Sunday, December 27, 2015

week 76

Almost Christmas

Andrew had a very short email this week, mostly making plans for our chance to skype with him on Christmas Day.

When will you call on Christmas?
I have no idea now.  You will just have to be ready that day.  They took the internet out of the office and we are looking around for anything that we have.  We may go to the nurses house and use it there. There is no internet in the entire church office.

Has anything good happened this week?
We went to the canal today.  I will send pics next week.  I need to get them from other missionaries. I forgot my camera in the office...The canal was not exciting.  There wasn`t a boat passing when we were there and we had to leave before the next one was scheduled to come through.  We did meet a British member that was visiting.

Have you done anything for Christmas? 
We are going to an old folks home on Tuesday. We will probably sing hymns and talk to them.
Christmas Zone Conference with the MTC guys

What fun has happened this week?
We are working on getting the new office for next week. Also, it was really weird putting together the stuff for the Hermanas that came out with us to go home.

Did you get your history done and turned in?
nope...  President hasn`t come in to help me with it. I need computers for statistics...and we don't have any internet in any office.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

week 75

Staying Busy!

The blog had pictures of a zone conference. Were you there? 
I am in Zona Panamá.  My district is Distrito Cincuentenario.  My ward is the Cincuentenario Ward
The secretaries only went to the Panama zone conference.  President didn´t want us to go to all of them this year. No, I was not at the one on the blog that went to the orphanage. That was Colón, Arraiján, Chorrera, and Chitré. We didn't get to do that. No orphanages would let our conference come.  We only had a short conference then watched Cokeville Miracle.
I went and did normal missionary stuff during the Panamá one.  The other zone conferences, I was in the office doing stuff.

I saw that a bunch of the kids left the island for the city for summer vacation. 
School here goes from February until November.  They mostly come to the city to visit their families here.

What was the hardest thing from this week?
Everything.  We have been running nonstop to get everything done here. We are doing pretty good, we are just tired.  We are pushing to get things done before Christmas... Everything shuts down so we need to get everything done quickly. We will still come in and work as usual, but everything else is closed. Oh, and my camera won't turn on, so no pictures.

What was the best thing this week?
Don´t question it.... The few hours that I have gotten to sleep.

Have you worked on getting your license? 
Taylor 2 and I will go get our licenses next week.

How is Christmas the same and different from here?
We have been singing Christmas stuff. It is all pretty generic christmas stuff here. It is a lot like home.

President is coming to the office to help me with something tomorrow. It is just a routine thing that he has to help me make.  It is a history of the mission that is to be sent to Salt Lake.  We may move the office in 3 weeks.  It will be good. It is cramped here and I want my space again.

bye, love you, talk to you next week. I will probably call in the afternoon.  We have a lunch appointment on Christmas day. It is with the former 70 and his wife. They like us.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

week 74

It is Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas!

Have you  gotten your package? 
I have gotten them.  I have been good and haven´t opened anything.   My two comps weren´t as good and opened their stuff you sent. This is some of the mail we have picked up from the post office so far. We have handed out some already. Most of the gringos get packages for Christmas.

Some of the Christmas Mail

Anything fun or interesting with the new missionaries?
We live with one of them.  He is good and ready to work, but we don´t see him very much.  In our apartment, it is the 3 secretaries, (Elders Taylor1, Taylor2 and Broadhead), Elder Gonzalez, and Elder Green(he´s new),

What kind of Christmas stuff is in the city?
There are lights up in most of the city.  For the houses, the lights go on the gutters basically.  There aren´t that many nativities here. For our Christmas Skype, I will be here in the office.  There is a ward thing on the 19th.  And a zone thing on the 25th. We will have a zone breakfast.

Did you learn anything new at leadership training? 
The new equipment is better than the old stuff.  Pres didn´t say much about the stuff they did in Costa Rico.

Have you gotten to do any more service?
Nope. We are just working a lot. We may be in the new office in the next couple of weeks. I am looking forward to being in the new office. It is nice.

Have you done anything for p-day?
I came to the office this morning at 10am and worked for an hour.  Then we left and went to San Miguelito and then came back. We played sports there with the missionaries there. Now it is just regular work at the office.

How are things in the apartment, with 5 there?
It is good.  Just cramped sometimes. The old District Leader went home last transfer. His comp is still living with us.  And the new elder. We don't see them very often. The new DL lives in Juan Diaz.  We had a bunch of changes. The Zone Leaders and Assistants live on the Tumba Muerto.

I need to get back to work, I am working on some stuff for some of the other elders. I will write next week.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

week 73


What did you do on Thanksgiving?
I didn´t really do anything.  We went with one member for dinner.  It was chili or something like that. I was wishing for fried turkey. Next year I will have fried turkey! Probably with Nathan in Utah.

Did you do anything for p-day?
We have been doing office stuff all day.

How did transfers go?
Transfers were weird.  Lots of work.  We got Elder Taylor.  He is the Elder Taylor who is from Norman, OK.  He will be the new financial secretary when Elder Taylor from Houston leaves. We have designated them as Taylor 1 and Taylor 2. Taylor 2 was transferred from Blas. He was in the MTC with us.

Tell me something funny about the new arrivals.
One of the Latins lived in South Carolina for 12 years, so she speaks better English than some of the Americans.

Did you celebrate the last independence celebration of the month?
They just didn´t work that day.  There wasn´t anything exciting

Tell me something good.
I don´t know.  I am trying to work still.
We just had our house fumigated. we don´t have any bugs.
I sleep in my hammock still.  It is pretty nice. Taylor 2 will start sleeping in his hammock tonight.
We should be moving the office before next year.  They are finishing up the certificates today.  We are mostly moved in anyway .

What are the members' homes like in your area?
Depends on the area.  Sometimes it is just cinderblock houses.  Other times, you walk past a Ferrari dealership to go to the 45th floor of a sky scraper.

