Monday, August 27, 2012

Letter from Elder Devin Pfister August 27, 2012

Que Xopa!
    Well this week was a little more chill than the last one, we had changes in the mission but no one in our house got changed so not much is different for me and my companion. My companion and I have committed to work alot harder, because in this area it´s easy to accidentally waste time for example on buses or with dinners with members or doing other things, so we´ve figured out some ways to use our time more effectively. Also the branch had a big meeting with us so that they can help the missionary work and if everything works out they´ll be giving us 4 new families to teach as references;  except the members can´t just give names to us, first they have to invite people to dinner without us there and make friends, and then later when they feel that they are ready, then the members will invite us to teach their friends. They came up with that whole system, it wasn´t us so i think they´ll actually go through with it which would be awesome, four families a month as references would be amazing. Whenever the ward gets really involved with the work, there is alot more success so i´m excited that they are excited to help us.
    As for the lady we taught who has had many spiritual experiences, we went over there but the family was all sick so we put a different appointment with them for this week. Sadly Moises didn´t come to church either and we haven´t been able to contact him so i hope nothing has happened with him, he was by far our most positive investigator and is pretty much ready to be baptized. This week has been weird because we haven´t really taught as much as normal, we have been finding references and less active members, so that has set us up for a busy week next week.
    Your vacation to the beach house in Yachats, Oregon sounds really really nice... Sitting in a hot tub every night watching the ocean, oh man that sounds like a dream come true. I really just want to sit down and get a nice hot tub massage right now haha.
    There isn´t really much talk about Romney or the presidential race around here, or at least that i hear about. There are elections for something going on here in Panama, so that is taking over the political world here. Why does the press care how much tithing Romney pays? Has the church said anything about all the publicity it´s getting or about Romney maybe being president?
     Well i hope i eventually get that letter you sent, i would be super bummed to have it arrive all the way here to Panama just to be lost getting from the mission office to me. Well this p-day we again tried to find that sweet cave we´ve heard so much about but yet again... no luck. But i´ll be honest it did drain me alot so that´s why this letter is a little shorter than normal, i´m super tired and can´t really think right now, but next week i´ll try to make it up to you. Life is going good here for me so don´t worry about me... Oh, wait you´re not, you guys are living it up on the beach haha! I love you guys and thanks for everything!
Elder Pfister
Siempre Fuerte

