Monday, December 28, 2015

"Feliz Navidad!"

Ward Christmas Party...Taylor feels pretty tall in Panama.
Hey y’all,

So Christmas was bonkers…more like 4th of July. We ate with an old lady from the other Elder´s ward Christmas Eve, that was the place with the heart shaped cake, and it was good but the Elders had another appointment right after so we didn’t really do anything fun afterwards, just left, and took a Diablo back to Panama Viejo. Diablos are school buses that people lift, put smokestacks on, and blast music, and they stop at all the bus stops and are more consistent than the regular buses, so we end up taking them more often. We took that and went to the Kuna house in the neighborhood.

Christmas Eve

The Kuna house is where like 6 Kuna families live, one family are members and a few others are our investigators. But their kids are crazy and always outside so it was fun. We watched while people threw firecrackers in the trash fires on the side of the road, and lit off half sticks of dynamite. On a usual weekday in Panama Viejo, 25% of the houses are blasting music, on the weekends it’s more like 70%, but that night it was literally 100%, and it didn’t stop when we got home either. I didn’t hear our neighbors go to bed until five in the morning, and people were shooting fireworks off the high-rises.

Christmas Decorations in the neighborhood.

Trash fires

Christmas morning was silent though! Not even a car on our street, which is rare. So we played Tenzi for like an hour. We love Tenzi, and have played it every night since. Then I opened my stocking and got super stoked. My mini cup and Clif Bars are literally all I ever want for Christmas, So Thanks! Eventually we met the rest of the zone a few miles away at what they told us was a "rest home". But turns out it was basically an insane asylum. So “uncumpf.” Taylor 2 and I near about bounced. Somebody had the idea to give everyone apples, but none of these people had enough teeth to eat them but they were all trying and it was disgusting. I did sit down and talk with one guy and after he ate an entire candy cane, plastic and all, and tore up a card I gave him, he was actually really cool. So I sat there and watched ‘Home Alone’ with him and explained what the movie was about then he started laughing hysterically and I had to leave.

We ate lunch at a member’s house with the Assistants after that, which was really fun. I drank ridiculous amounts of hibiscus juice, then Gonzalez and I left for the church to skype, but it didn’t work! It was so frustrating. I hate computers. So we called some of our investigators to see if we could come over early to skype… so we did. Then I talked to y’all. You already know this. Wicked that SCODE and BRODE (Scott and Brady) were there! Anyways after that we played Jenga for like an hour. Carlos kept announcing that he was the Jenga King. "Only thirty years old and I’m the Jenga King!!", only phrase he knows in English, I think. Then we ate. Venezualan food! Not Panamanian food! It was still chicken and rice but different. And they had pie. Their family is super fun though, probably my favorite. Can’t wait for them to get baptized. They’re our only investigators who go to church every week.

Christmas Skype!
 So, a funny story that Taylor shared with us during our visit with him on Christmas. For those of you who don't know, Taylor is very particular about his hair. He would even sometimes have me cut it just a little bit every week, so it was just right. He has been very worried about getting a haircut in Panama, but finally had to. He saw a man in the neighborhood cutting hair in his front yard, for only three dollars, so he stopped by there. He explained in great detail how to cut it, and then as the man began with the buzzers, someone lit a half stick of dynamite and threw it into the street, which isn't an uncommon event there. Anyways, it startled the man who yelled out something equivalent to "Crap" as his hand jerked up and buzzed across the top of Taylor's hair. Taylor emailed me before the Skype call to let us know when he would be calling...and to warn us that he kind of has his first buzz cut. I guess he won't need another haircut for a long time!

Delicious Venezuelan Food for Christmas Dinner

Carlos the 'Jenga King.'

So that last half an hour of that night was Carlos showing us every picture he has of himself when he weighed 300 pounds.

Went home, drank hot chocolate and knocked out.

Day after in Viejo was literally everyone puking. Like people just sitting in chairs in their front yards waiting to puke…so we got nothing done and left for a baptism in another area. Then we went to the Ward Christmas party that night. So much food, I threw up too.

Funny story from earlier this week. We were talking to a lady on her porch, when a super drunk guy with a vodka bottle in hand walks by and waves at us, so we wave at him and he comes up to us. So, I try to get him away from the lady’s house and walk him back to the sidewalk and start talking to him. But he’s so drunk he can’t even talk, and I noticed another bottle in his cart he was pushing, so I tell him, "No bebe esa botella o va a morir". Basically don’t drink that or you’ll die. So he handed me the bottle and I didn’t know what to do with it. I wasn’t going to give it back to him, so I threw it in a bush. It’s probably still there.

So stoked Tyler’s leaving soon!! Literally nuts.

