Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Letter from Elder Pfister June 25, 2012

Qué Onda!
     So i don´t have that much time this week because we had to take this long missionary survey asking how well we know the doctrine and apply the things they teach us, stuff like that. So though it may be short i´ll try to make it sweet.
     I wish i could say that we had at least one investigator at church this week... but i can´t. It`s super frustrating that no one comes yet they seem so positive in the lessons. I feel like they think we are church for them, If they accept us, listen to us and feed us then they are doing all that`s necessary. My plan, which isn`t really working, is to bring members to all the positive lessons so the investigators can make friends in the church and maybe the members can help them get there. But our ward boundaries are huge and there aren`t any members that live close that are willing to help. It`s an up hill battle but oh well, we keep fighting it.
    We haven`t been able to find Shelby and Jorge yet and Bunny wasn`t able to talk to us this week so we don`t know how she is doing but i hope it`s all good. We were able to find a few families this week and teach them; i`m not sure if they are super positive but we are going to follow up to find out.
    I had to give a talk in church this Sunday. They called me at 10 o'clock at night saying how they forgot to call people for  talks so they need my companion and I to talk, so we threw something together real fast. I talked about the Atonement of Christ, and i think it went pretty well actually. The weird part was that they are renovating the church, so we had to meet in a class room for sacrament meeting, and there wasn`t a microphone so i just had to pretty much yell for everyone to hear me. I didn`t really enjoy that seeing as i don`t really like giving talks at all let alone having to yell them haha, but all is well that ends well.
     'Atuake (my former companion) had to take a bus for around 13 hours to arrive at his new area (Bocas de Toro), as it`s the farthest area in the mission from Panama City, but i`ve also heard it`s a fun one and really pretty. Bocas is where most the tourists go because it has the best beaches and things to see there. 
     We had a huge rain storm on Sunday that knocked out everything for a long while. We didn`t have water or electricidad all day. The wind knocked down tons of trees and power lines, it was a mess getting out of the city today with all the traffic jams that the storm caused on top of the already existing traffic.
     Though this area is turning out to be quite difficult, there still lots of things i`m learning from it and improving, and for that the mission is such a once-in-a lifetime experience. I feel like the mission at times can really bring a person down if you let it, but if you don`t let it, you´ll come out of those hard times a way different person for the better. Plus the mission is just growing my testimony everyday that no matter how hard life gets, our Heavenly Father is always next to us to help us out when we need it. I love you guys!
Elder Pfister