I have an appointment, I need to go.

With Pres Carmack at Changes

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

week 72

Busy Times with Transfers

From email Nov 23

Tell me about transfers this week.
We are more or less ready.  President hasn´t finished changes yet.  There are 13 new people coming and 11 leaving.  They are really mixed up and crazy this change. Elder Taylor is probably going to train a new secretary.  Changes for the mission are the day before Thanksgiving.  President is in Costa Rica so they don´t want to send new missionaries here then. Some of the ones going home have already left.  The rest of the gringos leave tomorrow. (Tuesday) The Latins leave on Thursday, Thanksgiving Day for you.  Then on Friday, after Thanksgiving,  the new Latins from the Guatemala MTC arrive. Dec 1st for the Americans from Provo MTC. Pres Carmack does have a counselor here. His name is President Bram.  He mostly does baptismal interviews that would have to be done by President.

Have you had any time to go around and teach? 
We have chances to teach recent converts and less actives most weeks.  It is hard to go find new people.  We have an area, but it is all apartment buildings with security.  We can´t proselyte there. That is why it is the secretaries area. We are so busy with work that we don't have much time.

What are your plans for Thanksgiving?
We don´t really have plans for Thanksgiving.  Mostly coordinating Changes.

Did you do any more service?
Nope. We usually home teach in Elder Wrigley´s area.  We go visit people for about an hour after church.

Did you do anything for p-day?
We went and had a Turkey Bowl.  It was going to be with the Cardenas Ward, but it ended up being me, Taylor, Ah Sue (ZL), Machado and Marchant(APs), Murray and Bartleson (going home), Taylor and Stracener (San Blas, but are in the city for a doctors appointment), and Hermanas McGowan and Stanger (Cardenas missionaries).  Or in short, every gringo in the zone.  We played for a bit, but we are all kinda out of shape.

Has anything interesting happened?
I started sleeping in my hammock.  It is comfortable, just different.  You can´t really sleep on your side or your face will be shoved into the fabric.  It isn´t that bad sleeping in a hammock.  It´s nice not having to make a bed in the morning.

What was the funniest thing to happen this week?
We went Home Teaching yesterday (people here don´t do it) and as we were finishing up and trying to figure out what to eat for lunch, a random woman drove up in a car and said that she sold food for a living.  She gave us all of the extra food that she hadn´t sold.

Our Zone before the Service Project last week

Cleaning out the ditch.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Week 71

Nothing New

How has your week been?
It was good.  Just long.  We have been running around a lot.  We have to go cash a check tomorrow morning. I got a call from the post office saying that there are a lot of packages.  I don´t know how many, but when people use the PO box helps us a lot. It is harder to meet up and get the packages for us when people send DHL. We may use President's car to pick up the packages.

Has anything exciting happened this week?
We went and did a service in Howard.  It is part of the Cardenas area.  We went to cut grass and clean out a ditch.  We started sharpening our machetes and the guy in charge came and fussed at us for having them.  He wouldn´t let us use them.  In the end, he got us 2 push mowers.  And the ditch was gross.  It was mostly mud and we had to shovel it out. Doing service was good, we haven't had a chance to do much lately.  I still work better than most of the others.  Dad trained me well.

What did you do for p-day today?
We went and got haircuts.  Elder Murray cut our hair and it just so happened that today is Elder Machado´s birthday so we ordered pizza and bought a cake and had a bit of a party.  We couldn´t really do much though.

Have you gotten to do anything new?
Not really new.  We do the same thing a lot and sometimes change the order.

Tell me about your neighborhood
We live in an area called San Francisco.  Everyone there lives in apartment buildings.  I don´t really know the people.  We live really close to the bus stop. My building is only 4 stories, the others are 15-ish. My building is green, the others are newer and white. I do have a balcony. Elder Taylor put his hammock out there.

Time to go, Transfers are next week and there is lots to do.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

week 70

Independence Holiday?

How is the office working out? 
We are doing ok.  We are trying to get everything going for the Bellavista office.  We don´t have permission from Panama to work there.  So we are trying to work in one office with all of our stuff in the other office.  It is hard, but we are doing ok.

It is really close to the bank and a Subway.  Sometimes, we have to go to the Bellavista office.  I have to go to there on this Wednesday.
The view from my current office on 15th floor, downtown.

Tell me about the celebrations this week.
I didn´t see any.  The only thing that I saw was a completely empty office building. The parades made driving difficult.  They closed a lot of major roads for them. We had to drive back and forth between offices and move stuff.

Have you had a chance to do anything fun lately?
Not really, we have just been working.  We have been really busy in the office.  I might get to play soccer next week.

Have you had your primary program yet?
We had it.  It was small and the teachers did all the talking.  The kids just sang.

Tell me about someone at church.
Hermano Garcia is the 2nd counselor in the ward.  He joined the church about 25 years ago.  Since then, he has been a bishop, a stake president, a mission president, an area 70, and most recently, a branch president.  He is really funny and speaks English.  He is the "experience" in our Bishopric. He is old.  He gives us dinner sometimes. We only get one or two meals a week so all four missionaries are allowed to eat together.

Have you given any talks lately?
I gave a talk a few weeks ago.  It was ok.  He only gave me a few hours to prepare.  I ended up reading the scriptures a lot.

What is the best thing this week?
We watched a movie called Freetown today.  It was fun with all the missionaries there goofing off.

It has been busy. This week, we had to set up for consejos. And, I try to put together the new missionaries' immigrations papers before they get here. I am still working on getting my license.  We have been able to get the truck, but only when we need it.  The APs use it the rest of the time.  Pres said that when we move offices, the truck will stay there. Then we will be able to use it anytime we need it. Or, the secretaries will get a car.  There are 2 cars here that nobody uses. I haven´t gone for Christmas packages yet. We will need the truck then.

