Monday, July 30, 2012

Letter from Elder Pfister July 30, 2012

    Sounds like you guys had an eventful week this week with all that traveling and stuff. I´m sorry to hear about everyone that passed away or those that are close to passing. But as a missionary teaching tons of people who have lost a loved one, i´ve really had my testimony strengthened that death is not the end, and that in reality the people that pass away are in a better place and that now they`re looking out for us from above now. Investigator news:  So that family that came to church last week, well they must not have enjoyed it very much because when we went to go teach them again they hid from us haha. I think they had the wrong idea about our church, because after church the mother was asking us why it was so calm and reverent and why we don´t have crosses and stuff. She was expecting something else so i think that´s why she didn´t want to talk to us again. But we have found some other positive people this week. Sadly no one came to church, but our most positive investigators had good excuses... for this week - but i really hope they come this next week.
    One of our positive investigators is named Faustina and she had talked to the missionaries before but when we got there to visit with her, she said she had a lot of questions for us. When we sat down she kinda opened up and just told us, ¨ok the missionaries talked to me about The Book of Mormon and Jose Smith and some other things, but the truth is i didn´t understand anything and i don´t really believe that all that stuff is probable.¨ Then she just started shooting questions at us about random stuff and we just said, ok we´re just going to start from the beginning and reteach you everything. So that´s what we did and it went amazing! The spirit was super strong there and as we went along we were able to answer all her questions with scripture and testimony, and by the end she told us that she believes that the Book of Mormon is from God here for our benefit. She went from not understanding anything to having the small beginnings of a testimony about the BOM and she really wants to learn more. I have really high hopes for her to progress; plus she lives kinda close to the church so it shouldn´t be too hard to get her there. She lives pretty close to us so we´re going to go pick her up i think.
    We had another great lesson this week with the Family Marquinez. This family we contacted a few weeks ago and in the last lesson we left them with this little booklet to read. When we got there this week and asked if the mother was able to read it her face lit up and she was like, ¨Yeah yeah yeah! I read it and i understood most of it, especially this part, I loved that part!¨ It was sweet to see her so excited and she really did understand it well. So we went on to help her understand more about Joseph Smith and the BOM and by the end she was nearly to the point of tears. Her mom was there too and her mom is a very strong Catholic, but by the end of the lesson, she also said that she wants to find out if the BOM is from God and that she thinks it is. This is another family that i have pretty high hopes for. Not the entire family right now because half of them are really big drinkers and partiers but the lady and her mom seem positive and hopefully they can be the good example and help the rest of the family in the future.
    Those were the lessons that were the most positive during this week. We got a reference from a member that we contacted yesterday that seems like they could progress too and we have another appointment with them on Saturday and Sunday so i´ll let ya know next week how they are doing.
    So  you guys found the monument for the geographic center of the country on Google Earth, right? Ok i´m going to try to guide you to our house. You find the monument and there should be a park close by called Parque 8 de Diciembre. So you´re looking at the park with the monument at the bottom left corner of it, from there follow the street to the left of the park and take the first left. Follow that street and it should curve to the right and next to it is a basketball court. The last house on the left following the street after the curve, across the street from the basketball court is where i live. It is next to where the street splits. I hope you understood that, haha. 
   The ZL´s said that they have 3 packages for me so i´ll probably get them this week sometime so i´ll let you know which ones they are. I think my jersey package is forever lost in Panama, haha.
    Well i gotta go, but i hope everything is going good for you guys back at home. I love you guys and miss you!
Elder Pfister