Monday, August 20, 2012

Letter from Elder Pfister August 20, 2012

Hola mi Familia!
   Glad to hear everything is going well for you guys! This week was  a good one for me too, we had a huge ward activity, and both our baptisms, and in general it went well.
   The baptisms and the ward activity were the best part and they happened at the same time. We had planned out this talent activity where it was pretty much just going to be a talent show for the ward members, and then we were going to have our baptism after, pretty normal type of timing, but it didn´t end up that way. The activity was supposed to start at 4 pm, but Panamanians are terrible about showing up on time and the majority of the people ended up showing up at 7 pm, right when our baptism was planned for. So we decided to go through with the baptisms first, and then start the activity. And from 4 pm on we had music going on at the church which is a Panamanian magnet, so we ended up having tons of non-members that actually no one had ever met at our baptism which was sweet because they got to see our spiritual side, feel the spirit and have the chance to lightly asked questions about everything. We actually had more non-members than members (All because of the music that we had been playing). So the baptism went great, I baptized Enoc and my comp baptized Ikaika and all of their families were there which was great. After the baptisms we started the activity and i don´t know how but i guess someone told someone, who told someone, and we ended up having 3 different bands show up who weren´t members and they ended playing for us along with some other non-member acts, along with what we had planned out as a ward. At the beginning when no one was showing up the branch leaders started freaking out a little because they thought this activity was going to die, but it actually went through the roof. What a great success.  We had like 40 non-members there, which is about half of our normal church attendance on Sunday, so we were able to contact them and make a really good impression.
    Sadly, Katuska didn´t come to church on Sunday, so we´re not going to be able to baptize her because she leaves for the police academy on Saturday for the next 3 months; and when she gets back we probably won´t be here but hopefully the next elders can get her into the water. We´ve taught her the basics of the gospel, and she seems to have a good testimony even though she grew up Catholic and has a staunch Catholic mom who discourages her at every step.
   We weren't able to teach Moises either. We had an appointment with him, but he didn´t show up because something happened and he was needed somewhere else.  However, he still came to the activity and to Sunday church so that´s good. We´re hoping that the next time we teach him we can put a date with him. He is also friends with the mom of Ikaika, and he has helped to get her to church alot these past 4 weeks so he´s already doing his missionary part and he doesn´t even know it.
    So there is another gringo Elder here and the last week we started teaching English classes. We have two classes, advanced and beginner. It´s been really interesting and pretty fun to be teaching them. I have learned or i guess realized how much weird grammar there is in English that i have never noticed before. I don´t really want to become a teacher for my career, but i realized the joy of teaching a class like that because i taught the beginners that didn´t know anything, and by the end of the class they were saying little sentences and things. I realize that at one hour once a week the students are not really going to get fluent in english but i´m hoping to teach them the grammar and key phrases because they can learn words by themselves, and lots of them already know a lot of random words they just have no idea how to make sentences. Also a big problem i learned is that lots of people know english but are too afraid to speak it because the pronunciation is so tough. I helped this girl with her english homework which was pronunciation and i ended up just rewriting the sentences how they should be pronounced and in the end, it looked like a totally different language. There are very few words that are spoken like they are written, which makes it super hard to learn i imagine.
    So for p-day today we went on this sweet, well potentially sweet, adventure in the mountains. A few weeks back we did this service project up there and the local folk told us about this cave that is super deep and actually comes out on the other side of this mountain in a different city and that this cave has tons of snakes in it, including a few anacondas in it.... so of course after the service project, we went searching for it! Well, we didn´t end up finding it that day but someone told us more or less where it is so today we went back. The whole potentially sweet part is that if we had found the cave, it would have been totally radical! But we didn´t... but it was still fun because we climbed a bunch of mountains and hacked our way with machetes through some rain forest and the whole time we had a beautiful view of the valley which is just covered in green. The bummer part is that right when we decided to turn back, it started raining and we were literally walking home in a river (i took some pics and video). The water was up to our knees pretty much the whole walk home, we were soaked!! It was fun, i kinda got way cut up because there is a lot of this razor grass up there that just slices you up like no other, wow it hurts, but oh well it´s all part of the adventure! Oh and on the way up to the cave we have to cross this river... and of course i was the one that fell in. It was a bad start, but in the end it didn´t end up mattering because we were all drenched. Fun times, and we are already planned on making our fourth trip up there to find this stinkin cave! Wish me luck! :)
    So that about sums up my week, now to answer your questions:  Eidy Wilton Segura is my companion's name. Also, the chapel is located in a neighborhood called El Carmen, which is close to Chigoré and Cristo Rey. It might be hard to find because it doesn´t have an official address to it. We get out of town all the time to teach, actually we never teach in Penonomé because pretty much no lives there, it´s mostly businesses so we always take a bus out to some random part and work there for the day. The service project we did was just using a machete to mow down grass, pretty much what we do twice a year at the lot in North Logan, just with machetes not a big mower, ha ha. We have district meetings in Chitré every week and in the meetings the ZL´s teach us a lesson, then we separate and the DL teaches us sometimes, and in general we just tell each other things we think may help each other to do a better job.
    When is the Yachats trip? Also, the package you sent with the CD may have arrived and been lost... The ZL´s told us how the office sent them a package (which has Books of Mormon, pamphlets and all our mail in it) but that they never received it, so that may have had my package in it, we´ll see. One thing that i could use is another Ultimate frisbee, we were playing with it on the beach and someone threw it in the water and the water slammed it against the rocks and it shattered, ha ha.
     Well that´s all i got for all of you for now. I´m super happy to hear that you guys are doing well. Good luck Mom with the math class you're teaching at USU.  Never forget that you are in my prayers and my mind at all times! I love and miss you!!
Elder Pfister
¨Es Fácil regresar con honor,
es difícil SERVIR con HONOR¨

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Letter from Elder Pfister August 14, 2012