We tried to stop some flooding yesterday. We went to someone's house for lunch.  It started raining and then one of the kids came running in and yelled something like THE BRIDGE.  We went out and we saw that the water from that ditch was getting onto the bridge for cars.  The owners starting freaking out and we helped them get everything safe. We stacked everything and put up boards and stuff to divert water.  It was a member's house, but not in my area.   Then it stopped raining and everything was good.It rained for about an hour.  It got up to my ankles. In the end, everything was good.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

week 69

In a New Office

Tell me about the visitors to the mission this week.
It was Elder Snow and his wife.  He was one of the presidents of the 70 and now is the Church Historian.  His assistant came as well.  Also Elder Duncan came as the Area President. I did not get to talk with him. We had a big meeting.  He just asked general stuff to 120 missionaries there.  They talked about Mexico and Guatemala only having one district each and now Panama has 7 stakes. He asked us all about stuff like how many generations our families have been in the church.  He asked how a mission has changed some missionaries who are about to go home.  He asked how learning a language was. They did meetings and asked questions about the church here so that they could write the history of the Church.  They were here for a few days. We were really busy doing some stuff quickly so we didn't have much time with them.  We had the meeting and then they left.

Tell me about your new office. 
We are in the Church offices right now.  We won´t move into the new office at the new church until at least January...
It is me and Elder Taylor and the local church leaders.  They are mostly bishops and stake presidents that do the administrative stuff. I am set up, working in the conference room.  The normal people still have their cubicles and offices. The mission office is all in the conference room. The Assistant to the President come in sometimes.  President doesn´t come here. He works from home.

It is November. When do the festivities begin?
They start today and tomorrow.  Tuesday is Separation from Columbia, Wednesday is Flag Day and there is another celebration I can't remember on Thursday. There aren´t celebrations or parties at church.  There will be parades tomorrow and Thursday. I probably will get to see some parades.  We work downtown. There are two more days later in the month to celebrate Independence.

What did you do for p-day?
We paid rent then came here. We work everyday no matter what.  We just take personal time when we can.  Like when we were paying rent, we stopped in sports stores to look for a shirt that Elder T wants. We do laundry at night. We have a washing machine at home.

From the Mission blog

Elder Murray (next to me)  was telling a funny story when Sis Carmack showed up to take pictures.

At  Consejos

Tell me something new.
I work on the 15th floor instead of the 5th floor now.

Our Temporary Office

Sunday, November 1, 2015

week 68

We Packed

How are things going with the move?
Ok.  You will see a picture soon.

Did you get to teach this week?
We didn´t.  We are in the process of moving everything.

What are plans for Halloween? or Day of the Dead? 
We won´t do anything for Halloween.  Day of the Dead is a Mexican festival.  Some families may celebrate Halloween, but there is not a ward party.

Have you seen Bella Vista yet?
Yes. The Bellavista building is nice. Our offices are on ground level.  The chapel is on the 2nd level. It is bigger than my chapel in Arraijan. I have a large desk area and Elder Taylor has an office for finance.  It should be good. I don´t know how close it is to the beach.  We are near the metro station Santo Tomas.  The finance office has a window and my desk is right outside the window so we still are in sight of each other. President Carmack has a huge office in our new offices.  It is two or 3 times bigger than his current office.  Elder Taylor and President have the only separate offices. The rest of us are in an open area.   I have a desk like dad´s old office; the cornered desk. The APs have a smaller desk because they don´t do as much paperwork. They have one like my old school desk at home. There isn't a nice view like the Hi Tech Plaza view. It is just a cement wall.   I think there is an outdoor basketball court. The manager said hopefully we will move in at the end of November.  It is all done, we are just waiting for a permit from the government to work there. We are moving to a temporary office at the Church Service Center tomorrow.

What did you do this week?
 packed/moved/ started moving.

My life right now...

Did anything new happen this week?
Nothing new.  Just packing and writing.

What made you laugh this week?
Seeing Elder Taylor's office compared to the small amount of space the APs have.  They want his office, but the office says finances.

What did you do for p-day?
We packed.

I copied Nathan's mission picture.  Just mine is at night on the edge of a 15 story building instead of hanging on an ocean cliff over the waves during the day.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

week 67


How did transfers/new missionaries go? 
Transfers were hectic.  There were lots of travel problems, but we eventually got them all sorted out. We had a problem with the missionaries going out to the islands. They leave by boat, but the checkpoint guards didn´t want them to go to Blas.  They all made it to Blas eventually, the guards just were not happy with us.  One of the new missionaries was a stand out because he forgot his passport in the MTC in Provo. He had to go back to the MTC and wasn't able to get on the plane with the others to get here Tuesday night. He came on Wednesday morning.  Another one will come in a few weeks after he finishes his time at the mtc. He tested out on his Spanish and was on the 2 week fast track, but decided he wanted more instruction and will stay longer. He will get here later.

Did you get your hammock?
I got my hammock. I still don´t have rope to hang it, but it is comfortable.  The San Blas elders brought it to me. They stay in the APs house when they come to the city to shop.

How are things going with the office move?
I am still in the office building, not the new church building. They told us the Service Center guys are going to take care of everything. I have no idea when we will go to the new office.  They haven't told us. I have not seen the office, I don´t even know exactly where the building is.  The PO will be best place to ship things for right now.

How are the sick missionaries from last week?
They are good.  They are all in their areas working

Did you get to do anything for p-day this week?
We went to the park and played sports and table games.  I won at Jenga a lot

Tell me something fun or exciting.
I dunno.... I am getting to know president pretty well.  We did interviews a few weeks ago.  We had to go inspect missionaries' houses.  Elder Taylor and I were the last interviews.  I learned that one of my jobs is to just be there to give president some general guesses for numbers. I see the numbers from reports and can remember them more or less.  At the interviews he asked me to guess (remember the best I can) at zone numbers and efficiency stuff. I'm getting to know him better. I know he trusts me now.
It is still really hot here.  Just like it will be all the way until the Second Coming.  It rains hard sometimes, but normally when we are inside.  The streets flood here because there isn´t enough drainage. I have money in my wallet now to go buy a new umbrella. I lost the old one.