Monday, July 23, 2012

Letter from Elder Pfister July 23, 2012

Que Onda!
     So this has been an interesting week but a great one at the same time. Opening an area is not the easiest thing to do, we started off the week not knowing where anything is, where anyone lives and we hardly knew the boundaries of our area. But we´ve gotten alot done this week and i feel like i know my area pretty well now so things are picking up.
    We had a great week teaching people. We found this one family and had a great lesson with them which is kinda a cool story. The other week we contacted this lady walking down the street and she told us how she´d love if we could come visit her and she described where she lived. So we went there this week and found her and she was super happy to talk to us, but before we started we asked her if there was anyone else who´d like to listen and join us. She was like yeah lots live here but they all have their religions and don´t want to change or listen. But we just kept asking her if she could invite them to just listen to us for a few minutes, and after a while we got the whole family there, actually two whole families - so in total like 10 people. We started teaching them about the gospel & baptism and they accepted it really well, especially the one lady who at first refused to come talk to us. By the end of the lesson they were all really involved and interested and we asked them that if they were to find out through prayer that this church is true, if they´ll be baptized, and the majority said yes; and the lady who was really stubborn at the beginning told us how at first she didn´t want anything to do with us because she was happy in her church, but that "the spirit of the Lord has touched my heart and now i know that this is the church i need to go to. This is the church for me and my kids." So that was super spiritual and an awesome experience, because we had just read in 'Preach my Gospel' how God prepares people to hear and accept our message, but that sometimes the person who is prepared isn´t the person that you contacted, and for that reason you need to invite all present to listen. And that´s exactly what we did, and it worked like a charm. This lady and her kids came to church on Sunday too and i think they enjoyed it. It turns out one of her best friends is in our Branch congregation, so she had an instant friend in the Branch which was nice. The other people we taught there said they wanted to come to church, but that they were expecting a visitor so they couldn´t this week, but that they were going to try for the next week. We have another appointment with them this week and they all seem positive so i´m excited to see where this goes.
    We found another family which is almost the opposite case. Turns out that this family a little while back was listening to the missionaries and going to church and doing everything they needed to and one even got baptized, but one of the missionaries left and the missionary who replaced him did something that offended them, and then  they stopped coming to Church, and the girl who was baptized was re-baptized in the Catholic church. So now we are teaching them and trying to repair what this missionary ruined. I think if we go about it carefully, we can really help them because they admitted that they know that the Book of Mormon is true, and that they felt great when they were going to church -  so now we just have to help them get that testimony back.
    We´ve been teaching alot of people this last week, and the week had a lot of lessons about baptism;  we put a lot of soft invitations with them, which is just where we say, "If you pray and find out that this is true, will you be baptized?" And we´ve had a lot of people say yes. Right now we have like 15 soft dates so hopefully some of them if not all of them come through. They all seem pretty positive like they could progress. Sadly in this area, like my last one, the church building is far away from our area. And it´s actually even harder to get to it here for a few reasons. One, lots of the buses don´t run Sunday morning and most people can´t afford to take a taxi, some can´t even afford to take a 30 cent bus every week. That´s part of the reason the attendance is so low here, lots of people only come like once a month because that´s all they can afford. For some people it can cost as much as 5 dollars one way- so 10 dollars to go to church and come back in bus. That is a financial strain.
     Well, that´s whats new here for me. Otherwise things are going good here, my companion is really developing into a great missionary, i have high hopes for my kid in the mission, haha. So some random  things: Yesterday we caught a crab walking on the ground, and we took it home because Elder Segura wanted to eat it, but during the night it escaped, too bad i kinda wanted to try it. Our house is across the street from a free basketball court and a non-free gym, so it´s fun and relaxing to go shoot some hoops sometimes after a long day.
I'm glad to hear everything is going well for you guys. I wish i could go with you guys to the Oregon coast (Yachats);  I remember going to there twice as a  kid, and i loved it. Ryan and I caught a lobster in my sandal there, if i remember right, so good times & memories.

Dad, 'Atuake printed off some pictures from the MTC, but he was asking me if i could give him those pictures, so i think he would really love to get a photo album of all those pictures. I´m glad the packages made it to you guys, did you get two packages and a letter or only one? Because i sent three things total. Mom, congrats on selling another painting, you keep this up you´ll be a millionaire by the time i get home. So Mike, what was this story about putting your comp in the Hospital? Haha Ryan, yeah opening an area is simply where we´re the first missionaries in that area for a while which is tough because usually when you get somewhere your comp knows it all and teaches it to you over time, but for us, it´s all exploring the new area with a lot to learn.
    Well i love you guys and i´m always praying for you! Thanks for all your support and love!
Elder Pfister