Monday, June 18, 2012

Great Letter on June 18, 2012

Que Hay!
    Well the biggest news is that.... we again had no investigators come to church. Super bummer, but oh well live, learn, and improve. The main people we were really hoping would come were the family of Shelby and Jorge, but they moved!! The dumb thing is that they didn`t move out of our area, so we can still teach them, but we called them to find out where they lived and they said they don`t know the address where they are living... so that didn´t help. We did pass by their old house and ask their neighbors, and they said they moved to a street to the right, and there are only three streets in that direction, so my mission for this week is to contact every single one of those houses until we find them, and hopefully we can find some other positive people along the way.  I don`t think i told you about Jorge yet. He is the boyfriend of Shelby the girl we met and taught and last Tuesday we had our first lesson with Jorge. We went over to the house actually to talk to Shelby, but she wasn`t there so we talked to Jorge and it was an amazing lesson;  the best part is that it was super simple but he was so prepared and the Spirit of the Lord was so strong. So Jorge had never talked to the missionaries before and doesn`t have a religion, so all we did was teach about Jesus and what He did while He was on the earth and that included when He was baptized - we read about that in the scriptures. Next we asked him why he thinks Jesus was baptized if the Savior was perfect and he said, maybe because He wants me to follow Him and be baptized too. At that point we were just like "wow," this guy had been prepared spiritually and is ready to accept Christ in his life. Then we asked him if he will be baptized and he told us, 'if that is what Jesus wants me to do then yes, and i believe it is what He wants of me.' We had only met this guy like 30 minutes earlier, but yet he was already wanting to do what is right. It was an amazing lesson, but it was so simple, that`s the part that gets me. We didn`t have a super lesson planned out, all we did was explain a little about the gospel, and then we let the Spirit do the rest. As soon as we got in the house talking to him,  we could tell the Spirit was testifying to him and softening his heart.
    Another good lesson we had was with Bunny, the lady with the son who has lots of problems right now. This lesson was as good as the one with Jorge, but it was still amazing in different ways. We had been praying for help on how to help her and her son with everything, and our appointment with her was on Sunday. Well, come Sunday we had no idea what to teach her that could help her situation, so we decided on the atonement to teach because with that we have the knowledge that no matter how hard it gets in life, Jesus is there with us and knows exactly what we`re going through and can help us overcome it. So that was the plan, but once we got there and sat down she went off again about her son and his girlfriend, which we expected. But at the end she started saying how she has no idea what happened, but that her son's girlfriend has suddenly dropped out of her son`s life, and that things are gradually looking up again. At that point i realized that our Heavenly Father always helps us and answers our prayers, just that sometimes He works in unexpected ways. In this case i have no idea what happened, but now things are getting better for the son and he wants to listen to us too, and we have an appointment with him later this week. So our actual lesson with Bunny was pretty good but nothing spectacular, but the whole situation with the son, that was the real blessing for Bunny, because now she says she is alot more relaxed and can enjoy life more now that she isn`t constantly worried about her son.
    Those were the two lessons that really impacted me and helped to grow my testimony and really helped me in that even though these investigators are not coming to church right now, the Lord is still working on them so maybe in the future things will start to come together better.
    I`m glad everything is going good on the home front. Sounds like some fun plans in the future with traveling to Uruguay and all that fun stuff. I knew that as soon as i left for my mission you guys would start doing all the fun stuff haha ;)
    So speaking of  Elder 'Atuake (my former companion), he is no longer in my zone; they got an emergency transfer arranged and he got sent to Bocas del Toro (northern Panama, near Costa Rica). Apparently he and his companion had some issues with each other because his comp was doing disobedient things ('Atuake says he stayed out all one night), and well they both told me different stories so i´m not sure what the truth is, but i know that 'Atuake got moved which is a real bummer, as i really enjoyed having him in my zone. His Spanish is coming along, it isn`t the best but considering that 'Atuake is learning Spanish via a weak second language like English, his Spanish is pretty good.
    This week has been a great week for me spiritually. It helped me see how much influence the Lord has on our lives everyday. I know that our Heavenly Father listens to our prayers and is always there to help us out and comfort us. I know that when we put our trust in Him and have faith, He will lead us out of trials and into the light, and though sometimes at first it may appear harder to follow Him all the way through with faith, if we do, the end result will always be better and there will be blessings where we need them the most.
     I love you guys and i`m super grateful for everything you do for me. The best part about this gospel is that, even though i`m away from you guys for two years, which right now is tough, in the long run it doesn`t matter because we have all of eternity to be together.
Elder Pfister

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Letter from Devin June 11, 2012

Hola Fam!
    Que hay!!  This week wasn´t the best week because we both were sick part of the time and that slowed down the work alot, and we had the worst luck in the world! We have 5 people who we are hoping can get baptized in the coming weeks and we had appointments with all of them, but every appointment fell through because they weren´t home or were sick. We went back everyday to try to visit them and set up new appointments, and none of them were there any of the times, so it was super discouraging. I can´t remember if i told you, (sometimes i get confused what i tell you and what i write in my journal) but a new investigator lady found us this week. She had been talking to the missionaries about a year ago but she moved and since then she hasn´t been able to find us till this week when we walked by her house and she called to us to come in. Well, she told us how she wants to start coming to church again, and wants to be baptized and all that fun stuff, so that was sweet. She also told us how she wanted us to come pick her up for church on Sunday, and she lives amazingly far away, but the mission is all about sacrifice, right, so bueno we did it. But after we made the long trek Sunday morning to her house, she decided not to go, and all she said to us was, I don´t really want to go to church this week. She didn´t even make up an excuse, she just totally blew it off. So that didn´t really help our moral. But, no fear, we won´t let this get to us or discourage us.