I get fed dinner every Sunday by the ward members. During the week we eat at a place somewhere around the office. 

Elder Guardado and me

some friends.  The skinny one is Elder Hernandez. The other one is Elder Mendoza.  The sister is Hermana Duarte.  The elders are Mexican and she is from Paraguay

Sunday, October 18, 2015

week 66

Another Busy Week

What exciting things have happened this week?
Nothing really happened this week.  Just normal stuff. Right now, there are 4 missionaries with possible food poisoning. They are in my zone. I don't know what they ate. They are going to the hospital right now. One is sort of ok, but the other three look like The Walking Dead.

Are you ready for your office move?
Not at all, but the moving guys came in to see what they needed to move. I just need to get the passports ready. We have a new group of missionaries coming in this week. We really like this office and I kind of wish we didn't need to move. It´s just here we are close to all the banks and restaurants.  We think there isn´t anything over there around the new building. I haven´t seen it.  The area is Bella Vista. Buena Vista is in Colon on the Caribbean side.  Bella Vista is on the Pacific side. That is the new stake center of The Panama City Stake. The mission office is in the stake building.

What did you do today for p-day activities?
I went to the lawyer to work on Visa stuff. We didn't really have p-day.

You go to consejos now. What do they teach/learn?
They talk about general mission stuff and things president wants to improve. He goes over all the mission stuff he wants us all to work on and the leaders take it back to their zones and districts to tell them.

What happens at the office when you have to go out?
We have to go to the lawyer's office, the post office, and go to to pay rent, etc.  Elder Taylor and I go together.  And we just close the office then. Sometimes the nurse is here and we can leave it open. The Assistants are with Pres Carmack a lot, but not all the time. Sometimes they are here. If no one is here, we just lock up. He goes with me to do my stuff and I go with him to do the financial stuff.

Are you feeling well?  and eating right?
I am doing everything that I should. I didn't get food poisoning. I am ready to get my hammock. I will tie it up inside to sleep.

I should probably go.  I have to get some stuff done quickly for Pres Carmack. There is lots to get done.
My Zone

Saturday, October 10, 2015

week 65

Learning and Teaching

Great picture of the old MTC group last week.
Yep, Elder D is back. He is in Arraijan now.  He is in a part called Vista Alegre (means happy view). The picture had Elder Dastrup, who is in Blas, and my comp Elder Taylor.  The other elder is one of the APs.  He was in Elder D´s first zone.  We picked him up late one night at the airport and he left early the next morning.  He seems to be doing good. It is good he is back.

Who was your favorite conference talk?
I liked Elder Anderson´s talk about faith.  He seemed to be quoting from Pres Uchtdorf´s old talk ¨Lord is It I?¨

What did you do for conference weekend?
We were in the chapel for all of Saturday.  I watched conference a little differently.  We didn´t have keys to the clerks office so we were listening in Spanish.  On Sunday, we went to the stake center with everyone.  That was in English.  Then we had lunch with President.  I had been to the house before, but that was my first meal there. We had roast, mashed potatoes, rolls. Then we went to the office to watch the last session in English. It was easier this year. I listened to my first conference in Panama in Spanish.

What have you been working on lately?
I have been trying to train the lawyer´s new secretary.  He fired the last one, (professional disputes, ) and I need to help the new one learn everything. I have learned lots, like legal practices. I probably know the most about the process of their clients, so I am helping. We have been working on lots of stuff in the office.

How many new people will be coming on transfers?
There are six coming in.  There were two that went home this week. They had extended until exactly 2 years.

Do you have a big hammock yet?
I am sleeping in the extra bed right now.  I will get my hammock next week. The I will start sleeping in it.  The San Blas elders will be coming in and bring it for me.

We are about to change offices. We should be in our new office the 15th of October. It is farther from my house. It is farther from everything.  It is in a new church building.  I will work in the office in one church building and go to church in another, the one where I already go. One floor of the new building is offices, the other is the church.  I haven´t seen it yet.  It is the Bellavista ward.  We are not moving, we will stay in our old house.  We live with our District Leader and he is in our ward.

I better go. Talk to you next week.

Articles of Faith in the Kuna Language

Sunday, October 4, 2015

week 64

A Return

What did you do this week?
We just did the normal stuff.  I scheduled flights in from San Blas, reported numbers, that kind of stuff.  And for p-day today, we cleaned our house.

What kind of issues do you have with visas? 
They usually aren't too bad, but  sometimes we have big problems.  That is generally the stuff that the Church Offices take care of.  The migracions people tell the lawyer, and the lawyer tells The Panama church person.  Then he tells Church offices.  That is what happened when we all had to change over to the Provo MTC. The local person I work with is Marta.  She is young and has been working with our lawyer for about 4 months.  She gets the job done, but sometimes, she just doesn´t listen to us.

What happens when missionaries get sick? 
It depends.  Mostly the nurse talks to them and sends them to the doctor where they are and they may have to stay in until they are well. But if it is bad it takes more. If they are in a risk area (like San Blas) then sometimes they stay with us or the APs.  Not many get sick enough to go stay in the hospital for more than an hour or so. We have had some get Malaria.

When do Independence month celebrations begin? 
They actually start in November. They love to celebrate and will have parades and parties. I don't know yet if I will see any of it.

Where is the office?
The office is in the financial district in Panama City. I work on the 5th floor.  I am not close to the canal, but I might be able to go one day. There is a beach but it is kind of far away, too. I can see a cool building from my office window. It looks like a big screw, all twisted.