I think we get to stay out later on New Year’s…and that will mark one month here in Panama! It feels like forever.

Peace y’all.

Love you,

Elder Green

"So that's where Panama is..."

The "Rest Home?"

Christmas Caroling

Monday, December 21, 2015

"...but a little old lady taught me a lesson of much worth."

Hey y’all!

So, this week I hated my area. Gonzalez and I had like three days of absolutely nothing. Appointments falling through, nobody wanting to talk, and drunk people and loud music as usual. Plus it being tiny kind of sucks because it feels like we’ve tried every house already. Then we did divisions like halfway through the week, so I went with Nellis to his area for two days, which is literally 8 times the size of ours, and it was awesome. The houses are more spread apart and we taught a lesson at almost every house we stopped at. It was super fun because it felt like we were actually doing something, and there were lots of people that were interested.

Elder Nellis and I, out on divisions.

Dinner tonight
Then the next day we went across the Canal, as a zone, to Veracruz, which is like real forest and mountains. I think it’s where I would be right now if I had only been in the MTC for two weeks. So we went to a little chapel there to do a service project where we passed out gifts to a bunch of kids, and sat around eating food for like 4 hours. There was a freaking mountain there and I wasn’t gonna just sit there and look at it, so I got Nellis to go contacting with me. We went up it to go look for people to teach…so sick. We only got like halfway up, but we got three referrals for the Hermanas there.

After this, I was especially bummed about my area, but a little old lady taught me a lesson of much worth. We went to her house for dinner, when I was on divisions, and then she came with us to visit a less active family. Afterwards, she asked us for some pass-along cards and started talking to everyone on the street and setting up appointments for us. So, I realized that we really could be talking to more people in Panama Viejo, even the people we’ve already talked to, and we should be trying harder to teach them. So I’m stoked about my area again and we have two more baptismal dates for people we’ve been teaching for a long time, but who hadn’t committed. 

Also skated a heck of a lot this week. Felt so good. I think this three-month hiatus has actually made me better because I’m landing tricks I couldn’t do before. First, was at the Bishop’s house. We went there for dinner and his son had a janky little board, so I was teaching him how to ollie and all the kids on the street came by. Then, Saturday night we were at Cinta Costera, it’s like a boardwalk downtown where we go contacting as a zone a lot. There were a ton of skaters there so I’d go up to them and ask them for a board, throw a kick-flip or ollie over something, then teach them a little something and get all their numbers. None of them are ever really interested, but at least they don’t think missionaries are as lame anymore.

There are chickens all over the place, just like in Hawaii...but these are Monster chickens!

Also, on the way there, I started talking to a guy and his son at a bus stop. Miguel and Miguel. They’re from Venezuela but they both speak perfect English, and like prefer it. They live right by us and are super interested, so I’m going to set up a lesson and will probably get to teach them in English, which I’m stoked for.

Today was P-day and it was the best one yet. Elder Taylor 1 and 2 and I got up at 4:00 and went to the store for meat and potatoes and what not. Then we went to the church to start a roast in a crockpot we bought. Then we went back, slept a while and waited for Nellis and Mendoza to come by. Then we all piled in the mission truck (perks of living with the secretaries) and drove to the Canal. It was sick. I saw a Norwegian boat go through the locks. Less exciting than I thought it would be, but still cool. Then we just hung out there in the museum for a while. We met a few members from London there. Then we went back to the church for our roast and to watch The Polar Express. Felt like America for a second, except the movie was in Spanish. Also I thought of this statement: Food tastes good. Literally it’s just so enjoyable to eat. 

We have a couple houses we could go to for Christmas so I’ll try to let you know when we’re going to be skyping. Probably around noon our time…I don’t know what that is for you. I still have no idea where Panama is!

Love y’all!
Happy Christmas Ron
Happy Christmas Harry

Elder Green

Monday, December 14, 2015

"Like a beast-sized rabbit, the size of a capybara!"


To answer your questions…Yes, I’m in Barrio Cincuentenario 1 (the ward.) It’s the second smallest area in the mission and I just found out the like second most dangerous but whatever, just a lot of drinking and guns, I guess. I don’t have a calling or have to play the piano, and we’ve only done a little service. The only tools anyone has are machetes. We´ll probably do more but haven’t had the opportunity yet. We did paint a house, this past week, and it sounds like we might do that a lot.

Service Project

Anyways, this week was Panamanian Mother’s Day, so naturally things got crazy, as they would. Things were basically the same just more beer and music and dancing in the street. It was kinda fun. Lasted from like the morning until the night, so we didn’t get much done that day.