    One interesting thing that happened was our investigator Bunny, she really opened up to us this week and told us all her family problems and wow, this is going to be tough to help them out. All the problems are coming from her son who is with this girl and this girl is all bad. This girl and her family are all into drugs, stealing and beating up the people who get in their way. So this guy is blindly in love with her, says his mom even though the girlfriend beats him and all this terrible stuff. The girl makes him steal things and makes him pay for her drugs, and one time he refused to pay and gave his money to his mom to guard it, and the girlfriend took a knife to his man parts while he was sleeping to punish him. Once Bunny the mom found out about this, she went over there to try to get her son out of this situation, and the friends of the girl threatened to kill her.  Now they´re saying that if he leaves this girl they´ll kill him. It´s some intense stuff going down.  She completely opened up to us about it. I really have no idea how to help her and her son, and i have a feeling she is not going to progress in the gospel until this is over. I feel bad for her, she is so stressed out over it. It´s been going on for over a year she said, and it´s just getting worst with time. I really want to help her, even if she doesn´t end up getting baptized, just because i feel so bad;  no one should have to go through that kind of stuff. Though this whole story is very depressing to me, it has also really helped me as a missionary. It has shown me first hand all the terrible stuff that is going on in the world and it makes me want to get rid of it, and i know i can´t do much but i can bring happiness into people's lives through the Gospel and the message of the Church.

On a happier note, we had a way fun p-day where we went to this nature reserve park and hiked through the jungle. It was super fun, we saw some cool insects, and this pond filled with like 30 big turtles that we spent the whole time trying to catch.  Then we had races with the turtles, and mine won :) Turtles really aren´t all that slow, when they want to they can really scoot along. We also had a blast climbing the vines of the trees like Tarzan or George of the Jungle, we got pretty high and don´t worry, i got pictures.

Sounds like the weather there is bipolar switching so much. The weather here is very consistent right now... Hot in the mornings, then a rain shower, then extremely humid. I decided i really don´t like humidity, i don´t mind dry heat, it´s the humidity that gets to me. I´m constantly wet with sweat, it´s pretty much like just getting out of the shower and putting my clothes on without drying off first. But i´m used to it now, haha.

So what is this stuff about Real Salt Lake playing a Panamanian team in soccer?  I hope i have that RSL jersey to brag it up when they beat Panama, haha 

As for the packages, thanks for everything you have sent, it gives me something to look forward to and good news, i got the camera card last Tuesday so that didn´t take very long. But it was just a letter so we´ll see about a real package. I am putting together a package for you guys, it´s just a slow process so bear with me. As for stuff i need, i´m good on everything pretty much. I can buy most everything i need.

Anyway, i hope this upcoming week is alot better than the previous one, and i have a feeling it will be. I have a lot of things that i want to accomplish this week so that´ll help push me along and get things going. I am determined to get someone to church and baptized, it´s gonna happen!

Anyway, i´m going to reply to your individual emails in separate emails to each of you. I love you guys!
Elder Pfister

P.S. To answer your question, my companion is Ezra Ramos and he is from Guanajuato, Mexico, just north of Mexico City.