Who lives in the apartment with you and E Taylor?
Elder Wrigley (our group, but MTC Mexico) and Elder Gonzalez (El Salvador, about 8 months in the mission).

What have you learned this week?
Sometimes, you get fun surprises as the mission secretary. And I get to watch conference this week. i will watch at least one session with President at his house.

This picture is the surprise I got later. His companion from the MTC had gone home early and was able to return to finish his mission. This group, that picked him up at the airport is part of the group that were at the MTC together. It was a great treat for him to be greeted by his friends! Good to have him back.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

week 63

Another Week in the office

I saw you on the blog of the second Zone Conference.  
Yes, it was the conference in San Migelito. We did an activity at each conference.  It was working together. Every companionship had to work together to make a paper airplane.  One person would use one hand and the other, the other hand.  So we made the planes and then we threw them to see who would win candy for going the farthest.  We won :)  Secretaries are the best.

What did you do this week while the Assistants went to David to ZC?
David is a long way away, close to Costa Rico. We stayed in Panama City and worked in the office.  We mostly worked on migracions stuff. That part takes a lot of time.

Did anything new or exciting happen this week?
We picked up a missionary from the airport that had gone home.  He came back.  His name is Elder Workman.  Our friend, Elder Bird was his trainer.

What have you been studying? 
I have been reading Jesus the Christ by James E. Talmage. It is good book, just very long.

Do you ever knock on doors in PC? 
We do mostly street contacting because we work in the financial district. There aren't a lot of people that live in our area. Our branch is pretty small.

What is the best thing you ate this week?
I dunno. We mostly eat at Subway and sandwiches at home. We only eat with people on Sundays.

Did anything make you laugh? I
I played soccer today and we were all bad, so I laughed at that.

Has it been raining? have you gotten caught in a storm?
Yes, it rains. I got caught in one, but only for a couple of minutes.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

week 62


Did you get your computer up and going? 
I am working on my computer still.  I did get the visa forms through.  Now I am just working on getting everything on my computer and a mission flash drive as well. I have most of the papers backed up. I am going to buy a flash drive.

What kind of issues do you have to deal with each day?
All things migracions are my problem. I have to make a lot of papers.  I give the name of person, passport number, characteristics, stuff like that.

What did you have to do for the ZC's?
I went and sat, no extra responsibilities.  I was also in a practice for one of the conferences.

Tell me something fun from this week.
We went and played soccer today. And I got a little sunburned. We went to the cinta costera to play soccer with my house and the elders from Loma 9.

What is between your place and the office? (This is the kind of answer I get from my sarcastic son...)
We ride the bus. We go by a mall, the Multiplaza, a gas station, a school, etc.  I see people, police, students, random buses...

Saturday, September 12, 2015

week 61

Transfer Week

How did your first "pick up the new missionaries" thing go? 
It was good.  We had some trouble to get them to presidents' house on time, but it was ok. We drove luggage, APs drove people.  Elder Taylor drove our car because he has his license already, I haven´t had a chance to go yet.  It was weird talking to them, because they don't know anything here yet. Now, I start to work on visas, but I had a computer crash.  I have nothing I need and the lawyer hasn´t given me anything to work with. The computer lost all the forms that I use to get people into migracions. I am trying to get new forms.  They are fine for right now because they come in with 6 month tourist visas. I just need to get started on the next stage.

How was leadership meeting and did everything go smoothly?
The leadership meetings are all in Cardenas (temple chapel) until November.  Once it started, it was ok, but getting started was rough.  None of the electronics wanted to work right. It gets stressful trying to set it all up.  The problem at training was someone turned off the wifi on the computer and we couldn´t figure out what was wrong.  The computer crash just happened.

You look great in the pictures on the mission blog! Are you feeling well? You looked a bit thinner, And your hair....
I am fine. My clothes still fit. I am getting a hair cut today.  We have not had time and the humidity makes it curl when it is long. It is a place like Great Clips. They won't know what to do with curls!

Tell me about where you live.
We don´t really talk to our neighbors.  We don´t know them.  The house we have is nicer than the other places I have lived, but still doesn´t have an oven. The closest church members live about 5 minutes away from us.

Where do you shop for groceries? 
It is a place called the Rey.  It is like Kroger.  Sometimes, we shop at Pricemart,  which is like Sam's, but the APs never want to give us the car so that doesn´t work well.  We do eat at subway a lot. I still have some of the nutella.  I eat peanut butter and nutella sandwiches.  We eat out.  I eat lots of cereal.

Elders Machado, Taylor and Broadhead

New elders checking out Panama

Waiting to meet the new missionaries

Saturday, September 5, 2015

week 60

Driver's Ed

How was driving class? 
It was fine.  I was only there for about 30 minutes and then someone told me that I could leave so I did.  The drivers here are worse than at home. People drive crazy and blow their horn at everyone. The next things is that whenever I get some time, I will go to the ATTT (DMV) to take my driving test.  Parking is all of the driving test here; normal parking, parallel parking, and reverse parking.  We have a Nissan truck that we use for the office, but we rent a smart car basically just for the test.

Are you ready for the new missionaries this week?
We are ready.  We just make sure that we have a hotel for them.  We get the flight plans and then we go to the airport to pick them up. We go in 2 cars.  One to carry all the missionaries, one for all their luggage.  The APs take the missionaries, we take luggage. It should be fun. I get to see what is happening when it happens.  There are 6 new gringos coming.  After we pick them up, we will go to Pres house.  We also have  3 people going home.  Most people coming and going route through Atlanta, so they go right by home. We haven´t had any new missionaries from Mexico or Guatemala in a while.

Are you also in charge of getting plane tickets for missionaries' trips home? 
I do have to do that.  I buy them about 6 months out.