We have more baptismal dates! One Venezuelan family, that’s been going to our ward for a bit, agreed to get baptized next month, but we found out they’re not married so they’ll have to get that done before. And our investigator with a date from last week also isn’t married to her “person,” or whatever it’s called, but it doesn’t sound like she wants to, so that’s a bummer. We do have two people who are married though! After a district meeting, we decided to visit a family we’ve talked to and I invited two of our good friends from the area above us, Elders Nellis and Mendoza, who are awesome, to come along, and they said they’d be baptized. I didn’t speak a lot that lesson but I said the invitation, terribly, and they said yes…so I’m stoked.

We also had a zone Christmas devotional at the chapel on the temple grounds this week. The Carmack’s spoke then we watched a movie called "The Cokeville Miracle". It’s super good and really makes you think about the angels we always have protecting us. I got to see a couple of my friends from the MTC at this, which was super fun. And we ate American food! Like meat, not just chicken and rice, which we have for every meal, near about. And the temple is sick. Literally in the middle of the jungle, halfway up a mountain.

So we get like the least amount of money, each month, of any mission, (I’m not sure that is true, but since Braiden served in the #1 most expensive mission in the world, I figured we’d have to make it up somewhere,) so I was trying to figure out how to make it last. So naturally I got cereal because it’s delicious. But I got Cinnamon Toast Crunch, my fav, and I ate it in a day. So that’s a bust. But then we went to the Chino, across the street, and ramen there is only 40c each. So were like heck yeah, but, the grocery store up the street has it for only 28c! So basically we’re freaking rich and that’s all we eat when we’re not at a members house. Except it’s hard because we only have one bowl and one fork in our house.

Also, crazy story. So there’s a huge graveyard next to Panama Viejo that we have to cross sometimes to get to different houses. We were coming back really late one night and I kept seeing flashing lights everywhere, so I’m like this is sketch. But turns out they were just fireflies, which are sick. But that’s not the crazy thing. I was shining my flashlight around and I saw a monster. A giant rabbit-like thing ran across the graves. Like a beast sized rabbit, the size of a capybara. And they don’t have either of those animals here. I was so scared. I’m kind of doubting myself now, but at the time I like could not move and I had gnarly chills!

And yeah our house flooded like Saturday or something. I wasn’t surprised because everything leaks in our house, like we can’t really turn off our shower. But it was all over the floor so we mopped it up but it kept coming, so we called the guy who owns the building and we got it taken care of. But now we only have one bathroom.

Our flooded kitchen...

We are one of two areas in the mission who has a washer. It’s on our back balcony and just hooks up to a hose. But we do not have a dryer so we just hang everything up to dry on ropes.

That’s it for this week! I’ll send some pictures when we’re at the church and I’ll try to get some of me in them!

Love y’all!!

Elder Green

Monday, December 7, 2015

Area 1: Panamá Viejo


So, everyone from my group got sent to the interior but me! I’m stuck in the city zone, but we actually live pretty far from the city, like on the edge close to the beach, in a town called San Francisco. Our proselyting area is even further away in a small town called Panama Viejo, which is filled with ruins of super old buildings. The houses are built with cinderblocks and have tin roofs, which is normal for Panama. I was super bummed to be in the city, at first, but it doesn’t even feel like the city here. Sometimes we have to go to the real city though, like now to email, and I don’t like that very much.

The streets here are crazy. There’s literally no rules, so everyone drives super-fast, and they cut people off, and honk a ton. That basically means your changing lanes. But the good thing is we can cross the street whenever and wherever we want, and when there’s five of us and we need to take a cab, we don’t have to wear seatbelts. It’s perfect.

My companion is Elder Gonzalez and he’s from El Salvador. He’s awesome, and he only speaks Spanish, so I have to as well, except he talks super-fast…like beyond fast. At least I can understand him, though. Literally these people do not speak Spanish here. They speak Panamanian. Like usually its "como estas,” but to them its "com ta.” So I couldn’t talk for the first few days but I’m starting to get it now.

Elder Gonzalez and I live with the three secretaries, Elder Taylor 1, Taylor 2, and Broadhead. It’s nice to live with some Americans, too, so that we can speak English when they are home sometimes.

The people here are a little different than I imagined. I thought everyone would look Mexican, and a lot of them do look Latino, but there are also a lot of black and oriental people. It is strange to see them speaking Spanish. Also, I was told there were a lot of white people here too, but I haven’t seen any yet, and I’ve been all over this town. There are also a lot of Kuna Indians in our ward, so I’m trying to learn that language too. I want them to send me to San Blas as soon as possible!

The heat and humidity is as bad as they say. I am always hot and sweaty, but everyone else is too, so it’s okay.

Our area is super fun. Somehow everyone is always home, and out it the streets talking to neighbors, and usually drinking beer. And people spend ridiculous amounts of money on sound systems here so the whole neighborhood can hear them.