Monday, July 16, 2012

Letter from Elder Pfister July 16, 2012

     Well these changes (transfers) were big for me, lots of things happened. I am now in Penonomé, Coclé Province, the very center of the country. In fact about 30 seconds from our house is the pin-type monument for the geographical center of the country, so now you know exactly where i am, haha. This change i am now training, my kid (new companion) is Elder Segura from Lima Peru. And to add on to that, we´re opening a new area which makes things kinda tough. I didn´t even know i was going to train, we arrived at changes late so we just waited with the bags till everyone else got back and one of the first to get off was like ¨Hey your kid is looking for you.¨  And i was just thinking yeah right, they always tell trainers a week in advance and the leaders have a meeting with them. Then someone else got off the bus and was like ¨Hey congrats on training and opening an area at the same time.¨ At this point i was kinda freaking thinking, oh man i really am training (a new missionary) and opening an area. Apparently either the AP´s or my ZL´s (leaders) forgot to tell me about my being assigned as a trainer so that all came as a big big surprise for me. 
     My area is huge, about 1/4 of the province of Cocle. The house is pretty good, but we live in a house with 4 Elders together and my companion and I got stuck with the not so great part of the house. We sleep in the kitchen and there isn´t even a door so i´ve been getting eatin alive by bugs at night. Our shower is nothing but a pipe with a little stream of water that comes out,  it´s interesting, but overall it´s fine, i´ve seen worse here in the mission. The other senior Elder that we live with is also training so that´s pretty fun since he doesn´t have much more time on the mission than I do, so we can relate really well on everything.  Starting off the work has been really hard, because no one knows our area and we don´t even know where our area is, where dinner appointments are or anything. but we´ve been going out with the youth of the branch and having them show us around and stuff and now i´m starting to get the hang of it.
    The Branch that we´re in is tiny, i´m not used to only having like 40 in the sacrament meeting, haha.  Apparently our branch has a lot of inactive people and has a lot of potential because President Ward said that if we reach and maintain a certain attendance every week then they are going to build a new chapel there for them, and that he´s already signed the papers.... now we just have to get more people to church on a regular basis. The goal is 150 people on average every week and right now we get about 40 to 70, so we got some work ahead of us, but apparently there are some really good members who help out a lot and when the missionaries have asked them for help in the distant past, they´ve had a lot of success. Of the people i´ve met so far they all seem really cool and really strong in the gospel, so i´m excited to help them reach their goal. It would be sweet to be able to visit the new chapel before i leave panama knowing i helped them earn it. 
     The actual area, so far, i love. It´s really beautiful out here. It is mainly jungle and mountains and no traffic and skyscrapers. I really like the country (rural) feel and it´s way more peaceful out here than in Panama City. The people here are a lot more chill and relaxed, too; we went contacting a little and nearly everyone let us in their homes to talk and they were super nice. It´s kinda deceiving because i know most people won´t progress to baptism and that they mostly just want to talk, but it´s better than door to door rejection, at least this way i can ask for a glass of water, sit down and get out of the sun. 
     My Kid (new comp) is pretty cool too. He has so much excitement to go out and work it´s almost overwhelming. i don´t remember being that excited when i got here but maybe i was... It kinda makes me laugh because we didn´t really do that much missionary work the first few days while we were organizing everything and getting to know our area, and that was rough on him because he was always like, ¨Hey let´s go work, when are we going to work, let´s go let´s go let´s go¨  but one day we did work way hard and he started out the day with tons of energy and talking like there was no tomorrow, and when we finished the day he was dead quiet. We got back to the house and i went to report numbers and when i got to the room he was already asleep, haha. I do remember that when i started, going from the MTC to the field was super tiring, and the heat here doesn´t help at all. Being a trainer is definitely a very different experience and i´m learning alot already. My comp is super excited to start conversations and give out tons of information and then after like 5 minutes of pure lecturing he just stops and turns to me with this look like, ok i said everything i want to and i don´t know what to do now, so it is your turn. 
     So that´s what´s new with me, i´m training and opening an area in the very center of the country.  I´m enjoying the changes and life right now. I´m pretty much over my sickness so i´m super happy about that. 
    I´m glad to hear everything is going well back home. I got that picture of me skiing that you emailed to me, and man that brings back good memories.. I really miss the snow here. 
    So i sent my handwritten letter a few weeks ago with the camera card so i hope you get it soon along with the packages i sent. 
    Dad and Mom, sadly no, we can´t go see any movies like some missions apparently are allowed to do. I guess Pres. Ward missed that memo from SLC, haha. But i have seen some trailers for some movies and wow there are some sweet movies coming out. By the way, I have no idea who Anny Ramos is, but maybe some family member of my old comp? 
It´s funny to hear that those squirrels are giving you guys trouble, they´ve always been your backyard pets right? I think your solution will work fine, haha. i can´t wait to get home and have you cook me up something on your new grill, makes my mouth water thinking about it. Eating a nice juicy burger next your fountain sounds really nice. 
   i think that´s all i got for you this week, it´s been a crazy week but i liked it. I´m excited to get to work here in this new area and i get to teach my comp how the mission works, and that should be fun. We´ve already found a few positive people to teach. i know that this is the true work of the Lord and that He is preparing the people to hear and accept His gospel message, and i´m pumped up to be the one to share it with them. i love and miss you guys! 
Elder Pfister