Did you do anything fun for p-day?
We played soccer.  I did ok, but I am still terrible. But it is more fun to play now.

Who is your favorite member in your ward?
I like Elder Garcia.  He is really funny.  He is a convert from a long time ago.  Then most recently, he was a 70.  One of the big ones.  He has funny stories from meetings with Pres Hinkley

What is the area around your apartment like? I hear your office building has a doorman. 
No one has to ring you in at our apartment.  But you have to have a key to get in to the building.  It works well. It is secure.  We do have a doorman at the office. He is cool. He forgets to give us stuff a lot.  But he is a good guy.
Out the Front of our Apartment
 This is outside our apartment. We are third story up. I take naps out there in my hammock. Elder Taylor sleeps in a hammock most nights. He was in San Blas before working in the office.  That is how they sleep there.  He just got used to it and kept doing it .

Our Kitchen

Any thing exciting?
We will be getting a new Stake Center soon and our office will be there. Also, Independence month is coming up again in October I believe.  Remember last year when I didn´t write on Mondays for a month. I don't know how we will do this year. They like to celebrate all month.

What is the best thing about serving a mission?
Working with the other missionaries.

Have a good week and I will talk to you then.

Friday, August 28, 2015

week 59


Sorry I am late today. We were at an elders' zone activity.We went and made authentic tacos.We just cooked with lots of peppers and stuff.  I have made tortillas before. This time we bought the tortillas. We fixed beans, sausage, beef, cabbage with lemon, and had hot sauce.

First thing, have you gotten your license? 
I have gotten letters and my license.  I went to the Post Office and got all the mail this past Wednesday.  I got lots of pictures. Now that I have my GA license, I get to go to driving school on Friday. A US license isn´t enough to let me drive here. This week I just have to sit in a class and listen.  I will take the driving test later.

How was the conference with Elder Nelson?
It was good, but I had to leave every 10 minutes because of all the transmission problems that needed to be fixed.  The problem is that some local leaders have their own ideas concerning what and how missionaries should be doing.  So I was making it so everyone, including local leaders, could watch the conference. Elder Nelson was talking about how missionaries should always be missionaries, not just in the street.  Also that every missionary should teach his or her native tongue to the companion. (Yeah, Elder Taylor and I speak English in the office if we are the only ones in there.) He said that the missionaries are apostles.  An apostle´s job is to bear witness of Christ.  So all missionaries are apostles... just not Apostles of the Quorum. I´m a witness of the Savior.  

Who are your new nurses?
They are the Brinkmans.  They are from Utah.  The nurses are only for the Panamá Mission.  She will be the nurse and he will do something. She also has to approve all medical spending. They should work in the office. They are fun. It will be good to have them.

Are you feeling better now that you have vitamins?
I do feel better, and also the Belgian chocolate helps.

Tell me what you like about working with Elder Taylor?
He is a hard worker, but he knows how to relax and have fun. We don´t really get to do service, because we are always in the office. We go to members houses on Sundays for lunch and dinner.  That´s it.  We do get to share spiritual thoughts with them before we leave.

Do you speak Spanish much anymore?  
I speak less Spanish now.  When I call the missionaries to check on them, the people always give me to the gringos so it is easier to do stuff.  If I speak to a latin I just say ¨Necesito sus numeros...¨ then they give them to me in order.

Do you talk to missionaries all over the whole mission? 
Yes, I have to talk to everyone at least once every week.  I also get calls. A bunch of people are asking for packages that haven´t come yet.  Also for phones and stuff like that. I will send some people to Costa Rica on Wednesday.  They didn´t get migracions done in 6 months so we send them to Costa Rica to renew the tourist visas.   They just go for a day.  They get a new tourist visa that lasts 6 months.  If we can´t make them legal in the visa time, we send them to CR for a day.  Then when they come back, the tourist visa is reset and we have more time to work with. The two that I am sending are from my group, but the short MTC group that were only there 2 weeks.  Six new gringos will come next Wednesday.

Thanks for all the emails! I love to hear from everyone. Sorry no pictures today. I don't have my camera.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

week 58

A Package!

What did you do this week that was interesting?
I found a new food.  It is called Shawarma.  It is some weird meat log on a rotissary.  Then they cut that and put it in a tortilla.  It is good.  I´m doing good and feeling good.

How large is your area? 
My area isn´t very big.  It is around the area where we live, a fifteen minute bus ride from here. It doesn´t have the office in it.  Our ward is mostly young couples, not many kids.

What ever happened about the bed bugs?
We have super insect repellent now.  We are treating the beds

What responsibilities do you have in the ward? 
We do not have to teach any classes, just go to the one for investigators and new members.  I do bless the sacrament a lot, but that is it.

What is your favorite thing about Panama City?
I am close to the temple.  I can´t go normally, but it isn´t a days excursion with a long bus ride to go to the temple.

What will you be doing after email time?
I will be going to meet with the lawyer and then going to a baptism in Chorrera.  One of my friends named Kevin is getting baptized.  He is from the Zone Leader's area, but we were friends so I am going.  I will get to see my old zone.

The next big assignment I have is a Central America broadcast on Saturday.   Elder Russell M Nelson will be speaking to half of the missionaries in Central America.

New Office Staff

This week, one of our pilot friends found out he was making a quick trip to Panama and offered to take a package. It is illegal to mail food there, but I can send some in a suitcase with someone traveling, so of course I sent food! I was able to make some treats and even send the last package of Belgian chocolate from Mike's last trip. Jeff did not get to see Andrew, but left the package for him to pick up. Thanks so much to Jeff for making my day! At this point of our email I told him to go pick up the package, 3 blocks away....and heard from him the next day...

