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- Wait....is 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!