Yesterday was kinda fun. Gonzalez and I were walking and some people called us up to their porch. My companion was talking to one of them, and I was talking to the other, who kept asking my name over and over again, and then said he wanted to fight me, but that he wouldn’t because his grandmother was there. (I think they had been drinking.)  Don’t worry, I felt super safe, though, partly because I’m a foot taller than everyone here, but mostly because I am a missionary.

Later we went to the city where they had just had a parade and everyone was just sitting around waiting for fireworks. So we met up with 6 other missionaries and went up to groups of people and asked if we could sing Christmas songs for them. And everyone was super stoked for that so we did, then we´d say who we were then give everyone pass along cards. So we had over 300 contacts last night which is huge.

So everything is awesome. My comp said that we never eat with members but every night I’ve been here we have, so I guess I’m good luck. And food is super cheap, otherwise. There are little stores called “Chinos” that all have funny names starting with "Mini Super". Like Mini Super Fruteria, Mini Super San Fernando, and my fav so far, Mini Super Magic Pan (Bread).

These computers suck and the keyboard is different and so frustrating, so I’ll end here.

Love you!


Elder Green

Here are a few pictures...

Elder Gonzalez

Here are some pictures of our apartment.

We eat pretty good sometimes (above)
And not so good other times (below)

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

"Sano y Salvo" (Safe and Sound)

We received an email from Sister Carmack, this morning, saying that the missionaries had arrived safely and were already on their way to their first areas. We won't know where that is until next Monday when Taylor will be able to email on P-day. This is going to be a long week for his Mom...

President & Sister Carmack with the new arrivals and their trainers.

Monday, November 30, 2015

"Next letter will be from Panama...finally!"

It's Christmastime at the MTC!

This will probably be my last email before I leave. I get to the train station at like 5 tomorrow morning, so expect a call between 6 and 9.

This week has been super fun. Heck of a lot of passing of things down. I finally was able to pass down the “Orb of Light” which is near about the size of my head now.  Thanksgiving was awesome too, best food I’ve had here yet…then lots of sleeping on the floor afterwards. Drinking eggnog is naturally just a bad mistake after eating as much food as I did.

Sleeping off too much Thanksgiving dinner.

My last "Passing Down"

We also had in-field orientation, which they tell you isn’t as bad as you think it is, but is definitely as bad as you think it is. You sit in a giant room and one guy talks, then you break off into different smaller rooms and another guy talks, then you go back. Also I was tired as flip which makes everything difficult… like breathing. I get so tired here I forget to breathe. I did meet a girl, there, who grew up in Panama! She said you can’t leave your windows or doors open for long or giant snakes and monkeys and wild dogs get in your house—ha-ha—so I am stoked for that.

This is Dr. Wooley. He's the missionary health and safety guy
and says we should "carry a small bar of soap with us at all times".

Yesterday I had to speak in sacrament meeting. I made it nine weeks without having to do it but we had a traveling branch councilor there and he asked me at the pulpit if I had given one yet so I couldn’t lie. I didn’t really have anything planned so I just ‘wung it’... Winged it? I don’t know. But it was good. I felt like a freaking foreign person though because I like couldn’t speak English. I’m too used to saying church words in Spanish, so now I have to translate back.

After sacrament, me and Elder Farley were out shredding because it’s been snowing like heck. So we were running and jumping onto these metal tables and sliding across. Super fun, until I jumped on this one that had ice underneath the snow, and I gripped up and fell off the table onto my face super hard ha-ha-ha. So, my face was fine but I cut the palm of my hand really bad and I was soaking wet so I had to go back and change. So freaking funny. First time I’ve felt the pain of eating it in a while, but it reminded me of skating, so it was kind of a thrill. Then we went to the temple and ran and slid down the giant hill in the back. Literally got a crowd watching us because we were killin’ it. So going to miss this snow.

Been up since two dropping of Farley and Rogers for Ecuador and saying goodbye to more Costa Rican friends. I’m pretty close to being done packing so this is going to be an easy day, except I’m still super beat from that fall. And, I’ve had a cold the last few days, but I totally prayed it away, so I am ready.

I’m not really nervous about leaving…I have a super fun group and we’re all friends so I feel good. Our plan is to get Jamba and Krispy Kreme for breakfast at SLC, then Panda for lunch in Atlanta. And, also bring Panda on the plane. (We all really miss Panda.)

Next letter will be from Panama…finally!

Our final selfies in our favorite classroom with a mirror
Of course I couldn't resist filling a toilet with snow...

A Christmas gift for my two new favorite elders...a banana in shaving cream!

Love y’all!

Elder Green