I really like the Belgian chocolate.  It has been a long time without it.  And the Nutella.  We calculated that it is worth roughly $20 here. I really liked it all. You would have been proud of me... I gave some chocolate to missionaries that we made come to the office.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

week 57

The Office

How are things in Panama?
Everything is going well.  We are all just a little tired from the week.  We had consejos (There are pictures on the mission blog, you just have to look.  I have to sit at the very back.)  We just rested today though.  (The mission blog is

What new things have you been doing?
I went and got mail, I started using sound equipment, I sign the car out, I look for peoples passports, stuff like that. Apart from dealing with the phones, I do everything now. My trainer, Elder Nysetvold, heads out the 19th. The other elder is Elder Taylor (Financial secretary.  He does all things money). We are the only office elders.  We will soon have 2 nurses, and the assistants are here sometimes. Elders Machado and Marchant are the assistants.  They spend time with the zone leaders of all the zones to train them.  The new nurses will come on the 22nd. We work in the financial district.  It is us and a bunch of banks.

What was it like going to the Post Office? 
The post office was pretty boring.  Not many missionaries get mail, but the ones that do get a lot. It is mostly letters, but this month there were about 10 packages.  I got a letter. We didn´t have to open any packages this time, but sometimes we do have to.  We have to pay taxes on packages that are over a certain price.  So you should say stuff isn´t worth much when you send it.  If you wear shoes for an hour, the price goes from $100 to being worth $10.  Fun fact.  You should use stuff before you send it. I haven´t gotten my license yet. I will go back in a couple of weeks to check for it again.

What will you have to do to get a Panama license?
We take my GA license to the embassy.  They say that it is real.  Then we go to a Panama place and they say that the certification of the states is real. Then I go to the DMV and they tell me I can´t have my license.  So then we do some other stuff to get my license.

What kind of "problems" do you deal with in the office?
We are trying to fix a network problem for our cell phones.  And people always want nametags and stuff immediately, and I have to tell them it doesn´t work like that. We deal with families from home. Parents don´t usually call, but they do write occasionally.  Whoever knows the missionary the best writes to the family. The missionaries are terrible at reporting.  I spend most of Wednesday collecting numbers.

What do you eat when you don't have dinner appointments?
We eat from a grocery store, or we go to subway. We don't get as much fresh fruit here.  At Subway, after 3 pm it is $5 footlong.  Any other time, it depends.  Anywhere from $4 to 8

How is your missionary work going? 
We contact people basically every day. We did have our baptisms on Saturday.  They were good.  The member that was going to baptize all 4 only baptized 1.  So Elder Nysetvold baptized the others.  I am getting to know some of the people here.  My ward is small, it should be a branch.  

How many countries are represented in your missionaries?
There are missionaries here from 12 or 13 countries.  There are 86 Americans. There are 199 total missionaries here right now. Most of them are from Latin countries. 

Time to go. Thanks for the emails!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

week 56


How is the office? What kind of schedule do you have now?
The office is good.  Just hectic.  I still have a normal schedule. We get up early like normal... usually. There are days when we have to get up really early.  On Friday, I got up at 4am for migraciones.  We work in the office from 11 until 6.  Then we go to our assigned area and do regular missionary stuff, teaching and serving. We teach about 3 hours per day. Monday is still P-day. We played capture the flag today.

The view out the office window.

Did you get your license yet?
We will go to the mail office tomorrow.  I will find out then.  I hope so.  The faster I learn to drive the better. We usually go to the PO once per month.  Sometimes twice.  I don´t know what we have to do there.  This will be my first time there.  I will have to get my Panama license after I get my US one. The truck we drive is automatic transmission.

Do you go to all the different district meetings? 
We should go to district meetings every week, but we are always very busy, so we only go sometimes.

Is the city loud? 
The city is louder because everyone thinks that horns can change traffic situations.  The drivers are worse than in Atlanta. They do whatever they want.  I forgot to take my camera home so I don't have any pictures of my apartment this week.  Most of the families here live in houses.  My place is a 7 story apartment building.  I live 5 minutes in bus from President.

With Elder Perkes and Elder Taylor.

 I go on trips when President does interviews.  It is long rides in the car, but I will get to visit everywhere.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

week 55


You emailed that you need your license, so I know you got transferred. Tell me about it. 
I got transferred to the Office. I need my license to get a Panama license to drive the truck and do secretary stuff. My actual comp is Elder Nysetvold.  My job is basically to keep President from having to do a lot of stuff.  I am in charge of making sure the missionaries are in Panama legally, I work on their visas and residence legalities, etc. I have to go to the immigracions office every Friday to make people legal.  I have a lawyer working for me now. I am in charge of all mission materials, and I am in charge of recording baptisms.  I have the transfer board so I know what is going on in each area.  I get to buy the food for the gatherings.  Oh, I also get to pick up the mail and deliver it.  I will replace Nysetvold.  I am learning as fast as I can because I only have 4 weeks to learn before he leaves.  We have one missionary that doesn´t speak English in the house and one that understands Spanish better in the office, so we kinda speak Spanglish in both places.

Tell me about your location.
Well,  I am in one of the richest areas of Panama and also one of the poorest.  We have skyscrapers next to little run down houses.  I am in the city.  The ward is called Cincuentenario. The people are really cool.  Lots of them speak English and they really care about the missionaries.

Tell me about your new apartment.
We live with 2 other missionaries on the 3rd story of an apartment complex.  It is really nice, and we have a washing machine and 2 bathrooms.  So, I live with Elder Nysetvold and Elder Taylor (my companionship) and Elder Wrigley (DL) and Elder Gonzalez.  There are five of us this change and then 4 next change.  Elder Nysetvold will be transferrred. I am a 5 minute bus ride plus a 5 minute walk from the office. My apartment is not air conditioned.  The office is.

What was new and interesting this week?
I met some new investigators that are ready to be baptized.  They are all reading in 2 Nephi or farther in the Book of Mormon and the story is a really cool chain of referrals.

