that you give me! Take care and until next week!
Elder Pfister

Monday, April 9, 2012

Letter from Elder Pfister April 9th, 2012

Hola Fam!
       Easter was an interesting week here. It´s supposed to be a week of remember the Resurrection and the Savior.  On Good Friday, there is absolutely no drinking and it´s actually illegal to sell alcohol on Friday but it wasn´t quite that.... probably 40% of people stayed in the city the whole week and partied the entire time, 40% went to the beaches to party and visit family, and only about 20% took it as a religious time according to the local news. But the people who did do religious things went all out. There were a bunch of big parades with big Jesus floats and stuff like that. For Easter we had dinner with this less active family who are apparently a lot less active than we realized haha.  We got the food and they asked one of us to bless the food and then right after our prayer, they all started saying the Catholic prayer, Padre Nuestro, including the LDS members and it was kinda awkward with us being the only ones that didn´t know the prayer and we didn´t really know what to do, haha. But the food was pretty good, they served us salmon, caviar (which i actually really enjoyed), some rice (of course) and some platanos en tentacion which are heavenly if cooked right, which they weren´t but they still tasted good. Something i learned is that America is one of the few places i guess where all the activities with eggs are popular. Panamanians don´t do anything really with eggs, same with Mexico. They only thing they did was take two oval shaped papers, put chocolate candies in between them and staple them together. None of the painting eggs or Easter bunny or egg hunts...nothing! To be honest it didn´t really feel like Easter, probably because we didn´t have the normal traditions, plus Easter is all about remembering Christ and His resurrection, but as missionaries, Christ is constantly on our minds. But Easter here is a lot different than in America with the lack of egg things to do and because they spend the whole week as a holiday celebrating it. It didn´t really help the missionary work because no one was home the entire week, or people had visitors and they didn´t want to talk to us.

But that doesn´t stop the work of the Lord! We have two baptisms coming this week :) one on Friday and one on Saturday for Bisente and Carlos. I don´t know if you remember who they are but to recap, Bisente works with a few good Mormons and they introduced him to the Church and now he´s solid. Carlos is a ten year old who´s Father is a different religion, but his Dad is pretty much a member without getting wet, and his mom is LDS, but they wanted the missionaries from each religion to teach him and allow him to choose for himself. I´m not really sure if the dad´s religion really has missionaries, so he choose to be baptized in the Mormon Church. The thing that is really cool about Bisente is now he´s telling us things like, "I now see why those guys at work always seemed different, it´s because they live what they believe and I could always see a difference in them and the way they lived and now I realize it´s because they´re Mormons." So that´s proof that everyone can be a missionary, you don´t even have to open your mouth (though that really helps), all you need to do is live your beliefs and people will be able to see a difference in you and through your example.

So some changes are coming and our Mission President has told us some big changes are coming to our ward. Ok to start, there are six missionaries in our ward and the 3  areas are Marcasa with sisters missionaries in it on one end (Marcasa is also the name of our ward), Juan Diaz 1 (which is mine and we are in the middle), and Juan Diaz 2 with elders on the other end. The President says that he´s going to take out the hermanas in our ward and move the elders from JD2 to the Marcasa area and my companion and I are going to take over both Juan Diaz 1 and 2. So pretty much our area is going to double in size which should be interesting because it already took about an hour and a half walking or 40ish minutes on the bus to get from one side to the other of our area. But i don´t think i´m getting a new comp so that´ll be the same i think.

It´s so weird hearing about the blizzards and how it´s warming up turning into spring there, because winter never came for me here in Panama, so mentally i´m still waiting for winter and the snow to come, yet here it´s starting the rainy season so it´s cooling down a tiny bit, so i keep thinking, hey here comes winter, but from what you guys are telling me, i already missed winter and all the snow haha. I miss snow and skiing a lot, especially thinking about my pretty new skis sitting in the garage, haha. So the other day we were out contacting and it started pouring rain for a good while and we got soaked and that day was all walking in soaked shoes, so when i got home and took off my socks it looked like i had trench foot haha, my feet were a combination of bright blue/black/white and super wrinkly and messed up looking, kinda cool though. But don´t worry, nothing serious just a cool looking picture that i´ll send you sometime :)

So the packages still haven´t arrived, of course. Maybe i´ll get them on my birthday haha. So yeah, the office elder who is in charge of the mail and packages told me that if you don´t send it to the Carrasquilla (something like that) address, then it might take like 6 months to get here. Usually packages from Utah sent to the Carrasquilla address take around a month to 3 months to arrive. Which address did you send my packages to? I´m going to be sending home my camera card soon or would you rather that I buy a little flash drive and put them on that and send it?

Dad, i am just running out of room on my ipod from all the music i´m getting from other missionaries and i´m pretty sure there´s an old black ipod video in my room somewhere that´s like 60 GB which would be plenty. I would just buy a normal mp3 player which would be cheaper, except lots of the music i have, only works on ipods because of Apple´s dumb restrictions and stuff.  I am not sure, but we can talk about this on Mother's Day when we skype or talk, before you buy anything. But if you do find that black ipod, will you send that? Thanks!