Monday, June 4, 2012

--Fantastic letter from Devin June 4th, 2012

    Well this week was an interesting week, we had changes on Wednesday and my old companion Brown got sent to Colon and i have a new comp named Elder Ramos from Mexico. 'Atuake (my MTC companion) also had changes and he´s now in my zone haha so that´s cool. Elder Ramos is pretty cool as well and obedient which is awesome. He doesn´t really know much English so i´m trying to help him out with that a little and he´s really helping me with my Spanish, mostly just because it´s pure Spanish again during the week. He was kinda hard to understand at first because he talks quietly with a mumble and really fast, even some of the Panamanians have had a little struggle at first, but i´m warming up to it and now it´s all good. He has been on his mission for one year, so he´s not all that much older than me in the mission and i kinda feel like senior companion with him because i do everything, and surprisingly i talk alot more than him during the lessons and when contacting. In fact it´s kinda funny because there have been a few lessons where he´s said pretty much nothing and i said everything and it just seems reversed, usually it´s the Latino doing all the talking and the gringo just chillin,  haha. But i kinda like it this way because with Brown as well, we shared senior comp responsibilities and now i have pretty much have all of them, but Elder Ramos is always willing to step in and help if i need it. So pretty much i´m going from 50% senior with Brown to 80% with Ramos and eventually to 100%, but it´s better than 0% to 100% in my opinion, so i´m liking it and improving alot i think. On the non- missionary side we get along well, he loves sports and from what I've seen is just a pretty chill guy so we have some things in common. I have high hopes for this change.
    I don´t really need new shoes because they´re doing good overall, it´s just that the back inside part is falling apart a little. On the inside the fabric is peeling off and the stuff that the shoe is made of is breaking off slowly, but i think a little duct tape will fix it up. I hope you understand what i said, it´s kinda hard to describe; overall my shoes are doing great. For the most part they´re still waterproof too, like if i step in a puddle or something they´re waterproof, but if it starts raining while we´re contacting there´s no hope for keeping my feet dry because the streets usually flood and there´s like half a foot of water everywhere so it´s a hopeless fight when it rains hard.  Even for my boots too the water will be too high, because it just rains too hard and soaks my pants then drains into my boots. Pretty much for puddles, my shoes do good, when we go somewhere that isn´t paved i use my boots and they work great and when it rains i give up haha.  i would need knee high rain boots haha. I think one of my shoes may last through my whole mission and the other pair of shoes may last most of it, we will see.
    My face fungus is all gone from what i can see and right now there´s nothing wrong with me so i´m just enjoying this pain free time of life waiting for the next trial to come my way :)
    As for the missionary work, we sadly didn´t have anyone come to church again! It´s super disappointing because we met 4 people this week who we think we can put baptismal dates with soon but they need to come to church! I think the problem is that our church is so far away from where we are working right now. It´s about a 30 minute bus ride from our house and the area we´re working in right now is about 20 minutes away from our house, so for our investigators it´s like a 45 minute to hour long bus ride one way. It´s frustrating because with a few of them if they came to Church, i know they would like it and would want to come back again - but the key is just getting them there the first time. So that´s the biggest problem we´re working with right now. My plan is to go teach them on Saturday and give them something to remind them of church so they have no excuses on Sunday.
    As for the investigators themselves, Bunny the lady with the son with the funny story, is seeming more positive every time. She likes to drill us with questions that she believes a true church of Christ would or wouldn´t do and she is liking all of our answers. We also found this lady named Aris and after talking to her for a while she has agreed to be baptized, the only problem is first she needs to get married and her boyfriend doesn´t know if he wants to get married yet... Marriage here is such a pain!! Another lady that we found we taught about baptism and she agrees with everything about how we need to follow the example of Jesus and be baptized and by someone who has the proper priesthood authority, so i think this next week we are going to try to invite her to get baptized. Emma is still progressing slowly, we´re going to bring a member over to her house with us so they can testify of the need to come to church because that´s pretty much all she needs to do i think then she will be ready. So overall we have two people with baptismal dates that just need to do a few more things and two people who are almost ready to set a date with i think.
    It´s so weird to hear about all my friends leaving on their missions, it´s still hard to believe sometimes that i´m on my mission. I remember when i was little thinking how the mission would never arrive and BOOM, i´m on the mission. Time flies by super fast!
   Sounds like things are going good for you guys at home, i wish we could go camping here, i loved those scout campouts in the rain, haha. Lots of good memories with that.
    Britt, does Mike´s family own a cabin up there (Idaho mountains) or why is it that you get free access to an awesome cabin all the time? Sounds like a good time though! And tell Mike good luck in the marathon! I´ve been running here a little too, so maybe if i keep it up for the next year and a half i´ll be marathon ready too, haha.
   That´s cool that Alex is in Switzerland, that would be fun! And that makes me laugh to hear that Cody Merrill bought a cross-bow, that sounds like trouble waiting to happen, but doesn´t surprise me at all knowing Cody, haha. Also that´s so weird to hear that Taylor is getting married to Bryce!! Holy cow i would have never seen that one coming!! Haha.  As for packages, the jersey one still hasn´t arrived but we have a meeting tomorrow so maybe i will get it then. I´m going to laugh if i get the other package first haha.
    Well i´m super pumped for this change, as i have a Latino companion who is obedient and willing to work hard which is the perfect combination and kinda rare in this mission so i´m counting my blessings right now! With a good comp the mission is the best, i love it so much! Even with a not so great comp the mission is great, just a little more difficult, but that´s when we really learn some good life lessons. But i know that this is the right thing for me right now, i´m learning and growing so much and i know that this is the work of the Lord and that it´s true. Everyday we can witness little miracles and the hand of the Lord helping us out in everything. I know that He´s always here to help us and guide us along and i´ve felt that everyday and i know it´s true.
    I love and miss you guys but i love your letters and hearing from you! It´s great to hear about all the things going on in your lives, makes me feel like i´m at home again, haha. Thanks for everything!
Elder Pfister