Buenos Días!
    Sorry that this letter is a day late, as every p-day we have to travel 2 hours each way to get to our meeting and sometimes we don´t have time to use the internet when we get back so that´s why i´m writing to you today.
    This week we´re hoping to have 2 baptisms on Saturday for Ikiaka and Enoc. They are excited to go to church and participate with their families.  We´re baptizing two people, but at the same time we´re reactivating two families in the process so it´s awesome to see them coming to church again. This branch has many inactive members in it and it´s one of the bigger focuses here because as people see their neighbors coming to church who were inactive, it encourages them to come and it´s kinda a domino effect so hopefully we can keep the dominoes falling.
    We had planned to baptize Katuska this Saturday too but she hasn´t been able to come to church for a variety of reasons, but she is still progressing in the lessons and she reads and does the things we leave for her, so i believe if we just keeping nudging here along she´ll get to church eventually. The only problem is that she is going off to the Police Academy the first of September and she´ll be gone there for a month and during this time she won´t be able to come to church, and we won´t be able to visit her, so i´m kinda nervous about what will happen and what we should do there.
     Moises came to church and group night with us so right now he´s very active and he asked us if we would come teach him some more on Friday. Earlier he had told us that he would call us to set up an appointment - which usually means that the person isn't sure if they want us to come over and usually they forget or they decide they don´t want us so they never call, and i was worried that would happen with him, but nope he´s showed up to everything and now we got our appointment so Ï´m thinking we´ll probably put a baptismal date with him soon. He´s super positive and already has a bunch of friends in the church. The most convincing part is that every time we see him at an activity he tells us how he´s been reading and praying and everything and that he feels like that Lord is telling him he should come to Church.
    We got this reference for this family that this ward member had talked to a little about the church, and the other day we went and taught them. The lesson went pretty well, nothing extra special but i think they´ll let us teach them again, but then after the lesson most the family left to go visit someone, and only the daughter was left - and she started talking to us about how she has had many super spiritual experiences in her life and that most lately she had been asking God questions about life, like why is she here and if she has a purpose for living, and she said God answered her and said that he would be sending messengers to her to explain to her what her purpose is and that she should listen and follow them. Well, it just so happens that the lesson we taught them, before knowing any of that, was about our purpose here in life and what God wants of us here in this life. The interesting thing is that during the lesson she was super quiet, and didn´t really talk at all but apparently she was thinking and praying the whole time because she realized that we were the messengers that He said He would send to her in answer to her prayers. I hope things work out because that would be awesome! We´ll see when we visit them again this week.
So that´s pretty much what happened on a missionary basis this week; some random things that happened other than missionary things were that we went to the beach for p-day and we were climbing along some rocks and we discovered that we were surrounded by big ol´ crabs and lots of them and so we decided to hunt our own dinner that day. We caught like 7 crabs and made this crab dinner, which i thought was actually pretty nasty, but it was a fun experience overall. Then the other day my comp found this rat in the house that was like a foot long plus another foot long with the tail, it was huge and it was super funny to watch my comp and this other elder freak out when it got close to them. Right now i have no idea where the rat is because it snuck out but who knows, maybe it´ll become our next p-day dinner,  haha. Rats like that are actually pretty popular to eat here, so i´m told.
So for the problem of being eatin by bugs at night i´ve done a few things: we bought this mosquito killer thing that you burn while you´re out of the house and it supposedly kills them. Also i make sure to keep the house really clean with no sitting water inside so they can´t make a home there. Sometimes when it´s bad i just spray myself with bug spray before i go to bed. I´ve also learned bugs don´t like the fan so i keep the fan hitting me on high all night long and that kinda helps, also i sleep with my entire body covered by my sheets... but to be honest, after all that i still wake up every morning with new bites, so i´ve just learned to get used to it. But i think the combination of fumigating the house, putting on bug spray, and then sleeping with the fan blowing on me all night while all the way under the covers is a pretty good defense. 
And for your other questions, the candy bars you sent actually made it to me in good shape and not too melted and they were delicious to eat. The rice here is really bland, and we eat it every meal so every candy bar is so good because they are the only things i eat that actually have flavor to them, haha.
Well i think that wraps up my week... This week is the last full week before changes (transfers), but i don´t really think either of us will get changed. I´m hoping i don´t get changed because I like this area and the work is picking up and i´m just starting to get everything rolling with the work and I like the people here.
Studying this week i found this scripture i love in Mosiah 2:41 that says:
And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and ahappy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are bblessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out cfaithful to the end they are received into dheaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it.
-or in other words if you want to be happy, obey the commandments, it´s that easy! Haha.
I know that this is the work of the Lord and i know this scripture is true because as i watch people that we teach change and start living the commandments, i see more blessings and happiness in their lives.
I love you guys!
Elder Pfister

