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.