So a funny story, we had our dinner schedule changed and we didn´t know who or where a bunch of people live. Our cook for lunch who we have been going to for about 5 weeks now, is a member and she used to own a restaurant and run it out of her house which is chocolate colored with pillars and a little closed store on it. So we asked her if she knew Euguinia or where she live and she was like yeah i do, if fact i could take you there if you wanted. And we were like, you don´t have to take us there just describe it or draw a map or something.
So she was like:
-Her:  ok well she lives on that one street down from a big church on a street like the street coming to mine house, an L shaped street, and here house is brown or chocolate colored, do you know which one i´m talking about?
Us- kinda, i think we may be able to find it
Her- well it´s got a closed up store on it with unpainted pillars in front, know it yet?
Us- No, still no but with that description we can find it
Her-Well there´s a garage with a silver car in it, chocolate colored, pillars and a closed store, you know it yet??
Us- Oh! So it looks just like your house right?
Us- it your house?
Her- Hahaha, yes. My name is Euguinia, nice to meet you.
So that was super super embarrassing but really funny too. The entire time we had never asked her what her first name is haha. Goes to show you shouldn´t just know people as Hermana Senteno or something like that, always find out their whole name, haha.

Easter time was a cool experience here and it´s a great time. A great time to remember the Resurrection of Christ but we should always remember to keep Christ and everything He did for us in our minds and hearts always. And also as members of the Church we should never shy away from an opportunity to share the wonderful gospel that Christ has given to us. Being a missionary can be as easy as always just being a good LDS member and setting an example because i know that people notice. The Church has higher standards than the world, and when we live up to the Church´s standards and not the world´s standards our lives will be blessed, and people will also notice the difference, and the happiness that comes with that. I love this Gospel and i´ve seen many lives here blessed so abundantly because of it, and i love this mission because all i do is share this wonderful message with the world. I know that Jesus Christ suffered and died for our sins, that He was resurrected and today He lives and He is with us always to help us along the path of life and that one day we can return to His presence. Happy Easter!

I love you guys and i´m grateful for all your letters and support, it really helps!

Elder Pfister

Monday, April 2, 2012

Extra Awesome Photos From the Mission Field

Letter from Elder Pfister April 2nd, 2012

     The Church Worldwide Conference in Salt Lake City this past weekend was amazing wasn´t it?! I really loved it and we got to watch all the sessions in English even, so that was nice. My favorite line by far was Elder Holland´s when he said, "Don´t delay, it´s getting late." Man, he gives such good talks! Also super funny was when Elder Christofferson finished his really complicated sentence and said more or less, "Translate that"- super funny because all us Spanish speaking missionaries talk about how if we were giving talks, we would put in super hard words just to see how the translators translate them. Sadly the translator for Spanish didn´t say anything for that phrase. But this conference was great especially in all the advice given for the family. I would say the theme of this conference was families and how to strengthen them in this world. We also had some investigators promise to come to some sessions of conference which i think would have really helped them, but they couldn´t come at the last second so that was a super bummer. Our plan now is just teach from the general conference talks for a while.

    As for the work in Juan Diaz, not much is new. Our three positive people are still going good and everyone else just keeps dropping and so we find new ones, haha. One easy way to find my area is just find the National Soccer stadium, that is in my area. We´re hoping we can get two baptisms on the 13th and the 14th of this month and then one a week or two after that, so hopefully those come through.

     Sounds like things in Logan are going smoothly. It´s funny how you are all loving the nice warm weather while i´m missing the fresh crisp mountain air. That´s too bad the Aggies lost the basketball championship game, but sounds like they finished alot stronger than they started. And it´s sweet to hear that Bobby Wagner did so good in his NFL workout. I hope Wagner and Robert Turbin rock the NFL, maybe even on the same team, imagine how cool that would be! but unlikely.... This guy came up to me yesterday at conference and started talking NCAA tournament stuff to me and i guess he didn´t realize we as missionaries don´t watch sports, but it caught me totally off guard, i didn´t even realize it was March Madness till yesterday.

     Dad, your April fools thing really got me.... but in my defense i´m reading this on April 2nd so it doesn´t count. And i don´t remember saying i needed a new ipod.. i just said that the ipod shuffle doesn´t work. But on that note, i should have a black ipod video just sitting in my room somewhere, i think on my bookshelf or in my night stand or around there. And no, i have not yet received any packages yet... but tomorrow could be the day, haha.

     Mom, i´m glad to hear that your knee is getting better and i know what you mean it´s hard to be patient. I remember that too well. And the city with the concentric circles of streets (Cuidad Radial)  that you mentioned, i think i know what you are talking about and it so, yes i know it.

    Britt, how was Washington D.C.? And also could you go accept all my friend requests on Facebook? I have alot of people tell me they found me but i need to accept them.

The Biggest news from this week was for sure Conference. I loved it and got so much out of it! Especially David F. Evan´s talk when he was talking about missionaries ;) haha - but they had some great messages. And I can testify that the Church leaders are called of God and receive revelation for us in this day. We had an activity with some investigators where we had them write a few questions they had, and we promised them that if they have faith and pray about it, their questions would be answered in Conference and they all were! I know that the Lord knows our needs and He works through His prophets to help us. Like it says in D&C 1:37 i think, whether by mine own mouth or by the mouth of my servants, it is the same. I know that that is true and that if we study and apply the teachings of this conference in our lives, we will be more Christ like and have more guidance from God given to us. Conference talks are kinda just a lot of  "if-then" statements... If we do what the Church leaders tell us, then we will be blessed in one way or another. I know that Jesus lives and that He died for us so that we can return to live with Him again, and that we should never take for granted the power of His atoning sacrifice.

I love you guys so much!
Elder Pfister