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Letter from Elder Pfister July 9, 2012

Hola family,
    Well this week was  kinda a struggle for me because i´ve been really sick the last few days with the flu or something and it´s been hard to do anything. Man i miss the days that when i got sick i would just sit at home watching movies for a few days till i felt better. Here it´s more like, "Ah we have an appointment in 15 minutes but my head feels like it´s going to explode"! Not quite as relaxing but oh well.
     So i think there was a miscommunication... Changes (transfers) are THIS Wednesday, so i still don´t know if i´m going for sure, or what´s gonna happen but i´m very confident that i am going somewhere else. I'm pretty excited to get changed. I hope i go far away from the city because i´ve heard the life style is alot different in the more rural areas, and alot more chill (relaxed), sounds like a fun change to me. Mostly i just want a cool companion, that´s the most important part because when you get along with your comp everything goes better.
     That´s cool to hear that someone else from Cache Valley is coming here (John Stegelmeier), it´s weird to think ´that when he gets here to panama i´ll have been here just about a year, yet i remember arriving here like it was yesterday. The people here are going to have a fun time trying to pronounce his name haha.
      Pretty much all of my friends are gone or soon leaving on missions huh? That´s weird... It´s gonna be weird to come home with all those people still on their missions. Even more weird to hear about Ryan Lambert and Mark Hopkins being home and Kevin Dastrup comes home in December, wow time flys! I can relate to Ryan, we´ve had some weeks where it´s been straight contacting and in the end nothing much came out of it. That´s how i feel alot of the time is this area... but as President Ward told me on Tuesday,¨You´re going to a better place Elder Pfister¨ haha so i´m not worried.
      Sounds like you guys had a good time at the cabin in Idaho, and enjoyed the 4th of July on your end. I completely forgot that it was a holiday until someone said, hey´s it´s the 4th, isn´t that an important day in your country? And i had to stop and think... oh yeah, it is an important day, haha. The torpedo game in the swimming pool sounds fun, congrats to Dad for winning, if only i had been there :) Also mom it sounds like you are getting more and more famous as an artist, so you´ll be able to live off the sales from your paintings i bet!
     Brit, are you really going to get to go to Scotland for your work? That´s sounds sweet! Is Scotland Law alot different than ours? Better work on your Scottish accent! :) And yes, the Olympics are pretty popular here, but way more popular has been the European Cup (soccer) which just ended. As sports goes, International Soccer is by far the most popular, then national baseball, and then the Olympics and other stuff.
    NIce job on finishing and really dominating the bike ride, Ryan and Dad. Reminds me of when Ryan and I decided to go riding one day and we ended up going like 24 miles on our mountain bikes, man that nearly killed me but it was fun, and after i realized i wasn´t going to die, i felt good about finishing it.
    So i´m sent you guys two packages toady and a letter with the camera card, so the race is on!! The packages have some stuff for  you guys and some is just stuff i don´t want to carry around but i want to keep. Someone also told me i have a package in the office waiting for me so another package arrived, i´m not sure which one, and i´m not sure if i´ll be able to make it to the office so í might have to wait for it to get to me where ever i go. A bummer of leaving this zone, is that mail takes a lot longer to get to me. And i still never got that skiing picture, if you could send it again? Thanks!
      Well,  sorry this letter wasn´t the greatest, it just hasn´t been the best week for me, and i don´t have any stories except about me being sick, haha. But i´m getting better and i´m probably getting changed to a different area so hopefully i´ll have some stuff to talk about next week! Thanks for everything you do for me and i love you guys! Good luck in everything, take care and be safe!
Elder Pfister