Do people feed you in your new area?
They feed us when they can, We normally have to get food for lunches

Have you been teaching?
Yep.  We have a few great investigators.  They are all progressing well, and the members are willing to help.

Tell me something fun.
I went to the airport this week to drop off some missionaries that finished their missions. That is something else I will be doing for a while.

Tell me what you have learned.
Computers aren´t fun anymore. I use them for work now instead of play. I come use the computers everyday.

The elders from my last district.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

week 54

Still in Chorrera

So did people feed you this week?
Yes.  I got fed almost everyday.  We are doing good.  I think I am gaining some weight.

What did you do for p-day?
We went to a multi-zone activity.  We played soccer, basketball and Ultimate Frisbee with 5 other zones. But there were 120 of us. We were in San Miguelito. That is where the second biggest chapel in Panama is.  Our zone won the soccer match. We beat Panama Zone in the final.  We didn´t get to play frisbee.  It was a tournament, but we ran out of time because we were still playing soccer.

Were you both well this week? 
We are ok.  He is not well tonight. We did work a little bit.

You teach Gospel Essentials class. How many people come to your class? What was your lesson this week?
We generally have 5 people in the class.  The lesson this week was Sacrifice.  Next week is Work and Personal Responsibility.

Did anything interesting happen?
I found out my part in the play for Saturday.  I have to have the vision of Moroni, translate the plates, organize the church, and organize the Relief Society.  All in Spanish.

Have you done any service?
Not this past week.  This coming week we will cut down a tree with machetes. We are going to a place called Fuente del Chase.  It is a members house.  We will use their machetes, not ours.  It is an orange tree.  We are mostly just trimming though. The oranges are really good.

Do you still play soccer for your daily exercise?
Yes.  I´m still not very good.

Tell me a funny thing that happened.
We are all teasing Hna Nuckols.  She is going home this week.  So we are doing our best to make her miss us all a lot. We sang songs like the Spanish version of God be with you till we meet again.  And part of a song that basically says.  {Bye everyone.  It is time to go}  She is going back to the US.

That is the Zone shirt this change.  We are all wearing them right now. Everyone signed them for each other.

Elder Polio, one of the Zone Leaders and Elder Broadhead

Friday, July 17, 2015

week 53

One Year!

You hit your one year mark! What did you do special to celebrate?
The tradition in the Panama mission is to burn a shirt on your one year day. I did burn one of my shirts.  I will send the pictures in a few minutes.  We went to a member´s house. We wrote on them and then we burned them with Elder Gibby.  It was good.

What have you been doing?
I have been studying the conference talks. The one from Elder Holland is still my favorite. In my scriptures, in Book of Mormon I am in Alma and in the New Testament I am in Corinthians.

What did you do for p-day?
We played soccer and basketball and we went to McDonald´s

What is your favorite thing about or in Panama?
The people are really nice. There is a woman here named Hma Carmen. She likes me and is nice to me. She is in the other ward. There is always a Hma that loves the missionaries and helps us. And I like patacones...

The houses are made of cinderblocks.  They are not big houses, just 2 or 3 rooms. Some have air conditioning, but not all.  Most are kind of dark, but they have single socket light bulbs at regular intervals.  The roads here are like regular roads.  And some have fruit trees, but they are wild trees, not planted.

The mission is more than 14 hours from end to end.  There are 220 something missionaries here.
What is your favorite food there?

Gotta go, Hello to everyone and thanks for the emails!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

week 52


How are you doing this week?
I´m doing good.  We went to Pricemart for lunch today.  It  is basically Panama Sam's Club.  We had a zone activity for someones birthday.  Now we are in internet.

We had a 4 hour long meeting this week. A post consejo meeting.  The district leaders just passed on the information that President said in their meetings.   

Did you do service this week?
We took out a bunch of heavy blocks that were used for a pathway.  We had to use a pickax to get them out, then we had to carry the blocks about 20 feet and put them there to level some stuff. We were just leveling someones front yard.  They wanted the path out.  We carried the blocks in our hands, no wheel barrow or anything.  We just had to move out the path that was there. We did not add anything new. They didn't really tell us why other than they just wanted their yard leveled.

Do you speak Spanish all the time now? do you think or dream in Spanish?
I speak Spanish almost always.  I have dreamed in Spanish a few times and I think in Spanish unless I am actively speaking English to someone.

What injuries, sickness, etc happened this week? :)
Nothing really happened this week.  We were boring. :P

Tell me about the youth there. What kind of goals do they have? 
They enjoy soccer.  That is about all that I see them doing.  Their goals typically come in soccer...

This is from the mission letter. Six of the elders (not Andrew) and 2 locals had problems with their boat. It sank and they had to swim for 4 hours. 

Seis de los misioneros (Élderes Maravilla, Laird, Perkes, Marchant, McGraw, y Barker) estaban viajando con el Pte. Díaz (el presidente del Distrito) hacia Narganá. Su lancha se llenó de agua y se hundió. Todos ellos pudieron nadar a la playa en Ukupa. Todos tenían puesto el chaleco salvavidas lo cual les ayudó con la larga distancia a nadar, lo cual les costó unas 4 horas

The moms of these missionaries posted their sons' accounts of the trouble on facebook. They were taking a 12 foot boat to the other island. The ocean got very rough and the overloaded boat was taking on water faster than they could bail. It quickly sank. The missionaries all had life jackets and tried to stay together. They were able to pray together before getting separated. They were several miles out in the ocean and the rough seas soon pulled them apart. The local people realized what had happened and sent larger boats out to look for them. Some tried to swim for land and one by one they were all eventually found and rescued. They were in the water for four or more hours. The Kuna people took good care of them and all are fine. It was a terrifying time for all involved and we are thankful for God's protection. 

That is a really big duro.  It is basically frozen juice. It is a popsicle.  You bite off a corner of the bag and start to eat it like that