Monday, August 6, 2012

Letter from Elder Pfister August 6, 2012

   This has been a pretty good week for us down here in Panamá! We were able to put 3 baptismal dates in play, one with Katiuska Marquinez and two with children of a less active member whom we eat dinner with. We put all three dates for the 18th of August but i don´t think Sister Marquinez will be able to make that week because her baby got sick so she couldn´t come to church this week, but in any case i´m pretty positive we´ll be able to baptize her soon. She´s a cool person and she loves to read the Book of Mormon with us. Her mom and her daughter were listening to us at one point, but they have stopped, but i hope that once she gets into the church, they´ll see her example and we´ll be able to teach them again too. Our other two baptisms are kids, but the positive thing is that since we´ve started teaching them, their parents, who were very inactive, have started coming to church with us and have started getting more involved in everything. The branch here is slowly growing, as this week we had about 100 people in the sacrament meeting which is more than this branch has had in a very long time. We got a new mission leader here and a new Branch President and they have really kicked the missionary work into gear. They have given us tons of references of less-active people, or part-member families, and they are going out to teach with us too. It´s been great here with their leadership; they´ve really helped the branch get more animated about helping us, and now that people see that we´re working hard, and that the branch is growing, they are gaining trust in us and giving us their friends to teach.
     I don´t remember if i told you... i think i did... but anyway, last Sunday we went to teach the niece of this member who sometimes has us over to eat; we went to her less active sister´s house. When we got there, there was this guy visiting who just happened to be there asking her questions about the church when we arrived, so that was sweet. We taught him and he said he would come to church, read and pray, but to be honest, everyone says that, so i usually wait to see what they do before i get my hopes up. Well, this guy showed up at church on Sunday with this less active member and when we started talking to him we asked him how his reading and praying went and he was like, "Great, i´m really interested in the Book of Mormon, and i prayed about it and i felt something special when i was praying and that´s why i´m here right now." His name is Moises, and it was cool because he was super active during the church meeting, he participated in everything and met a lot of people and really seemed to enjoyed it. The only possible down side was that he couldn´t schedule a day for us teach him again because he wasn´t sure about his schedule and he said he would call us, which is an excuse we get alot when people don´t want to talk anymore.... but i have faith that he´ll call.
    So a few weeks ago we had a zone conference in Chorrera where Elder Amado of the Seventy came and talked to us. It was really special because he pretty much gave us a little speach and then said, "Do you need any help with investigators?" And from there we just asked him what he would say or do in certain situations and and it was really helpful. Above everything he stressed obedience and how important it is to be obedient during the mission and after the misson.
    I actually think it´s cooler here in Penonome temperature wise than it was in Panama City area. Penonome is kinda in the mountains and there is always a nice breeze to cool us off, i like it alot. This is a really nice plave to live i think because it´s so chill (relaxed) here and the weather is nice, it doesn´t rain as much as it does in the city, and it´s not as hot as it was in the city either, so it is the best of both worlds. I´ve taken some pictures so you´ll get them when i sent the camera card. It´s weird being able to see mountains again, and some of the places here look alot like Utah. We went outside the city, and did a service project in the mountains, and there were pine trees to one side and a little desert just like southern Utah to the other side. It made me miss backpacking and camping, haha.
     I got 3 packages this week, one with candy and a CD cover, one with the sheets and the RSL jersey, and one with a wooden tie and candy, haha. Thanks a tons for all that, i´m actually wearing the RSL soccer jersey right now. And when i got the  package i wore it to lunch, and there just happened to be this Columbian couple there who just moved to Panama from Utah. They lived in Utah for 10 years and their son actually worked for the RSL team, so it was cool to talk to them for a while about life in Utah.
    Well, my time has ran out, but thanks for everything, the letters and packages and for your love and support! I love and miss you guys a ton! Take care and have fun!!
Elder Pfister