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Letter from Elder Pfister July 2, 2012

Hola family,
     As i´m sure you can guess- church was, yet again, investigatorless... We´ve kinda decided to try a different approach to helping the ward, and that is reactivating non active and less active members because this ward has a ton of those kind of people. President Ward suggested that we take this route too because i guess Juan Díaz has always been a rough area when it comes to getting people to church and baptized. We gonna go with the more sure route, that is reactivate people and have lots of family home evenings with members, and then once we´ve gained their trust and they can see that we´re good missionaries, then we will ask for references of friends and family they have. A reference from a member is always the best investigator and the most likely to come into the church and more important, stay in the church because they already have a good friend to help them through everything. Right now I am just trying to help out my companion so that he has investigators and knows the area because i´m pretty sure this is my last full week here since changes (transfers) are next Wednesday; and seeing as how i´ve been here four and a half months i´m pretty sure to leave.
    This past week was pretty good week as far as lessons go. We had a lesson with this girl who is 15 and is pregnant. She started going to a non-LDS church about 4 years ago when her grandma died. But when we asked her why she decided to go to a church, she said she just wanted peace in life and wanted to know more about where her grandma is. She then told us how she doesn´t really believe in the church she´s going to, she just goes to be comforted, and that she feels that our LDS beliefs have to be right because they just make sense and make her feel good as she ponders and thinks about them. We visited her last Wednesday and during the whole lesson she was touched and was crying her eyes out. She seems pretty positive but she doesn´t have a very good atmosphere at home which may make things difficult.
    Even though the people we're teaching aren´t coming to church or progressing all that much right now, it still feels good to be helping them out. Though they don´t get baptized,  we can see the difference is some people´s lives when they hear about the Gospel because then they start think more about their lives and they start changing things slowly but surely. I know that though it doesn´t appear to be helping at all, i´m planting seeds that hopefully one day some elder will get to harvest.
     It makes me super happy to hear from the Familia Trujillo, i hope they´re staying strong. I plan on emailing them now, i hope i have their email address.... If not could you be my messenger and forward a message to them through Facebook for me? Maybe i´ll ask the President if he´ll let me email them on Facebook haha,  i doubt it.
    Mom, congrats on your paintings! That´s gotta be a great accomplishment! That´s what you get for practicing so much, i don´t know the exact number but like 650 days straight of painting and now it´s paying off, literally haha.
    Man it makes me so happy to hear that they are getting rid of the BCS! College football will finally have a fair playoff system and the best part is í´ll be home to see it begin!
    I´m gonna send my camera card soon and tell Brett Reynolds that i got his letter and replied to it i just have yet to send it off. I was just waiting to put the pictures on my hard drive before i sent my card and i am going send all my letters at the same time because the post office is kinda a pain to get to. So sorry Brett that it has taken so long but your letter is on the way! Also I got the two packages you sent with the CD´s last week and someone said they had been in the office for a while so they got here fast. I´m not going to give up hope on my jersey until after the 6 month mark haha. But thanks a ton for the music, i´m sure my comp hates me right now because i´ve been listening to it all week long haha. Right now i don´t really need anything and i can´t think of anything i really want... I´m sure i´ll need something eventually but for now i´m good!
    Yeah i remember that skiing picture that Will posted on FB, we hiked off to this little cliff to do jumps and stuff in the fresh powder, it was a blast! Can you send that picture to my in my email too? I really want to see it now haha.
    So I´m doing fine here, everyday working away and i´m sure soon it will start to pay off, maybe in ways we don´t expect but it´ll pay off somehow and it´ll be for our benefit even if it doesn´t seem so right now. I love and miss you guys! Take care and be safe!
Elder Pfister